The George Mason High School boys and girls swim teams came away with first- and second-place trophies, respectively, after hosting the first-ever Regional 2A East swim meet at the new Wakefield High School pool.
Some Mason records were shattered as the swimmers added to their team point totals with consistent finishes in the top eight places.
The meet opened with the strong Mason boys 200-yard medley relay team taking first. Nick Roberson led off with backstroke, Miller Surette swam breaststroke, Jared Britton was on fly, and Austin Gogal finished with freestyle for a nearly two-second improvement, dropping their time to a season’s best 1:41.52. The girls relay team followed with almost identical results. Erin McFall (backstroke), Beth Cashin (breaststroke), Francesca King (fly), and Julianne Kelly (freestyle) came in first and bettered their relay’s time for the season by nearly two seconds, finishing in 1:55.61. Both teams were well ahead of their competitors.
Roberson managed to turn right around and swim the boys 200-yard freestyle for first place in 1:47.54 with teammate Nik Hokaj taking third in 2:01.80. In the girls 200-yard freestyle, Celia Gieser added five points to Mason’s score with her fourth-place finish in 2:18.42 and Ziggy Thetard touched for sixth place in 2:22.51 and three points.
With the top eight places scoring points, the depth of the Mason roster served the Mustangs well all night as they added points in every event, often from multiple swimmers.
Surette was first in boys 200-yard individual medley (1:59.49), followed in by teammates Andrew Hokaj (third in 2:16.13) and Ian Hokaj (fifth in 2:24.25). In the girls 200-yard individual medley, King set a team record with her third-place finish in 2:17.44. Sarah Miller came in sixth in 2:34.15, and Hannah Hiscott was eighth in 2:41.90.
The 50-yard freestyle saw three Mustang boys earning points in a field of 21: Jared Britton (first in 0:22.57), Gogal (fifth in 0:23.71), and Justin Britton (sixth in 0:23.84). Cashin swam to first place in the girls 50-yard freestyle, dropping her best time for the season by half a second to 0:25:09. Julianne Kelly was third in 0:26.78, adding six points to the Mustang total, and Sara Mills was ninth in 0:28.61.
After a short intermission, the boys swam the 100-yard fly and added six points to Mason’s score. Christopher Markus was sixth in 0:59.62, Justin Britton was seventh in 1:00.33, and Gogal was eighth in 1:01.80. The finish in the girls race relied on the touch pad timing system, as second through fourth places were less than 15/100 of a second apart. King took fourth in 1:02.98 and Sara Mills was ninth in 1:17.96.
In the boys 100-yard freestyle, Jared Britton improved his time by half a second, finishing first in 0:49.66, followed in by teammate Daniel Reinfurt (fourth in 0:55.14) in the same heat. Ian Hokaj was first in the earlier heat, but his time (0:57.59) was good for eighth overall for another point for Mason. For the girls, Erin McFall finished second in 0:56.20, Gieser placed fifth in 1:06.06, and Blaise Sevier was 10th in 1:06.76.
Most of the swimmers had a long break during two heats of the 500-yard freestyle for both boys and girls, but not Miller Surette. He swam for a new team record, shattering his previous best time by more than eight seconds by touching first in 4:45.79. Nik Hokaj was third in 5:37.82 and Vincent Camacho was fourth in 5:49.04. For the girls, Sarah Miller was fourth in 6:12.34, followed in by Madison Irwin at sixth in 6:39.76.
The next two races reprised Mason’s relay dominance, first in the 200-yard freestyle relay for both the boys and girls. Justin Britton, Gogal, Reinfurt, and Andrew Hokaj placed first by more than a second in 1:35.23. Kelly, King, McFall, and Cashin swam ahead of the next best team by more than three seconds and ahead of its own top time by more than four seconds, setting a new team record with a first-place finish in 1:44.56.
A second short break gave the backstroke swimmers a chance to loosen up in the pool, and it served Mason well. Roberson was second for the boys in 0:54.75, dropping his best time by a quarter of a second. Markus was sixth in 0:59.92 and Camacho was ninth in 1:03.95. McFall put up another first-place finish for the girls in 1:05.50, with teammates Thetard in fifth (1:09.94) and Anna Rice in ninth (1:15.42).
The boys 100-yard breaststroke race saw teammates Nabil Osborn and Andrew Hokaj finish fifth and sixth in 1:11.49 and 1:12.29, respectively. In the girls 100-yard breaststroke, Cashin continued her dominance in this event, taking first in 1:09.71 and improving her season’s best time by more than two seconds. Kelly was fifth in 1:18.18 and Shanley Kirk was seventh overall in 1:32.55 in an earlier heat.
For the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Mason boys team of Surette, Justin and Jared Britton, and Roberson finished first and showed they were going to leave nothing behind, taking six full seconds off of their season’s best time finishing in 3:24.06. The girls were third in 4:16.87, with Gieser, Mills, Thetard, and Miller swimming all out against strong competition.
With 13 first-place finishes, Mason now holds 13 of 22 of the new Region 2A East records. The final team point totals for the boys put Mason in first with 164 and Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School next (123), followed by Bruton (86), Clarke County (54), and Strasburg (40) high schools. The girls finished second overall with 128 points, behind Maggie Walker in first place (166), and followed by Bruton (65), Madison County (50), and Clarke County (45). Goochland and Prince Edward County high schools did not attend the meet because of weather concerns.
The Mason teams will compete in the state meet this Friday, Feb. 21, at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.