(Feb. 21, 2020) Eight girls and five boys from Stephen Decatur are headed to the 3A-2A-1A state swimming championship, this Saturday at Eppley Recreation Center on the University of Maryland College Park campus.
The top three finishers in each regional event automatically advanced to the state championship. Individual competitors or relay teams that had the next top-12 statewide times during regional meets also qualified for the championship.
The Decatur swimmers qualified for states because of their performances during the 3A-2A-1A East Regional meet at the Arundel Swim Center last Saturday.
Two Seahawks captured regional titles in their individual events.
Junior Caleb Vaxmonsky won the 500-yard freestyle event for the second consecutive year. He finished the race in 4:56.57 to break the regional record of 4:57.11, which he set last year.
“I was trying something new, trying to race it differently,” he said. “I was just trying to hold a certain speed throughout the first 350 [yards] and then race the last 150 as much as I could.”
Vaxmonsky said he was very tired at the end of the race, but he was excited to win it again.
Vaxmonsky also won the 100-yard backstroke (55.23 seconds).
“I went in a little nervous because the guy who was second won the 100 fly and almost got that record, but once I got in the water I was completely fine.”
Senior captain Richard Poist was victorious in the 50-yard freestyle (23.14 seconds).
“It was a close race because of my competition from Easton, he almost had me on the flip turn, but I was able to keep my lead. It was a good race overall,” Poist said.
Poist came in second place in the 100-yard butterfly (57.82 seconds) and will compete in the event at states as well.
Vaxmonsky, Poist, junior Jack Slaysman and freshman Gavin Stearn won the 200-yard medley relay race. Their time of 1:43.15 bested the previous regional record of 1:44.29, set by a Queen Anne’s team in 2015.
Even though Poist and Vaxmonsky earned regional titles in individual events, they seemed more proud to capture one as a relay team.
“It was the first event of the meet. It was a good start,” Vaxmonsky said. “It made everybody happy that we broke it. It gave us all adrenaline and hyped us up.”
“We broke the medley relay record for the entire region, which was a very good feeling,” Poist added. “We didn’t even find out until the day after, so that was quite a shock.”
The foursome took second in the 400-yard freestyle relay race (3:31.72) and will compete in the event at states.
“I’m really excited for the relays because those are the most fun,” Poist said. “I’m hoping to get my best time in the 50 freestyle, even thought the competition will be intense.”
He would like to place top eight or better in his individual events and possibly top three in the relays.
With three regional titles, Vaxmonsky said he feels confident going into states. He hopes to place top three in his events.
Decatur swimmers who placed top three in their individual regional events and have automatically advanced to states in those races are: Slaysman (100-yard breaststroke, second, 1:05.78; 50-yard freestyle, third, 24.16 seconds), Stearn (200IM, second, 2:08.97; 100-yard freestyle, second, 51.07 seconds), freshmen Katelyn Pizlo (500-yard freestyle, third, 6:12.69), Kayden Hamby (100-yard butterfly, third, 1:08.31) and Natalie Canham (200-yard freestyle, third, 2:11.47).
Canham, senior captain Mikayla Denault and sophomores Emma Sperry and Gracie Coker finished third in the 200-yard medley relay race (2:04.77).
Swimmers who qualified for states because of their times in individual regional events are: freshman Emma Coyman (200IM, fourth, 2:33.94), Sperry (100-yard butterfly, fifth, 1:10.22; 50-yard freestyle, sixth, 27.44 seconds) and Canham (100-yard backstroke, fourth, 1:09.33).
Coker, Sperry, Canham and Kayden Hamby will compete at states because of their time of 1:49.4 in the 200-yard freestyle relay race. They finished in fourth place.
Kayden and Kylie Hamby, Denault and Pizlo will also go to states for the 400-yard freestyle relay race. They came in fourth with a time of 4:16.37.
Junior Patrick O’Halloran is an alternate in the 200IM. He placed sixth (2:27.95) at regionals. He will take the trip to states in case anyone drops out and he can step in.
Easton took first place in the boys’ competition, scoring 364 points. Decatur came in second place with 319 points. Kent County finished third with 261.5 points.
“I think the boys did excellent. We had a really strong showing with a number of best times,” Decatur Coach Steve Deakyne said. “I was happy overall with how we did. We won a handful of events including setting an east regional record in the 200 medley relay. That one’s been up for a little while. It’s been a few years since anyone’s broken that record.”
Kent Island won the girls’ regional title, racking up 362 points. Queen Anne’s finished second with 342 points, followed by Decatur in third with 295.
“We had some really outstanding swims and some that were a little less than we expected, but overall I was very happy with the results and we definitely placed better and had more qualifying for states than I thought,” said Decatur Coach Kristina Watts. “I didn’t think all eight girls [who went to regionals] would be going to states. Two are only in relays, but relays are still important for the team score.”
Watts said earning their fastest times of the season is one of the goals at states. The girls need to concentrate on the little things, stay positive and keep their energy focused, she said.
“If we can get all best times that’s the perfect goal,” she said. “And, place as high as they possibly can, get the best times they can and end the season on a high note. I’m ready, I’m excited.”
“We only have five [boys] going, but I still think even with those five we can finish in the top 10 overall at states, including some top-eight finishes, and there’s a couple events where we have a chance to make podium top three,” Deakyne said. “They need to stay focused, take care of themselves and just be ready to go. I’m excited to have a strong finish.”