Eagles three-peat in MIAA A swimming, caps perfect season



by Tom Hayden

Special to VSN

Following a regular season in which they went undefeated in dual meets, McDonogh School capped off a perfect campaign Saturday evening, winning its third straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Conference A Conference swimming title at the Rosenburg Aquatic Center on its Owings Mills campus.

McDonogh, which went 6-0 during the dual meet schedule, accumulated 507 points, well clear of runner-up Loyola Blakefield (384). St. Mary’s (247), Gilman School (245), Mount St. Joseph (197), Archbishop Spalding (146) and Calvert Hall College (132) rounded out the field.

“Every team has their ups and downs,” said McDonogh coach Scott Ward, whose team along with Loyola has won every MIAA A championship since the inception of the league (1995-96 school year). “But this team has been really good all year. I was very happy with the way they swam today. We had a lot of great swims against a lot of really good competition. Our seniors did well and some of our younger swimmers also did really well.”

The Eagles won five of the eight individual events and two of the three relays. McDonogh junior Colin Bitz was the day’s only double winner, taking both the 100-yard freestyle (46.10 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (48.83) in meet record fashion. Junior Nate Sukeena took the 200 individual medley (1:52.18), sophomore Alan Cherches won the 50 free (21.44) and senior Zach Smith captured the 500 free (4:28.56).

“I could not have asked for a better way to end my senior season,” said Smith, who is headed to Florida State University this fall to swim and major in Cyber Security. “We won all of our dual meets and then won the championship today. In the 500, I was really hoping for the record. In the last relay, I could feel my legs giving way a little after racing in the 500.”

Bitz, Sukeena, Cherches and senior Ryan Atwood combined to take the 200 medley relay (1:32.32) in meet record time, and later, Sukeena, Atwood, Cherches and junior Brandon Wilson combined to take the 200 free relay (1:26.80). The Eagles were denied a relay sweep as Loyola seniors Zach Reid, Daniel Bednarski, junior Ben Myers and sophomore Ryan Branon edged them by two-tenths of a second (3:07.14 to 3:07.34) in the 400 freestyle relay.

Branon trailed by a second when he hit the water for the final leg, but chased down McDonogh’s Smith for the victory. He also set the meet record in the 100 butterfly (48.46).

“Ryan is amazing,” said Loyola second-year coach Nick Breschi. “He had a tremendous meet. A lot of our guys swam well today.”

St. Mary’s junior Patrick Hayburn captured the 200 free (1:40.44) and was second in the 100 free (46.56), while Mt. St. Joseph’s Jacob Wallace took the 100 breaststroke (55.70). St. Mary’s freshman Joseph Hayburn was second in the 50 free (21.67) and fourth in a loaded 100 back (50.87) and later both Hayburns and seniors Connor Drucis and Jonathan Edwards took third in the 400 free relay (3:10.88).

It was a strong showing for the Saints, who won the previous five MIAA B titles. The B finals take place Monday evening at Calvert Hall.

“All of the guys on our team had a really great meet,” Hayburn said. “We have a young, small team and for us to get third really showed how much we worked for this. Then for our relay to finish third in the 400 was a great way to end the meet and the season. I’m excited to be able to come back here next year and compete during my senior season.”



Team results: 1. McDonogh School, 507;
2. Loyola Blakefield, 384
3. St. Mary’s, 247
4. Gilman School, 245
5. Mount St. Joseph, 197
6. Archbishop Spalding, 146
7. Calvert Hall College, 132

2020 MIAA A Swim Results