During the meet's last race, the 400-yard boys freestyle relay, JohnCarroll coach Al Herlinger realized he should have mixed his two teams.
Going into the finale, the Patriots trailed defending county champ Bel Air by two points. Herlinger expected the Bobcats team of Chris Holloway, Jeff Meyer, Rob Flynn and Greg Hess to win the race, but if the two Patriot teams could finish second and third, the Bobcatswouldn't win the meet.
Sean McCarthy, Ben Lee, Chris Canlas and Jeff Becroft finished second for the Patriots. But Havre de Grace's Tony Meehan, Jeff Graybeal, Josh Cook and Chad Packard beat the Patriots' second team by a couple of seconds.
The Bobcats prevailed, 266-264. Havre de Grace wasthird with 108.
Herlinger, who knew Bel Air would probably win most of the races, had spent hours jostling a lineup to maximize second- and third-place points. He made the right decisions on most races, but if he had known the meet would be so close, he would have made one change.
"I should have split my last relay teams, but it didn't even enter my head until they started. That probably would have endedus in a tie. But this was a great victory for us. By what I calculated, we should have lost by about 20."
Coaching strategy plays an important part in any close meet, said Bel Air coach Janus Shimp. "He's an old pro at that," said Shimp. "It's the first time we've gone against each other. It feels pretty good to win even though we did it by the skin of our teeth."
Herlinger, who returned to the Patriots after three years off, had more strength in his girls team, while Shimp had the better boys team.
"John Carroll has a very good girls team," said Shimp. "It was important on the boys side that we hold them off and score as high as possible."
Bel Air's top performances came from Chris Holloway (200 individual medley, 2 minutes, 7.07 seconds; 100 fly, 1:00.6), Rob Flynn (200 free, 2:02.63; 500 free, 5:19.06), Kevin Murach (50 free, 23.60; 100 back, 1:01.31) and Erik Jankowiak (100 free, 54.97).
The Bobcats also won all the boys relays -- Murach, Greg Hess, Jeff Meyer, Jankowiak (200 IM, 1:55.77), Holloway, Jankowiak, Murach, Flynn (200 free, 1:43.24) and Holloway, Meyer, Flynn, Hess (400 free, 3:52.55).
In the girls races, the Bobcats alsopicked up some key wins from sophomore Jenn Murach (50 free, 25.38; 100 free, 56.56) and freshman Dominique Cosco (200 free, 2:08.62). Kathy Rising won the 100 breast stroke in 1:11.39. Cosco, Rising, BetsySteinen and Murach won the 200 IM relay in 2:03.60.
For the Patriots, Liz Harris won two races (200 IM, 2:17.30; 100 fly, 1:05.76) while Joanne Sonberg (500 free, 5:37.53) and freshman Carrie Dannenfelser (100 back, 1:10.86) won one each. Heather Martin won the diving.
In the relays, John Carroll also picked up two wins -- Michelle Kistner, Sonberg, Harris, Carrie Dannenfelser (200 free, 1:53.37), and Kistner, Sonberg, Harris, Dannenfelser (400 free, 3:58.53).
Andy Dixon posted the only Patriots win in a boys race (100 breast, 1:09.07).
For Havre de Grace, Matt Jay won the diving competition. Pollack finished third in the boys 100 free, setting a school record of 1:02.51.