On last lap, NDP edges McDonogh for title

Narrow win in final relay caps Blazers' rally

January 22, 2000|By Andrea Leand | Andrea Leand,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Their undefeated records this season foreshadowed another photo finish, and in the end, only six-tenths of a second in the final race separated victor Notre Dame Prep from McDonogh in Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland swimming.

A wise lineup and well-developed team depth allowed last year's champion Blazers to retain their title with a come-from-behind, 49-45 victory at McDonogh yesterday. In a replay of last year's heated meet, Notre Dame Prep clinched the last three races to preserve its perfect record and move to 10-0.

"I was shaking by the end," said NDP coach Lisa Wiegmann. "I expected to be down going into the back [races], but eventually, our team depth came through. McDonogh looked so strong in the beginning, but we just kept fighting."

The Eagles' start in winning six of the first eight races gave them a 37-31 lead.

After McDonogh's Jinji Fraser and Amy Hancock spearheaded record-setting triumphs in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 200 medley relay -- two of five school records set by the Eagles -- an upset seemed at hand. Fraser set records in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and Hancock broke the 100 butterfly record.

"We swam well in breaking so many of our records," said coach Brent Miller, whose Eagles fell to 8-1. "But maybe the placement of our swimmers didn't work for us. We tried different mock meets to see the different matchups, but our strategy did not work. We wanted to take the lead early and try [to] hold up until the finish, but they were just too strong at the end."

Momentum shifted after Notre Dame Prep's Bridget Kimmel won the 100 backstroke in 1 minute, 2.15 seconds, and Kelly Vaughan finished second at 1: 03.82. Teammate Kate Ryan's subsequent victory in the 100 breaststroke evened the score at 42 and set up the showdown for IAAM bragging rights in the 400 freestyle relay.

McDonogh took a one-stroke lead at the outset, but Notre Dame Prep freshman Kimmel closed the gap in the third leg. Anchor Laura Nolan, who won the 50 and 100 freestyles, overtook the Eagles' Liz Williams in the final lap. Encouraged by screams of support, the Blazers senior took a half-stroke lead at the turn and sealed the victory with an outstretched arm.

"We were swimming out of our skins," Nolan said after the Blazers finished in 3: 47.31 to McDonogh's 3: 47.91. "During the race, I could hear the screams from my teammates cheering, but once I dove in, I was digging for the walls. I thought we were stronger in the last race, but we really had to turn up the volume to pull this out."

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