Loyola made quite an entrance at last night's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association swimming and diving championships. The Dons were the last of the eight-school field to enter the natatorium.
Then, to mark their territory, they circled the pool in front of the other seven teams, before settling down underneath seven jackets, each representing one of the seven straight MIAA titles Loyola had won.
The host Dons then backed their display of bravado before an overflow crowd of 400 by winning their eighth consecutive championship, finishing with 376.5 points, 130.5 more than second-place Calvert Hall (246). Gilman finished in third with 195 points.
"We're excited about having such a strong tradition, so we like to come in with a little bit of a bang once in a while," said senior Patrick Brugh, who won four gold medals - including his third straight 100-yard breaststroke title - and helped set a conference records in the 400-yard freestyle relay. "It helps keep our team spirit up. We get the little guys, the middle schoolers, to come in with us. It makes them feel good, too."
In all, Loyola won six of 12 events. Aside from Brugh, senior Bradley Schertle also claimed four gold medals, including his second straight 200- and 500-yard freestyle titles. Senior Dylan Smith took three gold medals: He won the 100-yard butterfly and swam legs in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay.
"The last couple of years, I've said that we don't have stars; we win with depth," said Loyola coach Keith Schertle, whose team has not lost a dual meet since 1993. "We still have depth, but we have some kids that can really swim fast. Patrick Brugh was a standout, Dylan Smith was a standout, Bradley Schertle was a standout. And every other swimmer scored."
Also of note, McDonogh senior Erik Weinberg successfully defended his 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke titles. Weinberg set a conference record in the individual medley, finishing in a time of 1:55.91. But his effort only put a small dent in a dominating Loyola performance.
"To be able to come in and say you have never lost in the MIAA, it's one of those things that I don't think there's another sport out there that can say it," Bradley Schertle said. "You can't put it into words."