It's all Poly in city championships

Engineers see their way to boys, girls crowns


February 16, 2002|By Eric Brandner | Eric Brandner,SUN STAFF

The lights went off twice during the Baltimore City Swimming Championships at Morgan State last night, but that didn't stop Poly from finding its way to both boys and girls titles.

"I was turning around in the water," Poly senior Elena Spitzer said. "I wasn't trying to make fun of anyone. I was just kind of wondering what was going on."

Spitzer went on to win the girl's 500 freestyle with ease and the Engineers capped their perfect record in city competition by winning both the boys meet (338 points) and girls meet (325 points).

Fellow Poly senior Tristan Gerritsen, who took home four gold medals, also swam to a victory in the 500 in the darkened conditions.

"After my first individual, I was just thinking that I could win all of my events," he said. "This whole team is phenomenal because we have such a network.

"We feed off of each other individually. Somebody wins a gold, I'm as happy as they are. When somebody else wins a gold, I'm just as happy as they are."

Gerritsen, who had to sit out last year's championships with the flu, also claimed victory in the 200 IM, along with team victories in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.

The Engineers took seven of the first eight races, including victories by Kate Guth (girls 200 IM), Casey Hill (200 freestyle) and John Turwy (50 freestyle).

"It was unbelievable," Poly coach Brendan McElroy said. "I put my all into this and the kids put their all into this and it's good that they get to see the positive results of the hard work."

McElroy's definition of hard work included mandatory 6 a.m. practices.

"It was tough dragging myself out of bed, but it definitely paid off," Gerritsen said.

The only non-Engineer to take a gold medal in the first eight races was Western freshman Cheryl White, who outlasted Spitzer in the 200 freestyle.

White, who also won the 100 butterfly, dedicated her freestyle victory to Poly sophomore Tatiana Cheeks, who couldn't swim this year because of the neurosurgery last summer. White, who originally planned to attend Poly, gave one of her golds to Cheeks.

"It made me proud because I did something good for someone who did something good for me," she said.

White anchored the most exciting race of the evening, against Poly in the girls 200 freestyle relay. The Engineers led going into the final leg, and Poly's Christine Campbell was able to squeeze out a victory, touching the wall 57-hundredths of a second before White.

"There were a few races that were in question that could have changed things either way," McElroy said. "We had depth and that was critical."

Gerritsen anchored the Engineers' final victory and last race of the evening, bringing home his fourth gold.

"For me [the meet] was big because the last time I was in the championships, it was two years ago. We were co-champions with City," Gerritsen said. "Even though it's my last meet, I'm happy as can be."

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