Loyola's Oliver Bennett wins the 100 yard backstroke… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
Alex Porter remembers sitting in the stands at Loyola when he was just 8 years old, watching the Dons work their way to another Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference swimming championship.
The camaraderie, trust and athleticism among the swimmers resonated with Porter, who wanted nothing more than to play a key role with one of the region's most dominant programs. Porter realized his goal and his record-setting performance Saturday night helped the Dons win their 18th consecutive championship with 411.50 points, ahead of McDonogh (341.50), Calvert Hall (160) and Mount St. Joseph (121). Porter said the team responded to a challenge by coach Keith Schertle at the end of last season.
"I always knew I was coming to Loyola," said Porter, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. "I don't think anybody thought we'd be looking at 17 or 18 championships. The day after the MIAAs ended last season, we knew we had a ton of seniors and McDonogh only had about two. Keith put up the rosters for both teams and said, 'As it stands now, we will lose. So, you guys have to pick it up.' The fact that we are competitive, we did pick it up."
Porter broke an MIAA record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 45.52. He also broke a 33-year-old school record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21 seconds. Loyola also won the dual meet championship.
Gilman won its fourth consecutive B Conference title with 401 points, ahead of Spalding (232; 3), Severn (184), St. Paul's (119), St. Mary's (92), John Carroll (84) and Pallotti (57).
The Greyhounds, who were also crowned dual meet champs, won the 200 medley relay (1:41), 200 freestyle relay (1:38.24) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:18).
McDonogh gave the Dons an early run, winning the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:35.09 — a record time at Loyola's pool. Loyola, however, then took over by dominating the individual events. The Dons also won the 200 freestyle relay (1:25.66) and 400 freestyle relay (3:07.56).
Princeton-bound Oliver Bennett (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke) also won titles for Loyola. Drew Cosgarea (200 IM, 500 freestyle), Andrew Sovero (100 breaststroke) and Dennis Chen (200 freestyle) earned titles for McDonogh.
"There was added pressure because no one wants to be part of that first group that loses," Schertle said. "Three months ago, I had McDonogh as the favorite team. They swam well. But Alex broke two pool records. It was just fantastic."
Robbie Scheutz (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle), Jack Pollack (200 freestyle), Michael Morrow (100 backstroke) and Muhammad Hudhud (100 breaststroke) won individual titles for Gilman. Also winning were Severn's Jack Bremer (100 butterfly, 200 IM), Hunter Lussi of St. Paul's (500 freestyle),
"We have a nice corps of guys who are year-round swimmers," Gilman coach Ian Brooks said. "We exceeded my expectations in every way."