Big Steps: Monticello, Fluvanna girls swimming finish in Class 3’s top five

Photo by Anna Isley

When Monticello’s Athena Vanyo made her move in the 100 butterfly, rallying from way back to win the event everyone in the Mustangs’ contingent was watching.


“That was amazing, we called it a Michael Phelps move — we weren’t sure what the result was and we saw it pop up on the screen we were excited,” said Monticello freshman Izzy Bradley. “We screamed, we jumped, our coaches cried, we were so proud of her.”


That kind of energy, enthusiasm and fast swimming helped power Monticello and Fluvanna’s girls teams to a pair of strong finishes in the Class 3 championships, with the Fluvanna girls taking third while the Mustangs finished fourth. The win gave the Jefferson District three of the state’s top four slots with Western winning the state title.


Fluvanna took third as a team with 225 points on the strength of two monster relay wins, with the Flucos winning both the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay races.


“It was pretty cool, we just went out to race it as well as we could,” said Fluvanna sophomore Abigail Fuller. “I was kind of surprised with how well we did.”


Maialen Sudupe, Abigayle Harlow, Allyson Lounsbury and Fuller combined for the 200 medley win while Sudupe, Harlow, Fuller and Emma DiFazio took home the 200 free championship.


Fuller also scored big-time points as the runner-up in the 100-free and the third place finished in the 50-free sprint. Harlow finished fifth in the 100-breaststroke and seventh in the 100-fly while Sudupe took third in the 100-back and seventh in the 200-IM.


Lounsbury’s ninth in the 100-fly and 10th in the 50-free rounded out the bulk of the individual scoring, though earlier in the week Lauren Davis took sixth in the dive and Logan Brophy grabbed 10th in the dive.


The Flucos also took eighth as a team in the 400-free relay.


Monticello’s fourth place finish with 204 points was a big step for a growing program that’s added a ton of talent to its ranks in the last two years. Vanyo’s win in the 100-fly as a sophomore was the tip of the iceberg for the Mustangs.


“We were all coming out expecting great times and I think us pushing each other and having all this confidence, I think that’s what made us swim fast,” Vanyo said. “This year we really wrapped up some confidence in each other and I think we pulled it off.”


Vanyo added a third place in the 100-free while Bradley, just a freshman, stormed to a win in the 50-free and just missed notching an individual state title double in the 100-back, getting out-touched at the wall by just .11 seconds in a thriller. Another freshman, Elisabeth Bendall also just missed a state title, taking the runner-up spot in the 100-breaststroke just three hundreths of a second behind the champion while also notching an eighth place in the 200 IM.


“The freshmen that have come up and the sophomores have built on what has already been there,” Bradley said. “With the upperclassmen supporting us we really have something special.”


The Mustangs placed second in both the 200 medley relay and 200-free relay behind Fluvanna’s double title swims, with Bradley, Bendall, Vanyo and Kayleigh Stebbins combining in the 200-medley and Vanyo, Stebbins, Bradley and Kendall Walin teaming up in the 200-free race.


Monticello added a 10th place finish in the 400 free relay while Katie Jordan took fifth in the 500-free and 11th in the 200-free to notch some big points for the Mustangs. Stebbins added a 16th place finish in the 50-free.


“I’m so excited of all my teammates, we had amazing swims and that excitement leads to fast swimming,” Bradley said.


The William Monroe girls notched a trio of scoring finishes in the meet, with a 14th in the 200 medley relay, a 15th in the 400-free relay and Rachel Hill’s 16th place finish in the 200 IM.


Class 3 Boys

On the boys side of Class 3, Fluvanna finished sixth as a team, led by a fourth place finish in the 200-free relay.


Owen Strickland, Connor Bridge, Augustus Jones and Hunter Strickland combined for that fourth place finish. The Flucos also notched an eighth place finish in the 400-free relay final, with Owen Strickland, Josh Kershner, Austin Fairbanks and Bridge teaming up for the win.


Hunter Strickland scored twice as an individual, taking fifth in the 100-free and ninth in the 200 IM. Jones took eighth in the 100-breast and 11th in the 100-fly.


A pair of Fluco divers also scored, with Jason Dech taking fourth in the dive and Kamden Shephard taking seventh.


Monticello’s boys put together a strong outing in the relays, taking seventh in the 400-free, ninth in the 200-medley and 10th in the 200-free events. Jack Culbreath added a seventh in the 50-free and Andrew Lamb took 14th in the 200-free.


William Monroe freshman Ryan Taylor had a monster day for the Dragons, taking fifth in the 100-breaststroke and eighth in the 200 IM. The Dragons also posted a 14th in the 200-medley relay.