Western Albemarle junior August Lamb didn’t feel great during the Class 3 state championship’s morning prelims Friday at SwimRVA in Richmond. Whether it was nerves, the moment itself or something else, Lamb just didn’t feel like himself after his preliminary swim in the 200 freestyle.
“I didn’t feel great in the water, I was feeling a little nervous for the rest of the meet,” Lamb said.
So Lamb and Western coach Dan Bledsoe had a talk. Bledsoe has coached Lamb since he was five, so he had a pretty good idea of what they needed to discuss.
“We just had a really good conversation, I told him ‘Everybody on the team is going to love you regardless, just go out there and be you’,” Bledsoe said. “It was just essentially ‘I love you and you’re going to do great things and just trust yourself and relax.’ You could see from the moment he dove in he was just like a new kid.”
Lamb unleashed a monster performance in the Friday night finals to help power the Warriros to a runaway victory for the team’s second state championship in the last three years. The Warriors piled up 467.5 points to second place and defending champion Hidden Valley’s 328 points.
Lamb was the centerpiece to the win, taking second place in the night’s third event, the 200 freestyle with a strong performance just a second behind the first place swimmer from Tabb Nick Talati.
“It was great to get a second place and that just set the stage for the 100 free,” Lamb said. “I’m just so stoked to have that win and that record.”
In the 100 free Lamb went from strong to sublime, setting a new Class 3 state record with a championship swim of 46.15, outpacing the previous record set in 2015 by .16 seconds. It was also the best representation of the Warriors’ dominant outing as four Western swimmers finished on the podium in the event, with Stephane Karp, senior Johnny Riordan and senior A.J. Given following Lamb. Lamb, Riordan, Jason Heilman and Noah Hargrove also won an event championship in the 200 freestyle relay.
“(The seniors) have really set the tone for the team,” Bledsoe said. “I’m going to miss them a lot.”
Hargrove had nearly as big of an impact as Lamb as the sophomore took second in the 200 IM, second in the 500 free and swam that leg of that title winning 200 free relay squad.
Western scored big in the dive where Hidden Valley didn’t have any competitors thanks in part to sophomore William Peritz’ state championship performance on Thursday in the event, but even without the dive, Western would’ve won by more than 90 points. Also in the dive, Nate Hargrove took fourth, Wade Donalson took fifth and Trevor Donalson took seventh for the Warriors.
The Warriors did a lot of the hard work in the prelims, stacking the final heats with swimmers to guarantee big points in the night session, but the night started well when the 200 medley relay team of Peyton Wray, Tyce Winter, Heilman and Colin Gibbons took second place in the first event. They also took seventh in the 400 free to round out a huge day in those three events.
Karp also added a fourth place finish in the 200 free. Zach Bowen snagged sixth in that event while Josiah Walcott took 13th. In the 200 IM behind Hargrove, Vaughn took ninth and Evan Sposato took 10th. In the 50 free, Riordan was fourth while Heilman took fifth, Winter finished ninth and Given took 11th. Heliman added an eighth place finish in the 100 butterfly, with Bowen taking 11th while Walcott took 15th.
Wray took fifth and Vaughn grabbed seventh in the 500 free behind Hargrove while Andrew Holzwarth tacked on a 12th place finish. Wray also took third in the 100 backstroke with Max Tracey taking fifth and Sposato taking seventh. Holzwarth took 15th in that event. Winter took sixth in the 100 breaststroke while Alex He took 16th.
Monticello boys take eighth
The Monticello boys team finished in eighth place as a team, powered by a third place in the 200 free relay and a sixth place in the 400 free relay. Individually, Bracken Eddy carried the day, taking third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100-breaststroke.
Owen Linville took 11th in the 200 freestyle while Jack Culbreath finished 10th in the 50 free.
Monroe boys finish 11th
William Monroe’s boys team placed 11th in the meet led by a ninth place in the 200 medley relay and a sixth in the 200 freestyle relay.
Individually, Ryan Taylor finished 12th in the 200 IM and 13th in the 100 fly while Ahmed Zaatar took 14th in both the 50 free and the 100 free. Jackson Ward added a 12th place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
Strickland powers Fluvanna
Fluvanna’s boys took ninth place in the 200 free relay and got a pair of strong performances from freshman Hunter Strickland who took 13th in the 200 IM and 11th in the 100 free.