A Step Forward: Albemarle girls show improvement in Ben Hair meet

Albemarle's Colleen Farabaugh reacts after knocking more than nine seconds off of her 500-free seed time.

Only Albemarle’s girls swim team in 2017 could make a 2018 edition that swept the Ben Hair Swim Meet’s relay events and ran up a 437-343 point advantage over second place Western Albemarle headed into Thursday’s dive portion look not particularly deep.


Tuesday may have been a huge step toward a deeper, more dangerous Albemarle squad this year.


“Last year’s team had so much more depth but we’re getting better,” said Albemarle coach J.J. Bean. “Adah McDonald had a great meet, Adalee Lynch really stepped up. Those were girls who were in the middle of the pack who did a great job. It was fun to watch the middle tier of girls step up and race.”


The Patriots’ relay dominance led the way for the big margin over Western, but they also got some top notch individual performances, with Rachel Wang winning the 200 free while also taking third in the 100-fly and Maren Weathersby winning the 100-backstroke while snagging a runner-up finish in the 100-fly. Sophie Haise took second in the 100 free while Lynch followed close behind in fourth in that event. Colleen Farabaugh took second in the 500 free with teammate Morgan Breza finishing fourth in that event while Claire Moody took third in the 100 breaststroke and Adah McDonald finished fourth in the 100 backstroke.


That was enough to power the big lead and with those key holdovers like Wang and Weathersby combining with young talents like Moody and Breza, the Patriots are in the process of becoming a formidable squad. It certainly helped power them past Western.


“Albemarle swam very well, they had great energy and won most of the head-to-head challenges,” said Western coach Dan Bledsoe. “We had some solid swims and will continue to work to get better. We’re still just really young and we’re trying to figure out how to deal with the pressures of swimming in big meets.”


The second place Warriors finished as the runner-up in the 200 free relay and took third in both the 400 free and 200 medley relays. Kathryn Burr’s runner-up finish in the 200 free and her fifth in the 100 fly gave the Warriors a big lift while Kayleigh Jumper was the runner-up in the 100 backstroke. Claudia James took fifth in the 100 free, Sophie O’Donnell took sixth in the 100 free and Meredith Martin took fifth in the 500 free.


Two swimmers from Monticello and Louisa also had monster outings, with the event serving as a debut party for Monticello freshman Athena Vanyo and a reminder of how good Louisa’s Alexa Owen is. Owen won the 500 free easily and was the runner-up in the 200 IM. Vanyo won both the 200 IM and the 100 fly and led the Mustangs to a fourth in the 200 free relay. That helped push Monticello to a fourth place finish as a team behind Fluvanna County.


“Monticello is a team that’s going to do some really special things this year and in the years coming up, they’ve got a really talented group coming through on the girls side,” Bledsoe said. “The Fluvanna girls are going to be good too.”


The Flucos got a solid team performance with a runner-up in the 200 medley relay and a third place in the 200 free relay. Abigail Fuller won the 100 free and Abigail Harlow, a freshman won the 100 breast and took fourth in the 200 IM for the Flucos while Emma DiFazio was third in the 100 back.