County Swim Meet

Oakdale’s Tim Verby glides through the water on the first leg of the boys 400-yard freestyle relay, which his team won with a county record in February 2017. Verby and those Bears were among the top boys swimming teams in Frederick County history. But were they the best? Help determine the answer by voting in our poll at www.fredericknewspost.com.

What are the best high school teams in Frederick this fall?

Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ll likely have to wait until next spring to find out. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed fall and winter sports until after the first semester, which ends in January, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

So to help fill the void, The Frederick News-Post thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport.

Each week, we’ll feature a sport and list contenders from years past in that sport. Readers can visit www.fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.

Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.

This week’s sport: Boys swimming. May the best team win.

1989-90 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Frederick County champion

While the Frederick boys program didn’t set a national dual meet win streak record like the school’s girls program, it was still a force during the early 1990s.

This version of the Cadets kicked off that productive era, winning the first of four Frederick County boys team titles from 1990 to 1995. The only other team to win a crown during that stretch was Middletown in 1993 (see below).

The Cadets beat second-place Middletown 99-61.5. Frederick’s bevy of high-level performers at the 1990 county meet included Rob Fox, Jon Blake and Brian Dominic.

Fox, a senior who was named The Frederick News-Post Swimmer of the Year, won the 200 IM and 100 free. Blake won the 200 free and 100 fly, while Dominic set a county record in the 100 back with a time of 56.72 seconds and was an all-county second-teamer in the 200 free.

Frederick’s Gian Polignano was an all-county second-teamer in the 500 free.

Fox, who later became a swim coach in the county, and Dominic went on to swim at the University of Maryland.

1992-93 Middletown Knights

Accomplishments: Frederick County champion

Powered by Beau Wiebel, one of the most accomplished swimmers to ever come out of Frederick County, Middletown won its first Frederick County meet title by knocking off three-time defending champ Frederick.

Wiebel’s name would be plastered all over the Middletown swim team’s record board by the time he graduated and continued a career that would see him earn All-American honors as a University of Georgia swimmer who competed for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2000.

But in 1992-93, Wiebel was a freshman, one who made an immediate impact for the Knights.

At the county championships, he set a meet record in the 200 free (1:50.22), won the 100 back and teamed up with Travis Loop, Eric Thomas and Kris Marcantonio on a winning 200 free relay team that set a meet record (1:38.43).

The Knights, coached by Rick McQuillen, ended up beating second-place Frederick 104-99. They would have to wait 20 years to win their next boys team crown at the county meet.

As for Wiebel, he was in the early stages of a great career. As a senior at Middletown, he successfully defended his 200 IM title at the prestigious Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships, which comprised top swimmers from public and private high schools from Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. He won with a time of 1 minute, 51.40 seconds, which set a Metro meet record and made him eligible for Public High School All-American status.

Wiebel later qualified for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, where he placed sixth in the 400 IM and 200 IM. The top two earned trips to the Games in Sydney, Australia. In the 200 IM finals at the Trials, he fell 1.39 seconds shy of representing his country at the Olympics. And in the 400 IM preliminaries, the Middletown grad placed seventh, four places ahead of 15-year-old Michael Phelps.

1999-2000 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Undefeated regular season, Frederick County champion

As the millennium approached, Frederick was once again the team to beat.

The Cadets captured their third straight team title at the 2000 county meet and their eighth in 14 years. They didn’t win as many events at the county meet as the previous season, taking five instead of nine, but their 146-35 win was more than convincing.

And the second-place team the Cadets beat, Urbana, had Yuri Suguiyama, who went on to compete in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 and 1,500 free, earn NCAA All-American honors with the University of North Carolina and earn a trip to the 2012 London Olympics with the U.S. team because he coached budding superstar Katie Ledecky.

Suguiyama shined at the 2000 county meet, winning the 500 and 200 free crowns, but it wasn’t enough to stave off Frederick’s points-earning machine.

Leading the way for Frederick was News-Post Swimmer of the Year Jaefen Thielker. The Cornell-bound senior won the 200 IM and was on the winning 200 medley and 400 free relay teams.

Another longtime cornerstone for Frederick was Rider-bound senior B.J. Tokar, who won the 200 IM, was runner-up in the 100 back and swam with Thielker, Peter Hassett and Brad Fritz on victorious 200 medley and 400 free relay teams.

“Those are guys I could count on year after year, meet after meet. What a 1-2 combination,” Cadets coach Don Feinberg said back then. “They will be surely missed.”

But with underclassmen like junior Hassett, who won the 100 breaststroke and finished second to Suguiyama in the 500 free, the Cadets (who went unbeaten during the regular season) still had fine days ahead of them, winning county boys team titles again in 2001 and 2002.

2005-06 Thomas Johnson Patriots

Accomplishments: Undefeated in regular season, Frederick County champion

Every team on this list won a team title at the Frederick County meet, and most of them did so in dominant fashion. None of the others were as dominant as the Patriots were at the 2006 meet, however.

TJ won all 12 events at the county meet — Patriots coach Kevin Conley pointed out that feat hadn’t been accomplished before and hasn’t been done since — en route to beating second-place Urbana 171-97.

This TJ team not only won the program’s fourth straight county team title, but it went unbeaten during the regular season for the fourth straight season.

The standout among standouts for the Patriots was senior Simone Melillo, who owned 10 of 11 team records at TJ by the time he left the program. At the county meet, Melillo won the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke with record-setting times (winning the latter by 13 seconds) and swam on two winning relay teams. Incidentally, Melillo’s county breaststroke record (59.27) still stands.

Melillio then won the 100 breaststroke with a 57.89 and the 200 IM with a 1:54.69 at the prestigious Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships. Both of those times broke his previous team records and made National time cuts for All-American status. A two-time Frederick News-Post Swimmer of the Year, Melillo went on to swim at Harvard.

As if having a swimmer of Melillo’s caliber wasn’t enough, the Patriots were loaded throughout the rest of their lineup. Heck, TJ even had a four-time county diving champion in Mike Kelly, who went on to dive for the University of North Carolina.

Other individual county champs for TJ this season were Bryan Crosson (50 and 100 free), Michael Lee (200 IM and 100 back) and Frank Reidler (200 and 500 free). Charlie Zhu and Chris Howell both swam on winning relay teams.

2006-07 Urbana Hawks

Accomplishments: Frederick County champion, Class 3A-2A-1A state champion

Urbana’s 2006-07 team epitomized the power of depth.

The Hawks boys didn’t win a single event at the Frederick County meet, yet they captured the program’s first — and to date, only — county boys team title by beating second-place and four-time defending champ TJ 128-115.

And that pattern held up at the inaugural MPSSAA state championships, where the Hawks became the first county boys team to win a state crown, beating second-place Middletown 298.5-192, despite not winning a single event. Granted, they scored in all 12 events.

“That just proves you don’t have to have individual state champions to win a team title,” Urbana coach Jim Kinsey said.

Ditto for the county, although the performances of News-Post all-county first-teamers A.J. Bean and Chris Howard gave a hint of how the Hawks won the crown.

At the county meet, Bean was second in the 200 free and 100 back and contributed to Urbana’s second-place 200 free and 200 medley relay teams.

Howard finished second in the 50 free and 200 free relay and third in the 100 free and 400 free relay.

As the meet progressed, the points just kept piling up for the Hawks.

2009-10 Walkersville Lions

Accomplishments: Frederick County champion, Class 3A-2A-1A state champion

Some successful teams are dominant, others are clutch. The 2009-10 Walkersville Lions seem to fall into the latter category.

At the Frederick County meet, the Lions got 36 points in the final two events to edge second-place and two-time defending champ Thomas Johnson, giving Walkersville its first county team crown in 25 years.

Then, the Lions pulled out a 269-259 win over second-place North Harford to win a state title. No Frederick County boys team has won a state title since.

At the county meet, Walkersville beat TJ 124-114.5. Kent Southern contributed a lot to the Lions’ much-needed haul of points in the final two events, winning the penultimate event, the breaststroke, and then teaming up with Sam Ciocco, Brad Updegraff and Jared Grimes to place second in the 400 free relay.

Ciocco was Walkersville’s only other county champ, winning the 500 free, but the Lions got points from others like Updegraff (second in the 500; third in the 200 IM) to help them get their first county team crown since 1985.

Walkersville needed some late heroics near the end of the state meet, too. In the 100 breaststroke, the Lions used a win from Southern and a third-place finish from Jesse Sillimian to help fend off North Harford.

“I’ve said this before. This is a second-half team,” Lions coach Peggy Patschak told The Frederick News-Post. “It still holds true. We came on strong at the end and got the points when we needed them. We’ve done this before.”

Southern also won the 200 IM at the state meet (he placed second in that event at the counties), while Ciocci won the 500 free.

2016-17 Oakdale Bears

Accomplishments: Undefeated regular season, Frederick County champion

Frederick County’s newest program quickly became its latest dynasty, as this Oakdale team won its fourth straight county team crown and helped prolong a streak of county titles that would reach six.

Like other county dynasties (the Bears won seven of eight county crowns from 2012 to 2019), Oakdale had numerous teams worthy of being on this list, but it’s hard to argue against including this edition of the Bears.

At the county meet, Oakdale swimmers broke five records and won nine of 12 events en route to beating second-place Middletown 175-108.

The Bears set county records in all three relays. Christian Tolino, Logan Bolesta, Tim Verby and Collin Mood won the 200 medley relay with a 1:39.77. Justin Baek, James Verby, Bolesta and Matthew McNulty won the 200 free relay with a 1:32.82. And Baek, James Verby, Mood and Tim Verby won the 400 free relay with a time of 3:23.11.

Oakdale’s other county records that day came from Tim Verby’s victories in the 50 free (21.98) and 100 free (47.22).

James Verby won the 200 and 500 free at the counties, and Bolesta won the 100 breaststroke with a 59.86, which came close to Melillo’s county mark.

As usual, the Bears went undefeated during the regular season. At the time, Oakdale’s boys program hadn’t lost a dual meet since 2012, and it would continue that win streak until falling to Middletown in December 2019.

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