Swimming 2

Urbana’s Claire McIlmail swims to victory in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2011 MPSSAA Class 4A Swimming Championships. McIlmail and those Hawks were among the finest girls swimming teams in Frederick County history. But were they the best? Help decide 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: Girls swimming. May the best team win.

1985-86 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Undefeated in dual meets; Frederick County meet champion

The Frederick High School girls swimming program produced one of Frederick County’s best dynasties — not just among swim teams, regardless of gender, but among any high school sport.

Guided by legendary coach Don Feinberg, the Cadets won a then-national record 137 straight dual meets, a streak that lasted from February 1983 to December 1997. During that dominant stretch, the Cadets also won 14 of 15 county meet titles between 1983 and 1997 — Thomas Johnson won in 1993.

A slew of teams from this program that were part of that streak could’ve been included on this list, but this 1985-86 team was chosen to represent the early years of that dynasty.

The Cadets rolled to a 123-79 win over second-place Middletown in the county meet.

Frederick’s Stacey Krantz set a county-meet record by winning the 500 freestyle with a time of 5 minutes, 39.27 seconds. The Cadets’ 200 medley relay team of Christy Hahn, Elaine Baldwin, Kathy Hewetson and Kristi Marks also set a county record with a 2:02.65.

Also at counties, Hahn won the 100 backstroke, Krantz won the 200 free and Trish Stahler won the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.

1994-95 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Undefeated in dual meets; Frederick County meet champion

By this point, Frederick’s dual-meet win streak was into its second decade, and there were plenty of standout swimmers who continued to keep the run going.

Likewise, Frederick maintained its grip on the county meet title, beating second-place TJ 111-72. This was the second of four straight county crowns for the Cadets.

Leading the way was senior Chrissie Hassett. At the county meet, she won the 500 free and 200 free and swam on winning and county-meet record-setting 200 medley and 400 free relay teams.

That 200 medley relay team (which won with a 1:59.58) included Shawna Hippensteel, Beth Mallard and Betsy Hassett. The 400 free relay team (which won with a 3:57.23) included Kristine Looney, Betsy Hassett (a future Frederick News-Post Swimmer of the Year) and Brady McGuire.

Over the next two seasons, Frederick would remain unbeaten in dual meets and win county crowns. But its rival, Thomas Johnson, would soon mount a dynasty of its own.

2002-03 Thomas Johnson Patriots

Accomplishments: Undefeated in dual meets; Frederick County champion; Eighth overall at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships

As mentioned earlier, in 1993 TJ became the only team besides Frederick to win a girls county meet team title between 1983 (the event’s inaugural year) and 1997.

So, perhaps it was fitting that the Patriots ended up becoming the next dynasty in Frederick County girls swimming, mounting a lengthy dual-meet win streak (although not as lengthy as Frederick’s) and winning eight county team titles, including nine straight from 1998 to 2007.

Just as fittingly, the coach of this team — which spent the season extending its dual-meet win streak to 60 and won the program’s sixth straight county crown — was Kelby Conley, a star who helped the 1993 Patriots win that county girls team title 10 years earlier.

This time, TJ rolled to a 161-103 win over second-place Middletown.

The Patriots then placed eighth overall at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships (the Metros), where local swimmers competed before the MPSSAA started holding state championships in 2007.

With 110 points at the Metros, the Patriots fell just seven points shy of cracking the top five. That’s quite an impressive showing at a meet comprised of public and private school swimmers from Maryland (including swimming-rich Montgomery County), D.C. and Northern Virginia.

TJ was led by Jennifer Thackston, The Frederick News-Post Swimmer of the Year. At the county meet, she won the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke and swam on the Patriots’ winning 200 medley and 400 free relay teams. At the Metros, she placed second in the 200 IM with a time of 2:08.33, which beat her own team record and was an All-American Consideration time.

Also at the county meet, TJ’s Liz Lebherz won the 50 and 100 free, while Kelsey Tokar won the 200 and 500 free. Those swimmers earned all-county first-team honors. Second-teamers Danielle Bernstein, Sophie McCormick and Karen Younkins also provided the Patriots with points.

2007-08 Middletown Knights

Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A-1A state champion

After finishing second to Urbana at the inaugural state meet in 2007, the Knights won their first state crown.

Middletown accomplished that feat by beating second-place Frederick 230.5 to 181.

Leading the way for the Knights was sophomore Katelyn Rossick. At the state meet, she won the 200 IM (breaking her own state record with a 2:09.88) and the 100 free and swam the anchor leg on the winning 400 free relay team. She won the 200 IM and 100 free at the county meet, too, and was The Frederick News-Post co-swimmer of the year.

“She is so versatile,” said Knights coach Stacy MacMillan, who praised Rossick’s leadership. “She gets pumped up and she gets the other kids motivated as well as herself. I think that gives her an edge and makes her so special.”

Joining Rossick on that state-champion 400 free relay team were Holly Roumeliotis, Sara Hiller and Samantha Miner. Roumeliotis, an all-county first-teamer, also won the 200 free state title.

2010-11 Urbana Hawks

Accomplishments: Undefeated in dual meets; Class 4A-3A state champion; Frederick County meet champion

Urbana was a dynasty during this era, and this team more than did its part to keep that run going.

The 2010-11 Hawks won their fourth straight county team crown (they got another one the following season before the streak was snapped by Oakdale) and captured their second state title.

The Hawks even possessed one of Frederick County’s most accomplished divers in sophomore Lydia Lehnert, who later starred at Iowa University, was a U.S. Olympic Team Diving Trials qualifier in 2012 and 2016 and now is Mount St. Mary’s diving coach.

With such firepower, Urbana rolled at the Frederick County meet, crowning champions in 10 of 12 events (Thomas Johnson star Margaret Manning won the other two) and beating second-place TJ by 100 points.

Urbana swimmers set four county meet records: Brigid Kavanaugh, Kate Zimmerman, Claire McIlmail and Jessica Jimenez in the 200 medley (1:54.80); Kavanaugh, Hannah Edler, Amanda Sorna and Alexa Santis in the 200 free (1:45.87); Jimenez, Santis, Zoe McIlmail and Claire McIlmail in the 400 free (3:44.25); and versatile freshman Claire McIlmail in the 100 butterfly with a 59.33.

The Hawks also got county crowns from Zoe McIlmail (200 free), Claire McIlmail (200 IM), Jimenez (100 free), Sydney Williams (500 free), Santis (backstroke) and Lehnert (diving).

Helmed by coach Brooke Reinsfelder, Urbana beat second-place Severna Park 325.5-300 at the state meet. Claire McIlmail (200 free), Williams (500 free) and Santis (backstroke) won state crowns. The only notable setback came when Urbana placed second to Severna Park in the 400 free relay, snapping the Hawks’ win streak in that event at 48.

“They were going after that, too,” Hawks coach Jim Kinsey told The Frederick News-Post. “But I asked them, state title or longevity in the 400? They chose state title.”

2010-11 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A-1A state champion

Yet another team from the 2010-11 season makes this list. While this one obviously didn’t win a county meet title (see above), it is the only county swim team — boys or girls — to successfully defend its state title.

Just as noteworthy, this team featured standout Hanne Borgersen, who later starred at the University of Virginia. Borgersen was a force who helped rewrite the record book of Frederick County’s most storied girls swimming program.

After being sidelined earlier in the season (including at the county meet) with tendinitis in both shoulders, Borgersen returned with a vengeance for the regional and state meets. At the latter, the junior swam the anchor leg on both the 200 free and 400 free relays, helping the Cadets not only win each event but break team records that had stood since 1997 (a 1:45.76 in the 200 and a 3:49.37 in the 400).

“Taking down those records means an awful lot,” Frederick coach Renee Huffer said. “Some of those girls are seniors. They’ve been trying to take down those records for four years.”

Borgersen also won state titles in the 200 free and 100 butterfly, and she set team records in each event that season (1:53.6 in the 200 free and 59.32 in the 100 fly).

As if having a talent like Borgersen wasn’t enough, the Cadets had another rising star in freshman Page Fox. Fox won the 100 free and swam on those winning and record-setting 400 and 200 free relay teams. Incidentally, as a senior, Fox helped the Cadets win their first county meet girls team title since 1997 and was The Frederick News-Post’s 2014 Swimmer of the Year.

The Cadets also got contributions from swimmers like Carolyn Slife and Jordan Chamblee, who both swam on the state-champion 400 relay team, and Natalie Ahearn and Kira Huber, who both swam on the state-champion 200 free relay team.

2015-16 Walkersville Lions

Accomplishments: Undefeated in dual meets, Frederick County champion, third place at 3A-2A-1A meet

No doubt, heading into the county meet with an undefeated dual-meet record was an achievement for the 2015-16 Walkersville Lions.

But they had done that very same thing the previous season, only to fall short of capturing the program’s first county meet team title after they got edged out by Oakdale.

This time, though, the Lions won that elusive county crown, beating second-place Urbana 106-97.

At that meet, Julia Wadding won the 200 and 500 freestyles, Justine Wantz won the 100 free, and a slew of other Lions placed in events to keep pushing the team’s point total higher.

After Walkersville’s boys program wasted little time winning a county team title, doing so at the inaugural meet in 1983, the school’s girls team now had a crown.

“We’ve been waiting for it for a long time,” said Lions coach Sara Franciscovich, who was a standout swimmer for TJ.

The Lions then went on to place third at the state meet, a respectable showing for a Frederick County team after dominant Montgomery County began competing in state meets in 2012. Wantz helped the cause by winning a state title in the 100 backstroke.

Wantz, Wadding and Alyssa Neher were all all-county first-teamers, and Katy Plum and Madisen Eyler were contributors.

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