MIDDLETOWN — Middletown senior Jake Wornom wore a white Los Angeles Lakers No. 24 T-shirt on Monday, paying homage to Kobe Bryant one day after the former NBA great died in a helicopter crash.
“I grew up watching him,” Wornom said. “He was just merciless. He had no care in the world, he just scored and scored and scored.”
While he was a fan of basketball in general and Bryant in particular, Wornom never really went in for playing the sport himself. No, by the time he was 5, Wornom had already started swimming, which proved to be his forte.
These days, Wornom and fellow seasoned teammates like Thomas Hartinger and Ethan Hubble, along with a slew of younger contributors, have helped make Middletown’s boys swim team a force to be reckoned with on the Frederick County scene.
The Knights boys improved to a 6-0 by beating Frederick 107-69 on Monday at Middletown, and Middletown’s girls won 104-72.
With the Frederick County Public Schools Swimming and Diving championships scheduled for Feb. 6 and 8, Middletown is enjoying another quality season, which includes a signature victory over county juggernaut Oakdale on Dec. 19. It was the first time in recent memory the Knights had beaten the Bears.
“It was awesome,” Knights junior Hartinger said. “Every event was close. We all pulled through. A meet I’ll never forget.”
Yes, the Knights headed into this season with some proven performers with various strengths. Hartinger was always solid in the backstroke and has been making strides in the breaststroke; Wornom is tough in sprints; and Hubble — a junior — excels in the 100 butterfly and 200 free.
As usual, those three delivered on Monday, when each one was a triple winner. But to win consistently, they would need others.
“We lost a lot of people last year,” said Wornom, referring to seniors who graduated. “I’m surprised that we’re doing so well. We got some new guys who are pretty fast.”
“We’ve got a lot of good freshmen we didn’t expect to get this year taking places of our seniors last year who graduated,” said Hubble, adding that the Knights also get points from divers Jackson Loving and Logan Torreyson.
Newcomers and other underclassmen have provided the Knights with crucial points in meets throughout the season.
“We’ve got a lot of depth, that’s another reason why we’re doing so well,” Knights coach Eileen Chestnutt said. “We’ve got the first-place winners, but we’ve got the guys who come in and get the points underneath.”
As Wornom pointed out, Middletown has also done well in relays, and the Knights swept them on Monday.
Hartingter, Hubble, Wornom and Aidan Brown won the 200-yard medley relay. Brown, Frederick Kolias, Bryce Ramaekers and Benjamin Tabor won the 200-yard freestyle relay. Hubble, Jack Schreiber, Hartinger and Wornom won the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Schreiber was a triple winner, and Brown was a double winner.
Ben Schattenberg won the 100 back and 100 free for the Cadets (3-4).
The Middletown girls, less than two years after winning the Frederick County meet team title, improved to 5-2.
The Knights returned familiar names such as Kathryn Pressley, Eleanor Stafford and Julia Milner but have also been getting contributions from swimmers like sophomores Brianna Maybush and Marin Bartman.
“We’re working on the depth of the team,” Middletown coach Stacy MacMillan said. “So the girls are really tightening up their stroke, just working on their technique, their turns, trying to put the race together.”
Pressly and Stafford were both quadruple winners for the Knights, while Lauren Edsall and Josephine Hall were double winners.
Rachael Bostian was a triple winner for Frederick (4-3).