By David Wagner
The Western Albemarle girls swim team won their fifth consecutive state championship in February, eclipsing their closest competitor by 97 points. The boys team finished third, matching a best-ever school finish. In all, 23 different Warriors scored points at the meet and 11 earned All-State honors: Brynn Acker, Kyle Benson, A. J. Donovan, Colleen Higgins, Aaron James, Morgan James, Caroline Riordan, Brazil Rule, Remedy Rule, Charlotte Rumsey and Marcus Van Clief.
Senior Remedy Rule led the way for the Lady Warriors, capping off a superb high school career, winning the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, setting new state records and meeting All-American time standards. She was also a member of the state runner-up 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams. Remedy will attend the University of Texas next year where she will swim for the perennial powerhouse Longhorns.
Senior Acker also finished her high school career in outstanding fashion, swimming on the state runner-up 200 medley relay and earning an 11th place finish in the 100 butterfly. Acker will attend North Florida University next year as a member of the swim team.
Higgins showed up big as well as a junior. Higgins was also a member of the state runner-up 200 medley relay and swam lifetime bests in the 200 individual medley (eighth place) and 100 backstroke (third place).
Sophomore James had probably her best meet of the season as well. James swam a season-best 24.98 to finish fifth in the 50 free and a season-best in the 100 freestyle for ninth place. She was also a member of the state champion 200 freestyle relay team composed of James, Riordan, Brazil Rule and Rumsey, and the state runner-up 400 freestyle relay team.
Riordan, a junior, swam a lifetime best in the 50 free (11th place) and was also a member of the state runner-up 200 medley relay.
Fellow junior Brazil Rule had a spectacular state meet as well. Brazil took sixth place in the 200 freestyle, was the state runner-up in 100 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay and anchored the state champion 200 freestyle relay team.
And freshmen Rumsey may have shone as brightly as anyone. In her first state meet, Rumsey swam lifetime bests in the 200 individual medley (fifth place) and the 100 breaststroke (fourth place), along with being a member of the state champion 200 freestyle relay and the state runner-up 400 freestyle relay. With three more years to compete at the high school level, Rumsey is loaded with potential and destined to lead the Warriors.
Seniors Kyle Benson and Marcus Van Clief led the boys to their third place finish at the 3A State Championship meet. Benson and Van Clief were both members of the state runner-up 200 freestyle relay, along with junior Aaron James and sophomore A. J. Donovan. Battling a stomach virus, Benson swam a lifetime best in the 100 freestyle to finish 11th, was a member of the seventh place 400 freestyle relay and the state runner-up 200 freestyle relay, which was faster than the previous state record.
Van Clief had his best-ever meet in his high school finale. He finished sixth in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free to go along with his state runner-up 200 freestyle relay and seventh place 400 freestyle relay.
James was literally a “Warrior” as a junior at the state meet. Just two weeks after being released from the hospital, James was the state runner-up in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events, breaking school records in the process.
Donovan swam lifetime bests in both the 50 free (fifth place) and the 100 butterfly (13th place) to go along with his state runner-up in the 200 freestyle relay and also a sixth place finish in the 200 medley relay.
Much credit goes out to Head Coach Dan Bledsoe and his staff. Not only did the girls win their fifth straight state title and the boys matched a school-best third place finish, but the Warriors continue to show up when it matters most. Bledsoe motivates his swimmers to give their best performances on the biggest stage. They continue to excel as a team, and individually.
These Warriors also had lifetime best showings at the state meet: Julia Elder, 50 free (15th place), Ian O’Donnell, 200 IM (17th place) and 100 butterfly (11th place), Jake Paulson, 100 butterfly (12th place) and 100 backstroke (12th place), McKenna Riley, 200 freestyle (13th place), Savannah Scarbrough, 100 breaststroke (sixth place), Matt Mandell, 100 breaststroke (11th place) and Jack Vaughn 100 breaststroke (13th place).