The Weston High girls swim team knew East Catholic was its primary competition for the Class S team crown. The Eagles had won the last three state titles, while Weston finished second in 2009, third in 2008 and fourth in 2007. This year was the final chance for Weston's seniors to walk away with state hardware.
The Trojans earned their state title, but it wasn't by much. Weston finished with 568.5 points to East Catholic's 561.5. For the tight-knit senior group of Karen Bottger, Lauren Garner, Ali Bertan, Paige Goldstein and Georgia Flynn, victory tasted oh-so-sweet.
"It was awesome,'' Bottger said. "We definitely deserved it. It was the most awesome night of my life."
Coach Tom Grace said after the trials that he though the Trojans had a shot. "We swam fast, but not too fast,'' he said. "We recognized that we would have a chance."
On the final night, Weston got contributions from everyone. The 200-free relay team of freshmen Dacia Gross and Katharine Johnson, junior Cathryn Ledwick and Bottger picked up Weston's only first-place finish. Bottger took second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 500 free. She also swam on the second place 400-free relay with Johnson and sophomores Alessandra Edgar and Olivia Clark.
Besides the seniors, other girls who picked up valuable points for Weston were Brenna Nimkoff, Keturah Sarno, Hannah Schroeder, Julia DiMarco, Katherine Angelidis, Lauren Solinsky and Lydia Sykes. The underclassmen made important contributions. The seniors set expectations not only for this year but also for the future.
"All of us sat down and talked about how we had to be leaders,'' Karen said. "We know there are a lot of underclassmen who hadn't been through this before. They'll need to know what to do next year."
The pressure will be on next year. It's one thing to win a championship it's another thing to defend it.
"The toughest season is the one after you win a state championship,'' Grace said. "These swimmers are committed to the program. It's a talented group. The challenge will be to see if we can do it again."
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