To States and Beyond


By: Eli Locke

Sentry Staff Reporter

It is no secret that the sports teams at school are incredibly competitive, with the number of talented athletes left off of each team rising every year as the level of play in all sports continues to increase. This is a testament to the fact that for this year’s winter sports, namely boy’s and girl’s swim and dive and girl’s indoor track, some of the most talented athletes in the state of Virginia went to state-wide competitions to rock the Carolina blue and white. Despite the well-deserved fame and congratulatory remarks these athletes receive from all sources, there is no downplaying their incredible achievements as men and lady Patriots.

This year, the boys swim team had five different competitors attend the state competition, and they did not disappoint in the relay department. In the 200 freestyle relay, David Emson, Brady Almand, Griffin Romanek and Mike Poppalardo broke the school record for the event by more than a second. After winning their first heat, they ended with the eighth fastest time in the competition. For Romanek and company, getting to the state competition level this year was extremely redeeming. Last year, they were only a few seconds shy of having the freestyle relay fast enough to go to states.

“Thankfully, we were able to get it this year, but it was definitely a frustrating experience last year to be so close and have to wait a whole year for another shot,” said Romanek.

Then, in the 200 medley relay, Jacob Larsen, Almand, Poppalardo and Emson shattered another school record, but this time by only two milliseconds. Like the first relay, they won their heat and ended with the 9th fastest time.

A phenomenon, if it can be called that, is the fact that many of the male Patriots decided to shave their legs in preparation for the competition. For Poppalardo and others, this preparation is a way to ‘shave off’ those extra seconds from their times. While recognizing the practice as helpful for many, Romanek, however, declined to do so. Interestingly enough, Romanek also sees the leg-shaving as a more of a mental factor than physical factor.

“… it’s more of a mental and psychological thing because you feel like you’re so much faster without body hair and then you can mentally push yourself to actually go faster,” said Romanek.

The boys swim team achievements were equally matched by the girls, who sent six swimmers to state competition: Susan Dolan, Kaitlin Luncher, Michaela Morrison, Kirby Nassetta, Lauren Allard and Katherine Lundy. Male divers included Hunter Simmons and Jacob Kreider, and Elana Bavolack represented the girl’s dive team as well.

Out of the water, the Patriots showed their lightning-quick speed as well- not in a relay team but rather through one individual. Kelly Hart placed 3rd in state competition for indoor track in the 1000 meter event. Her time ranks 20th nationally, and she is eligible for the Virginia Meet of Champions and the national competition in New York. While there is no secret to Hart’s quickness, she shares some of the same pre-race nerves as Romanek.

“I always feel very nervous before I run, but talking with all the other runners and realizing that everyone is nervous helped me calm down,” said Hart.

Hart is a two-headed beast when it comes to running. She is just as well known for her speed in the 1000 meters as for her endurance in the 5k run in cross-country, attending the state competition for both types of running. Despite this, Hart realizes the opportunity to represent her high school at this level is an incredible opportunity.

“It is so great to represent my school, especially because I am doing something that I love. I realize most people never get this opportunity, so it is truly a blessing,” said Hart.

As ever-popular spring sports like soccer, lacrosse and baseball seek to win it all, basketball and football fade away in winter’s rear view mirror. However, during this shift of the seasons the accomplishments of less glamorous but equally testing sports are sometimes left behind. For boy’s and girl’s swim and dive as well as Hart and the indoor track team, congratulations is well deserved for their incredible accomplishments in state competitions.


Featured image by Alex Brandolino