On Friday, February 8th, the Cambridge Varsity State Meet team headed to Georgia Tech University to compete against the best swimmers in the state. Cambridge belongs to the 7AAAAA conference, which places them among other smaller high schools, including some of the state's best private school swim programs. Westminster, Marist, North Hall, Dalton and other big name swim schools were present and ready to set some state records… and they did. Paul Powers, a junior from North Hall, set the record for the 50-freestyle during preliminaries and then broke his own state record during finals to go an amazing 19.91 in the 200-freestyle relay. Powers also set the state record for the 100-freestyle during prelims, swimming an unbelievable 44.02. The Dalton girls' 200-medley relay team set a new state record, swimming an incredible 1:32.93, followed by the Westminster boys' medley relay team setting the state record at 1:43.96. Nicole Stafford, from Westminster, set the state record for the 200-freestyle at 1:45.29, among many other incredible swims.
Even though the competition was obviously steep, the Cambridge Bears came out of the day with five new school record times and some jumps in standings. But more than that, they came out with excitement and a newfound focus for what their future seasons hold for them.
The girls' 200-medley relay (Lauren Holliday, Maggie McGinty, Caley Cramer, Sydney Swenton) didn't best their time, but they did manage to jump a spot on the overall standings. Holliday cut her backstroke split, as well as Cramer swimming a new best split in butterfly.
Hawk Hammer, swimming two individual events and two relays, swam a new personal best time and set a new school record for the 50-freestyle. His 23.29 swim jumped him from ten spots on the standings.
The girls' 200-freestyle relay (Caley Cramer, Lauren Holliday, Ashley Dale Henslee, Sydney Swenton) follow suit by dropping an incredible two seconds to swim a new school record time of 1:50.15. They also managed to jump an amazing 13 spots in the standings with their swim. All of the girls swam sub-28 seconds in their splits, making a second season best swim for Holliday. Holliday has become an incredible versatile swimmer for the team and will continue to improve in the years to come.
Maggie McGinty, a state meet veteran, swam a new season best and school record time of 1:12.24. While seeded 15th going into Friday's competition, a few other swimmers managed to drop more significant time, putting McGinty into the alternate position for Saturday's finals competition. Even though McGinty was disappointed in not earning that coveted spot for finals, her team was incredibly proud of her performance. The team vowed that next season, McGinty would not be the only swimmer from Cambridge returning to finals. McGinty has been a secret weapon for the Bears' squad all season. Her ability to place and earn points for her team each time she swims has made her extremely valuable competitively. Her consistency in performance and her encouraging personality have made her an ideal captain for the team, so it's simple to say that her value extends far beyond the pool.
By the end of the meet, the last event the Bears had to compete in was the 400-freestyle relay. The boys' relay team (Jake Todd, Hawk Hammer, Erek Humm Bryce Jewell), while incredibly strong talent-wise, had two team members exhausted from earlier competition. Jake Todd had competed in the 500-freestyle earlier in the day as well as the previous relay, and Hawk Hammer had competed in the 50 and 100-freestyle as well as the other relay. The other two team members had competed successfully in the previous relay, but with lots of time after their last event and general meet exhaustion, the team was at a disadvantage. While their final swim did not result in a season best time, they were able to jump two places with their swim. With Hammer graduating this year, the boys' team will have to step up its game to fill his shoes. Noah Sannes, an alternate, is more than capable and excited at the prospect of fill that that role. Sannes' improvements over the course of the season cannot be ignored. As he develops into a more confident and technically sound swimmer, he will be a contributing factor for the Bears.
The girls' team was rested and ready to go. Susannah Jordshaugen, having suffered for the majority of the season with shoulder injuries, was excited to contribute to the team in this last event. The other team members (Lauren Holliday, Ashley Dale Henslee, Caley Cramer) had swum earlier in the day and were excited to finish the meet on a high note. The girls' team was able to achieve a new school record with a time of 4:06.63 and jump three places in their overall standing. The girls' team met with extreme success this season, and next season should hold even more possibilities for this growing team. Alternates Alex Newcomer and Angela Ho are anxious to continue training and earn their place on the competition team for next year's state meet.
There is also the prospect of a new crop of freshmen coming in, ready to contribute. The state meet had a tremendous number of very talented freshmen, including Cambridge's own freshman. Jake Todd, among the freshman competing at state and the only freshman qualifying for an individual event from Cambridge, did not swim a personal best time but showed his potential for the upcoming years. Todd will play a vital role for the boys' team as they grow and become more and more competitively visible.
Other notable freshman swims this season came from Ashley Dale Henslee, who would drop time each time she dove in the pool. She will play an incredible important role as her diversity of stroke will allow her to swim whatever is necessary and as her freestyle talents are tailored for the sprint and mid-distance events. Sydney Swenton was also a standout this season with her newfound talent in freestyle. Originally a breaststroker and individual medley swimmer, Swenton jumped into the place of Jordshaugen for a meet that she was too injured to participate in. The surprise performance of Swenton in the sprint freestyle role has opened up the door of possibilities for her talents to play a role she did not anticipate playing. Caley Cramer, a new face on the team at the end of the season, came in with significant talent. Her potential to contribute to the team in the upcoming years in freestyle as well as butterfly and backstroke will be vital for the girls' team's anticipated success.
Hawk Hammer and Tori Bentley, the team's two seniors, will be sorely missed. Hammer brought in many important points for the Bears at meets with his athleticism and abilities in butterfly and sprint freestyle. While Hammer's times in his respective events are the fastest on the team, the boys are eager to attempt to best them in the upcoming years. Among them will be first-time competitive swimmer Bryce Jewell, who has the second fastest times in Hammer's events on the team, is on the hunt for those state cut times next season. As a senior, he's putting everything on the line to meet the challenge. Erek Humm, another factor on the boys' team, will be playing an even more important role in the other strokes for the Bears. Humm provides diversity of stroke to the boys' team, which will be important for points and the medley relay in next season's competition. Hammer is deciding among many college offers for where he will pursue his education next year.
Tori Bentley, a surprise factor at the end of the season, brought the Bears' team much needed support on the medley relay in butterfly in order to gain them a state cut time and get them into the competition last weekend. Her incredible abilities in breaststroke made her a standout on the team in many other competitions. The duo of McGinty and Bentley truly made Cambridge a force to be reckoned with in breaststroke since the first meet. Her shoes will be difficult to fill, but a number of younger swimmers such as her younger sister, Carlee Bentley, and freshman Sarah Moore will seek to improve their technique and step up to the plate in the breaststroke event. Bentley became a surprise factor not only in butterfly, but also in sprint freestyle. Coming out of nowhere to qualify at regions for the 50-freestyle made Bentley vital for the girls' team to get as close as they did to earning a trophy that weekend. Bentley is one of the first Cambridge students to receive a college scholarship as she will join the Kansas State Equestrian Team in the fall. The Cambridge Bears wish her all the luck in the world in her endeavors.
The future looks extremely bright for the Cambridge Bears' swim team. After seeing what they were capable of this past season, they see their future as limitless in their potential. With a growing squad, the family environment the team has been able to foster will increase to accommodate the size, but they will not lose their dedication to one another and to making this team the best it can be. The team will not graduate any of its captains (Holliday, McGinty, Sannes), which will help maintain consistency among the team.
Congratulations to Coach Lauren Hall and these outstanding swimmers.