Alexandria’s Chinquapin Wahoos Earn First Win, Upsetting Burke Center July 8

Wahoo Rodney Gardner overtakes Burke’s Everett Cotter in the butterfly leg of the boys 11-12 200-yard medley relay.
(Photo: Judy Davis)

By Marisha Goldhamer

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Chinquapin Wahoos beat the Burke Center Stingers 235 to 216 on July 8, the first victory for Alexandria’s only public swim team in the 2023 season.

The Wahoos entered the meet on a high after a surprise visit to the Old Town Pool by Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gains during the team’s July 7 morning practice.

The excitement continued as Bennett Sherry broke the team’s 8 and under boys 25-yard backstroke and 25-yard butterfly records – times that had stood since July 2012.

Coach Denis Burstein called Sherry’s 18.64 second backstroke win “an awesome swim,” noting that the previous record of 18.94 seconds was posted by Emil LaSida – a top backstroker throughout his Colonial Swim League (CSL) career. “To break one of his records shows he’s swimming exceptionally fast,” Burstein said.

LaSida also held the former 8 and under 25-yard butterfly record, which Sherry beat by .07 seconds with a time of 18.21.

Additional standouts for the Wahoos were Sawyer Blais who won the 9-10 boys 50-yard freestyle (34.81), backstroke (45.31) and breaststroke (49.58) and Elisabeth Carroll who topped the 15-18 girls 50-yard freestyle (26.99), backstroke (31.20) and breaststroke (36.03).

The teams were evenly matched across the individual events, and the meet was won by the Wahoos’ relay squads, with more than one race decided by just hundredths of a second.

In the 13-14 boys 200-yard medley the Wahoos were slightly behind after Alex Wittmer and Alex Guevara swam backstroke and breaststroke, but Chris Paz had an excellent turn in the butterfly leg to allow freestyler Nicholas Rodriquez to enter the water at the same moment as Burke’s Adam Lash. Rodriquez out touched Lash by .12 seconds for a 2:06.81 win.

The 11-12 boys also faced a nailbiter, but Rodney Gardner came off the wall of the butterfly leg to overtake Burke’s Everett Cotter and give the lead to anchor Dominic Grajkowski. The combination of Karon Moten, Christopher Billips, Gardner and Grajowski gave the Wahoos a winning time of 2:17.53 by 0.9 seconds.

For the second week in a row, Grace Wittmer, Freya Montes de Oca, Ellie Medina and Micaela Zuniga won a thrilling 11-12 girls 200-yard medley relay. Zuniga came from behind in the freestyle anchor leg to beat the Stingrays by 0.22 seconds in a time of 2:23.37.

The oldest Wahoos had no problem shutting down the Stingers in the medley relays. Bodie Lauinger, Jonathan Ramsdell, Jolan Foronda and Mikal Helms won by more than 5 seconds with a time of 1:46.88, while the 15-18 girls Bella McLemore, Audrey Jarrett, Carroll and Jacari Jahi finished 8 seconds ahead in 2:14.57.

Left to right: Derrick Grajkowski, Max Postow, Bennett Sherry and Chase Conjura pose after winning the 8 and under 100-yard medley at the Colonial Swim League’s Relay Carnival.
(Photo: Marisha Goldhamer)

The depth of the Wahoos 8 and under boys squad was evident with a 16 second win in the 100-yard medley relay by Derrick Grajkowski, Daniel Freinberg, Chase Conjura and Max Postow (1:35.47). That allowed Sherry to swim up and help Blais, Max Kessler-Gowell and Caleb Gartner win the 9-10 100-yard medley relay in 1:17.04.

The Wahoos also showed teamwork in the mixed age relays, opening the meet with a 200-yard medley win through Guevara, Foronda, Medina and Isabel Martorana (2:05.54), and closing the meet with a 200-yard boys freestyle relay win by Moten, Blais, Alex Wittmer and Helms in 1:53.43.

Burstein praised the “total team effort” and cited many swimmers who stepped up to earn points for the Wahoos.

In freestyle this included 8 and under winner Postow (18.44), 9-10 girls champion Martorana (34.71), Grace Wittmer who topped the 13-14 girls division (30.21) and the 15-18 boys (23.84) winner Helms (23.84).

The Wahoos also snagged five second place finishes in freestyle – Ryan Shaw (19.22) in a 25-yard race and Gartner (36.58), Moten (28.70), Alex Wittmer (27.06) and Lauinger (24.28) swimming 50-yards – and three third place points from Derrick Grajkowski (19.21), Guevara (27.40) and Jahi (30.71).

Wahoos Bennett Sherry (R) and Chase Conjura swim in the boys 8 and under 25-yard backstroke race which Sherry won to set a new team record of 18.64 seconds.
(Photo Judy Davis)

Breaststrokers to watch

In addition to wins by Carroll and Blais, the Wahoos showed their breaststroker prowess with a sweep of the oldest and youngest boys races. Sherry led the 8 and under boys in 21.49 seconds followed by Freinberg (30.76) and Andrew Gross (32.44). Foronda won the 50-yard race in 29.08 seconds with Ramsdell (30.36) and Helms (31.06) close behind.

Other key breaststroke points came in 50-yard races with Guevara second in the boys 13-14 division (35.64), and third place finishes by Sophie Wharton for the 9-10 girls (53.34), Christopher Billips in the boys 11-12 race (40.40) and Freya Montes de Oca for the 11-12 girls (43.61).

Moten (31.64), Martorana (44.81) and Guevara (31.35) all won 50-yard backstroke races with second place finishes in the 25-yard race by Mateo Lorenzen-Schmidt (20.83) and 50-yard races by Foronda (27.86) and McLemore (35.58).

Madison Forde edged out Burke’s Ainsley Detrisac by 0.25 seconds to capture third girls 8 and under backstroke 24.26 seconds. Additional third place points were won in 50-yard swims by Kessler-Gowell (48.24), Luca Lorenzen-Schmidt (38.15), Grace Wittmer (37.28), Alex Wittmer (32.06) and Lauinger (29.27).

In the butterfly, Kessler-Gowell came first for the second week in a row in the 9-10 25-yard race with a time of 18.83 seconds. The Wahoos also won three 50-yard races, Medina for the girls 11-12 squad (32.43), Foronda in the boys 15-18 (25.84) and McLemore for the oldest girls (33.59).

Five second place butterfly finishes – Gartner (19.48) and Martorana (18.06) in 9-10 25-yard races and Moten (33.25), Alex Wittmer (29.86) and Helms (26.39) in 50-yard swims – and five third place points – Conjura who swam 25-yards in 22.41 seconds and Gardner (35.52), Zuniga (36.48), Paz (32.62) and Jarrett (36.17) in 50-yard races – proved key to the Wahoos win.

Micaela Zuniga swims freestyle to anchor the winning girls 11-12 200-yard medley relay.
(Photo: Judy Davis)

Relay Carnival Triumph

The Wahoos capped off the weekend by participating in the CSL relay carnival on July 9. The boys 8 and under squad lived up to their top seeding in the 100-yard medley relay, with Derrick Grajkowski (backstroke), Sherry (breaststroke), Conjura (butterfly) and Postow (freestyle) beating 18 teams by 2.6 seconds in a time of 1:25.54.

Continuing to turn in thrilling relays, the 11-12 200-yard medley squad of Moten, Billips, Gardner and Dominic Grajkowski dropped 2 seconds off their seed time to win second place with a time of 2:17.25, just 0.2 seconds ahead of the Burke Center Penguins.

Ramsdell, Foronda, Blake Conjura and Lauinger also shaved 5 seconds off their previous best to place 4th in the 15-18 boys 200-yard medley with a time of 1 minute 43 seconds.

The final meet of the regular season will see the Wahoos take on the Fort Myer Squids at the Old Town Pool on July 15. [SEE ALSO: Chinquapin Wahoos Face South Riding]

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