The Kanawha Valley's breadth and depth in the pool was on display Friday.
George Washington repeated as team champion at the boys state swim meet after overcoming a huge deficit while the rest of the Kanawha Valley was simply spectacular at the West Virginia University Natatorium in Morgantown.
An individual or relay team from Kanawha County or Putnam County won 10 of 11 events in the boys meet while five of the top six finishes in the team scoring also belonged to Valley squads.
The girls also lived up to those lofty standards as George Washington finished runner-up again, falling six points shy of defending state champion Morgantown. GW, which last won a state title in 2004 as the second of back-to-back crowns, has earned second-place finishes in six of the past eight state meets. Nitro senior Megan Clemens captured two individual titles, winning the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. The senior took second in the 200 free last year.
GW's boys overcame quite a bit to secure back-to-back championships. The Patriots' 200 medley relay team was disqualified at last weekend's Region 4 meet when a swimmer left the starting block early. Relay events are worth double the points.
The Patriots were in third Friday after six of the 11 events when they made their move in the 500 freestyle. Sophomore Zach Kidd (second), senior Jackson Lilly (fifth) and freshman Matt Nelson (ninth) picked up enough points in the event to vault the Patriots into first place and they never looked back.
"Once the guys got the lead they weren't going to give it up,'' said GW coach Melissa Case in a phone interview. "It took every one of them and every one of them rose to the challenge and did it.''
The Patriots, who didn't have an individual or team champion, amassed 185 points and coasted to their third championship by a 55-point margin over Bridgeport, last year's runner-up, which totaled 130. Charleston Catholic finished strong with 122 points for third followed by Hurricane (116), South Charleston (91) and Capital (89).
"I had kids who weren't supposed to even get in the top 12 who ended up swimming in the top six and coming home with medals around their necks,'' said Case, who also led the GW boys to a state championship in 2009.
"It's definitely satisfying. We're a deep team, but the character of the kids and their will to win ... all of them were clutch when they had to be. They really wanted to do this.''
Patriots junior Jacob Nason took second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 200 individual medley. Other top performers for GW were Kidd, who also took fourth in the 200 free, sophomore Josh Barnette, who was fifth in the 200 free and sixth in the 100 breaststroke, sophomore Chris Kay, who was second in the 100 back and fifth in the 100 free and freshman Nick Peyatte, who was fifth in the 100 breaststroke. GW finished second in the 400 free and fourth in the 200 free relays.
The Patriot girls needed to win the last event of the meet to pull out their first state title in eight years, but finished fourth in the 400 free. Morgantown accumulated 170 points to earn back-to-back titles and its fourth overall, followed by GW (164), Buckhannon-Upshur (1411/2), Elkins (1211/2) and Notre Dame (93).