Hammond’s girls swim team withstood a major challenge by Ben Lippen to secure its second straight SCISA state championship on Saturday at the Augusta Aquatics Center.
The Skyhawks beat the Falcons by 32 points in the final tabulations for its first-ever title a year ago. It was even closer this time around, but Hammond’s superior depth was once more the telling factor. The Skyhawks finished with 201 team points with Ben Lippen next at 180.
All of the Skyhawks big guns performed up to expectations. For Kelly Presper, Sydney Bland and Ann Gray Jumper, it was an exact repeat of their key efforts of a year ago. Presper again finished with three gold medals and one silver. Bland once more came away with two golds and two silvers. Jumper claimed three gold medals again.
In fact, all three matched their 2010 placements in the same events.
Presper was first in the 100 free and second in the 200 individual medley, and was on the winning 200 medley and 200 free relay teams. She now eight gold medals, seven silvers and one bronze prize on the books since she debuted with a three silver haul as a seventh-grader in 2007.
For the second year in a row, Bland was first in the backstroke and second in the butterfly and a member of the winning medley relay team and the runner-up 400 free relay squad. Bland, like Presper, has been a big contributor since 2007. Her career medal total includes four gold, three silver and three bronze.
Jumper ruled the tough breaststroke event for the second year in a row and also handled legs on the winning medley and 400 free relay teams. Jumper was fourth in the breaststroke as an eighth-grader in 2009 and picked up a bronze medal for a third-place finish as a seventh-grade rookie in 2008.
Hammond also received bigger contributions this season from Amelia and Dorian Green. Dorian emerged with two gold medals and two bronze prizes, while Amelia had a gold, two silvers and one bronze. Dorian was on the two winning relay teams, while Amelia had the best individual finish – a second in the 200 free.
Anne Fawcett, Mary Etta Castles and Clara Castles were the Skyhawks other scoring swimmers.
Ben Lippen entered the meet as a team on a mission and improved on last season’s state score, but it was just not enough to take down Hammond as planned.
Senior Katie Shoemaker closed out a glorious career with wins in the 50 free and the 100 butterfly and picked up two silver medals for relay duty. Shoemaker closes her career with eight gold medals and two silvers in individual races at state. She also has one relay gold medal on her resume, but the plan to add additional gold medals in the relays on Saturday did not materialize.
Laura Ann Dixon actually emerged as the Falcons scoring leader. The junior standout swept the 200 IM and 500 free titles for the second year in a row and handled the anchor leg on the championship 400 free relay team. She also picked up a silver medal for her work on the second-place medley relay squad.
Six-grader Kylie Walker had an impressive state meet debut – winning the 200 free, adding another gold medal as a member of the 400 free relay team and getting a silver in the 200 free relay.
Rebecca Bradley claimed a gold in the 400 free relay, a silver in the 200 free relay and a bronze in the 200 free. Rachel Bradley was the fourth member of the winning 400 free relay team and just missed securing a solo medal with a fourth-place finish in the 500 free.
Annie Beane was on both second-place relay teams.
It was pretty much a Hammond-Ben Lippen show, but Cardinal Newman swimmers did produce a few highlights. Maigan Mieri earned two silver medals for second-place efforts in the 100 free and 500 free and teammate Andrea Law claimed a bronze medal in the butterfly.
The Cardinals finished seventh in the final team standings.