George Washington girls cruise to four-peat; Parkersburg South boys win second straight title

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — George Washington’s girls swim team entered Friday a three-time defending state champion with a 44-point lead in the standings and its top swimmer Madi McGlothen leading off the day’s events in the 500-yard freestyle.

All McGlothen did was race to a state meet record of 4:53.75, shattering the previous mark she held of 4:56.83 from 2021. It helped set the tone in another dominant day for the Patriots, who went on to a victory soon after in the 200 freestyle relay and claimed a fourth straight title with 207 points.

“She’s been training a long time and she’s the anchor of our team,” GW girls coach Lyn Wilcher said. “We count on her and she delivers. Fortunately, we also have a lot of good, supporting girls around her.” 

Repeat team champions were a theme at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park as the Parkersburg South boys team won its second straight championship with 146.5 points. PSHS had several close challengers, including runner-up GW (133), third place Parkersburg (125), as well as Morgantown (119) and Buckhannon-Upshur (115), which rounded out the top five in team scoring.

But Parkersburg South, which entered Friday 5.5 points back of first-place Morgantown (70) and one of five teams with at least 60 points, rode its depth to the second straight team crown. PSHS’ only first-place finish came Thursday on the opening day of the meet when the Patriots’ quartet of Quade Harris, Andrew Kirk, Anthony Ott and Ryan Richardson took first in 200 medley relay at 1:40.22.

“I have assistant coaches that eat, sleep and breathe swimming,” PSHS boys head coach Ryan Radcliff said. “They crunch numbers and have a very good system in how we set things up. Assistant coach Don Bailey had an idea to change out our 200 medley relay and put Anthony Ott into the medley. The risk was it takes away from our 200 free, because he would have sped it up, but we needed to beat GW in the medley. That was a 12-point swing. They had us in prelim and beat us. We made that move and beat them in finals and that was a big difference.

“Then our other guys that weren’t in scoring position that moved into scoring position like Ryan Richardson, Maddox Raider and Conner Roberts. Those guys were not seeded to score, but they swam their way into the finals, got points and that was a difference.”

PSHS significantly added to its team total Friday with a fifth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, which generated 20 points, as well as Harris’ second-place showing in the 100 backstroke for 13 points and Andrew Kirk taking fourth in the 100 breaststroke for 11 points.

In the final event of the meet, Parkersburg South got a third-place finish from the 400 freestyle relay team of Anthony Ott, Colton Floyd, Connor Roberts and Harris, allowing Radcliff’s team to secure its coveted hardware with 24 more points.

“This year was a lot harder and there was more competition,” Radcliff said. “The state was a lot faster and a lot better. We knew that, but the kids responded well. They really hunkered down and we have some of the hardest-working kids out there. They’re mentally and physically tough and they can take a lot. It feels good.”

McGlothen, an eight-time individual state champion in her decorated GW career who will swim at the University of Kentucky, was an integral part of GW’s winning 200 freestyle relay team. It also featured Ashlee Wilcher, Kara Edstrom, Olivia Ridenour and set a new state mark at 1:39.41, narrowly topping Morgantown’s effort of 1:39.84 from 2021.

On Thursday, McGlothen won the 200 IM and teamed with Wicher, Ridenour and Emma Martin to give the Patriots a win in the 200 medley relay.

“I try not to put too much pressure on it, because if you put a lot of pressure on it, that kind of takes the fun out of it,” McGlothen said. “Swimming should be fun. It’s obviously a competitive sport, but swimming being fun is what keeps someone doing it for ten or eleven years like I have. Try not get too much in my head about it and that really helps make a difference.”

GW claimed its eighth team title in 11 years, including its second four-peat over that time.

“We’re pretty strong all the way through and we tell the girls, ‘just go out and swim your race. Don’t get caught up in everything that’s going on. Just relax and have fun,'” coach Wilcher said. “We have a lot of seniors and for some of them, this is their last meet. We told them to enjoy the moment.”

Making the day even sweeter for McGlothen was the fact that shortly after her record-setting effort in the 500 freestyle, her younger brother, freshman Kenneth McGlothen provided the GW boys with a win in that event, which he finished in 4:42.62.

“It was really cool. I don’t know that anything in swimming is expected,” Madi McGlothen said. “Anything can happen regardless of what seed you are. It was really cool to see. I know he works really hard and deserves it. It was cool that it’s my senior year and he’s only a freshman.”

The elder McGlothen wasn’t the only record-setter Friday. That honor also belonged to Morgantown’s Caroline Riggs, who won the 100 breaststroke at 1:03.36 to break the state meet record held by a full second, previously set by Wheeling Park’s Jenna Bopp in 2020.

“I definitely exceeded my expectations tonight in the 100 breaststroke,” said Riggs, who will swim at Yale. “I was not anticipating to go a low 1:03, so that was really exciting. It’s super rewarding to also get the state record in the process of getting a good time.”

Riggs was part of the Mohigans’ 400 freestyle relay-winning team, which completed the event in 3:42.87 and also featured Avery Householder, Delaney Householder, Lillian Linscheid. 

The only girls event not won by GW or Morgantown on Friday was the 100 backstroke, which belonged to John Marshall’s Victoria Kidney (56.29).

In boys competitions, Buckhannon-Upshur’s Carter Zuliani, Owen Caynor, Reis Leonard and Preston Bennett combined to win the 200 freestyle relay at 1:31.91, just in front of Robert C. Byrd’s finish time of 1:32.22.

The 400 freestyle relay was claimed by Huntington’s Hawke Maynard, Christopher Young, Keon McClure and Luke Adkins at 3:19.71.

One day after he won the 200 IM, Hurricane’s Bradley Boyd took home a second title in the 100 backstroke at (49.68).

Charleston Catholic’s Matthew Smith also won a title in the 100 breaststroke, which he completed in 58.46 to edge Elkins’ Isaac Anger, who finished first in prelims and recorded a time of 58.63 in finals.

Morgantown (138) finished girls runner-up, with Buckhannon-Upshur (108), Wheeling Park (93) and Elkins (68) rounding out the top five.

In addition to the three girls records set Friday, three others came about Thursday when the Buccaneers’ Cadence Vincent set new marks in the 50 freestyle (23.01) and 100 freestyle (49.91), breaking records she previously held in both events. The other record belonged to Maddie Foster, who completed the 100 butterfly in 54.24.

Vincent is off to Alabama to continue swimming, while Foster will attend Queens University to continue her career in the pool. Combined with McGlothen and Riggs, the group make up four future Division I swimmers.

“This senior class is incredible,” Riggs said. “There are so many girls going off into Division I programs representing WV, so it’s really exciting to be a part of it.”

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