By Doug Doughty
Special to The Fincastle Herald
Like many of their Roanoke Valley Aquatic associates, Read Mountain and Ashley Plantation had to be relieved when the City-County Championship came to a close.
The once-threatened season ended Saturday at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center, where Olympic Park in Roanoke County ended Hunting Hills’ seven-year winning streak.
Stonegate finished second and Hunting Hills was third out of 14 teams.
The two Botetourt County representatives, Read Mountain and Ashley Plantation, finished fifth and seventh, respectively.
Standouts included Read Mountain’s Angelina Zeidan, who took first in all five of her races, starting with the 50 backstroke for girls ages 17 or 18, followed by the 50 freestyle and 100 individual medley.
She added the 50 butterfly and 100 freestyle on Saturday.
“She’s been on our ream since she was 7 years old,” Read Mountain coach Susan Bleeker said. “She helped coach with Kit [Williams] this summer, working with the 6-and-unders for the most part. Angelina has stuck with our team since the beginning.”
Bleeker was pleased with the fifth place showing in a field of 13.
“I’m really happy with that,” she said. “We usually don’t score less than 1,000 points on any Monday night meet and this year the most we scored was 800 points in a Monday night meet.
“In our first swim meet of the season, we had multiple people getting disqualified in the 25- and 50-yard freestyle and backstroke. We had adults that got disqualified. We had teenagers who got disqualified because they didn’t know how to swim.
“What I learned from week to week is that our kids learned so fast. Some of our kids who got disqualified in that first swim meet ended up qualifying in the IM but just not making a cut-off time for City-County.
“That, in my opinion as a coach, is the most amazing thing.”
Surprisingly, the two Botetourt County teams in the Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association, Read Mountain and Ashley Plantation, rarely swim against each other.
Read Mountain is on the east side of I-81 and Ashley Plantation is on the west side.
“We don’t ever swim them because we’re not in their division,” Bleeker said. “It’s been three or four years since we had a swim meet with Ashley Plantation.”
Ashley swam against Division I teams in the regular season while Read Mountain swam against smaller teams in Division III.
“I almost feel like Monday night meets shouldn’t be scored,” Bleeker said.
Ashley Plantation held its own in Christiansburg, getting a first gold from Colton Cunningham in the first race of the event, the 8-and-under boys backstroke. Riggins Hill won the 8- and-under boys IM and the Bergstein sisters, Sydney and Olivia, piled up the points.
Ashley Plantation was second in its division against overall winner Olympic Park.
“The performances of the kids, I thought, were spectacular,” Ashley coach Kevin Franceschini said. “Riggins won everything he swam, I believe, plus he was on the 8-and-under medley.”
Read Mountain and Ashley Plantation swimmers also compete for year-around programs with the Gators or Marlins.
Dave Jolley, the full-time Ashley Plantation coach, is in California “and he’s been in contact the whole time,” Franceschini said. “He knew what was happening. From a coaching point of view, I’m very grateful that we had a season and we got to participate.”