Spencer Miles recently read a newspaper article that referred to his lightning-quick ability in sprint events.
So the Peakland swimmer showed up to the Lynchburg Aquatic League’s ‘A’ Meet Championships with an apropos word written down the spine of his back: Speedster.
And Miles, a 17-year-old rising senior at Virginia Episcopal School, lived up to the label. He won two senior titles, the 50 free and 100 free, and helped Peakland claim its third straight ‘A’ Meet crown at Oakwood Country Club.
He wasn’t the only Otters swimmer who showcased speed Saturday. Peakland won 23 of 82 events, getting top-tier performances from the likes of Miles and Kaitlyn Bauer, who won three individual events in the 13-14 girls category (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly) and who was part of two championship relay squads.
But ultimately, Peakland’s strength wasn’t in its ability to constantly outpace the field. That distinction belonged to Oakwood, which boasted a whopping 42 first-place finishes, wrapping a season in which the Gators emerged as a serious challenger.
Instead, Peakland used its depth. It flooded the field with second- and third-place finishes and won or placed high in the relays, where points were in abundance.
Peakland garnered 686½ total points. Oakwood was second with 622½, and Hill City a distant third at 347.
The Otters have now won four of the last five ‘A’ Meets.
“The family aspect,” Miles said when asked about what led his team to the title. “We always come together, cheer each other on, and we’ve just grown up with each other, so we know each other really well.”
Peakland’s reign over the LAL field is nothing new, of course; the Otters once had a lengthy stranglehold over the title every year. Then challengers started to emerge. In recent memory, Hill City and Peakland jockeyed for the summer series title. Now there’s Oakwood, which has positioned itself as an LAL frontrunner for the foreseeable future.
“Next year we’ll win it,” Oakwood’s Colby Childress said after claiming three individual events.
Childress blazed away in the 50 fly, finishing at 26.88. The Oakwood sprinter also won the 50 back and the 100 back and helped the Gators to relay wins in the 200 mixed medley and the final event of the day, the mixed 15 & over 200 free relay.
In that race, Childress, who also swims at Brookville, bulleted past in the anchor leg to give Oakwood the win by five seconds, at 1:43.19.
Eight additional Oakwood swimmers celebrated three individual victories Saturday: Graham Woodruff (boys 9 & 10), Emily Judy (girls 11-12), Broughton Webb (girls 8 & under), Mitchell Rogers (boys 8 & under), Luke Hottle (boys 9-10, Davis Hottle (boys 11-12), Brendan Whitfield (boys 13-14) and Caroline Falwell (girls 13-14).
Peakland’s Joy Huyett, a 16-year-old E.C. Glass swimmer, won the 100 fly and then secured the 50 fly with ease.
“Probably one of the best I’ve had,” she said of her 50 fly finish, a 30.25 that was nearly one second better than her seed time.
Peakland coach Greg Hofmann took home coach of the year honors after guiding his team to the regular-season, ‘B’ Meet and ‘A’ Meet titles.
“We’re pretty much the true definition of what a team is,” Hofmann said. “Peakland is everyone’s summer home. They swim not for themselves, but for each other, for the pool. They have so much pride in Peakland.”
At the senior level, the LAL summer series often showcases the area’s top high school swimmers.
Oakwood’s Daniel Pettyjohn, for instance, edged teammate Connor Sauls in the 100 breaststroke, 1:10.07 to 1:10.36.
But Sauls, a rising senior at Jefferson Forest, held off Pettyjohn, a rising senior at Brookville, in the 50 breaststroke. Sauls touched the wall at 32.39, Pettyjohn at 32.43.
For one young swimmer, Peakland’s Jackson Carpenter, the day was about overcoming the odds. The 9-year-old Carpenter cut one of his feet last week and had to get stitches. He sat out of practices this week but returned for the ‘A’ Meet, where he managed four top-three performances (one of them a relay) and helped the Otters win the 100 mixed medley relay.
“That was pretty cool,” Hofmann said.
Four swimmers set new ‘A’ Meet records Saturday: Judy in the 11-12 girls 110 individual medley, Hill City’s Tara Enneking in the 50 breaststroke and 100 back, Falwell is the 13-14 girls 50 breaststroke and 100 breaststroke and Whitfield in the 13-14 boys 50 back.
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.