HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - After a flat tire nearly made George Washington coach Melissa Case late for last year's Region 4 swim meet in Huntington, she came down a night early and spent the night on Friday this year.
She woke up relaxed and ready and, not surprisingly, so was her team.
The Patriots pulled off another dominating sweep at the Marshall Natatorium, cruising to both boys and girls team titles as a plethora of GW and other Kanawha Valley swimmers punched tickets to next week's state meet in Morgantown.
George Washington's girls scored 172 points, besting second-place Hurricane by a whopping 95 points and third-place Huntington by 110. The boys squad recorded 155 points, enough to overwhelm the second-place Redskins by 63 points and third-place Winfield by 98.
All in all, it was business as usual for GW, which will look to capture its fourth consecutive boys state championship and second straight girls title next week.
"It does not get old," Case said. "This to me is the most nerve-wracking meet because you either get them in or you don't take them with you to Morgantown.
"We're deep but we're not that deep because other teams are coming on. We needed all our relays and we got them and maybe more. I think we're maybe taking more people than we hoped. We're definitely going to need a couple of hotel rooms in Morgantown."
The top three finishers in each individual event earned state meet spots with the next 12 fastest times from around the state also earning berths. For relays, the top three in each event punched tickets with the next six fastest times from around the state doing the same.
Senior Zach Kidd led the Patriots boys, earning wins in both 200- and 500-yard freestyle events and helped the Patriots' 400 freestyle relay team set a meet record with a time of 3:25.07 in the day's final event.
It was a fitting conclusion to quite a day for GW.
"It's a lot more special than a lot of people think," Kidd said of swimming for GW. "Because we don't really have that problem of getting nervous for winning, it's just kind of like, 'We're going to win, let's try to have fun winning.' Our egos aren't high so we don't have issues with that. It's just fun swimming for GW, there's no other way to say it."
Kidd's exploits were enough to put him in a four-way tie for the event's high-point honors along with Charleston Catholic's Nathan Runyon, Hurricane's Zach Shurow, and South Charleston's Adam Poe, with each scoring 18 points.