Washington sweeps first meet under Kaitlyn Richards

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

Washington’s swim team formally entered a new era on Wednesday. Former head coach Spencer Pake had to step down this offseason after leading the boys to consecutive 1-A/2-A state championships.

Former Lady Pack swimmer Kaitlyn Richards has since taken over as head coach. Washington hosted South Central, White Oak and Farmville Central for the first meet of the season.

“I feel really great. It’s surreal. I was just swimming for this team and here I am coaching,” Richards said. “It was really fun. It was stressful, but I loved it. They did great.”

One of the most surreal parts of the experience was having Pake working as an official. It was helpful, too, as Pake was able to help Richards through the process of her first meet.

“I definitely had some questions. It felt good going to him and being able to ask him whatever I needed to,” Richards said. “It felt surreal watching him on the other side of the pool while I’m the one yelling at the kids, encouraging them and doing his work. It doesn’t feel right yet.”

It was also a changeup for Pake. He’s used to shouting instructions and celebrating with the Washington athletes. Now he wasn’t even allowed to wear Washington gear.

“It was different. It was a little weird being as quiet as I was,” Pake said. “I enjoyed being able to help out as an official and see a different side of the sport.”

It was important for Pake to stay around the program. This way, he gets to lend a helping hand however he can and gets to watch his freshman son, Tristan Pake, compete.

“I’ve watched my son since he was 5 years old,” he said. “This one was special because he’s swimming for my alma mater and the program I helped build.

Both the boys and girls got off to a hot start with convincing wins. The boys racked up 139 points to finish first. South Central followed in second place with 79 points. That was an important step to take as they hope to contend for a third-straight state championship.

However, the most impressive outcome was the dominance shown by the Lady Pack. The girls have largely been rebuilding in the last few seasons. This marked their first win in quite some time.

“The girls have done amazing. I have 15 brand new girls that have come out and they really did great in their competitions,” Richards said. “It’s really exciting to see the girls team building up. Five years ago when I was here, we had a great team. Seeing them form into a great team is really exciting as a coach.”



The girls took first in four events. The team of Brantley Long, Tianna VanCura, Anna Yoder and Maddie Brodie won the 200-yard medley relay. A secondary team consisting of Gina Delmonte, Rebecca Zerniak, Grayson Spruill and Chandler Woolard placed second in that opening event. Yoder and VanCura placed in the top two for the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke. Courtney Richards, Amanda Manning, Zerniak and VanCura also took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Southside’s Darah Cole placed first in the 100-yard freestyle and second in the 100-yard backstroke.

The boys won eight events. Hodges Tubaugh, Patrick Lovenberg, Tristan Pake and Braeden Beach earned first in the 200-yard medley relay. Tubaugh won the 200-yard freestyle. Lovenberg took first in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke. Harrison Schmidt finished first in the 100-yard freestyle. Pake won his first individual event in the 100-yard backstroke.

Beach, Pake, Schmidt and Lovenberg topped the 200-yard freestyle relay. Another Pam Pack team in Riley VanStaalduinen, Frederick Holscher, Rode Moore and Ben Crawford finished behind them. Tubaugh, Pake, Schmidt and Crawford also teamed up to win the 400-yard freestyle relay.