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Preppers swamp district competition
Preppers swamp district competition
By TONY LANGE
Chagrin Valley boys' swim teams topped the winners' podium in every event during the 33-team Division II Northeast District swim meet last Friday at Cleveland State University's Busbey Natatorium.
The top three finishers in individual and relay events automatically qualified for the state meet, which will be swum at Canton's eight-lane pool in the C.T. Branin Natatorium. The preliminaries will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 24, and the finals will take place at 5 p.m. Feb. 25.
To nobody's surprise, University School won the district meet with 540 points. The Preppers broke four meet records, won all three relay events and won seven of the eight individual events.
The Chagrin Falls boys were runners-up with 228 points. The Tigers finished second in all three relays and had three top-three finishes in individual events.
Hawken finished third with 208.5 points, placed third in the 400-yard freestyle relay and had three top-three finishes in individual events. Kenston placed fifth as a team with 133 points, took third in the 200 freestyle relay and had one top-three finish. Gilmour Academy finished seventh with 115 points. Orange was 10th with 67 points. And West Geauga was 13th with 60 points.
Chagrin Falls head coach Beth Sonnhalter was named boys' coach of the year for the Division II Northeast District by the Ohio High School Swim Coaches Association. It was her first time for the recognition in her 14-year career as a head coach at Chagrin.
"It's just nice to know that your peers, your other coaches are watching what's going on," she said. "It's great to know that six, seven, eight years ago we only had six boys on the team, and now we have six going to the state meet."
Qualifying all three relays to the state meet also was a first for Chagrin Falls.
Senior Brooks Fishell swam on Chagrin Falls' 200 and 400 freestyle relays, which are state bound. "I went to states last year as an alternate, and I really wanted to go this year and compete," he said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself as a senior to set a good example for my team."
When Fishell was a freshman, there was only one division in Ohio high school boys' swimming, and he never thought he would compete at the state level, he said. No one from the Chagrin Falls boys' team made it to states that year. This year's performance was a big deal, he said.
"Chagrin Falls has never had a district title of any kind whatsoever, so it was a real big deal to my coach, my teammates and myself to be district runners-up to a school like University School, which is almost unbeatable," Fishell said. "We went to Chipotle. That was kind of our team celebration."
Fishell also competed in the 200 and 500 freestyle races at the district meet. He dropped more than three seconds off of his 200 time with a 1:48.85 and 11 seconds off his 500 time with a 4:54.77.
"I couldn't have asked for a better day yesterday," Fishell said while he played the waiting game on Saturday to see if he qualified for states in either of his individual events. "I'm just waiting. I've been doing nothing all day."
Twenty-four swimmers qualify for the state meet in each event. When the results came out from the other districts, Fishell found out that he had advanced in the 500 freestyle and is seeded 20th.
In the 200 freestyle, Fishell's time was 0.04 second faster than a swimmer from Wauseon who grabbed the last seed with his automatic qualification from the Northwest District. Thus, an athlete who swam slower than Fishell will be swimming at the state meet instead.
The top three swimmers from each of the Northeast, Southwest and Central districts automatically qualify for the state meet, while the top four swimmers from the Northwest District automatically qualify, leaving 11 at-large qualifiers. The swimmer from Wauseon finished fourth at the Northwest District.
At the Northeast District meet, the Preppers were paced by Andrew Malone, who broke the meet record in the 50 freestyle with a 20.55 and won the 100 breaststroke with a 55.77. He also was a member of the record-breaking 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams.
Kevin Stang swam broke the 100 backstroke record with a 52.11 for the Preppers, as he edged out his teammate Nicholas Crane, who swam a 52.14, and Chagrin Falls' Davis Staley, who finished third with a 52.15.
Crane, however, was able to edge out Stang in the 200 individual medley as they swam a one-two finish in that event as well with times of 1:55.14 and 1:57.30, respectively.
Stang was a member of the record-breaking 200 medley relay team, while Crane was a member of the record-breaking 200 freestyle relay and triumphant 400 freestyle relay.
Also racing to first-place finishes for the Preppers was Mike Gaudiani, who won the 200 freestyle with a 1:41.43 and the 500 freestyle with a 4:35.97. Ben Stewart-Bates was the runner-up to teammate Gaudiani in both the 200 and 500 with times of 1:42.53 and 4:40.38. Both of them were members of the record-breaking 200 freestyle relay and winning 400 freestyle relay.
University School's Russell Stack won the 100 freestyle with a 47.76 and was runner-up in the 100 butterfly with a 51.55. He was a member of the Preppers' record-breaking 200 medley relay and the winning 400 free relay.
Chagrin Falls claimed the top spot in the 100 butterfly, with Staley winning the event in 51.34, while teammate Ben Vandertill took third with a 53.87. Vandertill was on all three of Chagrin's runner-up relays, while Staley joined him on the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Korey Schneider was an automatic state qualifier in both of his individual events for the Preppers as he placed second in the 100 breaststroke with a 57.09 and third in the 50 freestyle with a 21.56. He also was a member of the record-breaking 200 medley relay team.
For Hawken, Micah Simpson placed third in both the 200 freestyle at 1:43.90 and 500 freestyle at 4:45.21. His teammate Henry Senkfor placed third in the 200 IM with a time of 2:00.60. Both of them swam on the third-place 400 freestyle relay.
Kenston's top finisher was Austin Dickey, who placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 59:00. He also was a member of Kenston's third-place 200 freestyle relay.
The following swimmers from Chagrin Valley schools earned seeds for the boys' Division II state championships:
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