Ontario and Colonel Crawford swimmers alike crowded the lanes to cheer on their teammates in the final event of the North Central Conference championships Saturday afternoon.
It all came down to the boys 400 yard freestyle relay to determine the overall winner. Both teams were in a must-win situation and the energy level in William S. Ferrell Natatorium reflected the circumstances.
The Eagles quartet of seniors Ian Kochheiser, Trey Crase, Clay Fogle and Logan Pfeifer finished first to shatter the old NCC record of 3:29.20 with a time of 3:18.65. The Warriors team of Raymond Hufford, Nazar Tkachenko, Tyler Watson and Chad Wright placed second, also beating the old record in 3:23.84.
“We weren’t really looking at the record,” Fogle said. “We were just trying to get first. We heard it was all or nothing.”
Colonel Crawford won its 10th straight NCC banner with 326 points, followed by Ontario with 316 points, Galion with 186 points, Wynford with 132 points, Upper Sandusky with 112 points, Crestline with 29 points and Bucyrus with 10 points.
“It was such a great meet,” Wright said. “It’s unfortunate the NCC is breaking up because it’s a great league. For Galion’s boys to be as good as they are and get third is incredible, it shows how competitive the league is.”
The outcome was exactly what Eagles coach Mike Holzapfel expected. Last year Colonel Crawford beat Ontario by just six points, and he had a feeling this season’s meet would be even closer.
“We don’t normally load the 400 yard freestyle relay, but we opted to because we knew there was a chance it would come down to the final race,” Holzapfel said.
Loading the relay worked, with the final outcome giving Colonel Crawford a time which last year placed in the state finals.
“It was very satisfying,” Pfeifer said. “Before the race even started I told my friends we want to break 3:20. That was the goal and we did it.”
Eight league records were broken, including four by the host Eagles, three by the Warriors and one by Crestline senior Kaleb Johnson, rebreaking his own record in the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.87.
Colonel Crawford’s Nic Roe, Pfeifer, Fogle and Kochheiser broke their own record in the 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:44.10. Pfeifer set a record in the 100 yard free (49.16) and Fogle in the 100 yard backstroke (56.64).
Hufford, Tkachenko, Watson and Wright teamed up to break the record in the 200 yard free relay (1:33.18) and Wright also set records in the 200 yard IM (2:01.97) and the 100 fly (54.19). Three other individuals also surpassed the former meet record in the 100 fly.
On the girls side, Colonel Crawford won with 273 points, Galion took second with 220 points and Wynford was third with 207 points. Ontario finished with 193 points, Bucyrus with 140 points, Upper Sandusky with 71 points and Crestline with 12 points.
“We didn’t know if we’d win, but we knew we had a pretty good chance and it was going to be close for both teams,” Eagles senior Taylor Kelso said.