Lexington junior sets state record in 100 backstroke prelims

Lexington junior sets state record in 100 backstroke prelims


Lexington junior sets state record in 100 backstroke prelims



Lexington swim coach Melisa Stone-Watters was ready to take a bottle Thursday and scoop up some of the water from the pool inside the C.T. Branin Natatorium.

Not just any water. The water in Hannah Stevens’ lane. Bottle the stuff and it could be sold as miracle elixir.

That’s how magical Stevens was in the first day of Division II action in the state meet.

The Lex junior broke the state record in the 100-yard backstroke with her time of 54.73 seconds. It was an astonishing two seconds faster than her previous school record and broke the state mark of 54.75 set last year by Gates Mills Hawken’s Marissa Cominelli.

Cominelli was fourth Thursday in 55.84.

Stevens had earlier finished first in the 100 free prelims at 50.22, more than a second under her personal best. Defending champ Macie McNichols of Gilmour Academy was a distant third (51.26).

“That was unbelievable,” Stone-Watters said. “She blew her times out of the water. Every part of her (100 back) was perfect. But I still think she has something else in there, which is scary. She had four unbelievable races.”

With top eight Friday walking away with medals and top 16 earning All-Ohio, Stevens will leave her with three medals. She’s part of 400 free relay team with senior Kate Cropp, junior Hailee Sautter and freshman Sammi Basinger that was seventh (3:36.99).

The 200 free team of Stevens, Cropp, Sautter and sophomore Abbie Kaple will compete in the consolation finals after finishing 10th (1:39.74).

“I still don’t know what to think about it,” Stevens said. “Hopefully I’ll go faster tomorrow.”

Stevens said there’s always the chance the two defending champs in her individual races were holding something back.

“It’s going to be close,” she said. “You have to go in with the mindset that nothing is guaranteed. I just want to be at the top of the podium so badly.”

Also reaching the podium race was Lex sophomore Derek Sautter with a seventh-place showing in the 100 fly (52.67) to go along with his 14th in the 500 free (4:51.57). He was 24th in both prelims last year.

“Last year I was scared to death,” Sautter said. “I was still nervous today, but I had more confidence. It was a whole different experience.”

Lex senior Aaron Burkhart earned a second day in the pool by finishing 14th in the 100 back (54.59).

“It feel’s good to break 55 (seconds),” he said. “I’m proud of my time and getting a PR. It was definitely a solid race. Proving to myself I can do more is always comforting.”

Lex freshman Evan Heth had the distinction of being the first area athlete to earn All-Ohio in this meet with his 13th place finish Wednesday in the 1-meter diving. Teammate Adam McCombs was 18th.

“I wanted to do a little better, but it’s good enough for me,” Heth said. “My main goal was to go to state and I got it done.”

Heth practically grew up in the pool. Clear Fork Swim Club is practically in his backyard.

“It was a lot easier getting the diving done first, so now I can just sit back and watch the rest of the meet without worrying,” he said. “I swam when I was in kindergarten, but I’ve always just done better at diving, so I stuck to that.”

Ontario sophomore Chad Wright was hoping to earn a medal in the 500 free after coming in seeded ninth, but he fell to Friday’s consolations finals by finishing 13th in that race (4:48.93) and 12th in the 200 free (1:45.92). Had he matched his 4:46.54 in the 500 at districts he would have made the medal race.

The trade-off for Wright: He’ll be All-Ohio in four events. Ontario’s two relay teams, the 200 free and 400 free, were seeded 19th and 17th, respectively, but improved to 16th in both to earn a second-day of swimming.

Joining Wright on both relays are sophomores Tyler Watson and Naz Tkachenko and senior Ray Hufford.

“The meet is a lot faster this year, but I’m pleased to come back tomorrow,” Wright said. “I wanted to be on the podium, but everything happens for a reason.

“God has given me a great opportunity, and it’s all turned out the way it’s supposed to. I gave it all I had.”


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