Port Clinton junior Shane Meek has always been a huge fan of Ohio State.
But his pride was a little different when he threw on just about every article of Buckeye fandom he could find for a trip to Walmart for school supplies with older sister Cheyenne Meek. The older sister who has verbally committed to swim at Ohio State that is.
Meek took an official visit to Columbus the first week in September and then canceled plans to visit Iowa, Illinois, Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, Purdue …
“Nobody can compare,” she said. “From the time I was little, I grew up in a household loving Ohio State and my grandfather went to Ohio State for golf. I always wear scarlet and gray. My mom jokes that I look so good in red.
“Since I was young I’ve loved Ohio State and got into the football games. It was the first school I committed to for an official visit and it was easy to do that. It was not that way for the others with visits. I was always so comfortable with Ohio State.”
After Meek finalized plans for her visit, her father, Brad Meek, sent Jack Nicklaus a letter informing Nicklaus of his daughter’s intentions. Meek’s grandfather, Charles, played on Ohio State’s golf team with Nicklaus.
“I got a letter from Mr. Nicklaus to give to (Buckeyes women’s swim) coach (Bill Dorenkott),” Meek said. “It said he hoped I’d enjoy the Buckeye tradition and everything that comes with being a Buckeye.
“It was (Dorenkott’s) birthday and he said it was one of the best presents he could have gotten.”
The Meeks shared similar exuberance around the same time frame.
“(My dad’s) a huge Buckeye fan,” Meek said. “He’s part of the reason I chose Ohio State. He knows what’s best for me. On the drive back home he asked if I could go anywhere regardless of cost and things like that, where would it be?”
“Ohio State hands down,” was the quick and ready response.
A short time later, Meek called Dorenkott at 9 p.m. Brad Meek paced outside his daughter’s door until Meek hung up.
“I told coach I wanted to verbal,” she said. “I hung up the phone and all I could hear was my mom screaming downstairs. My dad gave me a high five.”
Road to success
Meek knows how coveted scholarships from Ohio State are for just about every athlete in the state, but she feels even more fortunate to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps.
“It’s pretty cool to know he was the captain of the golf team and it’s an honor to say my grandpa went there and I can keep up the legacy,” she said. “It’s a cool thing. It’s Buckeye pride.”
Meek got a kick out of tracing out a path on campus while on her visit of where she would be spending time next year.
“I loved the campus and being with the girls,” said Meek, who wants to study communications/journalism. “It felt right. I had a chance to walk where I’d walk next year.”
Meek, who has qualified to state in four events each of her first three years in high school, feels a measure of relief to make her decision before her senior campaign.
“It’s nice to know going into the high school season I know where I’ll be next year,” she said. “In a way, it gives me something to strive for, keeping track of the girls’ times on the team. I know what level I’ll need to be at.”
Meek still has a few goals before she sets foot in Columbus as a student. She also has some long-term objectives.
She wants to break the 23 second barrier in the 50 freestyle and get to 49 seconds in the 100.
“It would be nice to stand up on the podium with a gold medal around your neck,” she said. “In three years, my dad and I have talked about going to Olympic Trials and hopefully making finals and going from there.”
Dorenkott expects Meek will be on the travel team from the time she arrives. Meek might be small, but it’s not a shortcoming.
In fact, Dorenkott knows he could have something big. Ohio State was Meek’s only visit, while Meek also was first on Dorenkott’s list.
“He talked about one of my weaker spots — I’m 5-5 and a lot of girls are 6-foot or taller,” she said, “but he sees the competitor in me and knows I strive for success. He said the sky’s the limit and he’s excited.”
Things are different now
The recruiting process was both exciting and challenging at times for Meek.
“It’s definitely crazy to get all that attention from big-name schools,” she said of positives. “I’d never have thought Purdue and Illinois would be calling. But then I was on the phone so much. The first day they could call I’d talk for 30 minutes, get a five minute break and somebody else would call.
“That was stressful. It’s good, but it has ups and downs.”
Committing to Ohio State is extremely fulfilling and rewarding for Meek. The official signing period is the first week in November.
“It’s just unreal,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams … if you asked me seven years ago or in the eighth grade? If you said I’d go to Ohio State for swimming, I’d say you were joking. It’s so surreal to say I’m a Buckeye.”
There’s part of Meek that can’t be too surprised, because she works very hard for what she wants. Meek is rarely truly surprised in the pool.
“The Junior National cut last summer,” she said of one exception. “It was the last day to go after it and the last race and it came after I was out of the pool for a month with poison ivy.
“It was crazy to touch the wall and look up at 26.84 (seconds for 50 freestyle long course). I did it. That was really special.”
But nothing compares to current events. Every time Meek sees guidance counselor Rick Dominick in the halls at school he says, “O-H…”
The response from Meek is a given, “…I-O.”