Blue Aces repeat state swimming title

Blue Aces repeat state swimming title

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Blue Aces repeat state swimming title

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CANTON

Sydney King had a big smile on her face after she completed one of her four All-Ohio finishes, but there also were tears.

“To be honest, it’s more about swimming with these girls for the last time, more than getting times or winning,” the senior said of classmates Keely Lovern and Kassandra Mestemaker. “The three of us are the best friends in all of the world.”

They teamed with stellar junior Abby Stone again to give Granville a repeat state championship in the 200 medley relay at the Division II state meet Friday at C.T. Branin Natatorium. Their time of 1:44.93 was just off their state mark of 1:44.2 set in 2013, but it propelled the Blue Aces to a big meet.

Granville also picked up four state second-place finishes and finished fourth as team with 184 points. It was just five behind third-place Dayton Oakwood and only nine behind runner-up Gilmour Academy. Hawken School won with 217.

“It’s great to be the best team again,” Stone said of 200 medley relay. “We didn’t get the record, but to win it two times in a row with the same girls is still awesome.”

“A tenth of a second here, a tenth of a second there,” coach John Sands said. “Any time you win here, you have to be happy with it. They did a great job, and it started us off in a great spot.”

King came back with a third-place finish in the 200 freestyle, breaking 1:50 for the first time since her sophomore year. Stone then almost won a state title in the 200 individual medley as she and Hawken freshman Crile Hart dueled down the stretch. Hart barely prevailed, but Stone still swam a personal-best 2:03.4 despite getting off to a slow start. She was four seconds ahead of the third-place finisher.

“I tried to take it out fast because I knew she would, but then I just kind of died,” said Stone, who battled from far back to almost win. “I’m still happy with my time.”

“She’ll learn from it and come back stronger next year,” Sands said.

Stone later added a fifth in the 100 backstroke in 55.98. Lovern also placed in the IM, finishing sixth in 2:09.96.

King led most of the 500 free before being nipped at the end by Hawken’s Claire Doeer. Her personal-best 4:53.63 was better than her state title time as a freshman.

“It was a still a little disappointing, but I was happy I got my best time,” King said. “I knew she was bringing it back real fast, but I was still going to go out fast and just swim my race.”

Mestemaker later placed second on the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.53, behind defending champion Lydia Pocisk — of Oakwood — who broke 1:03.

“I was going out to win, but with a time like that, she’s going to be hard to beat,” Mestemaker said. “And that wasn’t even her best. But I’m very, very happy with second. Last year, I tightened up in the finals, lost a second of time and was seventh. I tied for sixth the year before and was ninth as a freshman, so this was great.”

The Blue Aces had one final chance for a state title in the final event, the 400 free relay. They especially wanted to get one for junior Paige Griesse, who teamed with Stone, Lovern and King.

“It means a lot to Paige. She’s one of my best friends, and I’ve had my time,” King said.

But Granville was a close second to Gilmour Academy in 3:30.82.

“They were a little disappointed, but mostly sad because their time is over,” Sands said. “It’s such a good group of girls, a close group of girls. They expect to win every time in the pool.

“I thought we swam really well. We really competed, just came up a little short here and there. They swam out of their minds.”

The Blue Ace boys finished 13th with 69 points and just a point out of 12th. Junior Timmy Spichiger got on the podium twice, with seventh-place finishes in the 200 free (1:44.85) and 500 free (4:44.27). Both times he swam against Oakwood’s record-setting Brock Turner.

“It feels good,” Spichiger said. “I’ve always been a taper swimmer, but I know everyone was a little bit surprised I made it into the finals.”

Coach Tyler Prose was a bit surprised, but not totally.

“It’s been in his veins. He just got out and performed to his potential,” Prose said. “It set him up perfectly for next year.”

Senior Sam Wagner came up short on his bid to get on the podium. He finished ninth in the 50 free in 21.67, winning his consolation heat, and took 11th in the 100 free in 48.22.

“I feel really good,” he said after winning his 50 heat. “I know my goal was to get on the podium, but I was glad to be able to keep my seed and finish ninth.”

He was happy for Spichiger.

“It’s exciting. I’m real proud of him and know how hard he has worked,” Wagner said. “It’s good to see a teammate get on the podium if I couldn’t.”

Wagner, Tin Le, Grant Stahl and Spichiger were 11th in the 200 free relay (1:30.07) and 12th in the 400 free relay (3:17.94). Stahl was 13th in the 100 butterfly (52.67) and 13th in the 200 IM (2:00.29).

dweidig@newark

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