The Tigers won their 27th straight state championship, and their 51st overall, Saturday in the KHSAA Swimming & Diving Championships at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium.
St. X won one-third of the 12 events on its way to 449.5 points. Covington Catholic was second, for the fourth consecutive year, with 335 while Collegiate — with only six scoring swimmers — finished third for the second straight season with 152 points. Madison Central finished fourth (130 points) while Manual and Tates Creek tied for fifth (92). Individual meet standouts included Ballard senior Branson Smith and Christian Academy of Louisville sophomore Nicolas Albiero, both of whom won two events.
The Tigers topped the Colonels 361-328.5 at last year’s state meet. This season they used their superior depth to outscore CovCath by 114.5 points.
“The guys did a great job this year of getting down to basics,” St. X coach Todd Larkin said. “They took the attitude that they were going to be tough to beat from Day One. This is a great group of guys, they held each other accountable. And, just when I think they can’t take it to another level they do.”
The Tigers’ triumphs came from senior Heyward Harrison in the 200-yard individual medley, sophomore Keefer Barnum in the 100 breaststroke and their 200 medley and 200 free relay teams.
“We came here to win and we pulled through, it’s just really exciting,” Barnum said.
St. X got off to a great start as the quartet of senior J.D. Mundt, Barnum, Harrison and senior Matthew McDermott combined to win the 200 medley relay in a state record time of 1 minute, 32.93 seconds.
A short time later Harrison, who has signed with the University of North Carolina, defended his state title in the 200 IM, winning in 1:49.18 (just missing the state record of 1:48.88).
“I definitely wanted to get the state record and I was kind of sad to see I didn’t get it,” he said.
In the 200 free relay Mundt, senior Trent Schulten, McDermott and junior Clayton Forde combined for a near 2-second triumph over the Titans.
Two races later Barnum was a mere six-tenths of a second off the state record in the 100 breaststroke, winning in 55.88 (Todd Owen of Ballard won the race in 55.24 last year).
Smith, meanwhile, repeated as state champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
“He blew it out of the water today,” said Ballard coach Brad Hultz, whose team tied CAL for eighth overall.
Meanwhile the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Smith continued to blow away the notion that all good sprinters have long, lean builds.
“I don’t think about the fact that most of the sprinters out there are over 6-feet tall, I just think about getting my hand on the wall first,” said Smith, who beat Mundt in the 50 and Collegiate junior Lee Bradley in the 100.
Albiero was first in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke.
“I was really pumped,” he said. “I knew the competition was going to be tough. This is just icing on the cake.”
Albiero bested Harrison in the fly, then edged Ballard senior, and defending state champion, Jake Precious in the backstroke.
Other individual event winners included Beechwood senior Austin Haney in the 200 free, Covington Catholic junior Brendan Meyer in the 500 free and CovCath senior Louie Hunt in the 1-meter diving competition. Hunt’s total of 569.40 points broke the 16-year-old state record of 552.7 set by Tates Creek’s Phillip Jones in 1999. The Colonels capped off the meet with a thrilling win over St. X in the 400 freestyle relay in a state record time. CovCath’s quartet finished in 3:05.72 while Tigers’ foursome touched at 3:05.80 (both beat the previous state mark of 3:06.59 set by the Colonels two years ago).
The day, however, belonged to St. X.
“This senior class goes undefeated, our team has won 74 matches in a row…it’s been special,” Larkin said.
Top team results: 1. St Xavier 449.5. 2. Covington Catholic 335. 3. Collegiate 152. 4. Madison Central 130. 5, Tates Creek 92. 5. Manual 92. 7. Bowling Green 91.5. 8. Ballard 85. 8, Christian Academy – Louisville, 85. 10. Henry Clay 70 (14. Trinity 46, 19. North Oldham 35, 20. Kentucky Country Day 33, 22. Male 22, 24. Collins 16, 33. PRP 9, 34. South Oldham 8, 35. Oldham County 7, 38. Atherton 5).
200 Yard Medley Relay: St. Xavier (JD Mundt, Keefer Barnum, Heyward Harrison, Matthew McDermott), 1:32.93. 2, Covington Catholic High 1:33.15. 3, Madison Central 1:35.97. 4, Tates Creek1:38.62.
200 Yard Freestyle: 1, Austin Haney, Beechwood, 1:38.97. 2, Clayton Forde, St Xavier, 1:41.26. 3, Robbie Newman, Cov Catholic, 1:41.86. 4, Trey Hubbuch, St Xavier, 1:42.23.
200 Yard Individual Medley: 1, Heyward Harrison, St Xavier, 1:49.18. 2, Mike Summe, Cov Catholic, 1:51.39. 3, Jake Precious, Ballard, 1:54.22. 4, Keefer Barnum, St Xavier, 1:54.49.
50 Yard Freestyle: 1, Branson Smith, Ballard, 21.18. 2, JD Mundt, St Xavier, 21.60. 3, Matthew McDermott, St Xavier, 21.66. 4, Brett Lathrem, Bowling Green, 21.70. 4, Trent Schulten, St Xavier, 21.70.
1 mtr Diving: 1, Louie Hunt, Cov Catholic, 569.40. 2, Nick Fox, Scott, 482.05. 3, Evan Brungs, Cov Catholic, 442.45. 4, Michael Miller, St Xavier, 413.20.
100 Yard Butterfly: 1, Nicolas Albiero, Christian Acad, 48.43. 2, Heyward Harrison, St Xavier, 49.44. 3, Robbie Newman, Cov Catholic, 49.66. 4, David Bunnell, Trinity, 50.67.
100 Yard Freestyle: 1, Branson Smith, Ballard, 46.11. 2, Lee Bradley, Collegiate, 47.04. 3, Todd Sheets, Cov Catholic, 47.30. 4, Brett Lathrem, Bowling Green, 47.84.
500 Yard Freestyle: 1, Brendan Meyer, Cov Catholic, 4:28.19. 2, Trey Hubbuch, St Xavier, 4:32.33. 3, Clayton Forde, St Xavier, 4:33.87. 4, Nick Smith, Cov Catholic, 4:36.54.
200 Yard Freestyle Relay: 1, St Xavier (JD Mundt, Trent Schulten, Matthew McDermott, Clayton Forde), 1:25.53. 2, Collegiate 1:27.23. 3, Covington Catholic 1:27.85. 4, Madison Central 1:28.56.
100 Yard Backstroke: 1, Nicolas Albiero, Christian Acad, 48.92. 2, Jake Precious, Ballard, 50.05. 3, Brendan Meyer, Cov Catholic, 50.17. 4, Ethan Kramer, Tates Creek, 51.11.
100 Yard Breaststroke: 1, Keefer Barnum, St Xavier, 55.88. 2, Mike Summe, Cov Catholic, 56.28. 3, Austin Haney, Beechwood, 57.05. 4, Michael Hampel, Owensboro Catholic, 57.87.
400 Yard Freestyle Relay: 1, Covington Catholic (Todd Sheets, Robbie Newman, Brendan Meyer, Mike Summe), 3:05.72. 2, St Xavier 3:05.80. 3, Manual 3:13.75. 4, Collegiate 3:14.11.