Oak Hill Swimmers Top Marion

Posted on January 13, 2020 in Boy's Swimming, Girl's Swimming, Winter Sports

By Chuck Landis Chronicle-Tribune

CONVERSE — Marion and Oak Hill swimming and diving meets typically lend themselves to a lot of experimentation, and there were plenty of different combinations on display Thursday evening in the Eagles pool.

Yet, for all the changes, the Golden Eagles continued their domination of the Giants and swept the boys’ (137-33) and girls’ (134-39) meets. The girls won 11 of 12 events while the boys had nine winners.

“It’s always tough,” Marion boys’ coach Kyle Strohman said. “Oak Hill is the premier swim program in Grant County, but our boys and our girls dug deep. We were looking for (personal bests) and I don’t know the total number, but we did have quite a few.”

Marion competed for the first time since before the holiday break, while Oak Hill returned to action Monday against Hamilton Heights and did show some rust. Things went much more swimmingly for the Eagles against the Giants.

“We are definitely fine tuning some areas,” Eagles coach Kendrick Vester said. “A lot of aspects on our turns, and we’ve been working hard on starts. They looked a lot better than Monday, which wasn’t too pretty. We got a lot of disqualifications for flinching at the start or leaving early on a relay, there was four or five (infractions).

Vester said the Marion meet which falls exactly one month before the girls’ sectionals is one final opportunity to have a little fun before getting serious for the postseason.

“We had an opportunity to swim off events and team took very well to that,” he said. “A lot of them swam events they despised — especially that butterfly or 500 — but they swam hard. … We tend to get in a rut swimming the same events every single meet and stop dropping (times).

“Sometimes, I think you just need a break and try something a little different and come back to it later,” Vester added.

Kyle Strohman and Giants girls’ coach Liz Strohman also changed up their lineups and they were generally pleased with the results. They attribute it to the large number of PRs the Giants produced in the meets.

“We had some kids trying some different things as well,” Liz Strohman said, “and some of them even may not have swam it in the past and may even been the first time this year.”

Oak Hill’s girls won their second meet this season behind three double winners: Taylor King, Emma Bledsoe and Judy Wood. The three also swam on two winning relay teams.

King won the 200-yard individual medley, where she is closing in on the school record, and the 500 freestyle while also taking part in the 200 medley and freestyle relays. Bledsoe, a freshman, won the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. Wood’s wins came in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

Mallory Cheek in the 200 freestyle and Hayleigh Elliot in 1-meter diving also had firsts for the Eagles girls. Elliot’s task was made easier when Marion’s Gabby Vermilion was injured at school and unable to compete.

“It was in art class and she hurt her finger,” Kyle Strohman said of Vermilion, the Giants’ only diver. “It would have been a great competition and she has been doing so well all season.

“Any loss like that hurts,” he added. “You don’t want to see that because she’s a big pat of our team. As of now we don’t know if we’re getting her back. It’s like losing Jalen Blackmon (the Giants injured boys’ basketball standout).”

Marion’s lone girls’ winner was Olivia Lindsay in the 100 freestyle.

“It wasn’t her best time (1:05.45),” Liz Strohman said, “but coming off the break she gave great effort.”

Hayden Maynard was Oak Hill’s only boys’ double winner in the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke in a close race with Marion’s Jonathan Reynolds. Maynard was clocked in 1:14.24 and was four-tenths second better than Reynolds (1:14.24).

Reynolds came back to take first in the 200 individual medley despite a cold virus making it hard to breathe, according to Kyle Strohman. He also helped the 200 freestyle relay to victory, teaming up with Joseph Powell, John Seybold and Christian Vermilion.

Seybold, a freshman, had the Giants’ other first-place performance in the 50 freestyle with a PR of 26.97 seconds.

“That was a really good swim for him,” Kyle Strohman said of Seybold. “That was the first time he broke 27 and we knew that was something he really wanted to do. This was a really personal meet for him.”

Oak Hill also had individual firsts from Owen Brookshire, diving; Andrew Scaif, 100 butterfly; Wyatt Drollinger, 100 feestyle; Landon White, 500 freestyle, and Macallister Cheek, 100 backstroke.

Dalton Scheffer is one of the boys’ top point producers but he was limited to the 200 medley where he teamed with Landon Ashley, Scaif and Chase Austin for a first place. Ashley also was part of the 400 freestyle-winning team with Drollinger, Caleb Rex and Seth O’Blenis.

Oak Hill girls swept the relays with King, Bledsoe, Wood and Cheek in the 200 medley; King, Cheek, Bledsoe and Ashtin McDivitt in the 200 freestyle, and Tiernan McDivitt, Katie Maynus, Kaylie Gunion and Laren Rex in the 400 freestyle.

Marion returns to the pool Saturday with the North Central Conference meet at Purdue University, West Lafayette, and Kyle Strohman said the Giants will take some momentum from Thursday’s performances.

“Our relays came together strong which I was impressed with,” he said. “We know we’ve got a strong team when our relays come together and this is probably our best performance. relay-wise, of the season. There’s some real positives as we go into the conference on Saturday.”

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