Swimmers Sweep Giants

Posted on January 4, 2019 in Boy's Swimming, Girl's Swimming, Winter Sports

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
Competing for the first time since a two-week holiday break, the Oak Hill and Marion boys’ and girls’ swim teams took a different approach to Thursday evening’s dual meets in the Giants pool.

While Oak Hill coach Kendrick Vester gave some of his top performers even more time off, Marion with just eight swimmers on both teams had no choice but to go full bore into both meets. The Golden Eagles did pull off the sweep but just 99-78 in the boys while the girls breezed to a 131-45 victory.

“The long break is really really difficult, and in the practice sessions what you really do is build up yardage,” first-year Giants boys’ coach Kyle Strohman said. “With our conference and sectional meets coming up, we need to have mileage under our belts.

“Our kids came back from a long break and continued to progress during the meet and get our minds back into race mode,” he added. “They performed very well against an incredibly difficult Oak Hill team, and it was impressive to see our boys continue to fight and fight and fight. The girls as well.”

Marion boys’ swimmer Tyler Morgan had two individual wins in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, and freshman Jonathan Reynolds was a double-winner in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke with a personal best time of 1:14.68. Morgan and Reynolds also helped pace the 200 medley relay to a victory with Zach Stephens and Joseph Powell.

“Jonathan did a fantastic job and Tyler Morgan came back and did a good job securing some first places and showing senior leadership behind it,” Strohman said. “Really, our strategy (for the meet) was to get ourselves back into a meet mindset.”

Powell also contributed a first in the 200 freestyle and Zach Stephens captured the 100 butterfly. The Giants also had Powell, Reynolds, Morgan and Henrique Samorini win in the 200 freestyle relay.

Yet, even with its top swimmers on the sidelines, Oak Hill’s depth was too much for the Giants to overcome. Griffin Overmyer won the 500 freestyle, Macallister Cheek in the 100 backstroke and the 400 freestyle relay of Benjamin Martin, Elijah Maynard, Cheek and Landon White had the Eagles’ only swim event wins.

Vester gave some swimmers extra time off because Oak Hill has a big invitational meet Saturday at Jay County. But the Eagles lost one of its top pointgetters, Dalton Scheffer, due to an incident in practice Wednesday and he could miss as much as two weeks.

“This is our first meet in at least two weeks, and it was good to come in here and prepare and get our right mindset before go into big meet like (Jay County),” Vester said. “We were able to use some of our freshmen, and I don’t really have a good idea where to put them yet.

“We had some good time drops today, and I’ll give a shout out to Kaylie Gunion, a freshman, and in the 200 (freestyle) she dropped 10 seconds and the 500 (freestyle) about 15 seconds. I’m glad she actually got the opportunity to compete.”

Caiden Lake, the Eagles’ standout 1-meter diver, competed and remained unbeaten for the season, racking up 259 points with a limited program. Lake and the rest of the divers also had the rare opportunity to compete in a swimming event when they formed a team in the 400 freestyle relay, and he was in second place following his leg.

“We came in and had a little fun,” Vester said. “We had a divers relay, and they are not the greatest swimmers but came in and had fun with it. Caiden muscles his way through it, and just think if he actually put some goggles on and learned a flip turn and all that stuff he’d probably be pretty good at a 50 free. But he’s a lot better diver than a swimmer.”

Oak Hill boys’ divers swept with Braden Wagner and Owen Brookshire finishing second and third. In the girls’ diving, freshmen Hayleigh Elliott and Lexi Ozmun finished 1-2 with the Giants’ Gabby Vermilion breaking up the Eagles’ dominance.

“The freshmen girls have taken the reigns,” Eagles diving coach Bobby Hart said. “Lexi beat Hayleigh in the first meet, and Hayleigh has won every meet after that, but they’ve both been nip-and-tail and both have been pretty solid together. They need to get a couple more dives under their belt before we get to sectional, because the competition’s a lot harder down in Indianapolis.

“Caiden is Caiden, and he’s doing exactly what I thought he’d do,” Hart added. “He did take a break and was a little rusty, but overall he’s averaged 300 points in six-dive meets he hasn’t lost a meet. We only did required dives and he did 259, which is a phenomenal score.”

Mallory Cheek was a double winner for the Oak Hill girls in the 50 and 100 freestyles, while firsts also were collected by Grace Marsh in the 100 breaststroke Claire Gamble in the 200 individual medley Ashtin McDivitt in the 100 butterfly ahead of sister Tiernan McDivitt, Katie Maynus in the 200 freestyle and Lilly Miller in the 500 freestyle. The Eagles swept the three relay races.

Marion had its only win from Stevie McAtee in the 100 backstroke, but assistant coach Emilee Winters was pleased about Katelyn Wright swimming a personal best 1:11.18 in the 100 backstroke and finishing in third place.

“All of the accomplishments these girls have had is incredible and makes my heart so happy,” Winters said.

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