Area standouts swim, dive into state showcase

By Ben Stroup - [email protected]

As has been the case in recent years, the OHSAA Swimming and Diving State Tournament at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton will be a busy one for area standouts.

On the boys’ side, Olentangy Liberty freshman Jack Matthews and Olentangy Orange junior Luke Cheetham both punched tickets in the 1-meter diving event. Matthews is the three seed while Cheetham enters as the seven seed thanks to his strong district showing.

Olentangy senior Benjamin Kuriger, fresh off a pair of district titles, enters Friday’s Division I swimming prelims as the two seed in two different events: the 200 yard freestyle (1:39.12) and 100 butterfly (48.61 seconds). Only Cincinnati Sycamore sophomore Carson Foster enters the meet with a faster mark in the 200 (1:38.28). Brecksville senior David Madej, meanwhile, enters as the top seed in the butterfly (47.89 seconds).

In relay action, Delaware Hayes and Orange qualified in the 200 freestyle.

The Pacers, who finished fourth at the district meet over the weekend in Athens, enter as the 18 seed. The quartet of Kael Gannon, Lucas Pape, Zach Ward and Andrew Parker combined to finish fourth at districts in a school-record time of 1:27.81. The Pioneers’ foursome of Ronak Tripathy, Cullen Dickson, Patrick Mahoney and Mason Reid, which finished sixth at districts in 1:28.65, enters as the 22 seed.

As for the girls, Orange junior Lauren Cheetham will compete in the 1-meter diving event, entering as the four seed thanks to her 512.60 district mark.

And she won’t be alone.

Liberty senior Rachel Peroni will be the second seed in the 100 butterfly thanks to a strong district showing (54.71 seconds). She’ll also compete with teammate Kate Saczawa in the 100 backstroke. Saczawa is the two seed (55.46 seconds) while Peroni will enter the race as the four seed (55.67 seconds). The duo took the top two spots at last weekend’s district showcase.

Like Peroni, Saczawa will be pulling double duty as the sophomore qualified as the 13 seed in the 50 freestyle (23.88 seconds).

Olentangy junior Bridget Parker, another multi-event qualifier, will be the nine seed in the 200 IM (2:04.55) and 10 seed in the 500 freestyle (4:59.16) while the Braves’ Grace Butcher, a sophomore, will compete in the 100 breaststroke as the 15 seed (1:04.64).

Area teams will be well represented in the relays as well. Olentangy’s 200 medley relay team of Grace Horstman, Butcher, Parker and Oli Gollmar qualified as the 21 seed (1:47.92). Liberty (Peroni, Saczawa, Abby Noonan and Lila Leary) and Delaware Hayes (Danielle Ward, Valerie Keller, Lauren Ertz and Rena Ouyang) both made it into the 200 freestyle — the Patriots qualified seventh (1:37.03) while the Pacers slipped in as the 23rd seed (1:39.35) — and the Patriots (Peroni, Noonan, Leary and Saczawa) and Braves (Parker, Gollmar, Emily Espy and Horstman) will have foursomes in the 400 freestyle relay. Liberty’s the nine seed (3:33.04) while Olentangy is the 24 seed (3:36.98).

The Division I action kicks off today with the girls’ diving competition. Girls and boys swimming preliminaries are scheduled to get underway Friday at 9 a.m. with boys diving slated for Saturday at 9 a.m. and swimming finals set for later that afternoon at 4 p.m.

By Ben Stroup

[email protected]