For nearly a quarter century the St. Xavier swim team has been peerless in the state of Kentucky.
It was more of the same Saturday as the Tigers claimed two individual events and a pair of relays en route to their 24th straight team title at the Pannell Swim Shop/KHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Tigers overwhelmed the field at UofL’s Wright Natatorium and piled up 484.5 points in the meet’s 12 events. The total was more than twice that of runner-up Covington Catholic (235). Trinity finished third with 189.
“Every team is special and deserves their own place in this streak,” said third-year St. X coach Todd Larkin. “We obviously leaned on our depth and I’m really proud of the way that it all came together.”
Among the standouts for St. X was senior Michael Scheid, a Notre Dame signee, who won his third-straight 100-yard backstroke title and swam a leg on the Tigers’ 200 medley relay team that won with a time of one minute and 34.36 seconds.
Also on the 200 medley relay was freshman Cole Buese, who was tops in the 100 fly (50.95) and second in the 200 free.
Buese, who will be moving with his family to Baltimore in August, had mixed emotions during the meet.
“It’s bittersweet knowing this is my first and last Kentucky high school state meet, but I’m having a good time with all of my teammates,” said Buese, whose sister Kelsey swam state runner-up for Sacred Heart Academy.
Other major contributors for St. X were junior Robert Leasure, who touched third in both the 200 individual medley and 500 free and Garrett Stephens, a junior who was third in both the 50 and 100 free.
Stephens also anchored the Tigers’ winning 200 free and 200 IM relay teams.
Thomas Cooper of Trinity won the 50 free (20.67) and the 100 free (45.09) after setting a new state record in the 100 during prelims (44.71).
With Cooper as anchor, the Shamrocks took second in the 200 and 400 free relays.
Ballard’s Jake Schultz won the 200 free with a time of one minute and 42.92 seconds. The junior also came in second in the 500 free. “We definitely knew he was going to be in the hunt,” said first-year Bruins coach Brad Hultz. “He really wanted it today.”
Kentucky Country Day junior Connor Lohman won the 100 breaststroke in 57.76 seconds and said it has been a long time coming after a disappointing finish last season.
“I won at regionals last year and came in here and was really nervous and got sixth,” Lohman said. “I had been waiting for this since last year.”
Manual junior Sarah Love turned in a series of strong performances and the Crimsons used a dominant 400 free relay win to pull away from Sacred Heart and claim their sixth title in eight years.
Love won the 100 free with a time of 51.18 seconds and was runner-up in the 50 free before anchoring the relay squad that clinched the title in the meet’s final event.
The Crimsons led by only 1 ½ points heading into the race.
“We knew it was going to be close,” said Love. “I just wanted to push through and make sure that we won by a lot. I got to the wall, looked up and saw that we won.”
The relay victory pushed Manual’s point total to 351, ahead of Sacred Heart’s 341.5. Notre Dame was a distant third with 191.
According to Manual coach J.C. Barnett the rivalry elevated his swimmers. “We’re better because of Sacred Heart…and our accomplishment is only measured by the greatness of our opponent,” he said.
Senior Miranda Mercke and freshman Leah Stevens led the way for the runners-up.
Mercke won the 100 breaststroke (1:03.83) and was second in the 200 IM, while Stevens won the 200 free (1:50.60) and placed second in the 500 freestyle.
After finishing third the past three years, Sacred Heart’s Becca Corbett won her first diving title in record-breaking fashion. The senior’s score of 509.30 eclipsed the previous mark of 498.10 set by Jessica Lyden of Lexington Catholic in 2008.
The Valkyries also won the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay, but in the end it was Manual’s balanced and consistent swims that prevailed.
“We wanted to win so bad,” said Love. “It really meant a lot.”
Boys’ Team Totals (top ten)
St. X, 484.5
Covington Catholic, 235
Tates Creek, 99
Paul Dunbar, 93
Daviess County, 90
Dixie Heights, 89
Bowling Green, 82.5
Girls’ Team Totals (top ten)
Sacred Heart, 341.5
Notre Dame, 191
North Oldham, 128
Paul Dunbar, 109
Christian Academy (Lex.), 96
Bowling Green, 93
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at firstname.lastname@example.org.