Gracie Finnegan will attempt to win titles in both the 100-yard freestyle and 50 free for a third consecutive year when she competes in the Division I state swimming and diving meet last Wednesday through Saturday.
(Editors Note: This article previewed this year's state championship. Check back later for complete coverage of the event.)
Gracie Finnegan will attempt to win titles in both the 100-yard freestyle and 50 free for a third consecutive year when she competes in the Division I state swimming starting today.
But the Watterson High School senior is hoping she won't be the only one from her squad celebrating a state championship at the conclusion of the meet. The Eagles are favored to win the 400 free relay and have an outside chance of contending for the overall team title.
"My main objective is to defend both of my state titles, but if we can also win a relay and win a team championship, that would be so much bigger because it would be fun to share those things with so many of my teammates," Finnegan said.
Upper Arlington has won five consecutive state team titles and is favored to defend its championship.
But coach Quintin Ward believes the Eagles can push the Golden Bears for first place if they score well in all three relays and Finnegan wins both of her events.
Watterson is seeded No. 1 in the 400 free relay (3:28.6), ahead of second-seeded UA (3:29.28). The Eagles are seeded seventh in the 200 free relay (1:39.11) behind second-seeded UA (1:36.43) and 10th in the 200 medley relay (1:49.32), behind top-seeded UA (1:45.54).
However, Ward is tinkering with each relay's lineup to make them stronger, including inserting Finnegan as the anchor of both the 200 free and 400 free relays.
"Relays are worth twice as many points as the other events, and we'll need all three to score to have a chance to do well at state," Ward said. "With Gracie as our anchor, if the race is close at all, I'm confident she'll be able to chase people down and help us win."
Finnegan had an outstanding performance to help Watterson finish second (286) behind UA (472) in the 21-team district meet last Friday and Saturday at Ohio State.
Watterson's 400 free relay of Camey Rabold, Samantha Schuttinger, Catherine Clark and Finnegan finished first (3:28.6) ahead of runner-up UA (3:29.28).
Finnegan also won district titles in both the 50 free (23.16) and 100 free (50.48) for a second-consecutive year, and combined with Michele Rielly, Mary Whittington and Clark to place fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:49.32).
At the state meet, Finnegan is the No. 1 seed in the 50 free and 100 free and is gunning for new state records in both events. Groveport's Jennifer Bradford set the state record in the 50 free (22.73) in 2004 and Finnegan set the state record in the 100 free (49.67) at district last year.
"My district times were just O.K. this year, but it's still exciting to defend my titles," Finnegan said. "It would be really cool to get both of those records at state in the last meet of my high school career."
Rabold has high hopes of placing in the top eight in both the 500 free and 200 free after finishing second in the 500 free (4:58.62) and third in the 200 free (1:51.03) at district.
Rabold is seeded fifth in the 500 free and sixth in the 200 free at state.
Last year at state, she placed sixth in the 200 free (1:52.0) and ninth in the 500 free (4:59.22).
"My biggest goal is to make it into the top heat (of the 500 free) after missing it by one spot last year," Rabold said. "I think the competition is going to inspire me to swim the best times of my life."
•The boys swimming and diving team scored 103 points to place eighth behind champion Columbus Academy (270) in the 34-squad Division II district meet last Friday and Saturday at Ohio State.
Senior Patrick Donohoe placed third in both the 100 fly (54.0) and 100 breast (1:01.63) to qualify for state in each event.
Donohoe is seeded 13th in the 100 breast and 16th in the 100 fly.
"Patrick swam his best times in both races at district," Ward said. "I think he can improve on where he's seeded because he isn't done dropping time yet."
•The wrestling team were ninth (42) at the 13-team Division II sectional last Saturday at Amanda-Clearcreek and finished behind champion Olentangy (246).
Hunter Maynard went 3-0 for a title at heavyweight, beating Canal Winchester's Nathan Pressley by injury default in the final.
Only the top four placers in each weight class advance to the district meet on Friday and Saturday at Uhrichville Claymont. The rest of the Eagles failed to make the cut.
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Watterson girls basketball, boys basketball, hockey and boys and girls swimming and diving teams:
Feb. 18 -- Defeated Lancaster 43-28 in Division I district tournament opener. Domini Paradiso scored 14 points and Courtney Haley scored 13 points.
Last Saturday -- Lost to Gahanna 34-30. Paradiso scored 11 points.
Last Wednesday -- Played Marysville in second round of district. The winner plays top-seeded Pickerington North or Briggs in a semifinal Tuesday at Olentangy Liberty. The winner of that game plays seventh-seeded New Albany, ninth-seeded Dublin Scioto, 10th-seeded Pickerington Central or Hilliard Davidson in the final on March 6 at Olentangy Liberty.
Of note: The Eagles were 15-6 overall before last Wednesday.
Feb. 17 -- Def. Dublin Jerome 67-41. Joe Lynch scored 23 points, Micheal Tighe scored 15 points, Zack Riddle scored 12 points and Matt Susi scored 10 points.
*Last Friday -- Lost to DeSales 66-49. Lynch scored 17 points.
*Last Monday -- Def. Ready 52-42
Saturday -- Columbus South or Olentangy at Centerburg in Division II district opener. The winner will play Eastmoor Academy, Lakewood, Linden-McKinley or Jonathan Alder in semifinal March 5 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Of note: The Eagles are 14-6 overall and 6-4 in the CCL.
Last Saturday -- Lost to Cincinnati Sycamore 19-1 in first round of district tournament
Of note: The Eagles finished 0-15.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Last Friday -- Boys: Finished eighth (103) in 34-team Division II district at Ohio State behind champion Columbus Academy (270). State qualifier, with event, district time and state seed, was Patrick Donohoe (100 fly, 54.0, 16th; 100 breast, 1:01.63, 13th). Others who competed at district were Michael Swartz (50 free, 24.19, 20th; 100 free, 53.71, 24th), Sam Besozzi (200 IM, 2:19.57, 19th; 100 breast, 1:05.18, 10th), Peter Clark (50 free, 23.6, 13th), Ryan Preston (200 free, 1:59.58, 17th; 100 back, 1:03.76, 17th), Neil Seguin (100 fly, 1:00.99, 20th), 200 free relay (1:37.69, 10th), 400 free relay (3:32.22, ninth) and 200 medley relay (1:44.57, fifth).
Last Friday-Saturday -- Girls: Finished second (286) in 21-team Division I district at Ohio State behind Upper Arlington (472). State qualifiers, with event, district time and state seed, were Gracie Finnegan (50 free, 23.16, first; 100 free, 50.48, first), Samantha Schuttinger (200 free, 1:52.38, ninth; 500 free, 5:00.6, eighth), Aly Francis (50 free, 24.14, 12th; 100 back, 1:00.12, 23rd), Michele Rielly (50 free, 24.27, 14th), Camey Rabold (200 free, 1:51.03, sixth; 500 free, 4:58.62, fifth), 200 free relay (1:39.11, seventh), 400 free relay (3:28.6, first) and 200 medley relay (1:49.32, 10th). Others who competed at district were Liz Boeckman (diving, 321.2, 10th), Frankie Robinson (diving, 265.7, 16th), Maggie Valachovic (diving, 110.6, 26th), Suzie Robinson (200 IM, 2:29.27, 27th), Annmarie Smerdel (100 fly, 1:05.71, 29th), Ryann Lewis (100 breast, 1:15.61, 28th; 200 IM, 2:28.83, 26th), Rielly (100 free, 53.63, fifth), Mary Whittington (100 breast, 1:13.07, 24th), Kate Kozlowski (200 free, 2:02.49, 16th; 500 free, 5:32.2, 16th), Catie Clark (100 free, 55.59, 14th; 100 fly, 59.22, sixth), Madison Bentley (100 back, 1:02.38, 18th).
Feb.24-Saturday -- At state meet in C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton