As the Grove City High School swimming and diving team left the Division I district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State, coach Amy Miller and her staff had their fingers crossed for senior Jack Bailey.
He had placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle (47.43 seconds), falling two spots short of automatically qualifying for state.
"(Bailey) has been training well. He's a little hard on himself, but he did great," Miller said. "It's just a lot of waiting when you're not an automatic (qualifier)."
The team's patience was well-founded, as Bailey earned an at-large berth for the state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Division I swimming preliminaries are Friday, Feb. 22, and the finals are Saturday, Feb. 23.
Bailey also was seventh in the 50 free (21.77) for Grove City, which scored 52 points and placed 16th behind champion Upper Arlington (380) as 24 teams scored.
His time in the 100 free is the same as Cincinnati St. Xavier sophomore Mitchell Frey, but Frey earned the 22nd seed and Bailey is seeded 23rd.
Bailey's time in the 50 free was .04 seconds shy of qualifying. St. Charles senior Carl Calcara earned the last of 24 qualifying spots with a 21.73.
"The 50 is such a perfect technical race," Grove City assistant coach Matt Long said. "Jack had a fantastic swim and he dropped four-tenths of a second, which was an amazing job for him."
The top two placers in each swimming event at district automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
No other Greyhounds advanced to state. Other top performances came from freshman Kalvin Koethke, who was eighth in the 50 free (22.05) and 21st in the 100 free (49.85), and the 10th-place 200 free relay (1:31.91) with Bailey, freshman Isaac Stretch, sophomore Timothy Routh and Koethke.
Grove City's girls did not score. Sophomore Margo Leist was 30th in the 200 free (2:09.3).
"There's a lot to look forward to out of this group," Miller said. "More than half our team is new swimmers. We're a young team. We have no senior girls. ... I think they're only going to get better."
Comets' season ends at district
Two boys relays placed 25th to lead Central Crossing at district.
The 400 free (3:52.03) and 200 medley (1:53.82) relays were 25th, and the 200 free relay was 28th (1:42.28) for the Comets, whose teams did not score.
The girls 400 free relay was 28th (4:29.51), the 200 free relay was 29th (2:01.67) and the 200 medley relay was 30th (2:16.87).
Even before he left the meet, sixth-year coach Robert Boggs was looking ahead to next season and pondering how the team will change its approach with eight of 20 swimmers graduating.
"There are some things I think we'll try differently from a coaching aspect next year that might help improve the team as far as training strategies and accountability," Boggs said.
"We really just need to increase the level of commitment in our athletes. That'll make a big difference. I'm hoping to get them into summer swimming programs. A couple of them already will do those, and we have weight-training set up."
In the OCC-Central Division meet Jan. 26 at Upper Arlington, the Central Crossing boys scored 51 points and placed seventh in the seven-team field behind champion UA (428), Olentangy Liberty (229), Thomas Worthington (214), Dublin Coffman (200), Hilliard Davidson (96) and Marysville (72).
The girls were sixth behind champion UA (452), Thomas (240), Liberty (185), Coffman (182) and Davidson (115) and ahead of Marysville (48).
The boys were 10th (24) in the 12-team UA sectional Feb. 9 behind the champion and host Golden Bears (351) and the girls were 12th (15) behind champion UA (463).