Needing every point it could get to take back the Division I state championship, the Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving team's 200-yard freestyle relay held nothing back.
"It was me racing for my life, it felt like," said senior Jenny Smith, who anchored the relay. "I needed to kick it into high gear and not look back. Everybody was on my tail. I had to not breathe, basically."
The Golden Bears' relay, which also included Gracie Long, Alexandra Hedden, Grace Van Fossen, won in a state-record 1 minute, 33.87 seconds, edging the mark of 1:34.02 set a day earlier by Cincinnati Ursuline in a preliminary heat.
UA fell short of the team championship for the second consecutive year, however, as it scored 264 points in the state meet, which concluded Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, to place second to Ursuline (281) as 52 teams scored.
Last season, Ursuline snapped the Bears' eight-year streak of Division I titles.
Any hopes the Bears had hinged on the 400 free relay, in which UA needed a win and Ursuline to place well back in the pack. But the Lions won in a state-record 3:21.89, breaking the mark of 3:23.19 they set last year, and UA placed second (3:25.56) with Erin Sheehan, Van Fossen, Smith and Long.
"We were managing the meet the whole time. We (had) been talking for a week that it could very well come down to the last relay. It almost did," coach Dan Peterkoski said. "It was a fun meet to be in. It's bittersweet right now in that we came out on the losing end, but it was a close, hard-fought meet the entire time."
Smith placed second in the 200 individual medley (2:02.6) and third in the 500 free (4:52.97), Long finished second in the 100 free (49.93) and fourth in the 200 free (1:48.67), and the 200 medley relay of Betsy Trace, Jamie Krupp, Sheehan and Hedden was fourth (1:46.16).
Long, who also was state runner-up in the 100 free last year, was edged in both races by Ursuline's Alisabeth Marsteller, who won the 200 free in a state-record 1:46.78 and the 100 free in 49.75.
"It's a little disappointing. I haven't really dropped time from last year, but you know, this year has been a really fast meet. I'll take it," Long said. "(Marsteller) always comes home really strong, I think. I knew she'd be right there no matter what I did."
Other top-eight finishes were turned in by Van Fossen in the 100 free (51.37, sixth), Julie Dierker in the 500 free (5:02.49, eighth) and Meghan Wilson in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.98, eighth).
Also competing at state were Elizabeth Weldon in the 500 free (4:55.9, ninth) and 200 free (1:54.58, 18th), Hedden in the 50 free (10th, 24.19), Katie Trace in the 200 IM (2:06.62, 10th) and 500 free (4:59.33, 11th), Betsy Trace in the 100 butterfly (56.94, 11th), Anna Linzell in the 50 free (24.38, 13th), Van Fossen in the 200 free (1:52.68, 13th), Dierker in the 200 IM (2:09.87, 14th), Sheehan in the 100 free (52.54, 14th), Krupp in the 100 breast (1:07.51, 15th) and Emma Lammers in the 100 fly (59.81, 22nd).
Trace's 50 free win paces boys team
Thomas Trace of the boys team won the state title in the 50 free, dropping almost three-tenths of a second from his preliminary time to win in 20.61. He was .04 of a second ahead of runner-up Nathan Christian from Cleveland St. Ignatius.
"Especially in the 50, there's such little margin for error. It's hard to drop time, especially two-tenths of a second," said Trace, an Ohio State signee who went 20.88 in his preliminary heat. "I was pretty disappointed with my (preliminary) swim. Coming in today, I had to think it was my race and I had to own it."
Trace placed second in the 100 backstroke (49.36) to Beavercreek's Henrik Pohlmann (48.24), and teamed with Colin Reardon, Ryan Baas and Ian Hamilton in the 200 medley relay to finish ninth (1:35.71).
Trace also was on the 200 free relay, which was disqualified in the preliminaries. The relay also included Baas, Zach Newcome and Ethan Fischer.
"I'm going to get choked up again thinking about what Thomas did," coach Mike de Bear said.
"To see a kid I have known since he was 5 or 6 years old do that in my least favorite event, to be honest it stresses the heck out of me, what can you say? First and second this year. What a way for him to go out."
Newcome finished seventh in the 500 free (4:37.29).
Also competing at state were the 400 free relay of Andrew Kibbe, Newcome, Reardon and Hamilton (3:14.39, 14th), Reardon in the 200 IM (1:57.26, 16th) and 100 back (53.04, 21st) and Baas in the 100 breast (1:00.41, 19th).
UA placed ninth (74) at state behind six-time defending champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (255) as 61 teams scored.