Westerville News & Public Opinion

Swimming & Diving

Warriors' Miller chasing another title

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

After winning two events in the Division I district swimming and diving meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, Mason Miller of the Westerville North High School boys team will look to win a state title for the second consecutive year.

Miller, a junior, won the 100-yard butterfly by nearly two seconds at district and then returned a short time later to win the 100 freestyle to earn automatic state berths in both events.

He will be the program's only representative in the state meet, which will be held Thursday, Feb. 20, through Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

Last season at state, Miller won the 50 free (20.87 seconds) ahead of Upper Arlington's Thomas Trace (20.94) and was second in the 100 free (45.77).

He transferred from San Ramon Valley High School in California before his sophomore year.

"Last year is going to help," Miller said. "The speed, the practice, the mentality of it is going to help. I have to stay rested and keep that mentality of going for it."

In dominating the 100 fly at district, Miller (48.3) finished ahead of Westerville South's Calvin Higdon, who was second in 50.35.

Miller went 45.57 in the 100 free, holding off Dublin Jerome's Jack Scott (45.99).

At state, Miller is seeded first in the 100 fly and second in the 100 free behind Cincinnati St. Xavier freshman Grant House (45.12).

The top two placers in each district swimming event automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.

"Mason is in a different world," coach Jeff Riegler said. "We're going to try to go 47 (seconds) in the fly and he has some work to do in the 100 free, but his turns were not very good. He's going to have some competition. It's going to be fun."

The Warriors finished 12th (80 points) at district behind champion St. Charles (304) as 25 teams scored.

Matthew Bernsdorf was sixth in the 500 free (4:48.23), but did not earn a state qualifying berth.

The girls team did not have a state qualifier as the Warriors finished 20th (21) behind champion UA (522) as 24 teams scored.

Higdon earns return trip to state

Higdon will be South's only representative at state after finishing second behind Miller in the 100 fly at district.

Higdon, who is seeded sixth at state, was 11th in the 100 fly (51.44) last season at state.

"Last year I went in and I was just really happy to be there, so this year I'm going to really try to (make the) podium," he said. "I thought I would go 50 (seconds in the 100 fly). My walls were a little bad, so I didn't go the time I wanted ... but I'll be able to make it up (this) weekend."

The boys team finished 14th (57) at district, as Higdon also was seventh in the 100 free (47.67).

The girls finished 23rd (10) and did not have a state qualifier.

Central sending contingent to state

The Central boys (89) and girls (96) teams each finished 10th at district.

For the boys, Jon Brooks earned a state berth in the 200 individual medley after finishing fifth (1:55.55) at district. He is seeded 18th at state.

Gabe Whitaker advanced to state after finishing seventh in the 50 free (21.68). He is seeded 23rd at state.

The 200 medley and 200 free relays also advanced to state after each finished fourth at district with Brooks, Whitaker, Josh Nixon and Ross Atchison. The 200 free relay is seeded 14th (1:27.33) at state and the 200 medley relay is seeded 15th (1:37.61).

The same four finished third at district in the 400 free relay, but were disqualified for an illegal change.

"I was ecstatic until that last relay," coach Austin Staab said. "It was unfortunate that happened. I encourage them to go fast and they just went a little bit too fast."

Last season at state, Whitaker was eighth in the 50 free (21.19) and 15th in the 100 fly (52.24) and joined Brooks on the 12th-place 200 free relay (1:27.88) and 13th-place 400 free relay (3:12.81).

Maddy Kramer led the girls team at district, finishing fourth in the 100 fly (58.13) to earn a state berth. She is seeded 18th at state.

Kramer also was sixth in the 200 free (1:56.56), but did not earn a state berth.