Swimming & Diving
Girls relay hits mark at state
Thomas' Kaylee Witkiewicz checks her time after finishing fifth in the 50-yard freestyle in the Division I state meet Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. The sophomore also was sixth in the 100 backstroke and part of the second-place 200 medley relay and 10th-place 400 free relay. Buy This Photo
The 200-yard medley relay for the Thomas Worthington High School girls swimming and diving team placed second in the Division I state meet in record fashion.
Sophomore Kaylee Witkiewicz, senior Marin Reeder, junior Julia Valentine and senior Abby Jank combined to finish in a program-record 1 minute, 44.99 seconds. Cincinnati Ursuline won the event in 1:43.27.
The relay's performance helped the Cardinals score 91 points in the meet, which concluded Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, to finish 11th behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (234) as 55 teams scored.
Worthington Kilbourne finished 33rd with 15 points.
"The medley relay was amazing," Witkiewicz said. "To finish second and be so close was just special. I love the girls on this team. We're a family and it was such a fantastic weekend and season."
"We are like a family and we cannot be happier with being second in the state," Valentine said. "We're on cloud nine. Unfortunately, we're going to lose Marin and Abby next year. But this was absolutely the best feeling in the world."
The Cardinals placed fourth in the medley relay last season in 1:46.25. That relay was comprised of Witkiewicz, Reeder, Valentine and 2012 graduate Katie Allison.
"In the three big meets we had this season where we competed against some of the best teams in the state, we never finished higher than third in the medley relay," coach Jim Callahan said. "But we saw most of the competition in those meets. Then we set the school record at district (1:45.06) and were seeded first at state. That's when we knew that if these four went out and performed their best, they'd have a chance.
"That's what happened. All four of them had season-best splits. It was just an awesome finish for them."
Witkiewicz and Valentine also reached the podium in individual events. Witkiewicz placed fifth in the 50 freestyle (23.76) and sixth in the 100 backstroke (56.28), and Valentine placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke (program-record 1:05.5).
"I am thrilled with the 100 breast because I've reached little goals all season," Valentine said. "I was seeded 10th but I really wanted to be in the finals, so I had to finish eighth in the prelims and I did. Then (Callahan) said the worst I could do was eighth, so set a higher goal. There was nowhere to go but up, so I told him I would try to get seventh or sixth."
Also competing at state for the Cardinals were the 400 free relay of junior Cassandra Laios, sophomore Abby Wiet, Reeder and Witkiewicz (3:35.06, 10th) and the 200 free lineup of Wiet, Valentine, freshman Rina Laios and Jank (1:39.87, 15th).
Sophomore Rachel Rubadue was the lone state representative for Kilbourne, finishing fourth in diving with 448.35 points.
"I'm happy with the way things went," she said. "I moved up a couple of places in the final three or four dives. I had quite a few dives that scored well. I think my best score came on my second dive, an inward dive pike. I nailed it. My favorite is the reverse one-and-a-half pike."
This was Rubadue's first season competing in high school. She competed at the club level last winter.
"I think the competition is about the same," she said. "I enjoyed this. I plan to finish with high school diving, too."
Harper makes podium for Thomas boys
Trenton Harper of the Thomas boys team reached the final in both of his individual events at state.
The senior placed seventh in the 100 breast (57.29) and eighth in the 200 individual medley (1:54.87).
"I was very happy with both swims," Harper said. "I moved up one spot from my seed in the breast. I was hoping to get the school record in the IM and didn't do it. I was close. Still, it was a great experience. It's quite an atmosphere and to (reach) podium in both events was exciting."
Also at state for the Cardinals, the 200 free relay of Harper, freshman Cameron Harper and seniors Aaron Teufel and Mason Zurovchak finished 19th (1:29.33) and the 200 medley relay of Trenton Harper, junior Matt Reed, Zurovchak and Teufel was disqualified.
"The 200 medley relay was disqualified, but they got faster every step of the way through the postseason," Callahan said. "They did a great job. I'm impressed by how far they went. Overall, Trenton had never been in a final before and he got on the podium twice, so it was a great day for the boys team, too."
The Cardinals finished 30th (22.5) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (270) as 57 teams scored.
The Kilbourne boys team did not have any state qualifiers.