The Upper Arlington High School boys swimming and diving team has 49 district championships to its credit, but perhaps none was bigger than the one the Golden Bears won Feb. 19 at Ohio State.

The Upper Arlington High School boys swimming and diving team has 49 district championships to its credit, but perhaps none was bigger than the one the Golden Bears won Feb. 19 at Ohio State.

UA ended a five-year district-title drought by scoring 432.5 points to finish ahead of runner-up St. Charles (347.5), ending the Cardinals' four-year run of district championships.

"It took us five years, but that doesn't make any of this any less fantastic," said sophomore Joey Long, who captured district championships in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 42.45 seconds) and 500 free (4:34.99). "It means we're moving in the right direction now. Everyone is giving it all they have."

"It's been a goal for these kids for five years," first-year coach Mike de Bear said. "None of these guys were even in eighth grade when we last won the district title."

The boys team advanced eight swimmers in 13 events and all three relays to the state meet, which runs Thursday, Feb. 24, through Saturday, Feb. 26.

The top three finishers in each swimming event and the top four divers at district automatically qualified for state. In addition, 11 at-large state berths were awarded based on times statewide.

Long, who is seeded sixth at state in the 500 free and seventh in the 200 free, placed fifth at state in the 500 free (4:38.62) last year.

"It's amazing how loud it is," Long said of the state meet. "The entire stands are filled and everyone is just screaming throughout the whole meet. You have to be ready for it."

The boys team is seeded in the top 10 at state in nine events, including all three relays.

At district, junior Sean Neri placed first in the 100 backstroke (52.4) and junior Adam Rabe won the 100 breaststroke (58.29). Neri and Rabe then teamed with Long and junior Ryan Cutler to win the 400 free relay (3:09.57).

The Bears captured the top four spots in the 100 back with freshman Thomas Trace (53.15), sophomore Max Jelen (53.32) and senior Alex Chin (53.48) following Neri. UA placed third (187) at state last year behind Cincinnati St. Xavier (228) and Toledo St. Francis (218).

"We will be in the battle to get in the finals (at state)," de Bear said. "If you can hold your time or drop just a little bit, you're going to move up. We've talked about not looking ahead or living behind. You live in the moment. Our next moment is going to be Friday morning."

•The girls team is seeking its seventh consecutive state title.

UA turned in a dominating performance at district, scoring 505 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Watterson (240) and third-place Thomas Worthington (201).

It was the 12th consecutive district championship for the Bears.

"There are a lot of people who want to beat us, but I think we can do it," junior Lauren Comer said. "A lot of people don't like us because we have won so many titles, but we keep training hard, believing in ourselves and doing what we can."

Comer won the district title in the 200 individual medley in 2:04.27 and joined junior Gabby Veri, senior Kayla Hammerberg and senior Abby Chin in winning the 400 free relay in a district-record 3:26.87 and winning the 200 free relay (1:35.27).

Also winning district titles were Kayla Hammerberg in the 50 free (23.57) and 100 free (51.27), Abby Chin in the 500 free (4:56.64) and the 200 medley relay of freshman Betsy Trace and juniors Beth Long, Claire Van Fossen and Jessica Miller (1:46.98).

Comer placed second at state in the 200 IM (2:04.85) last year.

The Bears are seeded first in the 200 free and 400 free relays and fourth in the 200 medley relay.

Also seeded in the top 10 in 13 individual events, including Hammerberg in the 100 free (second) and 50 free (fourth), Chin in the 500 free (fifth) and Comer in the 200 IM (fourth).

"I'm sure there's a lot of pressure on these girls," coach Dan Peterkoski said. "We start over each year saying this team hasn't won anything.

"But from a communal standpoint and internally, there's probably a lot of pressure. We have had a lot of great teams, but at this (district) meet, this weekend, this team stood up to any of them."


Below are the state qualifiers with district result and state seed for the Upper Arlington boys and girls swimming and diving teams:

Boys - Alex Chin: 100 back (53.48, fourth, 18th); Ryan Cutler: 200 free (1:43.78, fourth, 19th), 500 free (4:42.30, third, 16th); Max Jelen: 100 back (53.32, third, 16th), 100 fly (52.87, sixth, 22nd); Joey Long: 200 free (1:42.45, first, seventh), 500 free (4:34.99, first, sixth); Sean Neri: 200 free (1:43.22, second, 13th), 100 back (52.40, first, eighth); Adam Rabe: 100 breast (58.29, first, ninth), 200 IM (1:55.85, third, 10th); Ian Reardon: 200 IM (1:58.04, seventh, 22nd); Thomas Trace: 100 back (53.15, second, 15th); 200 medley relay (1:35.88, first, sixth); 200 free relay (1:27.35, second, ninth); 400 free relay (3:09.57, first, fourth); Girls - Abby Chin: 200 free (1:52.36, second, fifth), 500 free (4:56.64, first, fifth); Lauren Comer: 100 back (57.84, fourth, ninth), 200 IM (2:04.27, first, fourth); Kayla Hammerberg: 50 free (23.57, first, fourth), 100 free (51.27, first, second); Sarah Mamo: 100 breast (1:07.27, eighth, 20th); Jessica Miller: 200 free (1:53.35, third, seventh), 500 free (5:06.98, fifth, 15th); Jordan Russell: diving (407.95, third, 14th); Jenny Smith: 200 IM (2:06.45, third, eighth), 500 free (5:00.35, second, seventh); Amy Trace: 200 free (1:55.31, seventh, 20th); Betsy Trace: 100 back (59.23, seventh, 21st); Gabby Veri: 50 free (23.8, third, eighth), 100 free (52.16, second, eighth); Claire Van Fossen: 100 fly (56.68, second, sixth); Elizabeth Weldon: 200 free (1:54.79, sixth, 16th), 500 free (5:00.05, second, sixth); 200 medley relay (1:46.98, first, fourth); 200 free relay (1:35.27, first, first); 400 free relay (*3:26.87, first, first)

Others who competed at district: Boys - Ryan Baas: 100 breast (1:01.94, 13th); Alex Chin: 100 fly (53.62, 10th); Geoff Dickhaut: 50 free (22.84, 19th), 100 free (50.21, 18th); Adam Dodson: 50 free (22.51, 13th), 100 free (50.66, 21st); Michael Huntley: 100 fly (54.2, 14th), 200 IM (2:00.57, 10th); John Leanza: 50 free (23.37, 24th), 100 free (50.08, 16th); Zach Newcome: 500 free (4:51.72, sixth); Victor Pataky: 100 breast (1:01.41, 11th); Andrew Rabe: 50 free (21.99, seventh), 100 free (48.40, eighth); Ian Reardon: 100 breast (1:00.46, sixth); Dan Sullivan: 200 free (1:48.99, ninth), 500 free (4:57.1, 11th); Thomas Trace: 200 IM (2:00.6, 11th); Ben Walter: 100 fly (57.64, 23rd); Girls - Emily Annen: 100 back (1:02.34, 24th), 100 fly (1:00.23, 11th); Casey Branson: diving (195.1, 19th); Julie Dierker: 100 breast (1:09.53, 24th); Marissa Jaskot: 50 free (25.46, 13th), 100 free (56.75, 23rd); Jamie Krupp: 100 breast (1:08.21, 10th), 200 IM (2:12.29, seventh); Beth Long: 100 breast (1:07.62, ninth), 200 IM (2:13.17, 10th); Hanna Mascari: 100 fly (1:04.48, 27th); Maddie Paskell: diving (277.2, 16th); Mary Piscopo: diving (377.65, sixth); Amy Trace: 100 free (55.01, 13th); Betsy Trace: 50 free (25.49, 14th); Claire Van Fossen: 100 back (59.41, eighth); Rachel Webber: 100 fly (1:00.86, 16th)

*district record