Senior Sandy Whitaker was ready to make a decision that would allow him some fun in his final seven months at St. Charles Preparatory School.

Senior Sandy Whitaker was ready to make a decision that would allow him some fun in his final seven months at St. Charles Preparatory School.

The standout on the school's swimming and diving team signed Nov. 16 to swim at the University of Minnesota.

"I kind of wanted to wait until the end of season, but then I might not get the scholarship I was looking for," Whitaker said. "The money might still be there, but not at Minnesota, and I wanted to make sure I was able to go there."

Whitaker won Division I state titles in the 100-yard backstroke (program-record 50.36 seconds) and 100 butterfly (program-record 49.48). He also joined senior Jay Schuh and 2009 graduates Eric Grunden and Erik Mai to win state in the 200 medley relay (1:33.21).

The Cardinals were second at state with 265 points. Cincinnati St. Xavier (322) won the championship.

"I was looking at a few colleges, but Minnesota seemed like the right fit," said Whitaker, who also considered Notre Dame, Ohio State and Southern Methodist University. "I like the guys on the team, and (the Golden Gophers) have a good facility. And, also, I wanted to go out-of-state and experience new things."

Whitaker is familiar with the Minneapolis area. His family lived there when he was younger.

"I used to live in Stillwater (Minn.) for three years like when I was (ages) 1-4 and we go back there and visit every year," he said. "(Stillwater) is only about 30 minutes away and my older brother, Shawn Smalley, lives there and owns a restaurant called Smalley's Caribbean BBQ and Pirate Bar."

Kyle Goodrich, Whitaker's coach with the Cardinals for the three previous seasons, believes the swimmer's drive separates him from his peers.

Whitaker is a club swimmer for the Greater Columbus Swim Team of Ohio (GCSTO). His top time in the 100 fly (48.88) came during the club season.

"Sandy is very physically gifted, and he has a great build for swimming. But I think his biggest attribute is his desire to succeed and win," said Goodrich, who is still an assistant in the program. "He is a hard worker and his desire to touch the wall first has helped him go from a middle-of-the-road swimmer to an elite swimmer."