Backstroke was the event that got Grace Riddle of the Canal Winchester High School girls swimming and diving team to the Division I state meet as a freshman, and the senior hopes it helps her return as an individual next month.
In her third meet of the season, the Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State, Riddle swam 58.89 seconds in the 100-yard back to place fourth. Then, for the second year in a row, she eschewed the event for the next several weeks.
"That was the last time I swam that at a meet," Riddle, an Ohio University recruit, said last week. "I like to limit it during the season. I don't want to burn myself out. I started doing that last year and this event, I didn't even do it at Canton (during the Northeast Classic on Jan. 12). I feel like I do a lot better at it if I'm not swimming it all the time during the season.
"I don't think I'm rusty at all with it. I've been doing it for so long, it's just natural for me."
Hoping to finish her prep career with a flourish, Riddle plans to swim the backstroke and a freestyle event as well as competing on two relays during the OCC-Capital Division meet Saturday, Jan. 26, at New Albany.
Riddle, who placed ninth at state in the 100 back as a freshman and was part of the Indians' ninth-place 200 free relay as a junior, has dabbled in the 50, 100 and 200 free this season as well as participating on the 200 free and 200 medley relays. She said she expects to swim backstroke and middle distance events in college.
"She is right where she needs to be at this point in the season," coach Shawn Elizondo said. "Her 50 freestyle has gone very well. She focused on that and the 100 free and a little on the 100 back. If she doesn't get back to state, I know she'll be disappointed. We'll be disappointed for her.
"It's a little tough to judge because Grace swims fast throughout the season and the way her club team (the Greater Columbus Swim Team of Ohio) trains, they don't necessarily taper for the district and state meets. That can make it tough to gauge how she'll do, but she's naturally talented enough that she'll be in the running. She does well at whatever she tries."
Elizondo trusted Riddle's decision to go light on the backstroke.
"That changed things up a bit, but she knows what she can do," he said. "It gives her some variation and that's a good thing. You don't want your swimmers to get burned out."
The 200 free relay has consisted of Madison Burris, Karenna Reed, Riddle and either Merideth McFarland or Mikaela Vojacek. The 200 medley relay has been far more fluid, with several swimmers seeing time this season.
"Merideth and Mikaela's times are hundredths of seconds apart," Riddle said. "We do well with either one of them."
The girls team scored 295 points at last year's league meet to finish second behind New Albany (459) and ahead of Big Walnut (139), Newark (126) and Groveport (116). Riddle was runner-up in both the 100 back and 200 free.
Led by Blake Fry's championships in the 100 breaststroke and 500 free, the boys team placed third (206) in last year's league meet behind New Albany (458.5) and Big Walnut (278.5) and ahead of Groveport (74) and Newark (55). Martino was runner-up in the 100 free.
The league meet is Canal Winchester's final regular-season competition.
"It's an important weekend for us," Elizondo said. "This sets us up for sectional, district and state. It's a good postseason (-like) atmosphere."
Boys basketball team continues to roll
The boys basketball team continued its perfect season with two lopsided wins last week, beating Hamilton Township 90-54 on Jan. 15 and Big Walnut 89-69 three nights later, and was 14-0 overall before playing host to Westland on Jan. 22.
Canal Winchester is 6-0 in the OCC-Capital entering a Friday, Jan. 25, game at Groveport. The Indians lead second-place Newark, which they defeated 67-61 on Jan. 11, by one game in the league standings and third-place Big Walnut and Groveport by three games.
Bilal Sow continued a recent tear by scoring a career-high 30 points against Big Walnut. The junior forward was averaging 24.5 points in his past four games before Jan. 22, including a game-high 22 points against Hamilton Township.
Cole Metzler added 25 points and Brady Snyder scored 14 against the Golden Eagles.
Canal Winchester's wins over Big Walnut and Hamilton Township came on the heels of a 101-54 rout of Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 12.
Despite their perfect record, the Indians were not ranked in last week's Division I state poll after being 13th two weeks ago.
Girls basketball team amidst busy stretch
The girls basketball team faces back-to-back games to complete a stretch of four contests in five days, as it will play host to Groveport on Friday, Jan. 25, and face Northland the next day in the Lady Nubian Classic at Africentric.
Canal Winchester was 7-8 overall before playing Westland on Jan. 22, having lost two games in a row, and is 3-4 in the OCC-Capital. The Indians, who also played host to Bloom-Carroll on Jan. 23, entered the week coming off losses to Watterson (39-18 on Jan. 15) and Big Walnut (48-47 on Jan. 18).
Arianna Coleman's nine points led the Indians against Watterson, which held them scoreless in the third quarter after opening up a 23-9 halftime lead.
Natalie Rarick had 19 points to pace Canal Winchester at Big Walnut, a game decided when the Golden Eagles' Alyssa Tarney successfully drove for a layup as time expired. Shalea Byrd and Amanda Rarick each added 10 points for the Indians.
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- At Groveport. The Indians defeated the Cruisers 66-44 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Groveport. The Indians defeated the Cruisers 56-26 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 26 -- Northland in Lady Nubian Classic at Africentric
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Capital meet at New Albany
*Jan. 24 -- At New Albany