For the second year in a row, the Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving team admitted to scoreboard watching during the Division I district meet.
As it turned out, the results that gave the Golden Bears their 20th consecutive district title Feb. 15 at Ohio State arguably came from the opposite end of the facility.
Divers Julia Fidanza and Holly Darling’s second- and third-place finishes complemented three wins and two runner-up finishes from the Bears’ swimmers, lifting UA to 306 points and another first-place finish, 11 points ahead of runner-up New Albany as 27 teams scored.
“Our kids swam well enough and the divers were awesome. The difference for us was having those two divers who did so well,” Bears coach Dan Peterkoski said. “I was pleasantly surprised with how we swam in some areas. Our first two relays (the 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle) taking those wins (in 1 minute, 43.75 seconds and 1:35.26, respectively) were huge for us. Last year and this year are the first times since I’ve been at UA that I’ve even really had to follow the score that closely. That definitely makes it a more interesting meet.”
Riley Huddleston won the 50 free (23.06) and placed second in the 100 free (50.63) and was on the 200 free and 200 medley relays to lead UA.
The top two placers in each swimming event automatically advanced to the state meet Feb. 23 and 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
Other winners were Dublin Coffman’s Ellie Andrews in the 200 individual medley (2:03.73), teammate Hannah Bailey in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.1) and 100 butterfly (54.26), Dublin Jerome’s Maya Gearinger in the 500 free (4:53.1), New Albany’s Ava Lachey in the 100 free (50.18) and 200 free (1:49.29), Westerville Central’s Macey Swearingen in the 100 backstroke (56.67) and New Albany’s 400 free relay (meet-record 3:26.25).
Gahanna’s Maycey Vieta won the girls diving title (563.7 points) as the top four girls divers automatically advanced to state Feb. 21. She was followed by Fidanza (517.35), Darling (511.25) and Olentangy Liberty’s Olivia Lynch (506.85).
Despite winning only one event, the Jerome boys piled up enough second-level points to win their second consecutive district title. The Celtics finished with 301 points, 20 ahead of runner-up St. Charles as 27 teams scored.
Jerome won the 200 free relay (1:24.63) and got runner-up finishes from Max Scott in both the 50 free (20.49) and 100 free (45.63) and Reno James in the 200 IM (1:53.18).
“Overall, in my three years, this is the best district meet we’ve had,” Celtics coach Patrick Johnston said. “This is looking to be the most successful season as a team that we’ve had.”
Grove City’s Spencer Tussing won both the 200 free (1:40.07) and 500 free (4:32.33).
Other area winners were Westerville North’s Andrew Bernsdorf in the 200 IM (meet-record 1:49.64), Coffman’s Zak Birnbrich in the 100 fly (50.21), Canal Winchester’s Blake Fry in the 100 breast (57.04) and New Albany’s Jimmy Lapsley in the 100 back (51.13).
St. Charles won the 200 medley relay (1:33.6) and Coffman finished first in the 400 free relay (3:08.5).