Upper Arlington girls swimmers Caroline Colombo and Emma Schueler still vividly remember the disappointment of two years ago, when the Golden Bears' 200-yard freestyle relay was disqualified at the Division I state meet.
That made their championship Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton all the more satisfying, especially given that they led throughout the race and finished in 1 minute, 34.55 seconds, holding off runner-up New Albany by .41 of a second.
"Starts are really important and we were careful to have safe starts but also fast starts for this relay. A few years ago, we were disqualified and we didn't want that to happen again," Colombo said. "The biggest key was just swimming with our hearts and for each other."
Avery Catalano and Caroline Porterfield rounded out the relay, which was UA's only win as it finished third with 187 points behind champion and OCC-Central Division rival Dublin Coffman (214) as 53 teams scored. New Albany, which snapped the Bears' 20-year streak of district championships Feb. 13 at Ohio State, was second (205).
UA was seeking its first state championship since 2017 and 13th overall.
"We learned from (two years ago) and embraced change. We stayed positive with our younger swimmers and kept reaching as much as we can," said Schueler, the relay's anchor and its only senior who individually was eighth in the 50 free (23.76) and 11th in the 100 free (52.87). "That makes it that much sweeter."
Colombo, a junior, and Schueler also were on the fifth-place 200 free relay last season.
Catalano and Porterfield are sophomores.
Sophomore Riley Huddleston was second in the 50 free (23.2) and fourth in the 100 backstroke (55.73). She also helped the 400 free relay to second place (3:25.42) with Catalano, Porterfield and Erin Reardon and was on the fourth-place 200 medley relay (1:43.16) with Catalano, Porterfield and Schueler.
"We swam very, very well," coach Dan Peterkoski said. "We had opportunities in a few places, but those two teams ahead of us swam well also. They were able to hold off any movement we had. My hat tips to them.
"Our relay teams stood out. Those girls step up when they are together and are swimming for each other, which is a great quality to have. We just have some work to do individually. It's a lot of fun watching them on relays. We just want them to perform better individually, too."
Julia Fidanza finished sixth (493.8) in diving Feb. 20 at Branin Natatorium. The junior, who was making her third consecutive state appearance, placed third last year and eighth in 2018.
Also at state, Catalano placed 13th in the 100 free (53.08), Porterfield was 11th in the 50 free (23.73) and Erin Reardon was 10th in the 200 free (1:52.1) and 13th in the 500 free (5:02.94).
Boys team finishes second at state
Seven top-four finishes, including runner-up performances from Avery Voss in the 100 free (44.51) and the 400 free relay of Grant Gooding, Hayden Jay, Antonio Ventresca and Voss (3:02.91), led the boys team to 201 points and second place in the Division I state meet behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 53 teams scored.
It was UA's first runner-up finish since 2013. The Bears were 12th last year and 34th in 2018.
"To get 200 points this year (after) we weren't in the top 15 last year ... it's a team project," said coach Mike de Bear, who was announced as Division I state Boys Coach of the Year at the meet. "I might not have known this was coming to this extent, but I knew we'd get better. That's what we've tried to do day after day is get better and we'll keep doing that to get one spot higher. This is just special."
According to de Bear, 201 points is the most the team ever has scored at state.
Voss placed third in the 50 free (20.27), Jay was third in the 200 free (1:39.33) and fourth in the 100 free (45.55) and Voss and Jay were on the fourth-place 200 free relay (1:23.1) with Meyer and Ventresca.
"This was absolutely fantastic, pretty much the best scenario," Jay said. "I came in here last year just happy to be here and if you told me last year I'd be standing on the podium in third place in the 200 or second place with one of my relays, I'd have laughed. I smashed all of my goals this year, especially with our relays, but with (the 200 free), my goal was 1:38 and I got that. I couldn't be happier."
Meyer was third in the 100 breast (55.25) and 10th in the 50 free (21.04) and was on the fifth-place 200 medley relay (1:33.19) with Grant Gooding, Jackson Gooding and Grant Kennedy.
Meyer was ninth in the 100 breast in prelims but earned a spot in the championship final after North Canton Hoover's Karl Helmuth was disqualified.
"In the end, everything paid off," Meyer said. "I added some time in prelims and didn't get where I'd like, but then I got a stroke of luck. I got an opportunity and had to take advantage of it."
Grant Gooding was sixth in the 100 breast (56.21) and ninth in the 200 IM (1:51.77), and Dean finished 20th in the 500 free (4:42.04).