DeSales Roundup: Stallions swimmer Brady McInerney brings home 100 free championship
Perhaps the biggest stretch of Brady McInerney’s swimming career to date ended with the Division II state championship in the 100-yard freestyle, and the DeSales junior hopes it is simply a springboard into an even better final high school season.
McInerney won the 100 free in 45.96 seconds Feb. 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, less than an hour after coming up less than a second shy of the 200 free title. He finished fourth in that race in 1:40.55 — 0.89 of a second behind Dover’s Lucas Lane.
McInerney dropped 0.49 of a second off his district championship 100 free time from seven days earlier at Bowling Green to become the boys team’s fourth state champion, first since Cooper Staton in the 50 free in 2010 and the program’s first winner overall since Andrea Acquista in Division II girls diving in 2013.
Staton swam collegiately at Kentucky, to which McInerney committed Feb. 10.
"I've talked to (Staton) a little bit and he was a coach of mine for a while, so it's really awesome to be the next state championship swimmer at DeSales after him because I know him on a personal level,” McInerney said. “I was hoping to take it out super-fast the first 50 and try to get a lead, and try to carry that out the last 50 and hold onto it.
“The results came as expected. That was my goal, to win, and I was really happy with it. … It's really surreal. It's a crazy feeling. It doesn't feel real. It feels out of a movie."
McInerney, who was seeded second in the 200 free and third in the 100 free, was the boys team’s only state qualifier. His 35 points put DeSales in 21st place behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (228) as 61 teams scored.
“That meant the world to him. This is huge for his career,” coach Ryan Buechner said. “From where we started, really having no idea what the season would hold, I’m relieved we got the whole season in. To have this as the finale is phenomenal. We’re thrilled.”
The girls team’s only state qualifier, junior Libby Ruff, finished 18th in the 500 free (5:10.0) in the Division I meet Feb. 26. Ruff was making her first state appearance.
“I feel so accomplished at what I’ve done,” said Ruff, who was eighth (5:08.99) at district Feb. 21 at BG and earned an at-large berth to state. “Making state was all I wanted, really, just to do my best.”
Four other district qualifiers are eligible to return for the boys team in juniors Will Jordan (200 medley relay) and Luca Ricci (400 free relay) and sophomores Reece Hanley (200 individual medley, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay) and Wyatt Hanley (50 free, 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay).
Ruff was the only district qualifier for the girls team, which expects to return juniors Ashley Anderson, Matty Letzelter and Kathryn Stone, sophomores Lydia Letzelter and Kaitlyn Schaefer and freshman Kaitlin Emmerling.
Four members of the wrestling team placed either first or second in a Division II sectional that concluded Feb. 28 at Licking Valley and took a combined record of 75-11 into the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Wilmington.
Owen Eagan won the 120-pound championship at sectional, while teammates Zack Lopez (126), Aidan Rush (132) and Max Shulaw (195) all finished second. Shulaw had won his first 21 matches this season before falling 10-4 to Caledonia River Valley’s Hadyn Danals in the final.
Danals, who improved to 41-0 with the win, was ranked second in the state and Shulaw was third to end the regular season by BoroFanOhio.net.
Also competing but failing to advance were Marshall Froelich (160, 3-3, sixth), Romiaun Speed (152, 1-2), Evan Campbell (145, 0-2) and Gino Solazzo (138, 0-2).
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state March 13 and 14 at Sparta Highland.
team looks to future
A three-game winning streak late in the season ensured a winning record for the girls basketball team, but the Stallions did not get a postseason victory as they lost 43-32 at home to 25th-seeded Hilliard Darby in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 19.
DeSales, which was seeded 23rd and had taken a first-round bye, finished 10-9 overall and 1-4 in the CCL, third behind champion Watterson (5-0).
Senior forward Stefanie Karras, an Akron soccer recruit, averaged a team-high 11.1 points as well as 4.8 rebounds to earn first-team all-league honors.
Senior forward/center Gracie Sabo averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds, took a team-best 20 charges and was named second-team all-league along with sophomore guard Jadyn Arnold (6.4 points).
“I enjoyed coaching this group of players and I thought they fought through a difficult season, improving along the way,” coach Erick Herzberg said. “We’re going to miss our seniors a great deal. They meant so much to our entire program. At the same time, we’re very excited for the return of our younger players, who we believe have a bright future in basketball. The season was difficult for everyone, but we persevered and grew.”
Arnold, who also had 42 assists and 39 steals, leads a group of expected returnees that includes junior Kelli Kay (forward), sophomores Celina Davis (guard/forward) and Elizabeth Meeker (guard) and freshman Bridget Womber (center). Womber was the team’s tallest player at 5-foot-11.
“We had several sophomores and a freshman who were getting their first taste of varsity basketball,” Herzberg said. “That experience should pay dividends.”
•Record: 10-9 overall
•CCL standings: Watterson (5-0), Hartley (3-2), DeSales (1-4), Ready (0-3)
•Seniors lost: Cara Jewett, Stefanie Karras, Lauren Mitevski, Gracie Sabo, Kylie VanFossen and Gracey Wilson
•Key returnees: Jadyn Arnold, Celina Davis, Liz Meeker and Bridget Womber
•Postseason: Lost to Hilliard Darby 43-32 in first round of Division I district tournament
SWIMMING & DIVING
•CCL standings: Boys — St. Charles (539), DeSales (217), Hartley (196), Watterson (115), Ready (2); Girls — Watterson (462), Hartley (324), DeSales (281), Ready (28)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Nick Schetter and Leo Sears; Girls — Molly Goldsmith and Makayla Shuey
•Key returnees: Boys — Reece Hanley, Wyatt Hanley, Will Jordan, Brady McInerney and Luca Ricci; Girls — Ashley Anderson, Isabella Felter, Lydia Letzelter, Libby Ruff and Kaitlyn Schaefer
•Postseason: Boys — First at sectional, 15th (68) at district behind champion Dover (218.5), 21st (35) at state behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (228); Girls — Third at sectional, 21st (14) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), did not score at state