Ready Roundup: Silver Knights' Elaine Smith closes strong prep swimming career
During her freshman season on the Ready girls swimming and diving team in 2017-18, Elaine Smith turned in a fifth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle in the Division II district meet.
She made competing at district a regular occurrence, qualifying in both the 200 free and 500 free in each of her four seasons, but her best performance came when she finished fourth in the 500 free (5 minutes, 30.81 seconds) on Feb. 18 at Bowling Green.
That gave her the 26th-best time among district competitors statewide, only two spots short of qualifying for state.
“This season, I surprised myself,” Smith said. “I’ve been able to get times that I haven’t been able to reach since my freshman year. Sectionals and districts were both milestones in my career. My hard work these past 12 years has definitely been shown through my races at sectionals and districts.
“One of my proudest moments was freshman year when I got to stand on the podium and receive my fifth-place medal at districts for the 500 (free). I’ll definitely remember all of my amazing coaches and teammates who made practices and meets so much fun and helped form me into the person I am.”
Smith also finished sixth in the 200 free (2:02.54). Her performances gave Ready 28 points to tie for 16th behind champion Columbus School for Girls (375) as 33 teams scored.
Smith was one of three girls competitors for the Silver Knights along with senior Michelle Vanegas and freshman Layne McChesney, both of whom competed in the sprint events. Freshman Tyler Fields, who also competed in sprint races, was the only boy in the program.
Smith has been coached the last four seasons by her mother, Ann Smith, who formerly swam for Ohio State.
“My mom has been one of my biggest supporters,” Smith said. “She introduced me to the sport and I can never thank her enough for it. She’s always encouraging and gives advice. With her love and support, it has definitely helped me become such a strong swimmer.”
Smith hasn’t decided if she’ll swim competitively in college but is considering doing so at the varsity or club level.
Ann Smith said her daughter’s improvement this season was impressive.
“I feel like we’re back to freshman year because she’s right at where she was,” Ann said. “She had a shoulder injury her sophomore year, which pulled her out. I’m not really sure what happened last year. It wasn’t a bad year, but this year she’s ready to take off again.
“Michelle ended up swimming personal bests in the 50 free and 100 free, as did Tyler in the 50 free and 100 free. Layne was out for almost five weeks in January but was making good gains. I think she has a lot of potential.”
Boys basketball team
opens tourney action
The seventh-seeded boys basketball team opened the Division III district tournament Feb. 24 at home against 17th-seeded Marion Elgin.
The winner played 14th-seeded Wellington on Feb. 27 in a second-round contest, with the winner to play third-seeded Johnstown, 15th-seeded Mount Gilead or 16th-seeded Marion Pleasant on March 2 in a district semifinal.
The semifinal winner plays in a district final March 5 at the home of the better seed. Fourth-seeded North Union and eighth-seeded Centerburg were the highest-seeded teams in the other portion of the bracket.
Should the Knights win a district title, they would play in a regional semifinal March 10 at Elida.
Ready closed the regular season with a 74-33 win Feb. 18 over Columbus East to improve to 10-5. The Knights had won six of eight heading into the postseason.
Girls basketball team
losing only one senior
The girls basketball team hopes this season set the foundation for better times next winter.
The Knights, who had only one senior – guard Catey Wolfe – among 11 players in the program, were quarantined three times because of COVID-19 issues.
They were seeded 15th for the Division III district tournament and lost at fifth-seeded Mount Gilead 49-20 on Feb. 17 in a first-round game to finish 2-8 overall.
In the CCL, Ready played only one round of games and went 0-3.
“We returned nine players from last year’s team (and) I felt fairly optimistic about our non-league schedule and possibly stealing a game in the league,” coach Joe Lang said. “Our first seven games were canceled. … When we did get to practice, it was usually only an hour because the boys (team) had a game, so we are spending probably too much time preparing for opponents and not nearly enough on skill development and team execution.
“The kids stayed amazingly positive throughout the whole situation. Missing 42 days, we just never had a chance to develop any type of offensive confidence or continuity. We had no offensive identity, no flow to our game. In 10 games, we averaged 37 points a game and you just can’t win with our schedule with that type of scoring. … It was a struggle.”
Junior forward Sierra Schlosser averaged 7.8 points and 7.0 rebounds. Junior guard Abigail Grundei led Ready in assists and junior forward Elizabeth Agostino led in free-throw shooting at 77 percent.
The Knights, who defeated Franklin Heights 45-19 on Jan. 27 and Central Crossing 49-32 on Feb. 13, also expect to return junior guard Reagan Wheatley, sophomore forward Ava Baker, sophomore guards Caleigh Cheatham, Lyla Hurd and Hope Orders and freshmen Edith Arreola-Contreras and Amore Maker.
“Defensively, we held six of our opponents under 49 points, which in all honestly was not bad for really not practicing very much,” Lang said. “Rebounding was a problem. We really don’t have much size. Of the 11 kids on the team, 10 return next season. All of them played meaningful minutes in the 10 games, so gaining that game experience is a plus. Four juniors will return for their four years of varsity (next season).
“The key this offseason will be developing offensive skills. Obviously we were unable to generate enough scoring to win. Our ball-handling, passing and shooting all have to make major strides. It’s going to take a major individual commitment from each player for this team to get where it needs to be next season.”
•Record: 2-8 overall
•CCL standings: Watterson (5-0), Hartley (3-2), DeSales (1-4), Ready (0-3)
•Senior lost: Catey Wolfe
•Key returnees: Elizabeth Agostino, Abigail Grundei, Amore Maker, Hope Orders, Sierra Schlosser and Reagan Wheatley
•Postseason: Lost to Mount Gilead 49-20 in first round of Division III district tournament