Girls Swimming: New Albany Eagles defend Division I district championship
BOWLING GREEN – Ava Lachey kept things in perspective as she and her teammates on the New Albany girls swimming team were wrapping things up Feb. 21 in the Division I district meet at Bowling Green State University.
Following a regular season filled with disruptions because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Eagles won their second consecutive district title at a meet in which no spectators were in attendance.
New Albany set meet records in two events, won three other events and had four runner-up finishes. The top two finishers in each event automatically advanced to the state meet Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 swimmers in each event will earn at-large berths based on district times statewide.
“I think we definitely have a lot to clean up this week for (state),” Lachey said. “We did our job here, but it’ll be better (at state).
“(Winning district is) really special. Our team has gotten really close the past two years. Especially with COVID going on, we’ve all been very supportive of each other. The atmosphere (at district was) different, but we’re all really good with cheering.”
New Albany finished with 349.5 points, with Upper Arlington placing second (295). Gahanna Lincoln (216), Dublin Coffman (215), Dublin Jerome (149), Worthington Kilbourne (133), Watterson (122), Olentangy (115), Olentangy Orange (81) and Olentangy Berlin (63) rounded out the top 10.
New Albany opened district by swimming a meet-record 1 minute, 41.69 seconds to win the 200-yard medley relay and closed with a meet-record 3:24.35 to win the 400 freestyle relay.
Also for the Eagles, Lachey was first in the 100 free (50.55) and 200 free (1:49.79), Carly Meeting was first in the 100 backstroke (54.89) and second in the 200 free (1:50.06), Ashlyn Morr was runner-up in the 500 free (5:00.88), Sydney Boals was second in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.43) and the 200 free relay was runner-up (1:35.41).
Another star of the meet was Olentangy’s Martina Peroni, who swam a meet-record 1:59.06 in winning the 200 individual medley and also was first in the 100 butterfly (53.99).
The Braves’ Cameron Kuriger was runner-up in the 100 fly (54.5).
“It was really fun,” Peroni said. “I just wanted to set myself up well for (state). I’m really happy with it right now. I’m proud of how far all of us have come.”
Riley Huddleston led Upper Arlington with a first-place finish in the 50 free (23.03) and a second-place finish in the 100 free (50.57).
Also for the Golden Bears, the 200 free relay was first (1:33.9) and the 200 medley relay (1:43.19) and 400 free relay (3:25.77) both were second.
Huddleston competed in the 100 back during the 2020 postseason before switching to the sprint events this winter.
“I feel like all of the girls on my team are still trying to keep a positive mindset and have been cheering each other on,” she said.
Coffman’s Ellie Andrews set a meet record of 1:00.99 in the 100 breast and was runner-up in the 200 IM (2:01.66).
“I’m actually pretty happy with (the 100 breast),” Andrews said. “I’ve been kind of training more for technique with my breaststroke this year.”
Also for the Shamrocks, Emily Brown was first in the 500 free (4:53.31).
“I’ve been training so I knew I was going to do well,” Brown said. “It does mean a lot.”
The other automatic qualifiers were Jerome’s Kelsey Cooper, who was runner-up in the 100 back (55.93), and Westerville Central’s Kiah Smith, who was second in the 50 free (23.33).