Swimming & Diving: New Albany Eagles girls win Division I state championship

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
New Albany's Olivia Hovorka (facing) hugs teammate Carly Meeting after they helped win the 400 freestyle relay and the Division I state championship for the Eagles on Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

CANTON – The New Albany girls swimming and diving team controlled its destiny to win its first Division I state championship entering the final race Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium, and perhaps that is why the Eagles on the 400-yard freestyle relay weren’t nervous despite the stakes.

“We do better when we’re confident. All of us put the work in. We just had to believe in ourselves,” junior Ava Lachey said. “Just by doing that, we put the nerves away.”

New Albany finished the state meet as strong as it started the event, winning the 400 free relay in 3 minutes, 24.65 seconds to clinch the championship. Carly Meeting, Olivia Hovorka, Ashlyn Morr and Lachey comprised the winning relay and capped a 246.5-point night, 26 ahead of runner-up Mason.

The Eagles also got a win from the 200 medley relay (1:41.56) of Meeting, Sydney Boals, Hovorka and Lachey.

Lachey (1:50.15), Meeting (1:50.35) and Morr (1:51.9) finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the next race, the 200 free, to establish momentum.

New Albany was runner-up by nine points to Dublin Coffman last year.

“These girls really stayed focused. It was fun to see them come together and do this,” coach Dave Wharton said. “Being second last year made the girls hungry. For sure they wanted to come back. You always wonder when your seniors graduate how you will replace them. It’s exciting to see them accomplish this.”

Other top-eight finishes for the Eagles came from Lachey in the 100 free (tied for second, 50.75), Meeting in the 100 backstroke (second, 55.04), Morr in the 500 free (fifth, 5:00.93), the 200 free relay (fifth, 1:36.65) of Boals, Marisa Downs, Evie Morris and Morr, Boals in the 200 individual medley (sixth, 2:05.47) and Hovorka in the 100 butterfly (seventh, 55.5).

Upper Arlington (186) and Coffman (149.5) finished third and fourth, respectively.

Olentangy's Martina Peroni (left) hugs New Albany's Sydney Boals after winning the 200 individual medley in a state-, meet- and pool-record 1:57.77 on Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Peroni also finished second behind teammate Cameron Kuriger in the 100 butterfly.

Led by Duke commit Martina Peroni, who was named Swimmer of the Meet, Olentangy was sixth (125). Peroni set a state-meet record of 1:57.77 in the 200 IM and later finished second (54.19) to teammate Cameron Kuriger (53.99) in the 100 fly.

Both were on the sixth-place 400 free relay (3:26.18) and ninth-place 200 free relay (1:37.51).

“I felt pretty good in warm-ups. One of the coolest things that happened was Cameron and me being next to each other and scoring points for the team,” Peroni said. “A time of (1:57) was the goal all season.”

Upper Arlington's Caroline Porterfield (left) and teammate Riley Huddleston celebrate after the pair tied for first in the 50 freestyle in the Division I state meet Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

UA’s Riley Huddleston won the 100 free (50.23) and shared the 50 free title (23.15) with teammate Caroline Porterfield. The Bears also got a win from their 200 free relay (1:33.31) of Avery Catalano, Lizzie Oliphant, Porterfield and Emma Schueler.

Coffman freshman Emily Brown finished first in the 200 free (1:48.29) and 500 free (4:52.61). Teammate Ellie Andrews won her second consecutive championship in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.84).

“I wasn’t expecting two, that’s for sure,” Brown said. “I just wanted to get up there, have fun and get some experience.”

Earlier in the day, Hilliard Darby freshman Bailee Sturgill finished third in diving (313.05).

Other top-eight finishers from the area were UA’s 400 free relay (third, 3:27.96) and 200 medley relay (fourth, 1:42.57), Cofffman’s 400 free relay (fourth, 3:28.62), Westerville Central’s Kiah Smith in the 50 free (fourth, 23.21) and 100 free (sixth, 51.25), Dublin Jerome’s Kelsey Cooper (fifth, 56.23) and Libby Grether (seventh, 56.6) in the 100 back and its 400 free relay (seventh, 3:32.02), Porterfield in the 100 free (fifth, 51.21), Gahanna’s 200 medley relay (sixth, 1:45.71), Watterson’s Olivia Oyster in the 50 free (seventh, 23.54) and Grace Rider in the 100 breast (tied for seventh, 1:04.02), Kuriger in the 200 free (seventh, 1:52.36), Gahanna’s Marie Belli in the 200 IM (eighth, 2:06.34) and Kendall Hitler in the 100 fly (eighth, 56.07) and Worthington Kilbourne’s 200 free relay (eighth, 1:37.36).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave