By Chris Chaney
The step between sectionals and districts is steep, but from districts to state is even steeper. Unfortunately for swimmers from Clermont County, they found out first-hand as none of the 26 student-athletes who competed in 24 events this past weekend at the University of Miami qualified for the state meet taking place this weekend in Canton, Ohio.
The qualification process for the state meet is very stringent, guaranteeing only the top-two swimmers from each event at each of the four districts sites a lane in the state meet. From there, 16 at-large bids will be given to the fastest times from around the state to set a 24-person field.
The qualification process is very competitive, yet stressful with swimmers having to wait on the times from the other three sites to come in before they know their fate. This undoubtedly was the experience of Milford’s Cade Williams. After racing his 50-yard freestyle, Williams had set a personal and school record with a time of 21.78 seconds, which finished sixth in the Southwest Ohio District, but landed him outside of the state meet by just five hundredths of a second.
Joe Randazzo of Glen Este felt similar heartbreak as he failed to qualify for state in either of his two events, the 500 freestyle or the 200 individual medley. His 200 IM was nearly four seconds faster than his time at sectionals, racing a 1:58.89 at districts, yet he needed a 158.32 to qualify for state. In the 500 free, Randazzo finished 16th in his district, missing out on state by just under four seconds.
On the girls’ side in Division I, Milford’s Kelsey Meranda missed out on state by 37 hundredths of a second in the 50 freestyle and 1.42 seconds in the 100 freestyle, both of which were personal bests.
Other close calls for the Lady Eagles were Carolyn Storch in the 100 backstroke, missing on state by 1.27 seconds and Haley Kennedy missing the 100 fly by 2.56 seconds.
In Division II, New Richmond had a strong showing at the district meet, setting multiple personal and school records, but barely missing out on state in a couple events.
Tyler David, a double district qualifier in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, set personal records in both events at Miami, but fell an agonizing 4.04 seconds short, combined. David swam a 4:59.35 in the 500 and a 1:51.33 in the 200.
In both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, each member of the Lions’ team set personal bests in their splits and combined for two times that were personal records, as well.
For the Lady Lions, Kara Burns finished out her time at New Richmond with a 17th-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle. Burns was credited by head coach Judy Middeler as one of the catalysts for getting the New Richmond girls’ team to the level it is at today. Burns qualified for districts all four years as a Lady Lion and broke three school records.
The Lady Lions’ relay teams were exceptional as well, setting a PR in the 200-medley relay at 2:08.93, missing out on a school record by 76 hundredths of a second. The 200-yard freestyle relay did set the school record, racing in 1:51.74, as did the 400 freestyle relay team, setting the record at 4:11.66, with each girl in each relay swimming their own personal best in all of their splts.