By Chris Chaney
The Milford Eagles swim team will be well represented at the district meet this weekend at Miami University in Oxford as 10 swimmers will compete in 10 events with an opportunity to advance to the state meet in Canton.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with how we swam at sectionals,” Milford head coach Sarah Kleinfelter said. “We definitely got more boys into districts than I had anticipated. I knew we had a good shot, but the way it looks on paper and the way it ends up getting swum are two very different things.”
The Milford boys will send five swimmers on to compete in five events to the Division I sectional. Alex Hahn and Josh Fritz advanced in individual events — the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle, respectively — as well as members of all three qualifying relay teams — the 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Hahn, a senior, had the highest finish of the either of the individuals, 11th in the 100 fly, swimming a season-best 57.15 that gave him the 31st best time of all Southwest District qualifiers.
“(Hahn) dropped a second off his (season best), but he was a little bummed because he wasn’t as fast as he was last year when he ended up being first alternate,” Kleinfelter explained. “It was a very nice surprise to see him swim a season best and get to swim at districts instead of just being an alternate.”
Fritz, also a senior, parlayed season-best swim in the 200 freestyle into a district tournament spot. He finished 13th at the Mason sectional and 34th in the Southwest District.
“Josh also had a season best, but he swam his career best at the beginning of the season. He kind of got stuck around that point, so it was nice to see him drop some after working so hard all season,” the coach said.
Both Hahn and Fritz will be members of the three qualifying relay teams, including both freestyle relays, which finished in the top-10 at sectionals and were top-23 district times.
The other members of the 200 freestyle relay are Paul Keefer and Tyler Karan. Keefer and Karan also race as part of the 200 medley relay and Karan is the third leg of the 400 freestyle relay team that features Fritz, Nathan Buttram and Hahn.
For the Lady Eagles, senior Carolyn Storch paced the squad qualifying for two individual events and as a member of one relay team.
“We knew she would qualify in the (100-yard) backstroke, she’s always been so strong,” Kleinfelter said. “Her doing a 54 (seconds) in the 100 free was a huge surprise, a very nice surprise and it’s given her some really nice placing for the district meet.”
Storch swam season bests in both of her qualifying events. Her 4th-place finish in the 100 freestyle was good for the 6th-best time in the district. She finished in 5th at the Mason sectional in the 100 backstroke, which gave her in the 13th-best time in the district.
Haley Kennedy was the girls’ team’s other individual qualifier, advancing in the 100-yard butterfly by racing a season-best 1:01.32. Her 11th place finish at Mason was the 20th best time in the district.
“Haley put in a season-best time,” Kleinfelter said. “She was disappointed last year when she didn’t qualify for districts in the fly, so she’s been working extra hard this year and that was one of her goals.”
Storch and Kennedy team up with Skyler Fontaine and Chelsea Sick in the 400-yard freestyle relay, an event that the Lady Eagles finished in 7th place at the Mason sectional with a time that put them in 11th in the district.
Kennedy also qualified in the 200-yard freestyle relay alongside Sick, Abby Leatherwood and Fontaine. That relay finished 7th at Mason as well, but was only good enough for 20th in the district.
Of the 10 events the Eagles qualified in, nine were swam in season-best times, but Kleinfelter believes the teams can improve even more ahead of the district meets.
“Absolutely, there’s some things that we can tweak here and there,” she said. “Now that we have our set events that we’re competing in, we’re taking more time to focus in on doing our best in those events.”
As for expectations, Kleinfelter said the hope is to get some state qualifiers, but given the times across the board at this year’s sectionals, she’s not sure what to expect.
“This year with times getting into districts being a little slower, I’m not sure how to take that,” she said. “Does it mean that people were holding back and that qualifying for state will need to be even faster, or hopefully it means qualifying for this year’s state tournament will be a bit slower than year’s past and give us some more opportunities.”
The boys’ district meet begins on Friday, Feb. 14 at 5:45 p.m. and the girls begins at the same time on Saturday, Feb. 15.