Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon’s Marshall Smith dives off the board to start the 200-yard relay during the Small Schools Invitational Saturday at the Kenyon Athletic Center in Gambier.
Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon’s Claire Duffy swims in the 200m freestyle during the Small Schools Invitational Saturday at the Kenyon Athletic Center in Gambier.

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GAMBIER — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jacket swim team competed in their home Small Schools Invitational at Kenyon College Saturday, and with personal records set and motivation for growth and improvement, the Jackets are optimistic for what the season has to offer.

“Most people have been very close to their best time, or there is a reason they’re not,” said Mount Vernon head coach Hannah Saiz of the team’s overall performance. “Like they’ve been sick or injured and we’re just getting out there and competing.”

With the girls team taking home fourth out of 26 teams and boys coming in eighth out of 21, the Jackets had a solid day in the pool.

The girls’ team was lead by individuals in the 50-yard freestyle with Anna Paxton snagging the silver (26.51) and Skylar Hill capturing the bronze (26.56). Maggie Williams placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:13.171 and took fifth in the 100-yard freestyle (59.93).

Also assisting the Jackets in their team efforts was their strong relay performances. The 400-yard freestyle relay earned second place with a time of 4:07.26. The 200 freestyle relay took home third at 1:46.94, and the 200 medley relay received third with a time of 2:01.84.

Senior Captain Kendra Spitzer put down 27-second leg in the 200 medley relay.

“I’m pretty satisfied (with the relay time),” Spitzer said. “I want to go a little bit faster. Last year at districts, I got a 26 in my relay. So I’m hoping to get some time back during the middle or the end of this year.”

This is Spitzer’s fourth year swimming, and she enjoys the role she has as captain.

“Helping new people come in every year is really nice, and now being a captain is definitely enjoyable too,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of new people come onto the team and so far at the beginning of the season all of us are kind of slow, but progressively we have gotten faster and we’ve built up a better team this year just keeping everyone in the loop. We make sure we are helping everyone out, cheering for as many people as we can, and progressively we have gotten faster and more team-oriented.”

Other swimmers for the girls in the 50 freestyle included: Kendra Spitzer (7th, 27.24), Breanna McCluskey (12th, 28.23), Sandi Brenneman (20th, 30.17), Marta Croche (64th, 43.33); 100 freestyle: Sandi Brenneman (19th, 1:09.19), Alaina Pullins (28th, 1:15.32), Liz Diehl (31st, 1:16.50), Marta Croche (62nd, 1:38.88); 200 IM: Kayla Estes (22nd, 3:44.19); 200 freestyle: Anna Rhodeback (23rd, 2:44.66), Alaina Pullins (25th, 2:47.16); 500-yard freestyle: Claire Duffy (10th, 6:28.80); 100 backstroke: Anna Rhodeback (16th, 1:25.60); Liz Diehl (25th, 1:31.65), Kayla Estes (32nd, 1:39.93).

Second teams also competed in the relays: 200 medley relay (12th, 2:25.74), 200 relay (15th, 2:06.50), 400 relay (7th, 4:52.48).

Of the leading performers for the guys was senior Marshall Smith, who set a season best in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.28 seconds, earning third place.

“I was a little slower than I wanted to be, but it’s December,” Marshall said. “I would like to drop at least two more seconds. That’s a long shot, and very ambitious.”

Smith stated that he was in the 22-second range a year ago, but would like to reach that time sooner this season. Also setting new SR’s for the Jackets boys team was senior captain Curtis Erlandson in the 200 IM, placing fourth with a time of 2:36.48. Erlandson also competed in the 50 freestyle, placing 14th, and he had an entertaining story to go with his finish.

“I didn’t really breathe, so that was kind of hard, but it made me go faster,” said Erlandson, smiling. “Normally I wouldn’t recommend not breathing when you swim, but if it’s only 50 yards then it’s not that bad.”

Erlandson participated in a plethora of events for the Jackets that evening. Those events were the 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay.

“Some would call that a shotgun effect, I call that a diversity of objectives,” he said.

Other teammates that competed were Jacob Lebold in the 500 freestyle (4th, 6:17.04) and 200 freestyle (11th, 2:19.20); Noah Humphrey, 100 butterfly (8th, 1:29.99) and 50 freestyle (38th, 31.98); Duncan Hardy, 500 freestyle (9th, 8:53.30) and 200 freestyle (26th, 3:14.88); Chris Shuler in the 100 backstroke (21st, 1:46.24) and the 50 freestyle (58th, 39.75); Joey Kennedy, 100 freestyle (44th, 1:23.15) and 50 freestyle (55th, 37.35).

The Jacket boys also competed in multiple relays including the 400 freestyle relay (6th, 4:31.73), 200 medley relay (9th, 2:17.01) and the 200 freestyle relay (15th, 2:12.51).

Next up for Mount Vernon, the Jackets hit the road for action at Tri-Valley, before another home meet with Coshocton, Bloom Carroll, Westland, Central Crossing and Big Walnut Wednesday, Jan. 2 at the KAC. Start times for both events are still to be determined.


Jack Fitzpatrick: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @



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