MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets swimmers took the pool Saturday at the sectional meet at the Kenyon Athletic Center and laid down several personal- and career-best times, with the Jackets combining for nine district-qualifying times.
“That was not necessarily the end goal, but it was a nice byproduct of all the work the kids put in,” Mount Vernon coach Hannah Saiz said of the lowest times of the season. She later added the end goal was to get as many swimmers on to districts as possible.
Mount Vernon’s Maggie Williams punched her ticket to districts in two separate individual events. She earned 10th in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:01.58 and 11th in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:32.53.
“I think it’s both relief and excitement,” Williams said of seeing her final times. “I’ve worked really hard this season and I didn’t really see it pay off until today, so it was really nice to see.”
Williams was also on the Jackets’ 400-yard freestyle relay team along with Skylar Hill, Breanna McCluskey and Kendra Spitzer. The team finished sixth with a time of 3:51.45, also earning a slot at districts.
“This season I just kind of wanted to have fun instead of really worrying about times,” Williams said. “I came in today a little nervous about what I was going to do, but I was trying to focus on having fun and not really worrying about what happened.”
Like Williams, Hill also had a solid day individually, taking sixth in the 50-yard freestyle (25.64) and seventh in the 100-yard butterfly (1:03.13), both of which earned her a spot in districts. Hill and McCluskey linked up with Claire Duffy and Anna Paxton for the 200-yard medley relay, laying down a time of 1:56.38 for eighth and a place at districts.
Paxton was also on the 200-yard freestyle relay team with Duffy, Spitzer and Liz Cline, and the foursome finished eighth in 1:48.27 to head to districts. Paxton had the best individual finish among the Jackets, earning fifth in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.58 seconds.
Marshall Smith was the lone Mount Vernon boy to earn a spot at the district meet, earning 11th in the 50-yard freestyle (23.17).
Spitzer and McCluskey both competed in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. In the shorter event, McCluskey took 10th (26.12) and Spitzer slid into 16th (27.02). McCluskey finished 18th in the 100 (58.83) and Spitzer was 21st (1:01.80). Paxton earned 17th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 58.82 seconds and Sandi Brenneman finished 29th in the same event in 1:04.60.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Cline earned 30th (2:25.10) and Anna Rhodeback was one slot behind with a time of 2:28.54, dropping several seconds off her previous best. Cline also swam in the 100-yard breaststroke, where she took 20th (1:20.48) and Rhodeback earned 23rd in the 100-yard backstroke (1:17.43).
“Liz Cline’s 100 breaststroke is probably the single-most exciting, from the get-go, swim that I think I saw today,” Saiz said. “She made a radical change to her stroke like three seconds before her swim. … When she dove in and did her pullout and made it to the 15-meter mark off the first 25 and left everybody else behind in that heat, it was like, dear Lord, that is amazing. This is a whole new athlete out there.”
Duffy competed in the 200-yard IM, finishing 15th with a time of 2:21.92. Kala Estes earned 28th in the same event, turning in a time of 3:31.94. Estes also swam in the 100 backstroke (28th, 1:32.50). Liz Diehl took 25th in the 100 backstroke (1:20.84) and Marta Croche took 29th in the 100 breaststroke (1:49.38).
Many of the Jacket girls posted their top times for the year and the team finished eighth in the standings with 72 points. Dublin Coffman earned the top spot with 266 points, followed by Dublin Jerome (197) and Olentangy (172).
In addition to competing in the 50-yard free, Smith turned in a time of 51.63 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle to earn 17th.
Joey Kennedy and Noah Humphrey placed back-to-back in the 50 free, earning 35th and 36th with times of 31.36 seconds and 31.65 seconds, respectively. Kennedy was also 31st in the 100 free (1:11.13) and Humphrey was 26th in the 100-yard butterfly (1:28.05).
Jacob Lebold swam in the 200-yard freestyle, turning in a time of 2:09.24 to take 25th, followed by a 29th-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:52.33.
Teammate Duncan Hardy also swam in the 500 free. He took the ACT the morning of sectionals, arrived to the meet after warmups were closed and still took to the pool and dropped more than 45 seconds off his fastest time in the event.
“That was kind of stressful so that didn’t really help,” Hardy said. “But, I was just excited to swim today.”
After missing warmups, Hardy, who runs cross country and track, went to the gym and ran a couple laps before taking on the event.
“It was interesting going from sitting there for five hours to swimming without a real warmup,” Hardy said. “That was difficult.”
In the boys’ relays, Humphrey, Lebold, Smith and Kennedy linked up for the 200-yard medley (2:14.02) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.01), earning 10th in both events.
The Jacket boys finished 10th as a team with 14 points. St. Charles earned the top spot with 299 points, edging out Dublin Jerome’s 280 points and Dublin Coffman’s 239 points.
Those who reached districts, will compete again Friday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion at Ohio State. Warmups run from 1-2:30 p.m. and competition begins at 2:30 p.m., with all events as timed finals.
“For everybody who qualified, we have to figure out how to get back on the pony for a day or two and then drift back downwards, then be at districts and be faster than we were here,” Saiz said. “The end goal is to get some people to states.”