Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
Celina swimming will be well-represented at state
By Gary R. Rasberry
The six Celina ladies above will compete at the state swimming and diving champi. . .
You can't argue consistency.
The Celina WaterDogs will again send all three of their girls relays to the State Swimming and Diving Championship this weekend in Canton. It marks the second straight year all three relays qualified for state.
In fact, of the contingent that Celina will be sending to Stark County, three of the relayers will make return engagements. Senior LaRissa LaRue and sophmores Courtney McKirnan and Kirsten Samples will handle the free relays with McKirnan also doing the medley relay.
New to the units this season are freshman Paige Mertz, who will swim all three events, senior Lisa Hertel and freshman LaRae Dorsten, who will replace LaRue and Samples in the medley relay.
LaRue makes her third trip to Branin Natatorium after going as a sophomore in the 200 free relay and last year's trip in the free relays.
"I'm so exicted," said LaRue. "It's going to be awesome. With some experience under my belt, I can show people the ropes and where to go."
As it was last year, the 400 free relay is the strongest team going in, earning the only automatic bid to state.
"Coming in after the 200 (freestyle), we were real close to being seeded automatically, but we didn't," said LaRue. "We were really kind of depressed. At the 400, we were really focused to get it done."
"It was really nerve-racking at districts," said McKirnan, who swims the breaststroke in the medley relay as well. "We know we went last year and wanted to go again. It feels good to go back and bring more people than last year."
Then on Sunday, the good news came for the other two relays.
"Our districts is one of the faster ones. Our fifth or sixth (at district) you have a real good shot," said McKirnan. "I just felt confident."
As in the past, the lineups for the relays changed for most of the season before coach Matt May finalized his teams for the WBL meet and beyond.
"It's a good way to end my senior year," said Hertel, who leads off the medley relay with the backstroke. "At sectionals. (May) told us the group and said it was a best chance for state. I was excited."
For Mertz and Dorsten, the youngsters of the group, the chance to go to state in the first year is a great honor.
"It's pretty awesome," said Mertz. "They (the older swimmers) helped out a lot. They pushed us to do our best."
"It's pretty amazing. I didn't think I had the chance at the beginning of the year," said Dorsten, who swims the butterfly in the medley relay. "I got better, and now I'm going to state."
For Samples, the more going to Canton, the merrier.
"I was disapointed at first that I wasn't in the medley relay, but it's really great we can have six people go. The more the merrier," said Samples, the freestyle part of the relay. "It's great. We'll be cheering each other on from behind the blocks."
The WaterDogs will again have a tall order to make All-Ohio status, which goes to the top 16 teams. The 400 relay has the best chance to do so, posting the 16th best time out of the 24 that made it to Canton.
Eddie dives again
Eddie Craft could bill himself the "King of Thursday" at Celina.
The WaterDog senior has gotten championship weekend started the last three years with the state diving competition.
Craft makes his third trip to state in the diving competition, with the goal being to make it back to All-Ohio status.
After placing 16th as a sophomore to earn the final spot on All-Ohio, Craft had a slump to drop to 19th, missing the semifinals last season.
That has been the only thing Craft has been thinking about this season.
"It made me want to get All-Ohio again," said Craft, who is coached by Dave Koesters. "I got a new strategy going in."
Craft had to deal with a tougher field at the district meet after dominating the WBL and sectional matchups.
"The districts are getting harder and harder every year," said Craft. "Everybody's learning new dives. It's harder to get in this year.
"I thought I could have done a little better (at districts, where he placed third). Overall I did pretty well."
While his goal is to get back into the top 16 to earn All-Ohio status, the main goal is to get his best placement.
"I'm shooting for top 10," said Craft.
Jasmine looking for big finish
St. Marys senior Jasmine Craft makes her fourth trip to state in her key events, the 50 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke.
Craft earned automatic status in the 50 freestyle, but had to wait to see if she made in in the breaststroke, an event she has earned All-Ohio honors twice in her career.
While she knew she would be in the freestyle, the wait to see if she made it in the breaststroke was a little trying.
"I didn't like waiting at all," said Craft. "Normally, I would be top three and in automatically.
"Our district had a lot of fast breaststrokers. I looked at the other districts and they weren't as strong as ours."
Both Jasmine and her father both spent plenty of time online looking for results and the official state pairinigs to see that she, indeed, made it to state in the breaststroke.
"I actually didn't think I would make it, so I am pretty happy," said Craft.
The chance to earn more state honors is a goal for Craft.
"I would like to get All-Ohio in both (events)," said Craft.
Subler first Tiger to state
Not a bad way to debut a swimming program.
The Versailles swim team will have a state representative in their inaugrial season as Lauren Subler heads to Canton to swim in two events: the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.
"It's a good feeling," said Subler. "It's great to be able to get Versailles out there. We had a lot of nice swimmers this year."
The Tiger senior is no stranger to big meets. A veteran of YMCA swim teams, Subler has been to national meets before.
That should help in competing against the state's best in Canton.
"It does help," said Subler. "The girls I swim with at the Y meets also swim high school. I know a lot of people. It's the same level of competition. It definiately prepares you."
Subler's goals are simple.
"I want to swim one of my better times," said Subler. "I'd like to get a PR (personal record) down there. I definitely want to place if I can. We'll see how that goes."