Saturday, February 25th, 2017
Celina swimmers have memorable night
Division II State Swimming Championships
By Gary R. Rasberry
Compiled by Gary R. Rasberry
Celina swimming coach Matt May said it was a night his group of young men would remember for the rest of their lives.
The Bulldogs made school history with the first-ever state championship in an event and posted the highest-ever finish in the team standings at the Division II state swimming championships at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Celina finished with 119 points, good for seventh place. Gates Mills Hawken swept the boys and girls team titles with the boys tallying 230 points to run away with the trophy.
"That was an amazing finish," May said via telephone after the competition. "The freshmen (Justin Fleagle and Keaton McMurray) and seniors (Mason Baker, Garrett Weininger, Grant Guggenbiller and Ian Darras) were peaking at the right time.
"Once we had the medley (the 200-yard medley relay) on the podium (top eight finish), I knew it was going to be a good weekend," May continued. "It kept getting better and better."
The highlight of a highlight-filled night came in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The Bulldog quartet of Fleagle, Weininger, McMurray and Baker had posted the fastest qualifying time on Thursday evening. On Friday, the group kept their feet on the gas pedal, whittling over a half-second off their prelim time to finish in 1:25.76, over a full-second ahead of runner-up Hawken.
"Going in the short freestyle relay, you never know what's going to happen. (All it takes) is one kid missing a turn," May said. "We didn't want to jinx ourselves. We kept our fingers crossed. ... Got into the second 50 (yard leg of the relay), I saw we were in the lead and had a shot to win the whole thing. Everybody was going crazy. Such a great feeling."
Fleagle carried that adrenaline rush into the 100 backstroke, where he posted the sixth-fastest prelim time. Fleagle topped himself by taking nearly a second off his prelim time to finish second with a time of 50.36 seconds to reach the podium for the fourth time of the evening.
"He said he had the adrenaline pumping (before the backstroke)," May said of Fleagle. "He had to try and calm himself down."
The other two podium finishes started in the first event of the night, the 200-medley. Fleagle and seniors Darras, Guggenbiller and Baker finished sixth in 1:37.70.
Next came the 50 freestyle, which turned out to be the most-prolific scoring effort for Celina during the night. Fleagle swam in the A-final and finished fourth with a time of 21.11 seconds. In the B-final, which decided ninth through 16th places, McMurray finished 11th in 21.58 seconds and Baker was 14th in 21.79 seconds.
McMurray went right from the 50 freestyle into the 100 butterfly, picking up more points with a 15th-place B-final finish in 53.10 seconds.
Celina wrapped up its night with the 400-freestyle relay. Weininger, Guggebiller, McMurray and Baker swam in the B-final and brought home 12th-place honors with a time of 3:17.79.
"I couldn't be more proud of them," May said. "It all peaked at the right time.
"It will go down as one of those weekends these guys will remember for the rest of our lives."