By Gary R. Rasberry
WAPAKONETA -- Judging by the outcome of the eighth annual Celina-Wapak Swimming Invitational, the Western Buckeye League championship race will come down to two teams.
Celina and Shawnee split the titles at Saturday's 16-team invitational. The Lady Waterdogs held off the Indians 438-390 with fellow WBL teams Ottawa-Glandorf, Wapak and Van Wert rounding out the top five. Nine of the League teams were at the meet, with Defiance being the lone holdout.
In the boys contest, Celina's strive for a fourth straight league title will have Shawnee waiting to challenge. The Indians downed the Waterdogs 355 to 321. Lima Central Catholic took third with the WBL's Wapak and Van Wert once again making a top-five showing.
"Girls look pretty good right now," said Celina coach Matt May. "Boys look like they have to regroup, take a look at these races and make some changes going into the WBL."
The Celina girls won the title by not winning races, but by putting enough swimmers in high-scoring places. In the eight individual races, Celina had at least two finishers in the top 16 to earn points. Five races saw three Celina point getters with two races boasting all four WaterDog entrants -- the most permitted in the invite -- scoring at least a point. Lindsey Kuhn had two top-four finishes for Celina, taking third in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 200 free as well as swimming the backstroke leg of the medley relay, which finished third. Amanda Mallory finished third in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. Jenn Blacketer took two top-10 finishes in the freestyle sprints, as did Larissa LaRue in the individual medley (seventh) and breaststroke (fifth).
"The depth of the team is starting to come through," said May. "We're starting to see not just our fastest swimmers swim fast. It's the swimmers placing fourth-fifth-sixth that are really coming on.
"Girls looked good today, but I don't want to get too overconfident because Shawnee is always, when it comes to the WBL championship, tough."
The boys were led by Kelly (Continued from page 1B)
Mallory, the senior won his two specialties, the 50 and 100-yard freestyles, while setting new marks in both. Mallory broke his own mark from last year's event in the 50 by shaving .25 seconds off his time by hitting the pad at 22.17 seconds. The mark Mallory set last season in the 100 also fell with the senior taking a full second off his time in coming in an impressive 49.23 seconds. Mallory also swam the winning leg of the 200 freestyle relay and finished second behind LCC in the boys 200 medley to start the day off.
With 90 percent of the WBL at the meet, May was able to get a good look at what to expect when the league meet takes place the first weekend in February.
"We're going to have to regroup in a couple of areas," said May. "But that always goes without saying."
St. Marys brought home a couple of winners. Sophomore Jaz Craft won the 100 freestyle for the Roughriders and added a second-place showing in the breaststroke. Todd Laman took the 100 backstroke title. The Roughrider girls took sixth while the boys took seventh.
Coldwater posted a seventh-place finish in the girls while the boys inverted with St. Marys and took sixth. Among the top finishes for the AquaCavs, who was not at full strength due to school activities on Saturday, were Pat Anthony's fourth place showing in the 200 free. Dustin Schwieterman drew praise from coach Carla Post with a fifth-place effort in the Individual Medley. Gina Harting placed fifth in the 50 freestyle while Danielle Rutschilling took fifth in the 100.
"Dustin took about four seconds off his best in the breaststroke," said Post. "There's a lot of big schools here, something we're not used to being up against. I was happy how the kids did today. There was some time drops. We got our relay really close to breaking the school record but they didn't quite get it today."
Marion Local's girls took an impressive ninth in the standings thanks to Jodi Winner's fourth-place finish in the backstroke. Debbie Lange, the lone St. Henry girl on the swim team, finished fourth in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 100 to give St. Henry 29 points and a 12th place showing in the team standings.
New Bremen's Martin Travis finished sixth in the boys 50 free to earn the highest place for the Cardinals. Minster's top finish came from senior Kacie Otting in the 100 breaststroke.