August 20, 2014

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District Swimming: Avon’s Rachel Stark, St. Ed’s Grant Braid pleasantly surprised with 2nd-place finishes, automatic state berths

Avon's Rachel Stark swims the 200-yard freestyle at Cleveland State on Saturday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Avon’s Rachel Stark swims the 200-yard freestyle at Cleveland State on Saturday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

CLEVELAND — Rachel Stark and Grant Braid were shocked, but the surprises were entirely pleasant. Both Lorain County swimmers earned automatic berths to the Division I state meet next weekend.

Stark, an Avon junior, finished second in the 100 free in a career-best 52.38 seconds as the No. 6 seed. Only Bowling Green junior Emmy Sehman was quicker (51.64).

Braid, a St. Edward senior from Amherst, also turned in a head-turning performance.

The No. 3 seed, Braid had a career-best time by seven seconds as he finished second in the 200 IM in 1:55.60. Toledo St. Francis junior Christian Sobczak was the class of the field, winning in a meet-record 1:52.54.

The top two finishers in the Division I Northwest district at Cleveland State earned automatic berths to the state meet in Canton.

Stark couldn’t believe her eyes when she looked at the scoreboard to see how she finished.

“I was so shocked,” she said. “I never would have thought something like this for my sophomore year. You’re just trying to get into things. You never really think about state.”

Stark more than got into the state meet. She had the fastest split of the field for the second 50 of her race with a 27.08. She was fourth after the first 50 (25.30).

“I’ve been working on my turns,” Stark said. “My turns have definitely been my weakness. I tried to nail each one of them. They felt pretty solid. I was actually practicing them right before my race trying to really get them down. You can never practice too much. Practice makes perfect.”

She got better as she neared the finish.

“I was just focusing on keeping my stroke as smooth as possible the last 25,” Stark said. “You’re really getting tired at the end and you really have to try and hold that. I’ve worked very hard on my finishes, trying to keep my head down and if you have to punch a hole in the wall do it.”

By a stroke of good fortune Stark’s dad, Paul, was timing lane No. 7 while his daughter was in lane No. 8.

Stark also has an outside chance for an at-large state berth. She finished fourth in the 200 free (1:54.51).

Braid’s 50 free split of 27.49 in the fourth and final stroke of the 200 IM was key. It was the fastest 50 free split of the field and moved him up from third place.

“It feels pretty good,” Braid said. “I really didn’t expect it. Compared to the week before at sectionals, everything really felt like it was clicking. This is the first year I really concentrated on the 200 IM. I had only swum it two or three times before this season. It was my coach’s (Eric Dennis) idea. Previously, my focus was 50 free and 100 free.”

Braid’s best 200 IM time prior to the season was about 2:06. He was also a member of the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:14.28) and fifth-place 200 medley relay (1:38.28). He placed eighth in the 100 free (48.05).

A total of 16 at-large individual/relays in each event from all statewide district tournaments qualify to state. St. Edward senior Miguel Poblete of Avon is a sure bet for an at-large berth in the 100 breast, as he finished third in a career-record 57.45.

Poblete had stellar competition on either side. Former meet record-holder Jack Barone of Toledo St. Francis (56.60) was on one side. Mansfield senior Hutch Blackstone, who set the record in 55.85, was on the other. Barone finished second (57.33).

“I’m so very happy,” said Poblete, a 2013 state breaststroke qualifier. “I wasn’t thinking much during the race. I knew my body would react with those two great swimmers on either side of me.”

Poblete has an outside chance of another state berth after a fifth place in the 200 IM (1:57.98). He was also a member of the 200 medley relay. At-large berths will be announced today on swimmeet.com.

North Olmsted senior Ryan Sara and Avon junior Erin Pettegrew were clinging to an outside chance of qualifying. Sara was fourth in the 50 free (21.24) and 100 breast (58.90). Pettegrew was fourth in the 50 free (24.67) and 100 fly (59.00).

“I’m pretty confident with my 50 free,” Sara said. “I was hoping for a school record. Our school record is 21.32. It’ll make it out.”

Pettegrew wasn’t so sure about her chances.

“I checked out the times from the other districts and I don’t think I made it (top 24 overall),” Pettegrew said. “I think my 50 free was pretty close, but I needed to be in the 57s for the 100 fly. I’m a little disappointed, but I got two PRs (personal records) so that’s all I can really ask for.”

North Olmsted senior Jacky Jarochovic was also hopeful for an at-large berth. She was third in the 100 fly (58.71) and sixth in the 100 free (53.94).

Seven meet records were set, four boys and three girls. The Toledo St. Francis boys won their 48th district title.

Contact Paul Heyse at (440) 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

Boys
Team scores
1. Toledo St. Francis, 468; 2. Strongsville, 315 ½; 3. St. Edward, 239; 9. Westlake, 81; 11. North Olmsted, 63; 13. Amherst, 57; 14. Elyria, 49; 19, Olmsted Falls, 21. Out of 25 teams that scored.
Top two finishers advance to state meet, Feb. 19-23
Winners plus top local finishers
200 medley relay: 1. Toledo St. Francis, 1:33.61; 2. 7. Westlake, 1:41.79; 9. Elyria, 1:43.63; 10. Avon, 1:43.97; 13. North Olmsted, 1:45.61; 14. Amherst, 1:47.35
200 free: 1. DiSalle (TSF), 1:41.29; 12. Manderfield (St. Ed/Avon Lake resident), 1:49.55; 11. Ault (AM), 1:49.48; 18. Burgett (AM), 1:50.09; 19. Collins (AL), 1:51.86; 21. Petro (OF), 1:53.61
200 IM: 1. Sobczak (TSF), 1:52.54 (MEET RECORD, old record 1:54.08 set in 2013 by St. Ignatius’ Derek Hren); 2. Braid (St. Ed/Amherst resident), 1:55.60; 5. Miguel Poblete (St. Ed/Avon resident), 1:57.98; 6. Ben Brooks (AV), 1:58.76; 17. Bolton (OF), 2:08.73; 23. M. Pecze (AM), 2:15.13; 20. Phillips (W), 2:21.32; 30. Keeling (AM), 2:23.01
50 free: 1. Blackstone (Mansfield Senior), 21.03; 4. Sara (NO), 21.34; 16. Waitrovich (W), 22.59; 19. Tamesis (AV), 22.83; 21. Sebok (AM), 23.15; 24. Hughes (W), 23.36; 29. Rimko (AV), 23.65
100 fly: 1. Gordon (TSF), 50.79 (MEET RECORD, old record 51.14 set in 2012 by Findlay’s Dietrich Hinesman); 10. Brooks (AV), 54.74; 14. Knurek (W), 56.33; 15. Peggs (E), 56.54; 18. Sebok (AM), 57.43; 20. Casedonte (NO), 57.57
100 free: 1. DiSalle (TSF), 45.85; 8. Braid (St. Ed/Amherst resident), 48.05; 18. Bechtel (W), 55.43; 19. Ault (AM), 50.57; 21. Tamesis (AV), 51.03
500 free: 1. Hopkins (Findlay), 4:34.11; 7. Manderfield (St. Ed/Avon Lake resident), 4:53.57; 12. Collins (AL), 5:05.79; 13. G. Pecze (AM), 5:07.41; 14. Burgett (AM), 5:07.48; 19. Lackner (W), 5:21.10
200 free relay: 1. Toledo St. Francis, 1:24.60 (MEET RECORD, old record 1:24.98 set in 2011 by Toledo St. Francis); 7. Westlake, 1:30.35; 8. Amherst, 1:32.53; 9. Elyria, 1:34.03; 12. Olmsted Falls, 1:37.07; 14. Avon, 1:38.92
100 back: 1. Sobczak (TSF), 50.61; 10. Knurek (W), 59.65; 13. Peggs (E), 57.70; 15. M. Pecze (AM), 58.43; 27. Kinkoph (NO), 1:01.87
100 breast: 1. Blackstone (Mansfield Senior), 55.85 (MEET RECORD, old record 56.60 set in 2013 by Toledo St. Francis’ Jack Barone); 2. Barone (TSF), 57.33; 3. Poblete (St. Ed/Avon resident), 57.45; 4. Sara (NO), 58.90; 7. Waitrovich (W), 1:01.76; 10. Katrinchak (E), 1:02.19; 12. Bolton (OF), 1:02.73; 21. Machesky, 1:05.60
400 free relay: 1. Toledo St. Francis, 3:08.21; 8. Avon, 3:27.00; 10. Amherst, 3:38.22; 12. Westlake, 3:31.49; 17. Avon Lake, 3:39.45; 18. Olmsted Falls, 3:39.91

Girls
Team scores
1. Strongsville, 367 1/2; 2. Fremont Ross, 208; 3. Rocky River, 204; 10. Avon, 99; 11. Avon Lake, 86; 12. Amherst, 85; 13. North Olmsted, 79; 14. Westlake, 35;l 19. Olmsted Falls, 21. Out of 25 teams that scored.
Top two finishers advance to state meet, Feb. 19-23
Winners plus top local finishers
200 medley relay: 1. Strongsville, 1:45.57 (MEET RECORD, old record 1:46.32 set in 2013 by Fremont Ross); 5. Avon Lake, 1:52.71; 8. Avon, 1:54.64; 11. North Olmsted, 1:55.39; 15. Amherst, 2:00.04; 17. Westlake, 2:01.74
200 free: 1. Zhada Fields (Toledo St. Ursula), 1:48.39; 4. Stark (AV), 1:54.51; 8. Guilfoyle (W), 1:58.68; 10. Thorson (AM), 2:00.42; 17. Hoke (W), 2:03.90; 27. Higginbotham (OF), 2:07.84
200 IM: 1. Fisher (Fremont Ross), 2:06.03; 15. Smith (AL), 2:17.68; 17. Poblete (Magnificat), 2:18.89; 20. Sauter (AV), 2:19.48; 30. Medwid (AL), 2:26.14
50 free: 1. Moses (Fremont Ross), 23.91; 4. Pettegrew (AV), 24.67; 7. Puente (NO), 25.14; 9. Menzer (AL), 25.25; 19. Walther (AM), 25.88; 22. Mlincek (AM), 26.30; 28. Wigton (AM), 26.76
100 fly: 1. Waggoner (Fremont Ross), 57.00; 3. Jarachovic (NO), 58.71; 4. Pettegrew (AV), 59.00; 8. Prexta (W), 59.47; 17. Foraker (NO), 1:03.31; 20. Lee (W), 1:04.54
100 free: 1. Sehman (Bowling Green), 51.64; 2. Stark (AV), 52.38; 6. Jarachovic (NO), 53.94; 13. Bruce (AL), 55.87; 14. Menzer (AL), 55.95; 15. Puente (NO), 56.01; 16. Walther (AM), 56.58
500 free: 1. DeVorace (RR), 5:01.47; 4. Thorson (AM), 5:18.02; 10. Guilfoyle (W), 5:22.90; 15. Hoke (W), 5:32.71; 18. O’Rourke (AL), 5:33.82
200 free relay: 1. Fremont Ross, 1:35.91 (MEET RECORD, old record 1:36.95 set in 2008 by Fremont Ross); 6. Amherst, 1:42.96; 10. Westlake, 1:44.17; 13. Olmsted Falls, 1:46.83; 15. Avon Lake, 1:47.55
100 back: 1. Fields (TSU), 54.95 (MEET RECORD, old record 57.69 set in 2003 by Toledo Notre Dame’s Susan Johnson); 10. Prexta (W), 1:01.69; 15. Bruce (AL), 1:03.63; 23. Mowery (OF), 1:05.89; 24. O’Rourke (AL), 1:07.02; 27. Cathey (AM), 1:07.32
100 breast: 1. Washko (Strongsville), 1:04.88; 13. Smith (AL), 1:10.17; 15. Sauter (AV), 1:10.83; 25. Balser (AV), 2:13.13; 26. Sara (NO), 1:13.19
400 free relay: 1. Fremont Ross, 3:31.12; 7. Westlake, 3:38.00; 9. Amherst, 3:48.14; 10. Avon, 3:48.81; 12. Avon Lake, 3:52.85; 13. Olmsted Falls, 3:53.92.