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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2008

Titans' Epperson takes state crown, wins 200-yard individual medley

BY TONY BOSMA
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
St. John's Jake Epperson kicks up some spray in winning the backstroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley at Canton. St. John's Jake Epperson kicks up some spray in winning the backstroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley at Canton.
PHIL LONG Enlarge

CANTON - St. John's Jesuit's Jake Epperson had been waiting four years to feel the way he did last night.

Epperson won the Division I state championship in the 200-yard individual medley at C.T. Branin Natatorium in a time of 1:48.84.

"It's unbelievable," Epperson said. "I've been waiting for this for four years. All those days of practice and just hurt and pain I was really happy with my time. It was by far my proudest moment in swimming."

Epperson, who placed second in the 200-yard IM in last year's state meet, said the victory hurt a lot but he knew he could fight through it.

"I just had the 'want' to win," Epperson said. "If you have that, you don't need anything else."

Co-head coach Andy Dugan said Epperson's past state finals experience has been a huge motivator.

"As a freshman, Jake came in, qualified at large in the breast stroke and took second to last. It was a great experience that he still talks about to this day. It was humbling for him," Dugan said.

Napoleon s Samantha Zuch fi nished second in 1:51.97 in the girls Division II 200-yard freestyle at the state meet yesterday. Napoleon s Samantha Zuch fi nished second in 1:51.97 in the girls Division II 200-yard freestyle at the state meet yesterday.
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As a senior, Epperson con-siders his state victory as the proudest moment he's had in swimming and said that going out on top was perfect.

Dugan said he could see all year how much wanting to win state motivated and determined Epperson.

"This year, I know it was on his mind. He wanted to do big things here and he's doing it."

Prior to his victory in the 200-yard IM, Epperson swam with teammates James Christy (junior), James MacKay (senior), and Ben Fudge (senior) in the 200-yard medley relay.

The relay team finished fourth in a time of 1:35.47. narrowly missing a top-3 spot by .26 seconds.

"It feels really good to finish fourth," MacKay said. "We finished seventh last year and it was a big step up for us."

St. Johns Jesuit was not the only school to leave with medals last night.

Napoleon sophomore Samantha Zuch finished second in the D-II 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:51.97.

It was the second year in a row she finished runner-up to Gates Mills Hawken senior Brittany Strumbel.

Teammate Chelsea Meyer finished ninth overall in the 100-yard butterfly, but was first in the consolation final in a time of

1:00.67.

In the D-I 50-yard freestyle, Fremont Ross senior Jacque Fate had a time of 23.74 which was good for a third-place finish.

She missed second place by .01 seconds but said she was very happy with her finish.

"We had a really hard training year and it paid off," Fate said. " I did my best, put everything I had into it."

Findlay senior Annie Donovan finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 24.06.

Fate's Fremont Ross teammate, senior Lincoln Fahrbach, finished second in the 50-yard freestyle, missing first by .05 seconds with a time of 20.82.

"I think this was the same amount I got beat by last year and got second place," he said. "I've worked really hard and wish I could have been a little faster, but it was a good race."

St. Francis de Sales junior Roman Willets finished in 8th place in a time of 1:43.10 in the D-1 200-yard freestyle.

The state meet continues today with many of the local medal-winners from yesterday competing in their last chance to win a state championship.



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