Before this season began, St. Francis de Sales set a goal to finish second at the Division I state swimming and diving championships.
Now it may be time for the Knights to set their sights a little higher.
“We scored the state meet, based on times from last week's districts from around the state,” St. Francis coach Keith Kennedy said. “If everyone swims just as they did last week, we would win the state title by 38 points.”
Of course, Kennedy and his St. Francis team know the state meet rarely goes exactly as planned. Still, the Knights have a chance to claim the school's fourth state title and its first since 1998.
The state meet will be held at Canton's Branin Natatorium starting today with Division I diving. The boys state meet will begin at 9 a.m., and the girls competition at 2 p.m. Tomorrow will feature the diving competition for Division II boys at 9 a.m. and girls at 2 p.m.
On Friday the preliminary swimming events will be run, with the D-I girls and boys meet taking place at 9 a.m. and the D-II meets beginning at 5 p.m.
The Division I finals will take place starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the Division II finals begin at 5 p.m.
The path to the title for St. Francis won't be easy. Kennedy said defending champ Columbus St. Charles, Upper Arlington, and Cincinnati St. Xavier — which had a string of nine straight titles snapped by St. Charles last season — are strong.
“When I've talked to our guys, we've talked about staying focused and staying healthy,” Kennedy said. “This will be a very tight meet against teams that have room to improve and that always swim well.
“We will need to have everyone who swims at the meet score, because every point counts. But we can [win] this.”
Among those expected to lead the way for the Knights are district champs Rowan Williams, Dan DiSalle, and Phil Barone.
Williams, a junior enters the meet with the second-fastest qualifying time in the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.80) and ranks fourth in the 100 backstroke (51.61). The Knights also will look for points in the 200 free from juniors Dan Miller (1:41.68) and Michael DiSalle (1:41.81).
Dan DiSalle, a sophomore, won the 50 free with a time of 21.18, which is the fifth-best mark entering the state meet. He also ranks fourth in the 100 free with a 46.34.
Barone is a junior who enters with the fastest time in the 100 breaststroke (57.13). Barone also will compete in the 200 individual medley, while Michael DiSalle also will swim in the 100 butterfly.
Other Knights at the state meet will be sophomores D.J. McDonald and Matt Zimmerman, along with junior Nick Carmony.
St. Francis also enters the meet with the top time in the 200 medley relay, a 1:34.35 mark that set a district record.
St. John's will have a pair of swimmers in the meet. Connor Herman, a sophomore, will compete in the 200 IM and 500 free, while David Bradfield will swim the 100 breast.
Dexter Foos of Fremont Ross will swim the 50 free and Bowling Green's Jordan Breitigam will compete in the 100 fly and the 100 back.
In the girls Division I competition, Notre Dame's Rachael Dzierzak should compete for a title in the 100 breast. Dzierzak, a sophomore, enters the meet with a time of 1:05.05, the second-fastest among qualifiers.
Bowling Green's Kelly Titus ranks seventh in the 200 IM (2:05.83) and is 13th in the 500 free (5:03.59). Senior Ellen Dzierzak of Notre Dame will compete in the 100 free, while St. Ursula's Haley Roberts, a junior, will swim the 100 back.
In Division II girls race, Napoleon's Sami Zuch is the reigning state champ in both the 200 free and the 500 free. Zuch has qualifying times of 1:48.85 in the 200 free and 4:51.14 in the 500 free.
Other swimmers to watch in the D-II girls meet include freshman Makenzie Garringer of Napoleon, whose time of 57.02 in the 100 fly is the second-fastest in the meet and Port Clinton's MacKenzie Stewart, a sophomore who ranks second in the 200 IM at 2:06.93.
Top local swimmers in the D-II boys meet include senior Michael Cavanaugh of Otsego, who ranks second in the 100 free (47.10) and is seventh in the 200 free (1:43.99); junior Jacob McElrath of Wauseon, who stands 10th in the 500 free (4:48.67); and Napoleon sophomore Spencer Witt, who ranks 12th in the 100 breast (1:01.62).
Contact John Wagner at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481