This weekend, the Ramblers will take the long scenic drive down I-90 and cross the Ohio state line for the PIAA District 10 Swimming Championships. For the third year in a row, on March 2-3, swimmers from both AA and AAA will compete at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
Formerly known as the Michael Johnson performance center this Olympic training facility will hold one of the most anticipated swim meets of the year. The Ramblers who are the region champs as well as being 16-0 on the season will look to capture a new title this year. After winning the last 14 District Ten AAA titles, they have been moved to the AA competition. This is no blessing for the Ramblers as they stack up against defending state champions, Grove City.
“We have been under the gun before and won. We have trained enough and have prepared enough to keep our streak going and to win another D-10 title,” said team captain Tony Squelia. It looks promising for the Prep team to dethrone Grove City after a 127-56 win earlier in the year. The team isn’t resting on this win but want to do it again.
Freshman Ethan Neff said, “We all know what we need to do, and we all need to swim fast. If we do our jobs we can see a wide margin win again but anything can happen.”
As the team makes their final preparations towards the pinnacle meet of the year, spirits are rising. ” If this meet reflects the work we have done this season we will be unstoppable. This possibility of us grabbing the state title and D-10 gold has really motivated us,” said Senior Jake Schmidt.
The team is now focusing on the more technical side of racing as the day soon approaches. They have taken time to visualize their races and do make a game plan when attacking each event. ” This is important because anyone can train hard and swim fast, but this gets wins in the close races and fires our guys up, we “turn the dials”, said assistant coach Doc Morosky.
The two day swim meet starts this Friday, March 2 at 2 p.m. with the 200-yard medley relay up first. The team of Ethan Neff, Calvin Behm, Robbie Maholic, and Thomas Uht are the favorites to win seeded first by a little over a second. Next up is the 200 freestyle, Alec Thomas holds the number one seed by a mere 3 tenths of a second to fellow Rambler Tony Squelia. Mitch Cizmek and CJ Girts hold the 11th and 12th seeds as well. In the 200-yard individual
medley, it looks like this one may be a barn burner. Rockwell Pokrant of Grove City takes the top spot with Calvin Behm less than a half second back. The final heat will be crowded with Ramblers as Ethan Neff holds the 3 spot, JP Stark the 5th, and Sean Zhao rounding out the field with the 12th.
In the splash and dash or 50 freestyle, the rested Ramblers look to come out of shadows and take this one. Thomas Uht and Jake Schmidt have the 4 and 5 seeds but the top 7 are separated by less than a second. They look to come from the outside and pick up spots on the podium, with Gavin Ferry and Jack Kloecker sitting in the second heat. In the last individual race of the night the 100 butterfly, Robbie Maholic, Gavin Ferry, and Matt Wegley have a great shot at the podium. They hold 3rd and 5th spot and 6th spots and could easily pick up spots on the outside. Robbie Lupo sits in 13th.
In the final event of the night, all eyes will be on the middle of the pool as Ramblers look to take the 200 yard freestyle relay. The team of Jake Schmidt, Robbie Maholic, Tony Squelia, and Alec Thomas look to upset top seed Grove City who’s seeded only 3 tenths of a second ahead making this anyone’s to win or lose.
On the second day the Ramblers look stronger than ever with the first event, the 100 yard freestyle with a top seed. Tony sits atop the swimmers with a blazing 48.94, with defending champ Marcus Swartsfegar less than a half second behind. Thomas Uht and Jake Schmidt highlight the other Rambler sprinters less than 1 second off the lead in the 5 and 6 spots. Freshman Robbie Lupo sits in 20th. In the 500 freestyle the PIAA longest event the Rambler distance squad looks to make an impact and pick up valuable points for the team. Junior Alec Thomas sits in first about 6 seconds ahead of the field. Mitch Cizmek and Matthew Wegley with race on the outside in this heat as this is one of the most tightly packed group of swimmers especially for a distance race. CJ Girts will highlight the heat before being the top spot there looking to run away with it. In the 100 backstroke Prep shows why it’s turned this event into one
of its most dominate. Ethan Neff and Robbie Maholic are seeded first and second by a wide margin. Freshman Jacob Clark with appear in the final heat as well and fellow freshman Mikey Rahner will swim in the middle of the pool the heat before. The 100 breaststroke top seed Calvin Behm who recently committed to Pacific to play water polo will race for D-10 gold in a tight heat. Sean Zhao and JP Stark will also compete in the final heat. Andrew Campbell will
also be swimming this in his lone D-10 race in this event.
In the last event, and one the most exciting the Ramblers sit behind defending state champ team Grove City by 2 seconds. If you remember anything about last years 400 free relay the Prep team beat McDowell in a swim off
for the D-10 titles dropping over 8 seconds throughout the meet. Two returners from that relay, Alec Thomas and Tony Squelia, are teamed up with Thomas Uht and Jacob Schmidt look to work their magic and come away with that one.
As the Ramblers look to make a statement in the AA competition come out and support the team as they chase an unprecedented 15th straight D-10 team title. Also please congratulate the Rambler diving team as Ryan Garich took 6th and Race Nicolia and Zachary Gala picked up valuable points for the team last weekend at McDowell.
Alec Thomas is a former staff writer of The Rambler and a member of the Cathedral Prep Class of 2018.