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After a season of hard work and dedication, the Stow-Munroe Falls swimmers have come a long way in postseason action.
Stow's Akron North Sectional performance was notable, not because of the team finishes, but due to individual performances that eclipsed this season's personal bests.
"Every single swimmer on the team achieved personal bests. It was exciting to see our relays come together and swimmers encourage each other in their races," said Stow coach Dan Reese.
Overall, the boys team finished eighth in a field of fourteen, while the girls were seventh of fifteen.
"Our district is comprised of some of the fastest teams in the state. Only the top 30 finishing boys qualified for districts, while the top forty girls advanced." said Reese.
Top swims among the qualifying Bulldogs were recorded by juniors Cory Cremer and Amy Vober.
Cremer, who clocked fourth-place finishes in both the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.92) and the 500-yard free (4:59.90), explained his preparation for sectionals and the district meet.
"I began my taper this week, so I wasn't too concerned about the outcome at the sectional meet," said Cremer. "Looking forward, I plan to get a lot faster, with the help of additional rest and a healthy diet."
Vober, third in both the 50 free (24.7) and 100 free (54.68), agreed with Cremer's regimen.
"Cory and I have been training not fully tapered for sectionals," Vober said. "I'm also getting plenty of sleep and eating right. Last year, my best time in the 50 free was 24.6, and I plan to beat that at districts."
Junior Samantha Huddleston earned her ticket to districts with a fifth place in the 50 free (24.94) and a fourteenth in the 500 free (5:38.52).
"I had more in me for the 50 free, and I'm working on finishes," Huddleston said. "With the 500, I started swimming it five weeks ago and had no expectations with little pace training. I am working on pacing my 50s now during practice."
Junior Jason Walsh, who qualified with a ninth-place finish in the 500 free (5:06.89), saw a 12-second drop in his effort.
"I visualized the race the day before and paced myself," Walsh said. "I gave it everything I had in the final 100 yards and was first in my heat. I hope to swim well enough at districts to qualify for the YMCA national meet."
Senior Samantha Houk moved forward with a ninth in the 100-yard backstroke (1:03.63). and sophomore Alex Schoenberg advanced with an eleventh in the boys 50 free.
Shoenberg was optimistic about districts.
"I was slower in sectionals, but, going into districts, I am tapering and focusing on good diet and plenty of rest to prepare for some fast swims," Schoenberg said.
Qualifying in both her individual races was sophomore Kayla Engle, 13th in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.19) and 20th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:24.26).
Said Engle, "It's nice to know that all of our hard work this season has paid off.
Senior Lizzie Cole agreed. She qualified with a 14th place in the 200 free (2:06.51) and a 16th in the 500 free (5:41.85).
Added Cole, "I'm working on holding my paces consistently, which has helped my races."
Stow divers competing at districts are senior Amanda Kimble, ninth at the sectional meet, and Isaiah Rahe, who placed 13th in the competition.
Bulldogs swimmers also advanced to the district meet in the 200 medley and the 200 free relays.
In boys competition, Stow was seventh in the 200-yard free (Cremer, Matt Johnson-Smyth, Simon Lumley, Schoenberg) with a 1:34.06and eighth in the 200 free(Cremer, Lumley, Walsh, Schoenberg), 1:45.45
The girls' squad finished sixth in the 200 medley relay (Houk, Engle, Vober, Huddleston) with a 1:1:54.95) and seventh (Vober, Engle Cole, Huddleston) in the 200-yard free relay, clocking 1:43.86.
Those qualifying were set to compete at the Northeast Ohio District Championship Meet on Feb. 18 at the Robert F. Busbey Natatorium at Cleveland State University. Results from districts were not available at press time.
The Division I state meet will take place Feb. 25 at Canton's C. T. Branin Natatorium.