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AquaBombers Ride Wave to 38th Championship
Following a remarkable performance at the District meet, head coach Tim Beerman and the staff made it quite clear that the final stage at State in Canton would require additional focus and effort. The athletes responded with the most dominant performance in Ohio high school swimming and diving history. St. Xavier, projected to score 388 points going into the event and 411 following prelims, continued to throw down one memorable swim after another. The final tally of 434 smashed the record set by the AquaBombers last year of 398. It marked the 38th crown for the program, 9th in a row and 18 in the last 19 years. The 38 is the most in any one OHSAA sport and places St. Xavier in a tie for OHSAA State Championships with 54.
Having qualified 32 opportunities to score at State, the team improved on that number by placing 34 performances on the scoreboard. The athletes improved their times from District at an 87% rate! Unraveling the meet certainly provided a highlight bonanza as the Blue and White won 8 of 12 events and set 5 State records. The eight 1st place swims ties the mark set by the vaunted 1973 St. X squad.
Grant House (SR), swam his way into the record books as he won the 200 Free – 1:34.59 (meet & school record – previously held by Olympic medalist Joe Hudepohl) and the 500 Free – 4:19.15 (meet, pool & school record – previously held by US National team member David Mosko). Joining his teammates in the 200 & 400 Free Relays, he garnered two more State and school records. His career culminated in the most State wins in Ohio history with 13 (8 individual & 5 relays). For his efforts in the 200 Free he was named Performer of the Meet, capturing the award for the second time. Head Coach Tim Beerman was named Coach of the Year.
But this was a total effort by athletes, coaches, family and support staff. Luke Sobolewski (SR) put on a show as well going a perfect 4 for 4. He raced to individual wins in the 100 Fly – 48.30 and 100 Back – 48.23 and was part of the 200 Medley Relay – 1:29.66 (meet & school record) and 400 Free Relay – 2:58.13 (meet & school record) Sobolewski’s wins for his state triumphs moved to 7 (3 individual & 4 relays).
Also joining the 4 for 4 club was Nick Perera (JR) who outdistanced the field in the 200 IM and was part of all three record setting relays including the 200 Free Relay – 1:21.44 (meet & school record). Perera now has 5 State wins on his resume. Fellow junior Justin Grender notched 3 victories as he was part of all three relays and also has 5 State gold medals. Senior captain Charles Leibson climbed on the podium twice as part of the 200 Medley & 200 Free Relays. His importance is reflected in the four State titles he earned at Canton in his career.
As is the case in recent years, the team’s performances have National implications. All the achievements listed above qualified for automatic All American status. The following also move on to the higher level of interscholastic athletics:
Gordon Wheeler 200 FREE – 1:38.45 Automatic All American
Charles Leibson 200 IM – 1:48.72 Automatic All American
100 FREE – 45.73 Consideration All American
Christian Imbus 500 FREE – 4:29.90 Consideration All American
Sam Fallon 500 FREE 4:33.10 Consideration All American
Blake Brockman 100 BREAST – 57.00 Consideration All American
Luke VanGorp 100 BREAST – 57:21 Consideration All American
National team titles (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Associates and Swimming World Magazine) will not be finalized until California and other states wrap up championship events in May.
While the story in the pool was compelling, the excitement and support in the stands and on deck was unparalleled. Fellow swimmers and divers joined by family, friends, administrators, fans and coaches provided an atmosphere that fed the 2016-2017 Ohio State Champions from St. Xavier High School.