The Twelve Days of Christmas – AquaBomber Style
Beginning with a morning practice on December 26 and concluding with the Mariemont Diving Invitational on January 6, the St. Xavier Swimming and Diving team put together one of the most ambitious and challenging schedules in program history. The twelve days included seven separate meets (six on the road) coupled with daily practices involving all groups. Despite record breaking cold weather, the squad (with a big assist from family and friends) was up to the task as they went undefeated while getting in valuable training along the way. An astonishing 700+ performances (swims and dives) were recorded. What follows is a summary of the events.
Bill Keating, Jr. Commemorative Alumni Meet
Christmas break would not be the same if the Alums were not invited home to Keating Natatorium to suit up and go head to head with former classmates, as well as the current team. The meet held December 26, has turned into a valuable opportunity for the squad to compete in shorter races under real meet conditions, including officials. 49% best times were turned in during a fast paced evening which concluded with a water polo match, food and frivolity.
This event is now named after Bill Keating, Jr., “the Keeper of the Flame” who passed away last spring. The highlight of the night was the alumni relay of James Wray (’15), Andrew Brower (’12), Luke Sobolewski (’17), Grant House (’17) who went 1:31.36 in the 200 Medley Relay to establish the fastest time ever at Keating.
“Seeing so many familiar and friendly faces certainly makes us feel good. When you factor in the wonderful hospitality provided by our parents and some fast competition, it makes for a gratifying aquatic reunion,” recounted Hall of Fame coach Jim Brower who coordinated the entries for the event.
CINCINNATI ST. XAVIER OUT DUALS LOUISVILLE ST XAVIER
Facing Louisville St. Xavier at Ralph Wright Natatorium on the campus of the University of Louisville is no easy task. The Tigers had not lost a home meet in seven years. Clearly the Long Blue Lane was facing a huge challenge against one of the nation’s deepest and most talented squads. The “Green and Gold” who held 53 Kentucky State championships (29 consecutive) had not been defeated at home in 50+ meets.
“Smack dab” in the middle of Christmas training, the AquaBombers boarded a bus on Saturday morning December 30 following practice and headed for the “Border Battle” of the St. X’s. It was a trip worth taking in many ways. Cincy St. X triumphed 216-99 in one of the programs best dual meet performances. The Blue and White picked up wins in each event (Varsity & JV) along the way. All-American consideration swims were not uncommon and the quality of the entire meet could be seen in the final event as six relays went under the 3:20 mark.
Leading the visitors were the following multiple winners:
- Sam Fallon (SR) 200 Free, 500 Free
- Ansel Froass (SO) 200 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay
- Justin Grender (SR) 200 Med Relay, 50 Free, 100 Back, 400 Free Relay
- Jean-Pierre Khouzam (SO) 100 Fly, 400 Free Relay
- Nicholas Perera (SR) 200 IM, 100 Free, 200 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay
- Scott Sobolewski (SO) 200 Medley Relay, 100 Breast
- Alex Wade (SR) 200 Medley Relay, 200 Free Relay
- INSIDE THE NUMBERS –
- 50% Best Times
- 7 of 11 events faster than a year ago
- All 44 Varsity swims would have qualified for districts last year
- 27 Junior Varsity swims would have qualified for districts last year
- 24 swims would have qualified for state last year
- All American Consideration swims:
- 200 Med Relay 1:34.51 [Grender, Sobolewski, Nathan Buse (SO), Wade]
- 200 IM 1:50.86 Perera
- 100 Back 50.29 Grender
- 400 Free Relay 3:07.40 [Froass, Khouzam, Perera, Grender]
- 17 top 50 Swims
- Back to back wins for Cincinnati St. Xavier
- Coaches Comments –
“I was pleased at how well we swam in every event – great team effort. We have to keep building on successes like this,” analyzed head coach Tim Beerman.
“Louisville St. X is a national power. We are pleased to effectively challenge them while still training at an extremely high level,” commented coach Jim Brower.
PCY BIG TEN MEET A BIG SUCCESS
Wednesday, December 27, found the Long Blue Lane right back in action in a long course meet hosted by Wyoming High School and held at Powell Crosley Y. Swimming in an Olympic configured facility for the first time for many provided a new twist to swimming for those not familiar with “50 long course meters”. However, racing is racing and that is just what the team did with significant success. Challenged by Moeller and Wyoming, the Blue and White took six first places of the eleven events.
The final two events were dramatic as Kent Perry (SR) got a touch out win in the 100 Breast and Robert Prophater (SR) anchored the 400 Free Relay, coming from behind to secure the event for St. X. final Scores
St. Xavier 1,000
Prophater who also won the 200 Free was joined on relay by Cameron Eglseder (SR), Lucas Ecker (SO), Drew Morstadt (SR). Other winners were Scott Holcomb (SR) 100 Fly, Owen Taylor (FR) 100 Free and Jamie Donovan (SO) 400 Free.
- INSIDE THE NUMBERS –
- All Varsity swims finished in Top 8
- Donovan, Connall Kellner (FR), Adam Lamping (FR), Cooper Williams (FR) went 1 – 4 in 400 Free
“We came to compete and we were pleased to see quality efforts from start to finish,” summarized coach Don DiGiacomo who led the contingent.
Class Breakdown – Seniors (11), Juniors (5), Sophmores (6), Freshmen (8)
TRADITION CONTINUES WITH TURPIN
Christmas break would not be the same without a cross town trip to Lyons YMCA to compete again Turpin. This nearly decade old meet offers the opportunity for some of St. X’s younger athletes to get quality swims while gauging their progress. 77% best times clearly showed the dramatic improvement these young men are making in less than eight weeks.
Sophomore Keegan Graham was very impressive in his 100 Fly performance. Equally impressive were the 500 “guys” (three of the four swimming it for the first time) showed remarkable endurance and pacing. While no team score is kept the swims and results certainly validated solid efforts.
“This is such a signfiant meet for us and we took advantage of each race to complete and learn. It is remarkable how far we have come. Certainly much more is needed in many respects, but a solid foundation is emerging,” summarized coach Zach Vogelpohl.
St. X Swims Past Wyoming
The quality of Wyoming High School swimming is surpassed only by their hospitality. Well run and spirited competitions have quickly emerged in recent years. It has made for great opportunities for St. X to swim a variety of athletes in a variety of events. On January 2, the AquaBombers headed back to Powell County Y to face Wyoming in a traditional dual meet format. The Blue and White prevailed 200 to Wyoming’s 71.
Will Osterman (SR) paced the AquaBombers with wins in the 200 Free, 100 Free and 400 Free Relay. He was joined by individual event winners Christian Wall (JR) [200 IM and 400 Free Relay], Jaimie Donovan (SO) [50 Free], Jay Weil (SO) [100 Fly and 200 Free Relay], Daniel Stroh (SR) [500 Free and 400 Free Relay] and Connall Kellner (FR) [100 Breast].
After losing a closely contested 200 Medley Relay, the Long Blue Lane went 1 – 4 in the 200 Free [Osterman, Stroh, Owen Taylor (FR), Weil] to establish the lead. St. X would go on to win eight of the final nine events. The spirit was extremely high as those finishing up practiced headed to PCY to be a part of the action.
- INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
- Meet featured 138 swims by St. X (second largest dual meet on schedule)
- 42 AquaBombers (11 Seniors – 5 Juniors – 13 Sophomores – 13 Freshmen)
- 14 Swims would have qualified for Districts last season (all three “A” relays)
- 31 athletes had best times
- COACHES COMMENTS –
“Mike Leonard and the folks at Wyoming and PCY go out of their way to provide a first class atmosphere. We took advantage of the environment and had a solid day,” offered coach Tom Keefe.
“Sometimes speed is hard to come by at this time of the season, but we sure can race when we are on the blocks,” observed coach Dave Albert.
“We had an energetic group representing us today and that always makes for a good meet. St. X dual meets are never dull, that’s for sure,” summarized coach Don DiGiacomo.
POOL RECORDS FALL AS AQUABOMBERS FINISH 1ST AT LARRY LYONS
The annual Larry Lyons Invitational hosted by Sycamore High School offered the final opportunity for St. X swimmers to compete during the Christmas break. As the team swam down and prepared for a day off and return to normal schedule, the scores were announced with the Blue and White finishing on top:
St. Xavier 430
Headlining the triumph were two pool setting relays.
200 Free Relay 1:27.82 [Brian Robertson (SR), Nick Pfeifer (SR), Ansel Froass (SO), Sam Fallon (SR)]
400 Free Relay 3:12.01 [Froass, Pfeifer, Fallon, Nick Czepukaitis (SR)]
Froass was a three time winner claiming the 200 Free as well as the 2 relays. He was runner-up in the 100 Free.
Czepukaitis earned a win in the 500 Free along with the 400 Free Relay victory. He picked up two runner-up performances as well.
Robertson was the other top finisher with and impressive win in the 100 Fly.
Josh Knapke (SR), along with fellow divers Will Behiner (FR) and Adam Blome (FR), got the squad off to a fast start with season best performances.
- Inside the Numbers –
- Ten of eleven events were faster than last year
- 3 pool records set
- Team comprised of 10 seniors, 6 sophomores, 2 freshmen
- Four events with 3 top six finishes (200 Free, 200 IM, 100 Free and 100 Breast)
- All six relay swims posted times fast enough to qualify for Districts last year. The “A” Free Relays would have qualified for state.
- Coaches Comments –
“We raced well especially considering where we are in our training cycle. In addition, so many teammates came to cheer following a 5:00 a.m. practice,“ concluded head coach Tim Beerman.
MARIEMONT DIVING INVITE CAPS CHRISTMAS BREAK
Diving coach Brandon Unthank took five divers to the Mariemont High School Invitational to close the twelve days of Christmas. The five were indeed a handful as all scored in this six dive competition. Ben Cutforth (SO) finished second (211.15 points), Jacob Rodriguez (JR) 7th (159.00 points), Andrew Neyer (JR) 10th (138.35), Trey Hendon (SO) 11th (132.10 points) and Joey Greve (SO) 13th (122.35 points).
It was quite a performance as the event featured 42 divers from Southwest Ohio. Other schools included Walnut Hills, Wyoming, Indian Hill and Mariemont. State Champion Noah Vigran of Indian Hill, who is headed to Stanford finished first. All five of the AquaBombers’ scores were season bests.
“It was a full day and night of diving, but the guys did a great job,” reported coach Brandon Unthank.