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AquaBombers Hoist Number 39
For the 39th time (most in any Ohio sport), 19 in 20 years and 10th in a row, the St. Xavier Swimming and Diving team headed home from Canton with the Ohio Division I Championship trophy. It makes the 55th State Title for St. X (tied with Lakewood St. Ed’s for most all-time). The squad scored over 400 points for the second consecutive year (413) to outdistance Brecksville (150). The men in blue won five events, including all three relays. In addition, they picked up five runner-up spots.
A tremendous prelim session on Friday set the stage for a workmen like performance on Saturday evening. In all, 28 swims earned their way back for the always highly charged atmosphere at CT Branin Natatorium. Twenty of the qualifiers were in the Championship heat with the remaining eight scoring in the Consolation finals. It was quality and depth at its best for the AquaBombers. The intensity in the pool was matched by the hundreds of St. X teammates, family members, friends and fans who made the trip. It was indeed a team effort.
Leading the way were seniors Justin Grender and Nicholas Perara. Each picked up an individual win, a runner-up effort and two relay wins. Grender’s prelim swim (47.39) in the 100 Back was a new State and school record, bettering the 2001 performance by Jayme Cramer of 47.65. Grender and Perera wrap up their careers with 8 & 7 State meet wins respectively. Quite a legacy!
To suggest they had plenty of company would be an understatement. Senior diver Josh Knapke got things rolling with a 10th place finish. The 200 Medley Relay took over from there posting the second fastest time in State history – 1:29.97. Grender, Scott Sobolewski (SO), Jean-Pierre Khouzam (SO), and Alex Wade (SR) headed to the top of the podium.
The 200 Free featured an All-America effort by Nick Czepukaitis (SR) good for fourth. He was joined by Sam Fallon (SR) – 5th, Khouzam – 8th and Grady Wheeler (JR) – 14th.
Perara had the next win in the 200 IM (1:48.70) where he was joined on the podium by Ansel Froass (SO) – 2nd, Ian Van Gorp (SO) – 6th and Scott Sobolewski (SO) – 8th.
Grender, Wade and John Paul Khouzam (JR) took on the 50 Free and went 2, 9, 16. Jean-Pierre Khouzam was right back at it in 100 Fly capturing 2nd with company from scorers Van Gorp, Brian Robertson (SR) and Nathan Buse (SO). The 100 Free featured Froass and Czepukitis going fourth and fifth.
The 500 Free looked like a St. X practice as Perera, Fallon, Will Osterman (SR) and Wheeler were all in the “Big Heat”, amassing a whopping 59 poins. Perera quickly returned to the blocks to anchor the 200 Free Relay to a 1st place tie with Dublin Jerome. Teammates Froass, Czepukaitis, and Wade completed the foursome.
Following Grender’s win in the 100 Back where Buse got in on the scoring – 12th, it was breaststroke time. Sobolewski raced to second and Jonathan Bernard (JR) picked up 12th. Sobolewski’s efforts resulted in a school record 55.17.
The final event (400 Free Relay) featured Czepukaitis, Khouzam (Jean-Pierre), Perera and Grender. The crew was up to the task as they took first anchored with Grender’s 43.37 split (fastest in program history). And the crowd had plenty to celebrate!
- INSIDE THE NUMBERS –
¬ All America Performances
- 200 Medley Relay 1:29.97 (Automatic)
- Czepukaitis 200 Free 1:38.62 (Automatic)
- Khouzam (Jean-Pierre) 200 Free 1:39.40 (Consideration)
- Fallon 200 Free 1:39.44 (Consideration)
- Perera 200 IM 1:47.42 (Automatic)
- Froass 200 IM 1:49.23 (Automatic)
- Van Gorp 200 IM 1:51.87 (Consideration)
- Grender 50 Free 20.13 (Automatic)
- Khouzam (Jean-Pierre) 100 Fly 47.76 (Automatic)
- Perera 500 Free 4:30.12 (Consideration)
- Osterman 500 Free 4:30.48 (Consideration)
- Fallon 500 Free 4:31.16 (Consideration)
- 200 Free Relay 1:23.36 (Automatic)
- Grender 100 Back 47.39 (Automatic)
- Buse 100 Back 50.86 (Consideration)
- Sobolewski 100 Breast 55.17 (Automatic)
- 400 Free Relay 3:02.09 (Automatic)
¬ Every swimmer produced a Top 50 Swim
- 200 Medley Relay 2nd All Time
- Perera 200 IM 2nd All Time
- Grender 50 Free 2nd All Time
- Khouzam (Jean-Pierre) 100 Fly 2nd All Time
¬ State qualifying times faster in every event
¬ State finals qualifying times faster in every event
¬ Six of eight individual event winning times faster than last year
¬ Largest margin of victory in Boys Division I history
¬ 73% Best Times – Prelims / 46% Best Times – Finals
¬ 11 “Rookies” at Canton (Produced 146 points)
¬ “Classification” 11 Seniors, 2 Juniors, 5 Sophomores
¬ St. X was projected to score 405 points in swimming, they racked up 406.
- COACHES COMMENTS –
“A team effort from start to finish, in the pool and in the stands. We are so pleased at how the season unfolded. These guys did a remarkable job,” said head coach Tim Beerman.
“Swimming and Diving is indeed a team sport at St. X. This weekend exemplified the best of coming together with a passionate effort and caring hearts,” commented coach Jim Brower, who is a Canton native and former State Champion.
“We graduated 275 points last year. It was unrealistic to think that we could go over 400 points again, but it sure was gratifying to see it accomplished,” noted coach Tom Keefe.
- A LOOK AHEAD –
The AquaBombers amassed a school record of 6539 NISCA power points. They will be submitted to the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association for verification and national rankings. Results will be announced in June following the state meets held in the Spring. St. X has been crowned NISCA champs the last 3 years and should be in the hunt again.
Carmel High School is the favorite for the Swimming World title following the Indiana state meet last weekend. They are led by National record holder Drew Kibler.