Johnny Crush Breaks 4 State Records as St. Xavier Wins 36th-Straight Kentucky State Title

Kentucky High School State Swimming & Diving Championships – Boys

  • February 22-23, 2024
  • Lancaster Aquatics Center
    • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
  • Results on Meet Mobile: “2024 KHSAA Championships”

One of the longest high school winning streaks in the country continued on Friday evening when the boys of St. Xavier High School in Lexington, Kentucky won their 36th-consecutive state title.

St. Xavier, which have been members of the KHSAA since 1920, three years after it was founded, now have 60 total titles in boys’ swimming & diving. They’ve won every title dating back to 1989. The last team not from St. Xavier to win was Elizabethtown, which won the 1988 title.

Team Standings – Top 10

  1. St. Xavier – 562
  2. Trinity High – 179
  3. Ryle High School – 177
  4. Boyle County High School – 148
  5. Henry Clay High School – 125
  6. Paul Laurence Dunbar HS – 123
  7. Highlands High School – 119
  8. Eastern High School – 100
  9. duPont Manual High School – 91
  10. Murray High School – 72

Xavier was led by senior Johnny Crush and juniors Thomas Mercer and Alex Thiesing, who combined for six wins and three state records individually, and contributed to a sweep of the meet’s relays.

Crush split 20.96 leading off St. Xavier’s 200 medley relay, a split that would have been competitive at last year’s NCAA Championship meet. Also on that relay was breaststroker Owen Durham (25.93), butterlier Mercer (21.10), and freestyle anchor Alex Thiesing (19.71) for a final time of 1:27.70.

That took four-tenths off St. Xavier’s 2022 State Record of 1:28.14. That relay was anchored by Johnny Crush and led off by his older brother Charlie Crush.

This relay was redemption for St. Xavier – they were disqualified at last year’s state meet in finals with three of the four same legs after touching in 1:26.94. Thiesing jumped early at last year’s meet in spite of the team having a more than six second lead.

Race Video:

In his first individual event, Crush won the 100 free in 42.70, breaking his own State Record of 42.99 set in prelims. In total, he knocked .46 seconds off Hunter Tapp’s 2019 State Record of 43.16. Crush also now holds the LSC Record for 15-18s.

He successfully defended that state title, and also defended his title in the 100 back. He swam 45.70 to crush his own High School State Record of 46.55 done last year.

His personal best remains a 45.56 done at Winter Juniors East.

Crush then graduates with six of a possible eight individual state titles, including 200 free titles won as a freshman and sophomore.

Crush then split 42.25 on St. Xavier’s 400 free relay, anchoring them to a 2:56.51, his 4th and final State Record to close the night. That swim undercut the 2:57.50 that they swam to win the title last year, which in turn broke the 2022 record of 3:00.27. Crush was on all three of those relays.

Both last year’s relay and this year’s relay included Alex Thiesing (44.37 this year) and Thomas Mercer (44.20 this year). Sammy McCall jumped onto the relay this year (45.69) in replacement of  graduated Will Scholtz.

They finished 13 seconds ahead of runners-up Boyle County High School.

Crush is headed to Army – West Point next year. His time in the 100 back is already a second-and-a-half better than the school record, and his 100 free time is about half-a-second under the school record.

Two of his relay-mates also picked up double wins. Thiesing, a junior, followed his medley relay anchor with a quick turnaround to the 200 free. There he won in 1:35.80, defending his title with a time over a second faster than last year. His best remains a 1:35.65 from Winter Juniors – East, where he placed 4th.

He came back later in the meet and won the 500 free in 4:25.65, another near-best time. That’s a shift in focus for him – last year, he swam the 200 and 50 freestyle, finishing 2nd in the 50.

Jack Augustus, the defending champion in that 500, shifted as well – this year he placed 5th in the 200 free and 4th in the 100 free.

Thiesing is committed to Michigan for fall 2025, one of their big recruits as new head coach Matt Bowe begins his rebuilding project in Ann Arbor.

Another St. Xavier junior, Virginia commit Thomas Mercer, won two events of his own.

That included a successful 100 fly title defense, touching in 47.70 (he won in 48.48 last year), and a first title in the 200 IM in 1:43.74.

Both swims were new lifetime bests. In the 200 IM, that was on the strength of improvements in his short-access strokes, where he was six-tenths better through the middle two legs.

His prelims swim and finals swims both took a big bite out of his former teammate Scholtz’s former State Record of 1:45.89. He now has three of the four fastest swims in State Meet history.

Flexing their depth, St. Xavier, even without its three star swimmers, still managed to win the 200 free relay – albeit in a much tighter battle. The quartet of John Owen (21.40), Nico Von Allmen (21.34), Jack Augustus (20.52), and Sammy McCall (20.63) combined for a 1:23.89.

That gave St. Xavier nine wins in 12 events.

Dunbar high school was 2nd in the 200 free relay in 1:24.41, anchored by senior Seneca Oddo, who split 19.37.

Oddo, a Florida State commit, was the only non-St. Xavier swimming winner of the meet. He began his meet in the 50 free, where he swam 19.93 to tie Hunter Tapp’s 2019 State Record. That’s his first career flat-start swim under 20 seconds and is another successful title defense.

After his monster relay anchor, he won his second event: the 100 breaststroke in 54.97. That’s a relatively-new focus event for him this season: he swam the 200 free at last year’s state meet, and entered this season with a best of 56.18 in the 100 breast. He lowered that to 54.55 at Winter Juniors – East.

He finished his meet, and high school career, with a 44.86 anchor on Dunbar’s 4th-place 400 free relay.

Landon Isler from Ryle High School won the 1-meter diving event with a score of 554.15, just out-scoring Jake Larkin from Covington Catholic (546.15).

Most of these swimmers will race again in three weeks at the Kentucky LSC Championships.

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Old Swim Coach
1 month ago

A dual meet between St. Xavier and Carmel to kickoff next year’s high school season would be epic. IUPUI could host and the format could be fan friendly. Broadcast would be a must. Kyle Sockwell, do you want to be the announcer?

GoTigers
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

It’s actually happened before. I was on the team that traveled to Carmel in ’07. One of the nicest HS natatoriums I’ve ever seen.

MLB Fanatics Enjoyer
1 month ago

Why doesn’t this streak get the same (or at least similar) fanfare that the Carmel streak does? I understand Carmel is definitely the better team in the more competitive state, but before you say “private schools can recruit” let’s not act like Carmel hasn’t done the same for 10+ years.

Mark
Reply to  MLB Fanatics Enjoyer
1 month ago

More competitive state? No question. Better team? St. X would win a duel meet this year by 100 points. It wouldn’t be close. Carmel would never do that. St. X is going to win it’s 3rd National Championship in 4 years this year.

Mark
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

That’s the method I did. Keep in mind, St. X beat its Cincinnati counterpart 229-57 in a duel meet this year.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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