The swimming portion of Kentucky’s High School State Championships begin tomorrow and run through Saturday at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium. Two squads from Louisville are looking to continue their respective men’s and women’s state title-winning streaks, but strong contenders from elsewhere in the Bluegrass state will dig into their team depth to put up a good fight over the course of the meet.
Louisville’s St. Xavier has won the boys’ state championship an incredible 27 times in a row, with 51 state trophies over all. But, Covington Catholic has bitterly swallowed the runner-up pill now the past 4 seasons and has weapons on the roster to potentially disarm the powerhouse.
One of those CovCath weapons is senior Brendan Meyer, who comes into the meet as the top seed in both the 200 and 500 yard freestyle events. A mid-distance freestyle tradition is carried within CovCath, as the 200 freestyle state record of 1:37.93 is held by now-graduated Max Williamson, of the Stanford Cardinal and 2015 Pan American bronze medal fame.
Meyer’s entry time in the 200 free is 1:40.11, with St. Xavier sophomore Aldan Johnston less than a second behind in 1:40.96. If both studs are on their games, the men may create an exciting two-dog race, as Madison Central’s Trent Lakes sits as the 3rd seed almost two seconds behind.
In the 500 freestyle, Meyer leads the incoming field by over 7 seconds, with the top entry time of 4:28.39. The next closest competitor is, again, Johnston, who carries a 2nd-seeded time of 4:35.95 into the prelims.
Meyer’s talents will no doubt also come into play with CovCath’s relays, of which they enter the meet as the top seed in 2 of 3 for those team events. The 200 yard medley relay has Collegiate High School as the top entrant with their time of 1:36.44, followed then by Owensboro Catholic in 1:36.89. CovCath isn’t far behind with their 3rd-seeded time of 1:37.12. A tightly-contested meet may very well come down to this one relay, so every split and every exchange is of vital importance.
One of Trinity High School’s top chances for an individual state titles come sin the form of Hunter Tapp in the men’s 50 yard freestyle, having scored a monster 21.02 time to take the center lane in prelims. Tapp sits well ahead of 2nd-seeded Sam Ubellacker from Scott County, who carries a 21.49 into the prelims.
Tapp is ranked 2nd in the longer sprint freestyle event, however, as Lexington Catholic freshman Zach Hils comes in with the top 100 yard freestyle time of 45.90. Hils represents the only sub-46 100 freestyler entering the meet, as Tapp’s time is 46.14. CovCath also has a horse in the race with Nick Smith who lurks as the 3rd seed in 46.43.
Freshman phenom Hils also leads the 200 IM field with his seed time of 1:50.52, with CovCath’s Smith less than a second behind on the psych sheet.
Nicolas Albiero from Christian Academy holds the top seeds in both the 100 fly (48.15) and 100 backstroke events (48.87), perhaps having a ‘home pool’ advantage of sorts with father Arthur serving as the University of Louisville’s Head Coach.
Sole Scott High School individual competitor, junior Ty Grubb, will try to earn the 100 breaststroke title sitting in the top spot with the only sub-58 mark of the incoming swimmers (57.33)
Northern Kentucky’s Notre Dame has been runners-up at the Kentucky state championship the past two years, watching Louisville’s Sacred Heart Academy race its way to 3 consecutive state titles. In total, Sacred Heart has 26 state titles, a record for Kentucky, while Notre Dame has been in the top three each of the past 7 seasons. As with Covington Catholic for the men, could this be the year Notre Dame finally breaks through?
The Pandas at least have sophomore talent Sophie Skinner on their side, sitting as the top seed in both the 100 and 200 yard freestyle events. Skinner’s incoming 1:48.34 200 free has just a slim .12 lead over rival Sacred Heart’s Brooke Forde, who carries a 1:48.46 time into the meet. However, Skinner does hold the state record in the event with last year’s 1:47.61. The two look to have a raging duel in the event, serving as the only sub-1:50 200 freestylers headed to prelims.
Skinner also looks to score big in the 100 free event, rocking a top seed of 50.34, but another Sacred Heart swimmer, this time senior Brooke Bauer, will be hot on her heels, donning an entry time less than a tenth behind in 50.43. Bauer’s teammate, Tonner DeBeer, also looks to be in the mix with her incoming time of 50.84 to round out the only 3 swimmers holding sub-51 seeds. Adding to Skinner’s confidence, however, is the fact she’s been sub-50 before, residing as Kentucky’s state record holder in the event with the 49.79 from last year.
Bauer does have a strong foothold in the 50 freestyle event, though, sitting in the top spot with her time of 23.08 over DeBeer’s 23.35. Remarkably, just in the 8th grade, Gabi Albiero is seeded 3rd in this event at 23.52.
Sacred Heart’s major weapon in the non-free events comes in the form of Kentucky Wildcat-to-be, Asia Seidt. Seidt holds over a one second advantage in the 200 IM headed into the meet, sitting on top of the field initially with a time of 2:00.81. Seidt holds Kentucky’s HS record in the event with the 1:58.53 performance she clocked in 2014.
Seidt is also the top 100 backstroker, claiming the pole position in the event with her mark of 55.19, although she holds the state record with her 53.40 outing from 2014. The women’s 100m breaststroke sees Arizona-bound Kennedy Lohman as the top girl to beat, with 1:00.60 as her incoming time in the event.
As another sign of their impending dominance, Sacred Heart women hold the top seed in all 3 relay events.