The Kentucky High School State Championship meet over the weekend saw youth dominate while tradition remained in tact, with St. Xavier winning the boys’ title and Sacred Heart winning the girls’, continuing the incredible streaks for both schools. For St. X out of Louisville, the Tigers have now earned their 28th consecutive title, while the Valkyries from Sacred Heart, also out of Louisville, just captured their 4th state title in a row.
Although the St. Xavier Tigers earned their 52nd title, the runner-up for the past 5 years, the Covington Catholic Colonels, reduced their 2nd place finish to just a 44 point deficit this time around. That margin represents the smallest in recent history, as the Colonels have been as far away as 250 points back in 2012.
On the front end of the Colonels’ speed was senior Brendan Meyer, an Arizona commit with a flair for the mid-distance events. Meyer scored victories in both the 200 and 500 freestyle races, taking wins in times of 1:38.45 and 4:26.55, respectively. In the former event, Meyer’s mark was just about half a second off of the state record, held by former CovCath swimmer-turned-Stanford-student-athlete Max Williamson at 1:37.93.
Meyer was also part of the Colonels’ winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay squads, which earned mega points for the Northern Kentucky team. The 200 freestyle foursome of Bryce Day (21.74), Nick Smith (20.87), Evan McMillen (21.05) and Meyer (20.36) combined for a state title-winning time of 1:24.02, just over a tenth off of the state record held by rival St. X in 1:23.87 from 2011.
The same Colonel crew, with Josh Smith in place of McMillen won the 400 freestyle relay in a collective mark of 3:06.38.
Medaling in 8 of 12 events, though only outright winning 3, the St. Xavier swimmers owe their success to enormous depth. The team kicked off their meet with a state record in the 200 medley relay, as the squad of Martin Nitzken (24.25), Keefer Barnum (25.32), Matt Steiden (22.51) and Clayton Forde (20.26) registered a time of 1:32.34. That hacked more than half a second off of the old mark of 1:32.93 on the record books from St. X at this meet last year.
On an individual level, the breaststroker on that relay, Keefer Barnum, went on to win the 100 breaststroke state title. Barnum wiped the state record off the map in prelims, scoring a mark of 54.69 and ultimately won the final in a tie of 55.31. St. X also saw senior diver Michael Miller wrangle in the state title with a total score of 437.05 points.
Co-swimmers of the meet on the men’s side, however, came in the form of two non-St. X studs who each earned double titles in sprint events. Christian Academy junior Nicolas Albiero smoked the field with a scorching 47.63 winning 100 butterfly time, just missing Nate Dusing’s state record by .53 of a second. Nobody else in the field dipped beneath the 50-second threshold. For perspective, Albiero’s mark sits just outside the NCAA Division I’s top 100 times in the country.
Albiero followed that win up with a victory in the 100 backstroke, scoring a mark of 48.70 to once again represent the only athlete of the field to go sub-50.
Sharing the Swimmer of the Meet award with Albiero was freshman Zach Hils from Lexington Catholic. The SwimSwam Swammy Award winner for 13-14 boys’ swimmer of the year for 2015, Hils earned state titles at the Louisville meet in the 200 IM and 100 freestyle events. His 200 IM mark of 1:49.43 topped the field by over a second, while his 100 freestyle time of 45.63 squeaked by another freshman, Will Tarvestad of North Oldham, by just .10 of a second.
The women’s meet was a little more one-sided, as the Sacred Heart Valkyries won 7 o f 12 events, racking up 5 state records along the way. 167 separated the Valkyries and runner-up Notre Dame, giving Sacred Heart their 27th state title overall.
University of Kentucky-bound Asia Seidt closed out her high school career with a bang, collecting state records in the 100 backstroke and 200 IM events. Seidt crushed the competition in the latter event, scoring a time of 1:56.83 to top the field by almost 5 seconds. Seidt’s performance overtook her own previous state record, which stood at 1:58.53 since 2014.
Seidt was equally impressive the 100 backstroke event where her winning time of 52.89 marked the only performance to go sub-53 and sub-54, for that matter, as the 2nd-fastest swimmer was Notre Dame’s Amanda Smith who finished in 55.80. For Seidt, her 52.89 swim surpassed the state record, again one she owned, which stood at 53.40 from 2014.
Sacred Heart teammate Brooke Forde also took home two state titles, winning the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle events. Forde’s time of 1:46.76 in the shorter event proved quick enough to score a new Kentucky HS state record, replacing that of the 1:47.61 this year’s runner-up, Sophie Skinner, earned at the 2015 meet. This time around, Skinner settled for 2nd place in 1:48.15.
In the 500 freestyle, junior Forde touched in 4:48.46, the only sub-4:50 time of the entire field. She was also a member of the super swift Sacred Heart relays. In the 200 freestyle relay, Forde joined teammates Molly O’Hara, Kennedy Lohman and Brooke Bauer to register a new state record in a winning time of 1:34.09.
Forde and O’Hara were also members of the Valkyries’ winning 400 freestyle relay, where they were joined by Tonner DeBeer and Seidt to take the title in a time of 3:24.14. The combination of DeBeer, Lohman, Seidt and Bauer earned the 200 medley relay win in a new state record of 1:40.61.
The youngest winner of the meet came in the form of Gabi Albiero who, at just being an eight grader, took the title in the 50 freestyle event, charging to the wall in a time of 22.80. Albiero was the only girl to go sub-23 in the 50 freestyle final in Louisville.