GWOC swimmers look to make their mark at district

Bellbrook junior Cody Bybee broke a 26-year-old state record to win the 200-yard freestyle event in Friday’s Division II state meet in Canton. CONTRIBUTED FILE PHOTO
Bellbrook junior Cody Bybee broke a 26-year-old state record to win the 200-yard freestyle event in Friday’s Division II state meet in Canton. CONTRIBUTED FILE PHOTO

Getting to the Division I district swimming championship is the easy part. Getting out? Well, that’s the X factor.

As if battling nine-time defending state champion St. Xavier (38 state titles overall) isn't enough, some area teams are also fighting the flu entering Saturday's meet at Miami University's Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center.

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Centerville coach Steve Hippenmeyer said his Elks were hit hard by a virus before the Greater Western Ohio Conference meet that concluded Feb. 1. The team was still feeling the affects at last weekend’s sectional meet.

With a week of rest, Hippenmeyer hopes the Elks – and other area teams – are at full strength heading into districts. The top two swimmers in each event automatically qualify for next week’s state championships in Canton. Sixteen at-large qualifiers also advance to state based on district times.

“The boys side is going to be an absolute race in every event,” Hippenmeyer said. “It’s going to be extremely competitive. The boys in Southwest Ohio are very strong.”

The boys D-I meet starts at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. The girls D-I meet follows at 5:45 p.m. The boys D-II meet is 10:45 a.m. Friday with the D-II girls at 5:45 p.m.

Beavercreek senior Josef Pohlmann leads the GWOC boys contingent as the highest-seeded swimmer. He posted the second-fastest time in the 50-meter freestyle from all the Southwest District sectional meets. He’s also ranked No. 3 in the 100 butterfly.

For comparison, St. Xavier holds four of the top seven fastest times in the 50 free and four of the top five in the butterfly.

“St. Xavier changes the table. When you throw in one of the nation’s top teams in your district, it changes things a lot,” Hippenmeyer said. “Across the state the girls are very, very deep. I wouldn’t say the boys district is harder to get out of than the girls, but with St. X in the equation it always makes it another game.”

For Centerville, senior Sam McCarthy and junior Alan Flower are the top-seeded individual swimmers. McCarthy is No. 8 in the 100 fly (and No. 9 in the 200 individual medley). Flower is No. 8 in the 500 free (and No. 10 in the 200 free).

Among other area swimmers to watch:

Sidney senior Chase Vantilburgh is No. 3 in the 50 free.

Springboro junior Michael Sandner is No. 6 in the 200 IM and No. 9 in the 100 breaststroke. Senior teammate Vinnie Wolfram is No. 6 in the 100 breast.

Miamisburg senior Dawson Warner is No. 8 in the 100 free.

Beavercreek sophomore Ian Leighninger is No. 8 in the 100 backstroke and sophomore teammate Nate Holty is No. 8 in the 200 IM.

Troy sophomore Michael Griffith is No. 9 in the 500 free.

Among the relays, Butler’s 200 relay is No. 3 and Centerville’s 200 IM team is No. 5.

The boys D-II meet on Friday features a pair of defending state champions from Bellbrook. Senior Cody Bybee won the 200 free and the 100 fly in Canton last season. He also won state in both of those events in 2016.

In winning the 200 free last year (1 minute, 34.55 seconds), Bybee broke the 26-year old pool record of three-time Olympian and St. Xavier grad Joe Hudepohl.

Bybee enters as the No. 1 seed in both the 200 free and 100 fly.

“Cody is by far one of the most driven people I’ve ever known,” Bellbrook coach Rob Johnson said. “The thing with Cody is he’s really not worried whose next to him. When he sets out to do something it’s surprising if he doesn’t do it. He’s just that committed and driven.”

Golden Eagles teammate John Sampson won the 100 backstroke state championship last season, but enters as the No. 4 seed on Friday. Carroll senior Connor Blatt is the top seed. Sampson is also the No. 2 seed in the 200 free.

Bybee, Sampson, Cole Huggard and Cam Bybee comprised Bellbrook’s top-seeded 400 relay team. Sampson, Huggard, Cody Bybee and Carter Caldwell are on the No. 1 200 medley team.

Among other D-II swimmers to watch:

Waynesville sophomore Owen Conley is No. 1 in the 500 free and Alter junior Kevin Leibold is No. 2. Conley is also No. 2 in the 200 IM and Leibold is No. 3.

Blatt is also seeded No. 1 in the 200 IM.

Junior Cole Condon of Versailles is No. 1 in the 50 free and No. 3 in the 100 free.

Chaminade Julienne junior Jorge Zelina is No. 2 in the 100 free and No. 4 in the 200 free.

Eaton freshman Tyler Gregory is No. 4 in both the 50 free and 100 free.

Troy Christian senior Samuel Lavielle is No. 3 in the 50 free.

In the relays, Carroll is No. 2 in the 200 free and No. 4 in the 200 medley.