BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
BOWLING GREEN — The Oak Harbor girls swim team has a storied swimming history, but it has never won a district championship. Now the Rockets can add that to their incredible list of accomplishments.
Oak Harbor won the Division II district easily, finishing with 250 points, well ahead of Ontario, who had 181. Wauseon was third with 175 points, followed by Port Clinton (164), Ottawa-Glandorf (153) and Lexington (132).
“Collectively, it’s the best team I’ve coached. I knew the freshman group was going to be pretty solid, but they’re leaps and bounds ahead of where I thought they’d be. They stepped in and you’d never know they’re freshman to watch them swim,” said Oak Harbor Coach Andrea Sorg. “They’ve all been in my program for years. Since age 11, I think is the oldest any one of them started swimming.”
Led by Elayna Krupp, who finished second in two events, Oak Harbor set a number of school records and saw four individuals and three relay teams qualify for the state tournament.
Krupp placed second in the 50 meter freestyle in 23.93 seconds, breaking her own school record. She was also second in the 100 free in 52.40, breaking a 22-year record held by former All-American Lindsay Lange.
“We had a heart-to-heart talk last year at the state meet. It really stuck with her,” said Sorg. “She came into the season ready to roll. She’s worked harder than I’ve ever seen her work. Those kids just elevated each other.
“Elayna hit the goal I thought she would be able to achieve. I think she was almost one second faster in the 100 free, which was a significant drop. I think Elayna can score and possibly reach the podium.”
Skyler Turner, Alyse Sorg and Paige Krupp qualified for state, too, as they finished second, third and fourth, respectively, in the 100 backstroke, with times of 59.89, 1:00.41 and 1:00.52.
All three of the Rocket relay teams won their events, starting with the 200 medley relay, which included Elayna Krupp, Paige Krupp, Alyse Sorg and Amelia Mizelle and finished first in 1:49.55. The 200 free relay (Mizelle, Turner, Elayna Krupp, Emily Haar) won with a time of 1:38.53 and the 400 free relay of Turner, Mizelle, Paige Krupp and Alyse Sorg won in 3:40.35.
“First and foremost, they’re all athletes, and they’ve brought that talent. The work ethic that is instilled with them from their parents or grandparents or that inner drive is,” said Andrea Sorg. “I know there are days when they hate me. But at the same time, they know the process, they trust the process, and they trust in me. I have the same trust in them to do their job. They all bought into this team.”
For her efforts, Sorg was named the Northwest District Division II Coach of the Year.
It was a worthy accomplishment for a coach now in her 17th season leading her alma mater. Sorg has built the program into one of the area’s best, if not one of the best in all of Ohio as the team regularly wins league titles and makes noise in the postseason.
The Port Clinton swim team saw four individuals and two relays qualify for Canton. Kami Periat was fourth in the 100 butterfly in 59.82, Alaina Dackermann was fourth in diving with a score of 407.20, Carlie Blaesing was fifth in the 100 free in 53.92 and Brigitte Schroeder finished seventh in diving with a score of 377.20.
The 200 medley relay team (Periat, Blaesing, Alyssa Diaz, Gabbi Porter) finished with a time of 1:53.40 and the 200 free relay team (Periat, Porter, Blaesing, Zoey Barr) also qualified for state, finishing in 1:40.68.
“I was very pleased with the girls, especially considering how young they are. It’s exciting to turn in that kind of performance. The future is bright,” said Port Clinton coach Danny Diaz. “It’s never a given that you’ll make it to the state meet. It’s an honor to represent our conference when we compete against the likes of Perkins and Oak Harbor.”
The Port Clinton boys team finished seventh in the district with 126 points. Lexington won with 319 points, followed by Wapakoneta (209.5) and Ashland (194.5). Oak Harbor finished just behind the Redskins with 111.5 points.
Logan Brown set school records in two events — finishing fourth in the 200 free (1:45.23) and fourth in the 500 free (4:53.45) — and Ryan Zam was seventh in the 100 fly in 53.83. Two relay teams qualified as well, the 400 free relay (Brown, Zam, Carter Blaesing, Garrett Hirt), which finished second in 3:17.01, and the 200 free relay (Brown, Hirt, Blaesing, Noah Shaw) came in fifth in 1:30.88.
“I was very pleased with the girls, considering how young they are, it’s exciting to turn in that kind of performance,” said Diaz. “The future is bright.”
The Rocket boys had two relay teams qualify for Canton. The 200 medley relay (Karter Lajti, Karson Lajti, Troy Metcalf, Eli Sherman) finished fourth in 1:40.29 and the 400 free relay (Metcalf, Sherman, Karter Lajti, Karson Lajti) finished eighth in 3:22.59.
“Considering that this was a rebuilding year, if you will — we lost so many senior boys last year — I’m thoroughly impressed with the way the kids swam,” said Sorg. “The whole group that went to districts, not just the state qualifiers, we had so many kids step up. Guys like Nathan Buderer, John Aston, Keegan Witt and Malachi Kennedy stepped up and excelled.”