The annual trip to Baltimore, Maryland for the National Catholic Championships is always a highlight for the Saint Ignatius swimming & diving program for two reasons: 1. The competition is always great. 2. The trip is a team-bonding experience that the swimmers never forget.
Many times, seniors will recall the trip to Maryland as their favorite memory during their time with the program.
This year's trip was just as fun, and filled with fast competition. In this top-flight invitational, the Wildcats finished in fourth place, not far behind the top three squads.
A couple notes about the NCC's. First off, the top 16 times score. Secondly, relay squads in the "B" relays cannot place, so we'll list their times but NP for their place. If a swimmer finished 1st through 8th, they made the A finals. If they finished 9th-16th, they qualified for the B finals. If they finished 17th or lower, they participated in the prelims. The Wildcats' divers did not make the trip, as they competed elsewhere this weekend.
The Wildcats scored their first points in the 200 medley relay. Tyler Hong, Zach Toothman, Brian Johnson, and John Soeder notched a great time of 1:34.34 in the finals for a third-place finish. Erik Seicean, Robert Gavigan, Cormac Nolan, and Will Van de Walle tallied a 1:38.48 in the B relay.
Joe Richmond led the way for the Wildcats in the 200 free. the junior tabbed eighth in the event with a mark of 1:44.29. A host of other Wildcats also competed in the event without scoring – Michael Bednar (18th, 1:49.29), Metz (19th, 1:49.36), Thomas McIntyre (20th, 1:49.71), Cam Marcie (24th, 1:52.67), Jack Johannessen (32nd, 1:55.68), Brendan Kiskorna (34th, 1:56.78), and Benjamin Stavar (36th, 1:57.20).
The Wildcats earned plentiful points in the 200 individual medley. Hong anchored the squad with a silver medal effort of 1:50.21 in the packed field. Toothman tallied a time of 1:58.94 for 11th. Kian Carmichael also put points on the board with a 16th place time of 2:02.61. Vincent Elmore also took part in the festivities with a mark of 2:10.45 for 33rd.
Saint Ignatius had a contingent of 10 swimmers in the 50 free, with three scoring points. Micah Murtha led all Wildcats with a fifth-place effort of 21.53. John Soeder trailed closely, clocking in at 21.73 for seventh place. Van de Walle also scored with a time of 22.09, enough for 12th. The seven other Wildcats in the event fought hard but did not score – Cormac Nolan (22nd, 22.64), Daniel Argalious (30th, 22.89), Sam Hessler (31st, 22.91), Gavigan (36th, 23.21), Seicean (61st, 24.22), John Zaky (63rd, 24.33), and Bailey Detering (69th, 24.45).
Three more Wildcats battled onto the scoreboard in the 100 free, with several others missing the cut, but not by too much. Soeder, Murtha, and Carmichael swam as a pack, all finishing close together. Soeder led the way in 9th, touching the wall in 48.13. Murtha nipped at his heels in 10th at 48.35. Carmichael rounded out the trifecta with a time of 48.50. Four more Wildcats swam valiantly in the event – Metz (18th, 49.20, Van de Walle (23rd, 49.95), Johnson (46th, 53.07), and Detering (53rd, 53.76).
In the 500 free, the Wildcats had plenty of representation. As per usual, Richmond lit the way. The junior flowed to a fourth-place time of 4:42.66. Bednar and McIntrye were companions in the race, rolling in at 13th and 14th with respective times of 4:56.07 and 4:56.87. Kiskorna and Stavar did not score, but earned 23rd and 27th places with times of 5:10.48 and 5:14.76.
The Wildcats' top relay in the 200 free did a wonderful job in the event. Van de Walle, Murtha, Carmichael, and Soeder worked together for a mark of 1:25.54, shining bright for third. The time is almost a second faster than last year's State champ prelims. Nolan, Hessler, Argalious, and Metz also marked down a strapping time of 1:30.04. Even if not eligible for a place, this quartet was certainly qualified for praise from the coaches.
The Wildcats' lone first-place victory occurred in the 100 backstroke. Can you guess who won the day? If you guessed Tyler Hong, you're correct. The Wildcats' stud swimmer brushed by all comers, flying in at 48.87. Hong' time is just .77 seconds off of Michael Phelps' pool record of 48.10 set in 2002. The meet this weekend was held at Phelps' home pool, as the USA gold medalist was born and raised in Baltimore.
His teammates Erik Seicean and Sam Hessler also repped the Clevelanders, pronouncing times of 56.39 and 57.28 for 20th and 25th places.
Toothman and Gavigan scratched off more points for the Cats in the 100 breaststroke. Toothman coined a ninth-place mark of 59.66, while Gavigan corralled a time of 1:01.25 for 14th. Johannessen framed a time of 1:06.83 and Elmore cut through the water in 1:07.93 for 33rd.
In the final event, the Wildcats earned another bronze medal. Murtha, Hong, Carmichael, and Richmond showcased their spectacular talents in the 400 free relay. The talented quartet worked in sync to clock in at 3:08.91. Hessler, Marcie, Metz, and Bednar raced together, too, wrapping up a time of 3:21.72.
As a team, the Wildcats' 4th place score of 244 set them behind Gonzaga College High School (336), Georgetown Prep (288), and Loyola Blakefield (282). Behind the Wildcats in the top eight were Malvern Prep (196), St. Mary's High School (177), Bishop McDevitt (119), and Mount St. Joseph (101).
The Wildcats have a few schedule changes this week. A dual meet vs. Rocky River has been added for Tuesday evening. The Aqua Cats and Pirates will meet in Rocky River.
The HB Blazer Meet on Saturday has also been canceled. The Wildcats and University School will have time trials instead, which will be unofficial. The Wildcats' Senior Night meet vs. Erie Cathedral Prep is still on for Friday.