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Aqua Cats Qualify 23 for Districts for the Second Straight Year

By Joe Ginley '12, 02/10/20, 12:00PM EST


No team scores are kept at Sectionals, but if they were, the Wildcats would be atop the standings.

For the second straight year, the Wildcats made history at the Lakewood Sectional Meet. 

The Saint Ignatius swimming and diving team qualified all 21 swimmers and 2 divers for the District Meet this upcoming week.

The Wildcats have only achieved the feat twice, in 2019 and in 2020. The achievement demonstrates the incredible depth of the Aqua Cats this season, as one of the deepest teams in Northeast Ohio. 

The Clevelanders dominated from the start on Saturday. Tyler Hong, Zach Toothman, Brian Johnson, and John Soeder rolled to an easy victory in the 200 medley relay to start things off. All four Wildcats tallied solid times, with Soeder swimming the fastest with a time of 21.96. The Wildcats clocked in at 1:35.93, nearly six seconds best than the runners-up. 

Four Wildcats kept the momentum rolling at Cleveland State University's Robert Busbey Natatorium in the 200 free. Joe Richmond captured the title, flying to first in 1:46.80. Fellow junior Thomas Metz excelled with a second-place finish, timing in at 1:49.84. Michael Bednar wrapped up sixth place, tallying a mark of 1:52.35. Tommy McIntyre touched the wall just a tad after Bednar with a seventh-place time of 1:52.36.

A Sectional record fell in the 200 individual medley. Hong broke his previous record from last season, flowing to a time of 1:51.41 for an easy gold medal. And in doing so, Hong looked like he barely broke a sweat. Toothman penciled in a wonderful time, too, at 2:00.81 for second-place. Kian Carmichael trailed him closely with a time of 2:01.60 for third. Sam Hessler rounded out the Saint Ignatius contingent with a mark of 2:08.14 for sixth place.  

The quickest event at the meet – the 50 free – saw the Wildcats enjoy plenty of success. Soeder and Micah Murtha snatched second and third with respective times of :21.64 and :21.72. Will Van de Walle penciled in a time of :22.24 for sixth, and Cormac Nolan penned a mark of :22.65 for 11th, easily under the time needed to get to Districts. 

Four more Wildcats punched tickets to Bowling Green State University in the 100 fly. Brian Johnson led the pack, snagging a fifth-place time of :54.80. Daniel Argalious, Cameron Marcie, and Nolan swam in sync, taking 8th (:56.20), 9th (:56.53), and 11th (:56.80) respectively.

The men of Ohio City kept clicking in the 100 free. Soeder guided the Cat Pack with a time of :48.29, behind only two other swimmers. Murtha nipped at his heels, finishing only .10 seconds after his senior teammate, taking fourth in :48.39. Carmichael also clocked in at 48 seconds, at :48.47. Metz completed the quartet with a 10th-place time of :49.55.

Next up was the marathon 500 free. As per usual, no one beat Richmond. the talented junior bested the field by a full 11 seconds with a time of 4:47.95. Tommy McIntyre and Bednar swam together, floating respective times of 5:05.28 and 5:05.52 for fifth and sixth. Brendan Kiskorna wrapped up the group with a time of 5:12.27 for 11th.

The 200 free relay proved to be a lot closer, but the Wildcats still won. Murtha, Carmichael, Van de Walle, and Soeder all tabbed laps under 22.3 seconds, combining for a time of 1:28.08, just over a second ahead of second-place Strongsville. 

The 100 backstroke belonged to Hong on Saturday. The junior ripped off a time of :49.71 in his trademark athletic fashion, easily claiming first. Erik Seicean ensured his first berth to Districts with a second-place time of :55.88. Hessler tallied a clean time of :57.87 for sixth place effort. Ben Stavar rounded out the Saint Ignatius representatives with a score of :59.97 for 10th. 

In the final individual event, the 100 breaststroke, the Wildcats sent four more to the District Meet. Robert Gavigan led all Cats with a time of 1:00.69, just .11 seconds behind the Sectional Champ. Toothman also did well in the event, snagging third at 1:01.13. Jack Johannessen clipped a time of 1:04.93 for eighth, and Vincent Elmore cupped 15th place with a time of 1:06.25.

The Wildcats completed the day in style with a victory in the 400 free relay. Hong, Murtha, Richmond, and Carmichael worked in sync for a bright time of 3:12.08, besting the field by a full five seconds.

In the diving, both Will Claus and Noah Keim punched tickets to BGSU on Tuesday for the District Meet. 

The swimming events will all take place on Saturday in Bowling Green. Last season, the Wildcats took 2nd place as a team. This year, they'll be striving for first place, and to send as many as possible to the State Meet.