The Swimming and Diving Wildcats finished in third in the 2021 OHSAA Division I State Swimming Meet on Saturday night. The Wildcats totaled 147 points in one of the best state performances in program history. The Wildcats took the podium due in part to tremendous swims throughout the day.
The morning began with the one-meter dive event for the Aqua Cats as the University of Cincinnati commit; Will Claus totaled 438.40 points, which placed him in eighth place in the event Wildcats 11 points in the state meet. Dominic Roberto of Solon placed first in the event with a score of 491.45.
Swimming events took place at C.T Branin Natatorium in Canton at 4:30 p.m. The first event in the afternoon was the 200 Yard Medley Relay. Joseph Richmond, Tyler Hong, Erik Seicean, and Sam Hessler represented the Aqua Cats in the medley relay. They started the day off strong with a fourth-place finish with a time of 1:31.89. Saint Ignatius was awarded 30 points for their efforts. Mason High School placed first in the race with a 1:31.17 finish.
Tyler Hong was primed for the 200 Yard IM. The Male High School Athlete of the Year finalist won the event in last year's competition but faced intense competition in the event. Hong would be victorious with a time of 1:46.54, 3.09 seconds better than Hudson Williams from Powell Liberty, who came in second place behind Hong. This was Hong's second State Title in his phenomenal high school swimming career. With the first-place finish, he earned the Cats 20 more points.
Junior Micah Murtha was up next in the 50 Yard Freestyle. Murtha finished with a ninth-place finish with a time of 20.95. He earned nine more points for the Aqua Cats. Braden Osborn of Mason High School came in first with a time of 20.44.
Murtha would continue his day at the State Meet, competing in the 100-yard freestyle. Murtha would finish in 15th with a time of 46.81 and earn the Wildcats two more points. Avery Voss of Upper Arlington came in first with a time of 44.47
The Wildcats were looking for a spark and a jump on the leaderboard in the next event. Murtha, Will Van de Walle, Daniel Argalious, and Hessler competed in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay. The Aqua Cats broke a program record with their time of 1:24.44, giving them a fifth-place finish in the event. The previous record was set last season, as that time was 1:24.70, arranged by Murtha, Carmichael, Van de Walle, and Soeder. The Wildcats picked up 28 more points in the State Meet. Upper Arlington finished in first with a time of 1:21.76.
The momentum would carry over to the 100-yard Backstroke as Hong would finish in third with a time of 49.02. Hong and the Wildcats earned 16 more points. Johnny Marshall of Firestone finished with a time of 47.41.
Richmond added to the Aqua Cats total with a 16th place finish in the 100-yard Breaststroke with a time of 58.05. Karl Helmuth of Hoover came in first with a time of 54.62
As the end of the State Meet approached, the Wildcats were still competing for a top-three finish. The night's final event was the 400-yard Freestyle Relay that featured Murtha, Thomas Metz, Richmond, and Hong. The Wildcats came in with a fourth-place finish with a time of 3:05.21. This would give the Wildcats 30 more points and solidify a third-place finish in the State Championship with a score of 147 points total. St. Xavier won their 42nd state swimming title with a total of 261.5 points.
This season for the Wildcats brought a significant amount of questions. The most obvious was if there would be a season due to the pandemic and not having a home pool to practice. The program had to split their roster in two to practice and never had a full team practice. Eric Dennis entered his first season with Saint Ignatius. The Aqua Cats answered the call every time a challenge arose and earned a third-place finish at states. The 2020-21 swimming and diving team has cemented its legacy at Saint Ignatius High School.
As this season comes to a close, it appears that the Wildcats are in good hands with Head Swimming Coach Eric Dennis. The back-to-back District Champions will look to build off this tremendous season. The future looks bright for the swimming and diving program.