A trip to Columbus did not result in victory, but the Saint Ignatius varsity swimming & diving team returned home with confidence after taking two of the state's top programs to the wire.
The Aqua Cats narrowly lost to Upper Arlington on Friday, 94-92, and to Columbus St. Charles on Saturday.
Amidst the defeats in the team scores, the Wildcats claimed plenty of individual and relay victories to be proud of.
Golden Bears claw past the Wildcats
Friday was marked with top finishes for the Wildcats, but one of the top highlights occurred in the 100 breaststoke. The Wildcats finished 1-2 in the event, with Nicky Hong and Zach Toothman showing off nice times. Hong recorded a mark of 59.78 and Toothman tallied a time of 1:03.14 in an impressive showing. To top it off, Robert Gavigan added the cherry on top with a time of 1:04.82 to snatch fourth.
Hong and Toothman, along with Joe Richmond, also starred in the 200 individual medley. The elder Hong scored his second winning time of the evening at 2:00.71. Richmond clocked in at 2:04.16 to earn third and Toothman touched the wall just milliseconds later at 2:04.76.
Tyler Hong, Nicky's younger brother, did plenty of damage on Friday, too. Tyler snatched first in the 200 free with a time of 1:43.56, following his excellent efforts last weekend at Junior Nationals. Not done yet, Tyler won the gold in the 100 backstroke, with a marvelous time of 50.53.
The great times did not stop with the Hongs. John Soeder turned in a time of 22.73 to stake a claim on second place in the 50 free. Micah Murtha followed his lead, touching in closely behind at 22.87 for fourth. Soeder did work in the 100 free, too, staking out third with a time of 50.66.
Shortly thereafter, Cameron Marcie and John Libertin tag-teamed the 100 fly. Marcie snagged third and Libertin earned fourth, with times of 57.17 and 58.74, respectively.
Later, in the longest event of the meet, the 500 free, the Wildcats placed two. Richmond captured second with a time of 4:56.25. Not far behind was Christian Wolke, who claimed fourth with a mark of 5:07.47.
The Wildcats excelled in the individual events, but did just as well, if not slightly better, in the relays.
Tyler Hong, Nicky Hong, Richmond, and Soeder formed the dream team in the 200 medley relay. The quartet combined for a winning time of 1:37.84, a big points performance for the Wildcats. Libertin, Toothman, Gerald Johnson, and Kian Carmichael also chipped in points with a mark of 1:44.82 for third place.
The 200 free relay saw the Wildcats take second and third places. Murtha, William Van de Walle, Carmichael, and Nicky Hong teamed up for a second-place time of 1:32.16. Thomas Metz, Cormac Nolan, Marcie, and Toothman worked their magic for third, clocking in at 1:35.29.
The Wildcats also claimed second and third in the 400 free relay. Tyler Hong, Soeder, Murtha, and Richmond fought for silver with a clocked time of 3:17.91. Van de Walle, Nolan, Carmichael, and Metz worked for bronze with a combined effort of 3:27.01.
The Wildcats also received points from the team's two talented divers – Will Claus and Noah Keim. Claus scored a 281.40 to run away with first, while Keim tallied a 152.05 for third place.
The great results continued at the junior varsity level, too. The Wildcats won three JV races on the evening.
Sam Hessler led the way at 100 free for the blue and gold, with a winning mark of 56.46. John Zaky followed with a fourth-place time of 58.34. The Wildcats swept the top three of the 100 breaststroke, with Vincent Elmore (1:11.73), Jack Johannessen (1:11.92), and John Giovannazzo (1:13.15) claiming all of the medals. Thomas McIntyre rounded out the winning efforts. The freshman won the 200 free race at 1:57.72, as Stephen Buckles clocked in at 2:14.26 to take fourth.
The Wildcats also experienced success in the 200 IM and the 50 free. Johannessen (2:21.36), Brice Cerar (2:21.59), and Kartar Vig (2:27.99) took home second, third, and fourth, respectively, in the 200 IM. In the 50 free, Elmore (25.15), Zaky, and Cristian Navarrete Velez (26.41) earned second through fourth.
Columbus St. Charles edges the Cats
In the midst of a close team loss, the Wildcats experienced a host of success, even setting a pool record in one instance.
Tyler Hong did the honors of breaking the previous pool record in the 200 IM. The sophomore blew past the competition with a time of 1:53.12 in impressive fashion, earning first-place points for the Wildcats. Hong also won the 500 free, claiming a magnificent time of 4:47.05. Wolke wowed fans, too, snatching third by clocking in at 5:05.53.
The Wildcats' third individual victory occurred in the 100 breaststroke. Nicky Hong fought to the top of the heap with a time of 1:00.64, adding to a long list of weekend wins for the senior. Gavigan did great work in the event, too, clocking in at 1:04.88.
Nicky Hong also added a second-place time in the 100 fly. The senior touched the wall at 55.68, with Richmond just behind him at 56.55. Richmond then took silver in the 200 free, earning a time of 1:49.40. Marcie followed his lead with a fourth-place time of 1:55.15.
The Wildcats took two more second-place efforts in the 50 free and the 100 back. Soeder swam rapidly in the 50 free for a time of 22.45, earning second. Murtha grabbed fourth by recording a 22.89. Toothman did an admirable job in the 100 back, swimming the event in 59.36. Libertin also made noise with a time of 1:00.47 for fourth.
Carmichael and Soeder also deserve kudos for bottling third and fourth place at 100 free. The duo tallied times of 51.87 and 52.17, respectively.
Points also flowed to the Wildcats via the relays, with several nice efforts in the three relay events.
Soeder, Murtha, Richmond, and Tyler Hong formed a youthful A-Team in the 400 free. The quartet exploded to first in the event with a booming time of 3:19.95 in the event.
Murtha, Metz, Van de Walle, and Nicky Hong posted a wonderful effort in the 200 free. The four swimmers teamed up for a time of 1:32.61 for second place in the event.
Tyler Hong, Nicky Hong, Richmond, and Soeder finished off the relays with a second-place effort. The quartet combined to clock in at 1:38.39 for a nice point output. Libertin, Toothman, Johnson, and Carmichael also scored big with a third-place time of 1:45.88.
The positive efforts did not end at varsity, as the JV swimmers enjoyed some great times, too.
A first-place effort by McIntyre in the 200 free was a big highlight. The freshman clocked in at 1:57.32 to win the event, while Vig tallied a time of 2:08.78 for fourth.
Nolan also turned in a first-place effort in the 50 free. The speedy junior touched the wall at 24.03 to rep the Wildcats in the event. Johnson also won an event – the 100 fly. The junior earned a time of 59.37 for a great finish. Hessler chipped in a fourth-place time, too, at 1:03.97.
The Wildcats tallied two second-place times at the JV level in the 100 back and the 500 free. Hessler again found himself near the top of the leaderboard, notching second with a time of 1:02.14 in the 100 back. Elmore earned himself a time of 5:41.71 in the 500 free, repping the Wildcats well.
Individually, the Wildcats tallied three fourth-place finishers on Saturday – Vig in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.68), Elmore in the 200 IM (2:24.32), and Johannessen in the 100 free (57.83).
In the relays, the Wildcats had a nice first-place finish in the 400 free. Hessler, Wolke, Johannessen, and Johnson combined for a time of 3:43.70. Andrew Eicher, Cerar, Luke Slabe, and McIntyre took third place in the event, too, at 3:54.55.
In the 200 medley relay, the Wildcats worked for second place. Elmore, Cerar, Hessler, and Giovannazzo combined for a time of 1:56.32.
The blue and gold snatched both second and third in the 200 free relay. Zaky, Vig, Velez, and Buckles snagged second with a time of 1:45.52. Cerar, Elmore, Giovannazzo, and Slabe clocked in shortly after at 1:46.10.
Following a busy weekend, the Wildcats will return to the pool on Friday, heading to Hawken for a dual meet.