A busy weekend wrapped up a productive 2018 for the Saint Ignatius swimming and diving program.
The Wildcats defeated Willoughby South and Eastlake North on Friday before capturing first in the Wally Relays on Saturday at the Busbey Natatorium at Cleveland State University.
Friday and Saturday's meets represented an opportunity for the Wildcats to improve times heading into the new year, which will bring challenging competition for the Aqua Cats.
Due to a scheduling issue, Friday's opponents changed at the last minute. Solon and Strongsville were originally slated to compete against the Cats, but dropped out at the last minute, so in stepped Willoughby South and Eastlake North. Magnificat also had swimmers competing against the two schools.
The Wildcats enjoyed a host of first-place finishes and improving times on Friday.
Zach Toothman turned in one of the early highlights on Friday. The sophomore won the 200 free with a time of 1:57.03, showing off his speed. Thomas McIntyre (2nd, 1:59.09) and Stephen Buckles (4th, 2:15.89) also turned in nice times at the start of the meet.
The 200 individual medley featured two young Wildcats swimmers at the top, too. Christian Wolke snagged first with a time of 2:09.66, while Brice Cerar followed with a fourth-place time of 2:24.05. Top times flowed in quickly in the short events, namely with the 50 free. Cormac Nolan tallied a first place time of 24.07 to lead the pack, while freshmen Bailey Detering (25.87) and Vincent Elmore (26.33) touched the wall in third and fourth. The pattern repeated with different swimmers in the 100 butterfly. Gerald Johnson snatched first at 59.41, while Michael Bednar (1:00.30) and Sam Hessler (1:05.90) took second and fourth, respectively.
The Wildcats turned in a top-3 sweep in the 100 free. John Soeder narrowly snagged first by clocking in at 50.44. William Van de Walle and Cristian Navarrete Velez trailed closely, with respective times of 53.04 and 57.33. Three Cats finished in the top fourth in the 100 backstroke, with Toothman again leading the way. His time of 1:00.83 earned him first, while Detering (1:13.10) and Ryan Anthony (1:13.70) took third and fourth. The positive results kept coming in the 100 breaststroke, as Hessler (1:13.83) and Cerar (1:14.83) snatched second and third, respectively.
In the final individual event, the 500 free, Nicky Hong took care of business. The senior won the event with a christening time of 5:13.23. Robert Gavigan timed in at 5:35.47 to take third.
The relays went just as well as the individual events, with three first-place times for the blue and gold.
McIntyre, Soeder, John Zaky, and Nolan combined for a great time of 1:36.88 in the 200 free for first. In the 200 medley, the Wildcats went 1-2. Carmichael, Gavigan, Johnson, and Nolan took the cake at 1:47.11, while Anthony, Kartar Vig, Bednar, and Van de Walle earned silver with a time of 1:56.45. The final relay saw the Wildcats do event better, with a 1-2-3 finish. Johnson, Zaky, Buckles, and Nolan teamed up for a first-place time of 3:47.19. Detering, Brendan Kiskorna, Luke Slabe, and Wolke worked together for a second-place finish of 4:01.90. Will Trenta, John Giovannazzo, Jack Johannessen, and Vig touched in just .02 seconds later for third.
The diving also went well. Will Claus executed some incredibly difficult dives well to take first with a final score of 234.25. Noah Keim also did his job well, earning second with a score of 174.90.
Friday's victories set the tone for another impressive team win on Saturday.
Competing against top teams in the area, such as Brecksville, Hudson, and Strongsville, the Wildcats finished as the Wally Relay champs. Strongsville hosted the meet, which brought many of Northeast Ohio's best to Cleveland State.
A first-place finish in the 200 medley relay kicked off the festivities. Tyler Hong, Toothman, John Libertin, and Soeder worked for the top time of 1:38.09. The Wildcats also came up with the win in the JV race. Hessler, Johannessen, McIntyre, and Nolan teamed up for a time of 1:52.09.
The lengthy 800 free relay followed. Bednar, Cameron Marcie, Wolke, and Joe Richmond worked hard for a third place finish. The quartet tallied a time of 7:32.70.
The Wildcats then notched a second place finish in the 4x100 individual medley with a diverse squad, featuring a senior, junior, sophomore, and a freshman. With a member of each class represented, the Wildcats swam a time of 3:54.98, as Nicky Hong, Toothman, Carmichael, and McIntyre all turned in good efforts.
A significant highlight occurred in the next race, the 200 fly. Marcie, Johnson, Libertin, and Richmond fired off a first-place effort of 1:40.50. The race also ceded a first place finish at the JV level, as Bednar, McIntyre, Elmore, and Wolke combined for a finish of 1:51.97. Buckles, Slabe, Vig, and Damon Durrah took third in the JV contest at 2:03.41.
Another pair of first-place finishes came to the Wildcats in the 200 free. Soeder, Nolan, Van de Walle, and Micah Murtha staked a claim on the gold with a mark of 1:29.93. In the JV race, Hessler, Gavigan, Cerar, and Johnson also won the day with a time of 1:38.69.
The Hong brothers teamed up with Richmond and Marcie in the 400 medley relay. The dynamic quartet snatched second with a time of 3:35.31. Tyler Hong also appeared in the 200 backstroke relay with Carmichael, Murtha, and Libertin. The four Wildcats earned first with a time of 1:41.65. Hessler, McIntyre, Wolke, and Bednar followed their example in the JV race, taking first with a time of 1:56.89. Anthony, Velez, Durrah, and Slabe followed in second at 2:08.15.
The 200 breaststroke carried plenty of success for the Wildcats, too. Nicky Hong, Toothman, Wolke, and Gavigan earned a second-place time of 1:54.99. In the JV competition, Cerar, Johannessen, Nolan, and Elmore won first place, clocking in at 2:08.95. Durrah, Buckles, Velez, and Vig followed with a second-place mark of 2:17.44.
The night ended with a second-place finish in the 400 free relay. Soeder, Carmichael, Van de Walle, and Murtha claimed silver with a time of 3:23.87.
Following the successful weekend, the Wildcats return to the pool on Wednesday. The men of Ohio City will head east to face University School at 6 p.m. Following this competitive meet, the Wildcats will host the rival St. Edward Eagles on January 4 at Cleveland State at 7 p.m.