The new year brought two competitive races for the Saint Ignatius swimming and diving program this past weekend.
The Wildcats narrowly dropped a 94-91 decision to University School on Wednesday before rolling to 135-48 victory over rival St. Edward on Friday.
As the postseason approaches, the Aqua Cats are looking like the team to beat in Northeast Ohio.
University School edges Saint Ignatius
From start to finish, last week's meet between the Wildcats and Preppers was a thriller.
The meet began with a bang for the Aqua Cats in the 200 medley relay. Tyler Hong, Nick Hong, Joe Richmond, and John Soeder combined for first in the relay with a great mark of 1:37.40. The Wildcats "B" and "C" relays also notched good times. John Libertin, Zach Toothman, Cameron Marcie, and William Van De Walle combined for a fourth-place time of 1:45.05, while Kian Carmichael, Robert Gavigan, Gerald Johnson, and Cormac Nolan raced to a fifth-place mark of 1:46.09.
The 200 free yielded similarly nice results for the Wildcats. Richmond snagged second with a time of 1:48.11, Thomas Metz snatched fifth at 1:55.79, and Michael Bednar took sixth in 1:56.98. In the 200 IM, Tyler Hong did nice work with a gold-winning time of 1:48.11. Toothman (2:05.53) and Christian Wolke (2:10.30) followed closely with third and fourth place finishes.
Two events later, the Wildcats cleaned up the 200 free. Soeder paved the way with a second-place mark of 22.54. Van de Walle nipped at his heels with a third-place time of 23.14. Micah Murtha touched the wall just milliseconds later at 23.19 for fourth.
Entering the diving section, the two teams knew the meet would be a race to a the finish.
The diving aided the Wildcats' scores. Will Claus cleaned up in the event, winning the day with a final score of 273.98. Noah Keim also scored nicely, taking fourth with a mark of 186.30.
Following the break, the Wildcats rolled into the 100 events. In the 100 fly, Nicky Hong tallied third with a time of 55.04, with Marcie (56.81) and Libertin (57.71) following him closely. In the 100 free, Murtha earned silver with a time of 50.90. Metz and Carmichael pushed him to the finish, taking third and fifth with respective times of 51.23 and 51.59.
In the lengthier 500 free, the Wildcats kept rolling. Richmond led the way for the blue and gold, finishing the marathon event in a blazing time of 4:53.57. Wolke and Bednar also produced nice efforts of 5:05.98 and 5:13.99 for fifth and sixth.
Familiar names surfaced again in the 200 free relay. Soeder, Murtha, Van de Walle, and Metz teamed up for a second-place time of 1:30.65 in the 200 free. Andrew Eicher, Nicky Hong, Nolan, and Gavigan finished seconds later with a third-place effort of 1:36.18. Brice Cerar, Vincent Elmore, Thomas McIntyre, and Bailey Detering took care of business for fifth in the event with a time of 1:41.59.
The success kept coming in the 100 back. Tyler Hong raced to first place with a time of 50.72. Libertin (58.46) and Carmichael (1:00.55) followed closely, tagging third and fifth, respectively. Nicky Hong tabbed a first-place effort in the 100 breast next, finishing in 1:00.19. Toothman (1:03.41) and Gavigan (1:05.01) accrued points, too, earning third and fourth in the race.
The meet came down to the final race -- the 400 free relay. In the end, the Wildcats were barely edged by the Preppers for the title. Soeder, Richmond, Metz, and Tyler Hong produced a valiant effort of 3:18.57 for second. Carmichael, Marcie, Van de Walle, and Murtha chipped in a third place score of 3:26.09, while Libertin, Nolan, Johnson, and Toothman tabbed a time of 3:38.92 for fifth.
Losing stings, but the Wildcats had no reason to hang their heads -- such a narrow loss against a powerhouse program is nothing to feel remorseful about.
Wildcats rout the Eagles at Cleveland State
Two days later, the Wildcats hit the pool with a vengeance. Facing off against rival St. Edward, the Aqua Cats did great work.
Saint Ignatius earned a host of sweeps and remarkable times, keeping the Eagles off the board in a number of races.
The contest began with the 200 medley relay. The Wildcats started off hot, with the relay teams snagging first and second places. Libertin, Nicky Hong, Richmond, and Soeder rolled in with a time of 1:39.62, while Carmichael, Toothman, Hong, and Metz touched in mere seconds later at 1:41.27.
In the first two individual events, the Wildcats brought out the brooms. In the 200 free, Marcie (1:52.77), Van de Walle (2:01.00), and Gavigan (2:01.76) shone brightly, to the tune of first, second, and third places. In the 200 IM, Wolke (2:09.40), Metz (2:10.63), and Bednar (2:14.31) stole the first three places for the hosts, too.
Speedy finishes abounded in the 50 free, 100 fly, and 100 free. Soeder crowned himself as champion of the 50 free with a time of 22.09. Elmore climbed to fourth with a time of 24.81. Libertin did the honors in the 100 fly, taking first with a time of 55.90. Marcie (56.43) and Toothman (57.98) touched in just afterwards at second and fourth. Carmichael (50.90), Nolan (52.02), and Johnson (52.69) packed together in the 100 free, earning second, third, and fourth.
The lengthy 500 free proved just as kind to the Cats. McIntyre (5:17.88), Murtha (5:19.15), and Elmore (5:24.78) floated past the competition and were rewarded with first, second, and third.
In the next race, the 200 free, the Wildcats kept cleaning up. Tyler Hong, Carmichael, Murtha, and Soeder combined for a first-place mark of 1:29.49. Toothman, Richmond, Libertin, and Wolke trailed with a time of 1:36.29, good for third.
The 100 backstroke and the 100 breaststroke resulted in back-to-back wins for the blue and gold. Sam Hessler captured the top spot in the 100 back with a mark of 1:02.11. Bednar and Johnson didn't slouch, either, taking second and third with respective times of 1:03.07 and 1:03.10. Nicky Hong did the honors in the 100 breaststroke, winning the event with a time of 59.89. Carmichael and Metz provided good showings, too, with third and fourth place times of 1:08.27 and 1:10.66.
The final relay of the day ended in another Wildcat winner. Tyler Hong, Richmond, Van de Walle, and Soeder worked hard for a first-place time, while Marcie, Gavigan, Toothman, and Nolan clocked in at third.
Finally, in the diving, the Wildcats took one-two. Will Claus took care of business with a first-place score of 221.10. As per usual, Noah Keim repped well, too, snatching second with a time of 183.00.
In the end, the Wildcats walked away with a 135.48 win, defeating the Eagles for the fourth year in a row.
Following the big win, the Aqua Cats return to action on Saturday. The squad will take part in the NE Classic starting at 9 a.m. at the University of Akron.