By Chris Chaney
Two local swimming and diving teams kicked off the New Year at a familiar event as the Milford Eagles hosted 15 schools from around the state including Clermont County and Eastern Cincinnati Conference rivals Glen Este at the 20th annual Milford High School Swimming and Diving Invitational on Jan. 4.
A strong showing by the host Eagles saw both the boys’ and girls’ teams finish in the top-five while the Glen Este boys finished in a tie for 14th and the girls’ team was unable to accumulate any points.
The Lakota schools were the class of the Invitational. The Thunderhawks’ (East) boys’ team won the invitational for the fourth consecutive year and the Firebirds’ (West) girls’ team took top honors for the sixth time in the last 10 years.
The Eagles’ girls’ team had the most impressive performance of any of the local schools placing six individuals and three relay teams in the top-five of various events. The Lady Eagles were paced by freshman Skyler Fontaine who finished in the top-five in four different events.
Fontaine’s best finish came as a part of the 400-meter freestyle relay in which the freshman, along with seniors Carolyn Storch, Chelsea Sick and Haley Kennedy, were runners-up to Lakota East.
Fontaine swam splits of 29.94 and 32.88 in the relay, but her 27.98 time in the 50-meter freestyle captured her a fifth-place finish. She backed that up with yet another fifth-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle, swimming a season-best 1:00.97. Fontaine’s other top-five finish came in the form of a third-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle relay, again flanked by the trio of seniors — Storch, Sick and Kennedy.
Kennedy and Sick also earned some big points for the Lady Eagles individually in the 100-meter butterfly as the pair finished second and third, respectively. Kennedy’s 1:02.40 was a season-best.
Storch, the Lady Eagles’ most accomplished returner, proved to be a valuable asset finishing in third place in the 100-meter backstroke. Freshman Katey Pena secured a fifth-place finish in the 500-meter freestyle as well.
Finally, the 200-meter medley relay team of Storch, Kennedy, Sick and another freshman, Corrine Weeks, finished in fourth place.
The Lady Eagles divers — Kellie King and Laura Kelly — finished in ninth and 15th place, respectively.
The undermanned Lady Trojans were led by juniors Margaret Dulle, Taylor Cecil and Breanna Ruschman and sophomore Olivia Killebrew.
Ruschman accounted for the top individual finish for Glen Este coming in 17th in the 100-meter freestyle. She also finished in 28th in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Dulle finished in 37th in the 50 freestyle and 25th in 100 backstroke. Cecil finished 26th in the 100 breaststroke and Killebrew finished 33rd in the 100 backstroke and 36th in the 100 freestyle.
The Lady Trojans’ two highest finishes came in relays as the team of Dulle, Cecil, Ruschman and Killebrew finished 15th in the 200-meter medley relay and the team of Cecil, Dulle, Ruschman and Valeria Rojas finished 16th in the 200-meter freestyle relay.
In the boys’ meet, the host Eagles were paced by senior Alex Hahn who had a hand in each of the four top-five finishes. Individually, Hahn finished fourth in the 100-meter butterfly with a season-best time of 59.28 as well as finishing in the same position in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Hahn was the third leg of the 200-meter medley relay team that finished in fifth place. Senior Josh Fritz, sophomore Tyler Karan and junior Paul Keefer rounded out the Eagles relay team. The Eagles also finished fifth in the 400-meter freestyle relay in which Hahn, Fritz and Karan were joined by freshman Tony Storch.
Divers Cole Dunham and Nolan Nye finished in 10th and 13th, respectively.
For the Glen Este boys who finished in a tie for 14th, their lead performer was sophomore John Martino who finished in the top-15 of both the 50- and 100-meter freestyles. Martino’s 100 freestyle time of 56.61 seconds was good enough for seventh place and the best finish among local swimmers in that event.
Milford is back in action on Jan. 9 when they face Turpin at 6 p.m. while Glen Este won’t be back in the pool until Jan. 13.