By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
The Long Blue Line is how St. Xavier High School affectionately refers to its swimming & diving program, recognizing a dominance in the sport like no other program has enjoyed through the years. And, the start of a new year has done nothing to squelch the continued success of the AquaBombers, as St. Xavier just captured another championship in the 2019 Southwest Ohio Swimming & Diving Classic held this past at various sites throughout the region. St. Xavier continued its dominance of the event, earning a team score of 738 to finish ahead of Sycamore (441) and Mason (312) in the boys’ competition.
Mason won the girls’ meet, with a team score of 475.
The SW Ohio Swimming & Diving Classic is the largest competition of its kind, with an estimated 3,000 swimmers and 175-plus divers from 118 high schools competing in this year’s event, which celebrates its 36-year anniversary. The meet, which featured preliminaries held at 10 sites Saturday before concluding with the finals Sunday at Keating Natatorium on the St. Xavier High School campus, started almost four decades ago with 400 swimmers competing at one site, Keating. St. Xavier has won the boys’ competition every year since the meet’s inception.
This year’s Classic championship comes two weeks after St. Xavier defeated the field again to win the Larry Lyons Invitational held at Sycamore High School. The AquaBombers finished with a team score of 631 in the meet, followed by Sycamore (488), Centerville (437), Beavercreek (329) and Turpin (283) rounding out the top five. St. Xavier won six of the 12 events, and every performance by the AquaBombers finished in the top eight.
At the SW Ohio Classic, St. Xavier claimed first place in two freestyle distance races – with Kellen Roddy taking with 500 freestyle (4:36.66) and Grady Wheeler winning the 1,650 free (15:19.94). Drew Morstadt of St. Xavier took the 50 backstroke (26.14), with teammate Jean-Pierre Khouzam capturing the 100 butterfly (49.64). St. Xavier also took the 400 medley relay by posting a time of 3:23.54.
St. Xavier’s depth overcame an outstanding meet from Carson and Jake Foster of Sycamore, who combined to win eight individual events – with each winning four races. Jake, who has committed to swim at the University of Texas, set meet records in the 100 breaststroke (55.18) and 200 individual medley (1:47.83).
It also was a big day for La Salle’s Jack Conners, who won the 50 butterfly (24.54) and the 100 individual medley (57.25). Conners is a senior swimmer for the Lancers. GCL South member Moeller came in at No. 15, while La Salle wound up finishing at No. 33 in the talent-laden field.
The AquaBombers set seven meet records in the Larry Lyons Invitational. Khouzam set the 100 butterfly mark and was joined by three teammates in junior Scott Sobolewski, sophomore Owen Taylor and senior Ian Van Gorp to post a new mark in the 400 freestyle relay. Taylor also won the 100 and 200 freestyle events, and was joined atop the podium by senior Jon Bernard in the 50 freestyle and sophomore Will Behimer, who won the diving competition.
Up next for the AquaBombers is a home dual meet against league rival Moeller at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, before the four Greater Catholic League South Division teams compete in the GCL & GGCL Division I Swimming & Diving Championships next week.
The meet, which features the GCL South schools and the five member schools of the Girls’ Greater Catholic League, begins with the diving competition on Saturday, January 26 at Sycamore High School. Warm-ups are set to begin at 2 p.m. that day, with diving sheets due at 2:30, followed by the recognition of seniors and the competition at 2:45. The swimming portion of the meet is set for Wednesday, January 30 at Keating Natatorium on the St. Xavier High School campus. Warm-ups are scheduled for 4 p.m., followed by competition at 5:10.
St. Xavier and Ursuline Academy will attempt to successfully defend their recent reign in the respective leagues. The AquaBombers have won every GCL South Division meet since 1961. St. Xavier has won all but one big-school Ohio High School Athletic Association DI state championship since 2000 – only missing the title in 2008, giving the nationally regarded St. Xavier program 10 consecutive state crowns.
Ursuline is the three-time defending winner in the GGCL meet. The Lions also won the league championship in 2013-14, giving them tiles in four of the last five years. Ursuline went on to win the DI girls’ state crown in 2013-14. From 1984-85 through 2012-13, Ursuline also won the league championship every year, either competing against all other member schools or finishing first among divisional opponents when it was competing as a member of the GGCL Scarlet Division.