AAC in the pool
Boardman teams sweep meet
WARREN — Terry O’Halloran, Carlo Cordon and Chad DeAngelo stood on the side of the Warren G. Harding pool, wearing white, long-sleeved dress shirts, black ties and khaki pants.
Considering the humidity inside the WGH Natatorium and the mass of people watching and competing in the event, it looked like O’Halloran and the other Boardman High School swimming coaches weren’t letting the conditions get the best of them.
Looks are deceiving.
“I think I reached my dehydration level after the 50 freestyle,” said O’Halloran, the Spartans’ head coach. “I never have the fear of losing weight. I could drop a couple of pounds. That’s why I’m still coaching, the weight-loss program.”
Those coaches, along with diving coach Ron Navarra, provide a unified front. It carries over to practice.
The same could be said of the quartet of seniors Kyle Kimerer and Callen Aulizia and sophomores Matthew DunLany and Noah Basista.
Those four accounted for eight of the 10 first-place Spartan finishes as the boys won the All-American Conference meet Saturday with 542 points. Canfield was second with 386, while host WGH was third with 278.
The Boardman girls dominated in their victory as well with 609 points and 10 first-place wins. Howland was second with 234, while WGH took third (226).
Kimerer, Aulizia, DunLany and Basista won the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, while Kimerer won the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle. Basista won the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. Aulizia was first in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
The Spartan teams won the Northeast Aquatic Conference Championships earlier this month.
“The fact that we’ve been performing well is awesome,” said Kimerer, who was named the AAC boys top performer. “I’m looking forward to more.”
The Boardman boys quartet are doing well in their free relays and the 200 medley, ranking top five in the state in each.
The individual events for each are outstanding as well, with possible All-American status on the line as they look strong for this year’s state meet in late February in Canton.
“It’s unusual, once in a coaching lifetime, to have four kids that are talented as these guys are,” O’Halloran said.
The Spartans’ girls team is improving as well with plenty of lifetime bests.
Sarah Murray had wins in the 200 and 500 freestyles, while being part of the winning 200 and 400 free relays.
“It’s a group effort from top to bottom,” O’Halloran said. “There’s a lot of good things going on right now and we’re going to make sure it continues.”
Austintown Fitch’s Gia Direnzo was on her game Saturday with wins in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.
The times were close to lifetime bests, but she’s focusing on getting ready for the postseason — trying to drop those times even further. The Fitch junior got to the district the past two seasons, and is hoping to get to Canton this year.
“I’m really excited,” said Direnzo, who was the AAC girls top performer.
WGH sophomore Brendan Leecue won the 100 backstroke, three seconds better than his previous best time.
“It was good to see him earn some hardware for all the hard work he’s doing now,” WGH coach Steve Lukco said.
Leecue said he was nervous coming into the meet since the Raiders had a couple of days off, which meant swimmers better drop times.
“In the end, it all worked out. I was relieved,” he said.
Mia Mowatt-Larssen finished second in the 200 and 500 freestyles for WGH and was part of the second-place 200 free relay with Katie McBane, Sydney Lukco and Lydia Walls.
“Our kids swam really well,” Lukco said. “I couldn’t be happier how they performed.”
So was WGH diving coach Craig Charnas, who saw his top two, Ty Loudin and Alex Johnson, take first and second in the boys 1-meter diving.
The two advanced to the district last season.
“It gives the confidence for them that they are very competitive, move on and hopefully get through districts, if possible,” Charnas said.
As for Kimerer, he wears a black Adidas hat, which gives him the look of a soccer player, not a swimmer. Ironically, he was a center when he played youth soccer.
Like his coaches’ attire, isn’t the look not so conducive for a humid natatorium?
“It’s kind of hot, but I use it to block out my horrible hair after I get out of the water,” Kimerer said.