Swimmers win sectional titles, advance to district

Howland’s Aimee Gysegem felt a little trepidation heading into the final of Saturday’s Division I Mayfield Sectional 500-yard freestyle.

The heats were condensed and there was a bit of confusion about lane assignments, but Gysegem eventually found her way to her starting block.

That was the only bit of confusion for the Howland junior during the race as she handily beat Solon’s Dana Lautenschleger by almost 4 seconds in a time of 5:11.89.

“It was kind of stressful to get on the blocks,” Gysegem said. “When I finally did, I felt pretty strong. I took it out decently fast from what I’m used to. I felt pretty good.

“I thought it was pretty good race for this meet.”

It wasn’t Gysegem’s only sectional title as she captured the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:56.86. She came out strong in the first 100 in a time of 56.22.

Gysegem beat Cherie Lo of Shaker Heights by less than a second.

“Today, I was not exactly on my best. I thought they were good races for right now,” Gysegem said.

She will fully taper leading up to next Saturday’s district at Cleveland State University.

“I’m excited for next week because I think I can drop more time,” Gysegem said. “I know with my taper I will.”

Gysegem wasn’t the only area sectional champion on Saturday. Hubbard senior Julia Castner captured a Division II Akron Sectional championship in the 50 freestyle (24.94).

Castner took ninth in the 100 (57.01).

“She did awesome,” Hubbard coach Kamiren Sieman said.

Youngstown Christian’s Jessica Morrow also captured a sectional title in Akron in the 200 IM (2:18.91) and fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.77).

In Division II, the top four in each swimming event and relays advance with 26 individual and 16 relay at-large berths for each event advance to the district at Cleveland State next week.

The other automatic berths in Division II were: Cardinal Mooney’s Taylor Tolfi in the 100 butterfly (second, 1:01.26), Cardinal Mooney’s Annie Boniface in the 100 freestyle (fourth, 56.39), Poland’s Zoe Sommers, Marissa Melillo, Maddie Evan and Gina Ungaro in the 200 freestyle relay (third, 1:46.44).

There are a handful of Cardinal Mooney and Poland swimmers who may get at-large bids, which will be announced today.

At the Division I Akron South Sectional, it seems Warren G. Harding junior Emily Thirion will move on in the 50 freestyle where she took sixth (24.89) and in the 100 breaststroke where she placed fourth (1:07.35).

“I don’t think she swam the best today, but by no stretch of the imagination, did she swim her worst,” WGH coach Steve Lukco said. “We got through, that was the big thing.

“I would be shocked if she doesn’t make it in both of those events.”

WGH sophomore Holly Angelo took 18th in the 100 backstroke (1:08.46) and Raiders junior Cara Hernon was 18th in the 100 butterfly (1:07.94).

Lukco said there might be an outside chance the pair makes it to districts.

In Division I, the top two in each event automatically qualified for the district meet at Cleveland State. Other than that, the next 34 fastest from the sectionals in individual events and 14 at-large berths for relays advance.

In the Division II boys, Grand Valley’s Joey Ray was third in the 50 freestyle (22.68) and fifth in the 100 freestyle (49.93).

Also, Hubbard’s Spencer Ladig took eighth in the 500 freestyle (5:19.18) and 100 butterfly (58.16).

In the Division I Akron North sectional, Boardman junior Brooke Bailey led the Spartans with a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly (1:00.50).

Bailey, who took third in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.48), was third and her teammate, Jessica Hilk, took fourth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.13).

Boardman and Canfield have plenty of possible at-large qualifiers.