WGH swim team is improving

CANTON — Don’t feel sorry for the Warren G. Harding High School swimming team.

They didn’t get anyone to this year’s state finals.

Sophomores Emily and Dylan Thirion didn’t have the success they wanted, but it’s a building process for the Raiders.

Emily almost made the finals in the 100-yard butterfly, but lost in a swim off to finish 17th. She would’ve swam in Saturday’s consolation finals. She tied for 20th in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Then there was Dylan, who placed 24th out of 24 in the Division I 100-yard freestyle.

“He swam lifetime bests all through this year and we’re looking for big things moving forward,” WGH coach Steve Lukco said.

It’s part of the progression of this ever growing program.

“If we grow from this like we grew from it last year, we should be in great shape for next year,” Lukco said.

The boys 200-yard freestyle relay, which was disqualified at sectionals, had high aspirations for state this season.

The team of senior Sam Angelo, junior Zack Williams, Dylan Thirion and freshman Mike Miller made up that team and the 200 medley relay that was denied an at-large bid for state.

Lukco is looking for sophomore Nate Marchek to step in for Angelo.

“Nate Marchek is a heckuva an athlete, great competitor. I think he saw what it takes to succeed this year,” Lukco said. “He’s a good breaststroker in the medley and he’s a pretty good freestyler as well. He went 53 in 100 free at sectionals. If he buys in and Zack and Dylan keep leading in practice, there’s no reason we can’t be as fast in that 200 free relay and the medley relay next year.

“It’s a matter of reloading.”

Lukco is in charge of the Warren Harding Aquatics Team, which is a feeder and youth program for WGH.

“We’ve got a good group of kids. It’s like a family situation,” Lukco said. “They all know each other well. The older kids look out for the younger kids. This is the kind of cycle we want happening. We lose one, we’ll bring a couple more in.

“Our program is getting stronger and we’re very excited about it.”

They should be excited about a solid team, especially a boys team that features a strong 200 freestyle relay.

“That 200 free relay has been getting better every year,” Lukco said.

The 2013-14 season should be no exception for this strong team.

CONGRATULATIONS again to Boardman’s Ryan Bailey for winning state title in the 100 butterfly. Along with the first place finish, Bailey also finished fourth in the 100 meter breaststroke.

Bailey swam to the top of the podium with a time of 49.43, an automatic All-American time.

Winning an individual state title is one of the hardest things to do as a high school athlete. And now, Bailey knows the feeling that not many know.