Locals must adjust to changes at state meet
The state swimming and diving championships will look a little different this season, as the OHSAA has made many adjustments to ensure the health and safety of the competitors and all involved at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Among those COVID-19 related changes is a one-and-done format per each event, or timed finals. There will be three heats in each event, with the winners based on time. There is no qualifying for the “Saturday finals” as in previous seasons when all finals in Divisions I and II were held, following the “B finals” or consolations.
There will be just one meet per day, as the Division II girls will compete today, with Division II boys competing on Thursday. Division I girls will be follow on Friday and Division I boys will wrap up the championships on Saturday.
That is fine with Howland senior Jared Mindek, who has the area’s highest seed in any event at state.
“I’m fine with placing all my marbles in one basket,” said Mindek, who is seeded fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke in his fourth trip to state. “It’s one chance and I think I’ve worked hard enough for four years to accept whatever happens.
“It would be so awesome to win, but my goal is to swim well against great competition. I had my (personal record, 56.2) at state last year and I’m fully tapered now and ready to go after it in my last state meet. Last year, the difference between my time and the winning time was .16, so I was real close.”
Mindek won the district championship last week with a 57.18. At state, he placed third last year, fifth as a sophomore and 15th as a freshman.
Mindek also will be competing in the 200 individual medley at state after earning the ninth seed by placing fifth at district in 1:58.47.
“I wouldn’t say there was extra pressure to make it back to state every year after doing it as a freshman,” he said. “I was a little shocked to make it that year, but my approach every year has been that this is a new year against new competitors, so you have to get back to work and not let whatever happened last year chance that approach.”
Swimmers have had to compete all season without parents and family members in attendance. They would watch via a live stream. At state, each swimmer is allowed to have one parent attend.
“This year has been very different, but that’s what makes getting to this point even more enjoyable — knowing all the things we’ve all had to overcome,” said Mindek, whose father will be in attendance at state. “Everyone here has been so supportive, classmates, teammates, teachers and just everyone. It’s been amazing.”
Mindek plans to continue swimming at the University of Tampa and is hoping to make it official soon after the state meet.
Also competing in the Division II boys state meet are Hubbard junior Dominic Panozzo, Liberty senior Andrew Riser and Poland sophomore Carmen D’Alesio.
Panozzo (48.51), Riser (48.64) and Canfield junior Luke Dietz (48.71) finished third, fifth and sixth in the 100 freestyle at district. Panozzo is seeded 20th at state, Riser is 22nd and Dietz is last with the 24th seed.
“From the eighth grade up until now, my two main goals were to compete at state and to go on and swim in college,” said Panozzo, whose mother will be in attendance at state. “I dropped eight-tenths of a second from my PR and set the school record (at district). I was fully tapered, so the goal this week is to find consistency in my time. I want to be a little faster, or at least stay right about the same.”
Riser finished 20th at state last year.
D’Alesio is seeded 22nd in diving after placing ninth at district with an aggregate score of 308.4 points.
Canfield has four participants. Dietz is seeded 18th in the in the 200 free and will join Connor Fritz, Ty Schaab and Cameron Burnett in the ninth-seeded 200 medley relay and in the 18th-seeded 200 free relay. Fritz is seeded ninth in the 100 backstroke.
Competing today in the girls state meet Liberty freshman Theresa Garono in the 100 free and Poland sophomore Kendall Nigh in diving. Garono was eighth at district (54.95) and earned the final state berth, being seeded 24th. Nigh is seeded ninth (405.35 points) after placing third at district.
The area has no state qualifiers in Division I girls or Division I boys meets.