Van Wert’s Eric Easley competes in the 200 IM during the WBL Swimming Championships at the Defiance YMCA Saturday. Easley set a pair of WBL records, while the Cougars boys took seventh and the girls ninth. (Times Bulletin/Charlie Warnimont)
BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
DEFIANCE - The Van Wert Cougar swimming teams traveled to the Defiance YMCA Saturday to compete in the Western Buckeye League Swimming Championships, and despite the girls taking ninth and boys seventh, junior Eric Easley stole the show.
Easley set a pair of WBL records, in both the 100 backstroke and the 200 IM.
"He had an awesome day," Cougar coach Kim Clifton said of Easley. "He was on the relays and set personal-best times there as well. Then setting both of the records was pretty exciting."
Easley bested the previous record 200 IM time of 2:06.25, which was set in 2006 by Derek Bifulco, by almost a full second, with a time of 2:05.35. He then went on to crush the 100 backstroke time of 57.02, set last year by Jared Deubler, with a time of 55.85.
"I thought the records were within reach, I just didn't think he would break them by as much as he did. So he had a banner day," added Clifton.
Easley's success came on the heels of senior Kase Schalois winning a WBL title in the WBL Diving Championships Thursday.
"Kase got second last year to the kid who got second this year. He and (senior) Collen Byer from Celina have been going back-and-forth. They've both gone to state the last three years. Kase finally has beaten him twice now this year, which has been a good accomplishment.
"Kase was on top of his game Thursday. He dove very well, and he's been diving well all year," explained Clifton.
Sophomore Josh Overholt placed sixth in the diving Thursday to, along with Schalois, help the Cougars take first.
Schalois also placed sixth in the 500 freestyle Saturday (5:45.20), the highest finish for either Van Wert team next to Easley's two first-place finishes. Sophomore Kory Schlatter finished 14th (6:26.52) in the same race.
Junior Andi Foster put in a solid performance for the Cougar girls, who placed ninth with 34 points, behind Defiance at eighth with 64.
Foster took 14th in the 500 freestyle with a time of 6:24.97, and senior Rebecca Johnson placed 17th (7:08.53) in the same race. Foster then took 15th in the 200 IM with a time of 2:40.04.
"Andi Foster had a banner day. She dropped seven seconds in her IM. She isn't new this year, she's a veteran," Clifton said.
The Cougar boys finished seventh on the afternoon, between Bath in 8th and St. Marys in seventh.
"Obviously we're a little disappointed that we finished so low. We did have a very inexperienced team this year, a lot of new swimmers, so I guess that plays a part in that," Clifton explained of her teams, which feature very few seniors.
"The boys finished seventh but they missed sixth by three points and fifth (Celina) by nine points. So that was close," Clifton continued.
Junior Adam Jurczyk placed ninth in the 200 freestlye with a time of 2:08.88. Junior Daniel Silette (16th, 2:16.30), Junior Drew Hoffman (21st, 2:26.05) and senior Spencer Prichard (24th, 2:31.92) finished out the race for Van Wert.
Sophomore Hannah Stemen placed eighth in the 35-swimmer field in the 100 backstroke for the Lady Cougars, with a time of 1:10.38. Senior Reed Wermer (1:25.55) junior Meredith Arn (1:26.67) and freshman Haley Richardson (1:27.11) took 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively.
Following up a nice day of diving Thursday, Overholt took 10th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:16.88, just ahead of freshman teammate Cade Fleming wo took 12th in 1:18.98.
On the girls side, senior Karlyn Koontz placed 12th in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:24.74. Following her in the race were sophomore teammate Marissa Sperry (17th, 1:30.50) and Wermer (1:38.84).
Koontz also placed 15th in the 100 butterly in a time of 1:17.29. Johnson was right behind, in 16th place with a time of 1:18.67).
Sophomore Kory Schlatter was the lone Cougar in the mens 100 butterfly, and he finished 15th in 1:19.20.
Sophomore Spencer Trisel led a team of four Van Wert swimmers in the 50 freestlye, with a 12th-place finish in 25.32. Fleming (17th, 26.82), sophomore Bryce Beckner (18th, 26.96) and sophomore Tyler Rex (21st, 27.66) rounded out the Cougar field.
"Spencer Trisel is a sophomore but is new to swimming and he had an incredible day. I think he is pretty excited for sectionals," explained Clifton. "hopefully we can get him on a relay that at least gets out to districts."
Jurczyk (56.93) and Trisel (57.02) were back in action in the 100 freestyle, and took 12th and 14th respectively. Junior Jacob Scheidt ( 18th, 100:35) and Prichard (22nd, 1:05.68) were right behind.
Stemen and sophomore Mackenzie Agler both competed in the girls 200 freestyle, with Stemen taking 16th in 2:19.28, and Agler placing 21st in 2:31.76. Also in the race were junior Meredith Arn (29th, 2:45.06) and freshman Chloe Gamble (34th, 2:59.95).
Silette (13th, 1:07.53), Beckner (15th, 1:10.20) and sophomore Tyler Rex (16th, 1:12.76) each finished behind Easley in the 100 backstroke, and Scheidt (12th, 2:35.79) trailed Easley in the 200 IM.
Junior Holly Hammond led four Lady Cougars in the 50 freestyle with a 16th-place finish in 28.73. Sperry (20th, 31.02), sophomore Whitney Meyers (22nd, 31.37) and Gamble (34th, 36.75) were each behind Hammond.
Hammond also led four Lady Cougars in the 100 freestyle with a 16th-place finish in 1:05.41; just ahead of Agler (21st, 1:09.11), Meyers (25th, 1:12.70) and Richardson (1:16.9).
The highest-finishing Van Wert relays were the mens 400-yard and 200-yard freestyles and the mens 200-yard medley, each placing sixth.
The Lady Cougars 400 and 200-yard freestyle relays each placed eighth, and the 200-yard medley team placed ninth.
Overall, Clifton saw many positives for both teams on Saturday. "We had many personal bests as far as times - a lot of time drops...Hopefully we're going to build on that momentum and drop more times, which will hopefully move into next year."
Now the Cougars shift their focus to the upcoming sectional tournament. "We're excited to see what these young kids do, and hopefull Eric is going to continue the trend he's started. We'll wait and see what happens," concluded Clifton.
Shawnee continued its dominance on both the boys and girls sides, winning both. Celina took second as far as girls teams, and Wapak took second for the boys. Ottawa-Glandorf plced third in both the boys and girls meets.