South boys claim first OVAC swimming title

STEUBENVILLE -When Parkersburg South’s swimming coaches saw the lineups for Saturday’s Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Swimming Championships, they figured the maximum points the Patriots boys team could score was 305, which likely would be a winning total.

When the final results were in, South not only had exceeded all expectations with a 337-point performance, but it had won its first boys OVAC championship by a margin of 82 points over runner-up Morgantown.

“We figured with a perfect storm we would end up with 305,” said a joyous South coach Steve Lutz, who was tossed in the pool by his team’s members. “But we ended up with 337.”

What made the performance that much more remarkable was that South had 12 boys swimmers competing and all 12 contributed to the point total.

Leading the way was freshman Garrett Fink, who placed second in the 200 freestyle, fourth in the 100 butterfly and was part of two relay teams that placed. Fink teamed with Lane Burton, Garrett DePergola and Ryan Pritchard to finish fourth in the 200 medley relay – the first event of the meet – and joined Corey Johnson, Joe Miller and Kinzie Bailey to finish second in the 400 freestyle relay -the last event of the day, putting an exclamation point on South’s outstanding performance.

What was impressive about South’s relays is that the Patriots had two different teams score in all three events. In the 200 freestyle relay, Johnson, Miller, Bailey, and DePergola finished fourth while Casey Dye, Evan Clark, Zach Marion and Pritchard were 12th. The latter quartet also finished seventh in the 400 freestyle relay while Starcher, Casey Dye, Chase Dye and Clark were ninth in the 200 medley relay.

In addition to Fink’s second place effort in the 200 freestyle, other top individual efforts included Lane Burton finishing third in the 100 backstroke, Bailey and Miller finishing 4-5 in the 500 freestyle, and DePergola claiming fifth in both the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley.

“This is the best performances I can ever remember out of our group,” said Lutz. “Everybody either held or bettered their qualifying position.”

South finished as the runnerup last year to Brooke and went to the meet determined to win its first boys title.

“We always talk about making memories and these guys certainly did that today,” Lutz said. “They are going to remember this for a long, long time. It was a true team effort. We don’t have one superstar, we had 12 individuals who all did what they needed to do.”

Lutz said approximately 75 percent of Saturday’s performance represented best-ever times for South’s competitors. He noted that Evan Clark has dropped 45 seconds from his time in the 500 freestyle in the last month.

“I was excited all day,” Lutz said. “We’re all tired, but it’s a good tired. To win this meet by 82 points is pretty special. We lost last year by about 20. Today, we dominated.”

South’s girls managed 81 points, with its top performance a seventh place finish by the 400 freestyle relay team of Rachel Kirk, Emily Gersper, Ryan Hesselrode and Anna Pasternak. That quartet placed in all three relay races.

The Patriot girls team accounted for the school’s first OVAC swim title, winning the 2010 champopnship.