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Patriots, Big Reds ready for state swim meet

PARKERSBURG — The 2021 West Virginia state swim meet is right around the corner, and swimmers from Parkersburg and Parkersburg South look to make an impact on Tuesday from the Mylan Park Aquatic Center in Morgantown. Between the two teams, PHS’s girls came the closest to a Class AAA regional crown, thanks in part, to strong relay performances. They’ll look to improve off a third-place regional finish, as the field is set for action.

“They’ve really stepped up to the challenges. It’s been a difficult season of doing dual meets instead of invitationals. They’ve really stepped up, despite the shortened season,” PHS head coach Emily Martin said. “The girls are ready to rise to the occasion, because of some of the seniors we lost last year, and I think they’ve done that really well. I think the goal for our girls side and our guys side is to score better than we have been. We can go out there and earn more points and do better than what’s predicted on the psych sheet (the boys finish fifth, while the girls finish sixth). It’s that challenge of moving up and getting more points than what you’re predicted to get.”

The PHS girls notched a runner-up result during last year’s state meet, as Jaden Welsh and Mary Michael Strobl return to last year’s winning 200 medley relay team. Ryan Lincicome and Kaelin Morris now join them. Hailee Merritt represents the red and white in the 200 freestyle, while Lincicome, Izzy Farinash and Megan West all compete in the 200 individual medley. Strobl and Farinash return for the 100 butterfly, and the same goes for Merritt and West in the 500 freestyle. A pair of different combinations close out the day for the PHS girls, as the team of Farinash, Morris, West and Merritt swim in the 200 freestyle relay.

In the 400 freestyle relay, Lincicome, Farinash, Strobl and Welsh look to take it home, later in the day.

The Patriots have seen their fair share of improvements over the course of this season, and head coach Ryan Radcliff says the team needs to put itself in a position where anything can happen.

“We’re definitely evenly matched,” Radcliff said of how South compares to the Big Reds. “We also tied two other times this year against Linsly and against Wheeling Park. Our guys team got edged out in a couple events at regionals, we weren’t quite where we needed to be, but it was enough to get into state. That’s all that matters. I think they’ll find a little bit more in the tank, and I think they’ll be ready. Jackson Dearth (participating in the 50 and 100 freestyle events) and Landon Fowler (100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly) are both seeded pretty high in their individual events. There’s a chance to get some individual points there, and our relays are really close to PHS and Wheeling Park. We’ve just got to show up and have better swims at the state meet than we had at regionals. We’re going to be ready to go for a one-day event, and I like our chances better in a one-day meet. That’s what we’ve been doing all year. I think we can get them fired up and ready to go. I think we can upset some people, because of the mere fact that we’ll be ready to go.”

Jordan Claypoole is South’s highest predicted finisher with her best chance at victory coming in the 100 backstroke. She’s favored in that race, while she could find a podium finish in the 50 freestyle. She’ll also see time in the 200 freestyle relay with teammates Alia Ott, Hailey Boothe and Alli Sims. Boothe, Ott and Avery Burris join her in the 400 freestyle relay, later in the day. Boothe’s individual events are the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, while Ott also swims in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

However, the improvement of his boys side has Radcliff talking in addition to Claypoole and the girls. The team of Anthony Ott, Fowler, Dearth and Mikey Meyer represent the Patriots in the 200-yard freestyle and medley relays. Ryan Richardson, Andrew Kirk, Alex Lawson and Gauge Metheny have their shot in the 400 freestyle relay. Metheny additionally competes in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, while Kirk competes in the 100 breaststroke with teammate Fowler and PHS’s Ian Sasyn (who is one of the favorites in the event). Meyer also sees Metheny in the 200 freestyle, and he’ll compete in the 100 butterfly to round out his day. Ott has individual events planned in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.

Following Welsh on the girls side and Sasyn on the boys side, Ethan Metz is Parkersburg’s highest-predicted finisher, as he has his best chance in the 200 freestyle. His other individual event is the 100 freestyle, where he meets up with his teammate, Lucian Baumgartner.

Martin says her boys took advantage of a 2020 state meet which saw the predominantly freshman-heavy bunch get valuable experience during the 2020 state meet. Sasyn starts his day in the 200 medley relay with teammates Connor Nelson, Baumgartner and Killian Koster. In the 200 individual medley, Sasyn meets up with teammate Carty Ramsay and teammate Garrett Colvin also joins the PHS duo in the locally-packed event. Metz, Sasyn, Colvin and Ramsay are all back at it in the 200 freestyle relay. The remaining PHS relay sees Baumgartner, Metz, Colvin and Ramsay in the 400 freestyle. Ramsay’s only other individual event is the 100 butterfly. Baumgartner and Koster meet up to swim in the 500 freestyle alongside Colvin.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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