Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
February 20, 2020
It was a lonely trip for a lone event to Canton last season.
But Orange sophomore Lily Klinginsmith will be making the return cruise down Interstate 77 with a full resume and three Lady Lion teammates joining her in the state waters after some big-fish performances during the Division II Northeast District meet on Friday at Cleveland State’s Busbey Natatorium.
Klinginsmith got a taste of the big dance by clocking a 1:57.01 in the 200-yard freestyle as a freshman. This year, she also threw the hammer down with a program record in the 100 butterfly, as well as a pair of qualifying relays with junior sister Anna Klinginsmith, junior Katie Hollington and sophomore Kate Halloran.
“It’s really exciting to be on relays with such nice, amazing people,” the younger Klinginsmith said. “We lost one of our relay legs from last year, so my sister came in this year and started swimming again. She hasn’t been swimming in a little while, so it was really, really nice to have her back on the team. We all push each other, and we’re a hardworking group.
“And last year our 200 medley relay got disqualified. So, this year we were really excited to see what we could do.”
The Orange girls got their 2020 district meet underway with the 200 medley quartet of backstroker Hollington, 28.20 seconds, breaststroker Halloran, 32.52, the younger Klinginsmith at butterfly, 25.55, and the elder Klinginsmith at freestyle, 25.55, finishing fifth in 1:51.82, shedding 5.32 seconds off their sectional time.
That relay is seeded 11th entering the state meet this Thursday and Friday at Canton McKinley’s Branin Natatorium.
“Our backstroker almost false started because there were people clapping behind the blocks,” the younger Klinginsmith said. “So, going into the meet, it was actually really nerve-wracking, because my adrenaline was really high, but it ended up serving me well in the 200 (freestyle).”
Klinginsmith ended up clocking a lifetime best 1:54.60 to finish fifth in the 200 freestyle for a repeat ticket to states in that event. She is seeded 13th.
Klinginsmith then swam another lifetime best in the 100 butterfly in 57.39 seconds to finish sixth, breaking Briana Motley’s school record of 58.24 seconds from the 2002 district meet. Motley, who was a freshman that year, went on to finish state runner-up in 58.31 seconds.
The younger Klinginsmith is seeded 13th heading to Canton in the 100 butterfly, after she came 0.26 second shy of a state berth in that event a year ago.
“I really didn’t know what to expect, because, from last year to this year, I grew a lot and started lifting over the summer,” she said. “I’m a lot bigger and have a longer stroke. And I wasn’t tapered for districts, so I was terrified, because I had no clue how fast I was going to be able to swim. So, setting the school record was super exciting, and I can’t wait to see where that one goes.”
Also securing an individual state berth for Orange, Hollington finished eighth in the 100 backstroke in 1:01.17 to earn the 24th and final spot heading to Canton by 0.03 second.
And in the 400 freestyle relay, Orange’s team of the elder Klinginsmith, 57.14 seconds, Halloran, 56.31, Hollington, 54.72, and the younger Klinginsmith, 52.91, finished third at districts in 3:41.08, shedding 8.36 seconds off their sectional time. They’re favored to finish on the state podium in seventh heading to Canton.
The last time the Lady Lions sent a relay team to states was in 2015. And the last time they landed a relay on the state podium was in 2011 under former head coach Tod Boyle.
Overall, the Orange girls finished fifth in the team standings at districts with 111 points in the 65-school field.
Representing West Geauga, meanwhile, freshman Ashley Chase secured state berths in both of her individual events, becoming the first Lady Wolverine swimmer to have a date at the big dance since then-senior Kirstin Boni finished 10th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.47 during the 2015 championship.
“I was amazed by the fact that I was able to make it out in two (events),” Chase said. “I thought I was only going to make one, and, when I found out I made two, I was just overjoyed. I just want to swim at least the same, if not better (at Canton). I’m just going to focus on my technique and how I’m pacing myself.”
In the 200 freestyle, Chase finished eighth in 1:56.81, shedding 5.31 seconds off her previous week’s sectional time for a personal-best performance. She’s seeded 19th heading to Canton in that event.
In a heat among Ohio’s elite at districts, including four Hawken girls with state podium experience, Chase went out the first half of her race in 55.46 seconds and brought it home in 1:01.35.
“I feel like I could do better,” she said. “I went out way too fast just because it was my first time being in a heat with so many fast people. It was a new thing for me. I used to swim with (the Hawken girls) when I was younger, so it was nice to swim with them again and have the competition be at that level.”
Chase went on to finish fifth in the 100 freestyle in 53.50 seconds, shedding 1.79 seconds off her sectional time for another person-best swim. She is seeded 16th heading to Canton in a field where the eighth and 22nd seeds are separated by just 1.12 seconds.
“That was probably the best swim I’ve had in a while,” Chase said. “And I’ve always been more into the 100 (freestyle), so I was happy with that time.”
Kenston, meanwhile, had a trio of divers and a girls relay advance to states, with the Lady Bombers competing in Division II for the first time since 2007.
Kenston’s 200 medley relay of freshman backstroker Molly Bochenek, 30.97 seconds, freshman breaststroker Madison Jones, 32.06, junior butterflier Leilah Shafer, 27.06, and junior freestyler Emily Evans, 25.24, finished eighth in 1:55.33 to earn the 24th and final spot to Canton by 0.02 second over Ada, out of the Northwest District.
During the 1-meter springboard competition, meanwhile, Kenston senior Mary O’Neill finished third in the district with an 11-dive score of 424.7 points, bested only by Beachwood senior Amanda Leizman, 452.05 points, and Chagrin Falls junior Kate LaMonica, 446.7 points.
O’Neill’s list-high score was 46.2 points on her inward double-somersault tuck. She earned the eighth seed for states. She finished eighth on the Division I state podium last season.
Kenston is also sending two male divers to the big dance.
During district competition, sophomore Clay Foster finished fifth with 350.3 points, while sophomore Alex Bayus was eighth with 317.5 points for the Bombers. They earned the 14th and 21st seeds, respectively, heading to Division II competition in Canton.
Foster scored a list-high 46.8 points on his front 2 1/2-somersault tuck during district competition, while Bayus’ list-high of 41.4 points came on his back somersault with 1 1/2 twists from the free position. Bayus punched his ticket to the big dance despite a failed dive.
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