State Champions

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State Champions

Connor Merritt, Staff Writer

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After Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz was injured during a game against the Rams, Head Coach Doug Pederson made this statement to the team: “An individual can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle.” The Philadelphia Eagles would go on to win the 2018 Superbowl. Taking this statement to heart, the University School Swim Team also proved victorious when they defeated Hawken this past Friday to win the State Championship for the first time since 2012.

The Preppers were the underdogs heading into the State meet, as they were projected to finish 22 points behind Hawken, the 2017 State Champions. The meet kicked off Wednesday when Junior Ian Binder scored finished 10th overall in diving to provide US with 7 points. When Head Coach Brian Perry reflected on the state title Friday night, he said: “It was the perfect storm. And it began with Binder.”

Once Binder provided the momentum, the Preppers went into action Thursday evening, getting all three relays and at least one person in every event for finals.

Going into the Finals on Friday, the US swim team had gained some points on Hawken, now only sitting 11 behind. US kicked off the evening with an impressive victory in the 200 medley relay. The team of Junior Owen Hanna, Junior Cal Ritzman, Sophomore Frank Applebaum, and Senior Cole Fallon trailed behind Bellbrook High School until Cole Fallon out-touched Bellbrook’s Carter Caldwell to win the relay (40 points). They finished in a season-best time of 1:34.47.

The Results:

In the 200 Freestyle, Junior Ethan Banks finished in 6th (13 points) and Senior Zach Halawa finished in 9th (9 points). In the 200 IM, Junior Caleb Peters also finished in 9th (9 points). In the 50 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly, Junior Will Zhang and Sophomore Frank Applebaum finished in 13th and 12th, respectively (8.5 points). In the 100 free, Zach Halawa finished in 5th ahead of Hawken’s John Byrne (14 points), while Owen Hanna held off Hawken’s Justin Flores, and finished just behind Hawken’s Michael Pioro in 12th place (5 points). In the 500 Freestyle, Ethan Banks secured 3rd place (16 points) and Junior Jeffrey Chi placed 14th (3 points).

In the 200 Freestyle Relay, the team of Zach Halawa, Will Zhang, Ethan Banks, and Cole Fallon finished with a season-best time of 1:27.28 to finish in 3rd place (32 points). With 3 events to go the Preppers were still behind Hawken and had to make their move. And move they did when US rocketed into first place after Owen Hanna finished in 4th in the 100 Backstroke (15 points) and Caleb Peters and Cal Ritzmann finished in 9th and 10th in the 100 Breaststroke, respectively (16 points).

With one event to go, the Preppers were 10 points up on Hawken and they secured the state title when the 400 Freestyle Relay team of Owen Hanna, Frank Applebaum, Ethan Banks, and Zach Halawa finished in 3rd (32 points).

Every point mattered in this meet. Every person on the team mattered. It truly was a team effort. And the swim team couldn’t have brought a trophy back to US without the inspiration of their teammate Colin Savage.

“This has been a challenging year for us,” Perry said. “At the beginning of the year, everyone asked if we had a chance. I said we had a chance and today we proved that having a chance is enough.”