Swimming & Diving | Aurora's depth beats rival Medina Highland

·5 min read
Porter Aardema swims the 500-yard freestyle.
Porter Aardema swims the 500-yard freestyle.

Aurora’s main swimming rival came to town last week for a contest between the two teams with the best chance to win their division of the Suburban League.

This rivalry really ramped up back in 2020, when both the Aurora boys and girls swim and dive teams got their first conference titles in school history. That year saw a close duel with a strong, rising team from Highland, who was the last true obstacle for Aurora’s path to winning the conference.

In 2021, during an unusual season due to the pandemic, the Aurora girls again won the Suburban League, but the boys were edged out by the Highland squad, who they lost to in a meet held right after the Aurora team restarted their season, after losing a significant chunk of time due to COVID-19.

The Aurora teams ended up swimming more meets and having the most wins in the conference, while Highland swam an undefeated, but truncated schedule. In a move that was controversial to those who support the Greenmen, the Suburban League decided to award the conference to the Highland boys team, based on their head-to-head win versus Aurora. This is how fierce rivalries are born.

This year, Aurora had a strong core of talented swimmers who returned from last year’s team but did have a new head coach facing Highland for the first time. Highland also returned most of their top talent for the 2021-22 season, and have a returning, well-seasoned coach. Most people expected the Aurora girls to win, but the Highland boys were the favorite to win again this year. If Aurora wanted to win, it would take top performances by many of their swimmers, and some clever coaching moves if they wanted to maximize their points.

The Greenmen girls team started out strong and never looked back, winning all but one of their events. They relied on the depth and quality of all their swimmers, racking up a lot of points in every event, include sweeping first through third place in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100 freestyle, and the 4x100 freestyle relay. At the end of the evening, it all added up to a convincing 127-48 Greenmen win.

The Aurora boys had to put together a total team effort and the victory was never certain until the final few races. Aurora didn’t have a swimmer take first place in many individual events, but they always had multiple point-scoring swimmers in every event, sometimes actually scoring more points than Highland, despite not getting a first-place finisher.

They won two of the three relays for big points, and also got points from diver, Zachary Ploskunak. This addition to the team prevents opponents from getting free points and allows Aurora to do that against teams with no male diver.

By the end of the evening, Highland’s top swimmers had gotten their points, but the rest of their team was unable to contribute the way the Greenmen boys did. Coach Kelley Mehallis clearly had made a plan on what events to put her boys in to maximize their scoring, and in the end, it paid off with a 95-84 win by Aurora.

The following swimmers or relays finished in the top three of their event:

Girls

200 Medley Relay: 1st - Susan Zamary, Alayna Brooker, Annalise Bender, Annabelle Zamary 2:01.78; 2nd - Maeve Russell, Julia-Marie Cooch, Julia Sapochetti, Maggie McVicker 2:12.09

200 Freestyle: 1st - Ollie Salgado 2:11.48; 3rd - Alexandra Yuhasz 2:23.79

200 Individual Medley: 1st - Alayna Brooker 2:22.10; 3rd - Maeve Russell 2:37.05

50 Yard Freestyle: 1st - Annabelle Zamary 27.30; 2nd - Julia-Marie Cooch 29.11; 3rd - Maggie McVicker 29.70

1 Meter Diving: 2nd - Annabelle Reece 120.15 points

100 Yard Butterfly: 1st - Maeve Russell 1:16.46; 2nd - Annalise Bender 1:17.78

100 Yard Freestyle: 1st - Annabelle Zamary 1:01.41; 2nd - Julia Sapochetti 1:09.20; 3rd - Sydney Langell 1:10.66

500 Yard Freestyle: 1st - Ollie Salgado 5:5782; 3rd - Julia-Marie Cooch 6:10.23

200 Yard Free Relay: 1st - Maeve Russell, Maggie McVicker, Julia Sapochetti, Ollie Salgado 1:57.19; 3rd - Lyla Stock, Selena Elliott, Audrey Peters, Sydney Langell 2:27.68

100 Yard Backstroke:1st - Susan Zamary 1:08.78; 3rd - Annalise Bender 1:20.28

100 Yard Breaststroke: 1st - Alayna Brooker 1:08.14; 2nd - Maggie McVicker 1:24.71; 3rd - Avery Hendl 1:32.91

400 Freestyle Relay: 1st - Annabelle Zamary, Ollie Salgado, Annalise Bender, Alayna Brooker 4:07.09; 2nd - Julia Sapochetti, Alexandra Yuhasz, Julia-Marie Cooch, Susan Zamary 4:25.88; 3rd - Avery Hendl, Audrey Peters, Lyla Stock, Sydney Langell 5:14.47

Boys

200 Medley Relay: 1st - Jacob Good, Jon Hybil, Connor Zamary, Nate Ruehr 1:42.13; 3rd - Cameron Good, Max Bailey, Andy Ploskunak, Drew Meyer 1:53.32

200 Freestyle: 3rd - Nate New 1:58.32

200 Individual Medley: 2nd - Jacob Good 2:20.16; 3rd - Andy Ploskunak

50 Yard Freestyle: 1st - Connor Zamary 55.74; 2nd - Jon Hybil 23.48; 3rd - Cameron Good 24.53

100 Yard Butterfly: 1st - Connor Zamary 55.74; 3rd - Nate New 59.77

500 Freestyle: 2nd - Max Bailey 5:30.47; Andy Ploskunak 5:48.70

200 Free Relay: 1st - Connor Zamary, Nate Ruehr, Jacob Good, Jon Hybil 1:32.28; 3rd - Nate New, Adam Killian, Drew Meyer, Cameron Good 1:39.96

100 Yard Backstroke: 2nd - Jacob Good 1:03.75; 3rd - Cameron Good 1:03.80

100 Yard Breaststroke: 2nd - Max Bailey 1:05.40; 2nd - Jon Hybil 1:06.17

400 Free Relay: 2nd - Nate New, Drew Meyer, Max Bailey, Nate Ruehr 3:41.43; 3rd - Andy Ploskunak, Porter Aardema, Ben Mulvaney, Adam Killian 3:58.78

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: The Aurora girls and boys swim teams beat Medina Highland

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