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Catholic Central swimmers look for another ‘classic’

The field of teams they will face won’t be quite the same as in that stellar January performance, but the Catholic Central swim team goes for another Classic performance this weekend.

The Irish head to the Division II sectional swimming and diving championships full of confidence. Credit their effort at the Southwest Classic on Jan. 17-18 in Cincinnati. The girls team finished seventh competing against the district’s top Division I and II programs in one of the largest swim meets in the country. That’s the highest finish ever by a Clark County team at the prestigious event.

“They had in their heads they thought they could do well,” Catholic Central coach Bret Miller. “I think it’s done a lot to build their confidence.”

Central takes that boost into the sectional meet starting with the boys meet on Friday and the girls meet on Saturday. Both are held at Trotwood-Madison High School.

Central junior Ragen Engel attempts to defend her sectional title in the 50 free. She’ll also swim the 100 breast stroke.

“She’s a dynamo. Pretty much anything you can do in a swimming pool she’s good at,” Miller said. “She’s such a ridiculously hard worker and so humble at the same time.”

Engel (breast stroke) also swims on the 200 medley team with Stephanie Lohnes (backstroke), Abigail Thompson (butterfly), Ally Simonton (freestyle) and the 400 free with the same group. Lohnes should also excel in the backstroke.

“The goal of our relays, they’re thinking podium at state. They’ve had in their minds since the beginning of the season getting some medals at state,” Miller said. “I’m really looking at Stephanie to make a run at a state berth this year in the backstroke, too.”

For the boys, junior Matt Pettit makes a run at titles in the 50 free and 100 back. He was third-fastest at the Classic, finishing behind a pair of Division I swimmers.

“If you were to put together a prototypical swimmer he would be the guy,” Miller said. “He’s long and lanky, he has a wingspan, he’s a very strong kid. He will race when it comes time to race. When you put him against the best he will step up to the challenge.”

Other swimmers to watch:

Division I boys: Springfield senior Trevor Keriazes, the defending sectional champion in the 100 breast and 200 individual medley. Springfield sophomore Chandler Vandiford, the defending champ in the 100 back.

D-I girls: Springfield sophomore Madelyn Shaffer, the defending champ in the 50 free and 100 fly.

D-II boys: Shawnee junior Justin Free, who returns to defend his titles in the 200 and 500 free.

The top 32 times in Division I from the four sectional sites (Centerville, Cincinnati, Mason and Trotwood), plus two automatic qualifiers from each site, advance to next week’s district meet. The top 24 plus two automatic qualifiers from each site advance to district in D-II.

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