Central’s Engel back at state swim championships for fourth straight year

Catholic Central High School senior Bridget Engel has plenty of experience at the Division II state swimming championship.

She’ll be making her fourth appearance at the meet this weekend at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, swimming in both the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200 individual medley.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Engel said. “I’m very excited for this year. It’s such a fun meet that I’m always excited to go.”

RELATED: Wednesday’s high school roundup

Engel won the 100 breast in a time of 1:03.83 last weekend at the Division II District Championships at Miami University’s Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center, earning her best time of the season.

Irish coach Kaiti Mader described the race as exhilarating

“She always likes to surprise us,” Mader said. “She dropped around three seconds, which at that level is a lot. It was one of the best races I’ve ever seen out of her.”

Engel also advanced in the 200 IM, finishing seventh in 2:12.47.

“It was just the energy,” she said. “It was pretty fun.”

Engel advanced to state in the 100 breast each of the last three seasons, finishing seventh in 2017 and fifth in 2018 and 2019. She hopes to finish on the podium again in her last high school race.

“I definitely want to try and PR and see where that takes me,” Engel said. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, but it’s definitely going to be weird.”

She enters the race with the third-best time in D-II, behind Beloit West Branch senior Jamyson Robb (1:02.14) and St. Clairsville sophomore Casadie DiBetta (1:03.08).

“The girls that I’m racing I know are very, very fast,” Engel said. “There people I’ve seen all four years. They’ve always been really fast. I know it’s going to take a lot to hang with them.”

The competition will fuel Engel, Mader said. She missed one of the top meets of the season, the Southwest Coaches Classic, due to a trip to Ireland with her senior classmates. At last year’s YMCA Short Course Nationals, Engel finished fifth in the 100 breast in 1:02.98.

“She’s worked so hard these last four years that we obviously want that win,” Mader said. “She’s such a perfect swimmer in that she’s happy with whatever she walks away with.”

This year, she’s racing without her twin sister, Addie Engel, who recently signed to compete in both cross country and track and field at Ohio State University. They’ve been swimming competitively together since they were 8 years old, she said.

“It’s been weird because I’m so used to having her at all the same meets with me,” Bridget said. “I’m glad that she’s been able to at least come to the meets with me.”

Next year, Bridget will swim collegiately at the University of Kentucky. She chose the Wildcats because she felt at home with the program. She was also looking at several schools for running.

“I just have more of a passion towards swimming,” she said. “I’m not really sure why. I’ve just always really loved it. It’s so competitive, but so fun.”

● Greenon’s Calvin Wise is also making his fourth straight appearance in the 200 IM at the D-II boys meet, qualifying fifth in 1:54.12. He finished eighth as a junior, 12th as a sophomore and 14th as a freshman.

He’s also competing in the 100 fly, qualifying sixth in 51.13.

● In the D-I boys meet, Springfield junior Christian Narcelles advanced in both the 200 IM and the 100 breast.

● In the D-I girls meet, Springfield’s Reese Turner advanced in both the 50 free and the 100 free. The junior finished 13th in the 50 free at the state meet last season.

● Kenton Ridge junior Sydney Jones qualified in both the 50 free (ninth, 24.19) and the 100 fly (22nd, 59.73).

● KR junior Gwyn Thomas also qualified in the 100 breast. She enters the race ranked 22nd with a time of 1:07.90.

● The KR girls 200 medley relay team of Ryleigh Brown, Thomas, Taylor Johnson and Jones qualified with the 20th-best time of 1:54.10.

● KR freshman Evan Blazer qualified in two individual events — the 200 free (ninth, 1:45.00) and 100 free (10th, 48.34). The Cougars’ 200 free relay team of Seth Thomas, Matthew Funk, Braden Dunaway and Blazer also qualified 17th in 1:30.33.

● KR’s Seth Thomas also qualified 21st in the 100 breast in a time of 1:00.74.

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