Prep swimming continued to grow in popularity and numbers this past winter around the Ohio Valley.
That led to yet another impressive season in the pools this winter.
Whether it was in the OVAC Championship meet or the Division II district, area swimmers consistently impressed.
PICTURED IS the 2012 All Times Leader Swimming Team. Front row, from left, are Myka Gordon, Olivia Jones, Gabby Fulst, Christopher Baker and Carolyn Blatter all of Barnesville. Second row, from left, are Brandon Bliss, Christina Lattimer, Shelby Poludniak, Tara Fogle and Tyesha Allen all of Martins Ferry. Third row, from left, are Quentin Clark, Alaina Fasola, Carly Falcone, Delainey Banks and Dan Kennon all of St. Clairsville. Top row, from left, are Katie Albert, East Richland Christian; Nick Tobin, D.J.?Beck, Michael Eaton and Codi Eaton, all of St. Clairsville.
Today, we announce the 2013 all Times Leader Swim Team, which is chosen by the T-L Sports Staff along with the help of area swimming coaches.
St. Clairsville junior Michael Eaton once again serves as the team captain after earning all-Ohio for the second straight season.
Here's a capsule look at the swimmers:
MICHAEL EATON, St. Clairsville - This Red Devil has written his name into Ohio Valley swimming lore and he's got another year ahead.
Eaton qualified to the Division II state meet in both the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle this past season and reached the finals in both events. In the breaststroke, he posted a fifth-place finish and a 12th place finish in the 100 freestyle, earning all-Ohio in both events.
Eaton was the OVAC champion in both of his specialities and also set an OVAC open record with a time of 57.81. He also swam a leg on two runner-up relay teams during the conference meet.
He was the district champion in the 100 freestyle and runnerup in the breaststroke.
"Michael had a great season," said his mother and coach Melanie Eaton said. "He's an extremely hard-working young man, who is on a mission. He has an excellent work ethic."
CHRISTOPHER BAKER, Barnesville - This senior put the finishing touches on one of the most decorated swimming careers in Ohio Valley history with a trip to his fourth consecutive district meet.
Baker, who excelled in the 500 free and 200 IM, was the OVAC champion in the freestyle and advanced and placed in the district in both events.
"Christopher had an amazing high school career," said Shamrocks' coach Bobbi Jo Johnson. "He's put in huge amounts of time and effort into his four seasons. He made the podium for the past four years at the OVAC and went to the state meet twice. There will definitely be a large empty spot in our lineup next season."
KATIE ALBERT, East Richland Christian - This senior put the finishing touches on a brilliant prep career this season.
Albert was the OVAC runnerup in the 200 freestyle and bronze medalist in the 50 freestyle. She was the third and fourth-place winner in the 200 free and 100 freestyle, respectively, at the sectional, earning her way to Columbus for the district meet.
At the district, Albert scored in both the 200 and 100 frees, posting 11th and 12th place finishes. She's now swimming for the YMCA squad.
"Katie is a very dedicated swimmer and athlete," said her mother and coach Beth. "She has been focused and determined to achieve her goals. Although, she has not always reached her ultimate goals, she never gave up if she missed the mark. Her determination, faithfulness and dedication have been an example to live by."
CARLY FALCONE, St. Clairsville - This Lady Red Devils' junior had a brilliant campaign for Melanie Eaton's squad.
She was the bronze medalist at the OVAC in the 100 breaststroke and placed fifth in the 200 individual medley. She also qualified for the district meet in two individual events, scoring in both the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. Falcone was also a key contributor on two relay squads.
"Carly is a team leader," Eaton said. "She works extremely hard to become a better swimmer."
ALAINA FASOLA, St. Clairsville - This Lady Red Devils' sophomore made tremendous strides this season.
Fasola was a scorer at the OVAC meet in the 100 butterfly, finishing ninth. She qualified for the district meet in that event along with three relays, including the placing 200 freestyle relay.
"Alaina is a very hard worker and a real team player," Eaton said. "She improved a lot this year."
DELAINEY BANKS, St. Clairsville - This Lady Red Devils' frosh showed flashes of what could be a very impressive prep career this past season.
Banks was 13th in the OVAC in the 100 butterfly and swam on three St. C. relay squads. She was an individual district qualifier in the 200 IM and swam on all three relays once again.
"Delainey is a very talented swimmer with the potential to do big things," said St. C. head coach Melanie Eaton. "She always puts the team first and is willing to swim on relays to support the team effort."
CODI EATON, St. Clairsville - This Red Devils' senior had a strong final campaign.
Eaton was an OVAC scorer in the 100 backstroke and qualified for the district in the same event. He was also a key contributor on the runner-up 200 medley relay team as well as the fifth-place 400 free relay.
"Codi swam a life-time best time in the 100 backstroke at the district, so it was a perfect ending to his swimming career," his aunt and head coach Melanie Eaton said. "Codi really worked hard to achieve his goals this season."
DAN KENNON, St. Clairsville - This Red Devils' senior is another who made tremendous strides during his career and this past season.
Kennon was eighth in the 200 free at the OVAC and was a member of two runner-up relay teams. He was a 200 IM district qualifier as well as both relays, which set school records.
"Dan has come a long way since he first joined the team as a freshman," Melanie Eaton said. "He has an excellent work ethic and has been a major contributor to our team."
NICK TOBIN, St. Clairsville - This senior also had an impressive final campaign in the Red and Gray for Eaton's squad.
Tobin was ninth at the OVAC in the 100 freestyle and a member of the runner-up relay teams. He was an individual district qualifier in the 100 freestyle and swam on both relays that earned a medal.
"Nick has been a solid performer for us during his career," Melanie Eaton said. "He's been especially valuable on relays, usually swimming on all three."
D.J. BECK, St. Clairsville - This sophomore had a strong second season of varsity swimming.
Beck was a two-event individual OVAC qualifier, placing eighth in the 200 IM and 13th in the 100 fly. He was also a district qualifier in the 500 freestyle.
"D.J. has the potential to become a very strong swimmer and team leader for us in the future," Melanie Eaton said.
QUENTIN CLARK, St. Clairsville - This Red Devils' sophomore made strides and lowered times all season long.
Clark was the ninth-place finisher in the 100 fly and 13th in the 100 breast at the OVAC meet as well as swimming on the runner-up 200 free relay. He earned a trip to the districts in the 200 freestyle and swam his personal best time.
"Quentin is a very hard worker with great potential to become a very good swimmer," St. C. head coach Melanie Eaton said.
BRANDON BLISS, Martins Ferry - This Purple Riders' freshman burst onto the scene in a big way this winter.
Bliss placed in the top 12 in two individual events, the 200 IM and 100 breast, at the OVAC and qualified for the Division II district in both of those as well. All told, he swam in eight different individual events this season.
"Brandon is a very versatile swimmer," said Ferry head coach Nick Levi. "He scored the most points for us on the boys' side. He swam well in the invites we swam and had several dual meet victories. He dropped time to qualify for the district, which he had to do to qualify. I really think the future is bright for Brandon."
TYESHA ALLEN, Martins Ferry - This Lady Riders' frosh turned several heads this winter as one of the key contributors for the team.
Allen qualified for the OVAC finals in four events, all of which placed in the top seven. She was also a four-event district meet qualifier, swimming a key leg on two relays (medley and 400 free) that scored. She narrowly missed scoring as an individual.
"Tyesha had an excellent freshman season," Levi said. "Several times this season, she came away with victories in both individual events in dual meets, which was crucial to our dual-meet success. The more swimming she got in, the more she improved and got more comfortable with in her racing strategy. The sky is the limit for her."
TARA FOGLE, Martins Ferry - Another impressive freshman for the Lady Riders, Fogle had a brilliant first season for Levi.
A four-event OVAC and district meet qualifier, Fogle shined in the 100 fly. She was fourth in the OVAC final and 19th in the district. She was also seventh in the OVAC 200 IM this season and swam on the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Her season-best time in the 100 fly was 1:07.12 and her top time in the 200 IM was 2:35.16.
"Tara's years of hardwork paid off for her this season," Levi said. "She swam arguably the toughest two events for us in dual meets and we could always count on her to score us a lot of points. She was our leading scorer. She's a very versatile swimmer. She always gives 110 percent and her future is really bright."
SHELBY POLUDNIAK, Martins Ferry - This Lady Riders' junior had a high successful sophomore season and just picked up right where she left off this past season.
Poludniak qualified for the OVAC finals in four events, placing inside the top 10 in all of those. She was also a four-event district qualifier, scoring in two of those. Primarily, Poludniak focused on the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
"Shelby is a very versatile swimmer," Levi said. "She had several dual-meet victories and placed very high in invites for us this year. She led our team in dual-meet victories. She's been very successful in the 500 free and to do that, you have to be willing to put time in. Her years of working hard is evident in her success in that 500 freestyle. She's a big part of the reason why we had another successful season. I am definitely looking forward to her senior season."
CHRISTINA LATTIMER, Martins Ferry - This Lady Riders' senior saved her best for last.
Lattimer saw "tremendous time drops" in the sectional and district meets, according to Levi. She qualified for the district in two relays, but was an OVAC scorer in the 100 fly as an individual. All told, she swam five different events during the course of the season.
"Christina scored a ton of points for us over the past four years and was a big part of our team's success," Levi said. "Her times at the district meet were remarkable. She was getting faster as the postseason progressed. I knew we'd see some special swims from her in the postseason. Christina was a pleasure to coach and will be greatly missed."
CAROLYN BLATTLER, Barnesville - This Lady Shamrocks' junior had a strong season as she's continued to improve throughout her prep career thus far.
Blattler is a three-time district qualifier, including this season when she earned a trip in the 50 freestyle as an individual. She also swam on a district bound relay team.
"Carolyn has really worked hard to improve," Johnson said. "She has another year and hopes are high for her return to the district."
MYKA GORDON, Barnesville - This Lady Shamrocks' sophomore reaped the benefits of the extra laps and hardwork this season.
Gordon earned a second straight trip to the district meet and qualified for the first time as an individual. She earned the trip to Columbus in the 50 freestyle. She also swam on the 200 and 400 free relays, which advanced.
"Myka spent extra time in the pool this winter and it showed," Johnson said. "Her starts and turns really improved."
GABBY FULST, Barnesville - This Lady Shamrocks' senior had a strong final season in the Green and Red this winter.
Along with a strong swim in the OVAC, Fulst qualified to the district as an individual, making the trip in the 50 freestyle and she also swam on the 200 freestyle relay.
"Gabby has only been with us for two years and has been one of the quickest on the team," Johnson said. "She's been an asset to our team over the past two years."
OLIVIA JONES, Barnesville - This Lady Shamrocks' sophomore had a brilliant second season and made impressive strides.
Shining in the freestyle, Jones qualified to the district in the 50 freestyle as an individual and 200 freestyle squad.
"Olivia is a very hard worker and hopes are high that she will be returning to the district as an individual," Johnson said.
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