February 26th, 2011

St. X Championship Streak Extends to 23

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer

St. X Championship Streak Extends to 23
photo by Paul Najjar

Trinity frosh Thomas Cooper earns All-American honor                    

The St. Xavier Tigers won two out of the three relays, one individual event and placed at least one swimmer in the top eight of each event to record their 23 consecutive Kentucky State Swimming Championship and the 47th such title in their history.


The Tigers scored 419 points on their way to victory and far outdistanced Trinity’s 177 point, second place showing.


In the process, the Tigers shattered their own state record in the 200 Freestyle Relay of 1:25.30, which they had originally set Friday evening in the prelims of the meet. Sophomore Garrett Stephens, seniors Khalid Aldaboos, Andrew Wagner and Bo Blythe swam sizzling splits of 21.30, 20.66, 20.66 and 21.25, respectively, for a record breaking, All-American time of 1:23.87.


“These guys deserve the recognition,” said St. X Head Coach Todd Larkin. “That relay has been solid all year long. They’ve broken two pool records, a school record and now the state record which was set back when the body suits were allowed. They had this record in mind since August. And in a competition like this, repetition is everything for a swimmer. They felt so comfortable working together so we just wanted to give them the green light to go for it (the record).”


The Tigers started the championship meet with a near-record-breaking 200 yard Medley Relay win as Michael Scheid, Andrew Braun, Danny Rindone and Andrew Wagner combined to post a 1:33.81 time and earn All-American status in the event. They missed the state record by a scant .14 of a second.


Scheid was the lone St. X individual winner as he held off Collins high school’s Carson Troutman with a strong finishing kick to win the 100 yard backstroke in 51.21.


St. X also placed four divers in the top 16 to earn 24 total points in the 1 meter diving competition. The quartet of divers included Sophomores Alex Dumstorf (8th), Matt Johnson (10th) and Scotty Bomar (16th), and freshman David Rubenstein (12th).


The capacity crowd at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium was in full voice for much of the competition with a large contingent of St. X students in their bright yellow t-shirts. As usual, the loudest cheers were reserved for the relays, and the 50 yard freestyle.


Trinity freshman Thomas Cooper won the 50 free, the highlight of any championship meet. Cooper, who turned 15 just three weeks ago, earned All-American status with a blistering 20.83 time; a time that would have placed him among the top 8 in most every college conference championship. In addition to his win in the 50, he took second in the 100 free behind Bowling Green’s Rudy Edelen, whom Cooper defeated in the 50.


But his win in the 50 was almost not to be. At the prelims Friday evening, Cooper was preparing for the event and ripped his swim cap. He raced to his bag for another cap and ripped that one as well and nearly missed the event. Team moderator Wayne Kraus was at the other end of the complex and frantically yelling for Cooper to get to the blocks for the event. At almost a full sprint, he made it to the blocks with just a moment to spare to avoid an automatic disqualification.


“I broke two caps, and really, it was just an adrenaline race for me Friday night. I was sprinting to the blocks,” said an exhausted Cooper. “I’m taking eight caps with me from now on and I’ll be getting ready 20 minutes in advance for every race,” he promised. And about that All-American performance? “Joy. Happiness. Accomplishment. Today’s race felt really good. But I’ll take Sunday off and get back to work.” Sounds like a lesson learned for the young man.


The final event of the evening brought out whatever energy and enthusiasm the swimmers and the crowd had left in their collective tanks. Henry Clay high school and St. X staged a terrific battle in the 400 Free Relay as Henry Clay’s Nick Wrightson staked his team to a 2 second advantage at the end of the first leg. St. X’s Stephens wrested the lead back for the Tigers, but Clay’s Russ Bryant out-paced X’s Bo Blythe by nearly a second to take back the lead.


St. X senior captain Andrew Braun swam a valiant anchor leg for the Tigers, but came up .28 seconds shy of getting the win for his team. While they took second in the final event of the day, this group of Tigers’ swimmers may go down as one of their best teams ever.


“It means so much for us to win as a team,” said Larkin. “We had a perfect season and I’m so proud of these young men. They’ve put themselves among the best teams in St. X history and that’s very hard to do with the tradition we have. The maturity, class and sportsmanship they showed all year, well, I really can’t say enough about them. I’m just really happy for our seniors.”


With a winning streak now spanning four decades and 47 total titles, they’ll continue to strive for those high standards and lofty goals. And look to keep extending that streak.


For complete results, check out the following link: http://www.khsaa.org/swimming/2011/state/index.htm


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