Coming into the season, Oak Harbor coach Andrea Sorg didn’t know exactly what to expect from her swim teams.
She had lost some key contributors from the girls team but had a number of quality freshmen coming up while the boys team had most of its primary talent returning.
Fast forward to the stretch run and Sorg has to be pretty pleased. Both teams have fared well in dual-meet action but most importantly, they’ve answered the call at the major invitationals and at the conference meet earlier this month.
|Oak Harbor swimmer Amber Lazenby doing the breast
stroke in a home meet this year. (Press photo by Russ
The girls were fifth out of 16 teams at the Oak Harbor Invite on Jan. 4 and, at the Sandusky Bay Conference Meet, the girls finished second.
The success of both teams was a result of their depth.
Eight girl swimmers (Taylor Byington, Taylor Weborg, Allison Schroeder, Elyse Hablitzel, Mary Greggila, Abby Mizelle, Brooke Tice, Noelle Petersen) scored points for Oak Harbor in four separate events and five others (Tracey Hanf, Amber Lazenby, Paige Priesman, Callie Brandt, Mikenzie Blunt) did so in three events.
A few in particular stood out, most notably Tice, Priesman and Hanf. Tice was third in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 100 butterfly and was part of two relay teams that finished second and third, respectively. Priesman, a freshman, was third in the 200 individual medley (IM) and the 100 breaststroke and was part of the fifth-place 200 free relay squad and Hanf was third in the 500 free, fourth in the 200 IM and helped the Rockets’ other 200 free relay team come in second.
According to Tice, one of the reasons for the girls’ success this season is because of their chemistry.
“The team is probably the closest we’ve been for a while,” Tice said. “We all know to be a great team that we have to stick together, so before any race, we get ourselves pumped up and ready to go. That’s what I believe has made us successful this year.”
She believes the team’s unity was instrumental in helping the Rockets finish just ahead of a talented Port Clinton squad for second place at SBCs.
“Throughout the whole day, we pushed ourselves to limits we didn’t think we could achieve,” Tice said. “So when I found out we had gotten second, I was proud of our team and hopefully next year we’ll finish first.”
The boys, meanwhile, finished third out of 14 teams at the OH Invite and were third at SBCs.
A number of swimmers have contributed in various ways for the boys, most notably Ben Dresser. The junior, who was a state qualifier in 2013, has been brilliant all year long as he’s fared well in a number of events ranging from the 50 free to the 100 free to the 200 free to the 100 fly and is part of a 200 free relay squad that has a shot at making it down to Columbus.
There have been a number of other key contributors, among them LaFountain (200 IM, 500 free), Isaac Bodnar (100 back, 100 fly), Tyler Johnson (100 free, 200 free), Alex Heintz (50 free), Nick Heintz (500 free), Curtis Priesman (relays), Ryan Decant (100 fly), Trevor Sievert (100 back), Lucas Greggila (100 breast), Zach Hess (100 breast), Bryce Buderer (diving) and Cooper Hicks (diving).
LaFountain spoke about the reasons for the boys’ success this year.
“Our practice routines have been tougher and stricter (this year),” he said. “In addition, this year’s seniors have really stepped up and taken leadership roles and, in turn, we’ve all worked better together as a team unit.
“When we started the season, there was a large gap to fill from last year’s seniors. The team, as a whole, has definitely pulled through and turned this into a very good season.”
Sorg has worked with helping the kids to improve their strokes by studying them on tape.
“The kids have worked hard this year and have really stepped up,” said Sorg, a 1999 graduate of Oak Harbor High who won four league titles in her heyday and was part of several relays that placed at state. “They’ve been receptive to technique tips and we’ve looked at film and tried to improve their strokes.”
It’s a move that Tice and LaFountain feel has helped the swimmers to make strides.
“Seeing yourself swim can help more than any sort of demonstration,” LaFountain said. “That gave us a head start in critiquing our form.”
“Watching ourselves on film helped me a lot because I am more of a visual learner,” Tice said. “So watching (the film) and seeing what I needed to work on helped me improve more and become a better swimmer.”
The postseason tournament begins with sectionals on Feb. 8 and is followed by the district meet (Feb. 14-15) and the state meet (Feb. 20-21) in Columbus.