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Bay girls swim to first WSC championship

Bay junior Rachel Ritzenthaler and the rest of the Rockets used talent and depth to win their first-ever West Shore Conference swimming and diving championship last Saturday at the Gemini Center. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

Bay junior Rachel Ritzenthaler and the rest of the Rockets used talent and depth to win their first-ever West Shore Conference swimming and diving championship last Saturday at the Gemini Center. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

            Throughout the season, the Bay girls swimming and diving team has pretty much had its way with the competition. Nothing changed last Saturday.

            The Rockets, on a day when records fell like rain, had six wins in 12 events to score 150 points and win their first-ever West Shore Conference championship at the Gemini Center.

            Defending champion Rocky River won five events and scored 102 points to finish second. The Pirates, though, got a nice consolation prize as junior Megan Auzenbergs broke records in two events to claim MVP honors. Avon, with one champion in diver Alaina Cvetic, took third and Fairview finished fourth.

            An astonishing eight records fell by the wayside in the final WSC championship meet at Gemini. Bay had a big hand in that attack on the record books, wiping out marks in four events.

            Had Bay head coach Andy Fleck ever seen so many records fall in one day?

            “No,” Fleck said with a smile. “But we set things up to win this meet, not to win personal accolades. We went 1-2 in the 200 medley relay and 1-2-3 in the 200 free. We wanted to set the tone right from the beginning, and I think that carried on throughout the meet.

            “I knew the team was strong this year,” he said. “We lost one dual meet to Magnificat by five points, so we’ve been performing well. It was just a matter of if we were going to be able to put it all together today, and we did.”

The action was intense the entire day in the West Shore Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. Eight records fell in the girls competition in the final WSC event at the Gemini Center. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

The action was intense the entire day in the West Shore Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. Eight records fell in the girls competition in the final WSC event at the Gemini Center. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

            The day began with the Rockets’ 200 medley relay team turning in a record time of 1:57.52. The team of juniors Kayla Eland and Audrey McDonald, freshman Elizabeth Auckley and sophomore Jen Norehad broke the old league and pool mark of 1:59.08 set by Bay in 2009.

            Three of those swimmers finished 1-2-3 in the 200 freestyle to allow the Rockets to build their lead. McDonald won it with a time of 2:05.23, followed by Eland at 2:06.51 and Norehad in 2:06.83.

            Up next was the 200 IM, with Rocket freshman Bridget Durham setting a record with her winning time of 2:17.95. She broke the old WSC and pool record of 2:20.29 set by Bay’s Amanda Ritzenthaler in 2009. Rocky River sophomore Hallie McCue also broke the old mark, but had to settle for second with her time of 2:18.40.

            The Pirates won their first event in the 50 freestyle when Auzenbergs won it with her record time of 24.85. Former teammate Stephanie Thomas set the WSC and Gemini records last year with her time of 25.22.

            Bay stepped up to the platform and got a win in the 100 butterfly when junior Rachel Ritzenthler swam a 1:06.03. Senior teammate Shannon O’Brien was right behind in second place with a 1:10.31. But then it was time for Auzenbergs to take the next step in her MVP day.

            The Pirate junior edged out Auckley to win the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.08. The old league and pool mark was 56.43 set by Thomas last season. Auckley also bettered that mark with her 55.42, as did River senior Melissa Belanger (third place, 56.02).

            The Pirates got another win in the 500 freestyle as Katie Perez won the marathon swim with a time of 5:41.79. The junior fought off strong challenges from Avon’s Katie Schlather (5:49.81) and Bay junior Maureen Piccirilli (5:50.78) to get the job done.

            River took another bite out of the record books in the 200 freestyle relay when Auzenbergs, junior Jessica Goepfert, McCue and Belanger set new WSC and Gemini records with a winning time of 1:41.42. The Pirates held the old standard of 1:42.73 set last season. The Bay team of freshman Marlee Berlan, sophomore Kristine Johnson, Ritzenthaler and freshman Bridget Durham took second with a time of 1:47.44.

            The next two events, however, were owned by the Bay freshman duo.

            Auckley found herself in a battle with McCue in the 100 backstroke, but came away with a record-setting time of 59.09. McCue was close behind at 59.85 to break the record as well, but had to settle for second. The old pool and league mark of 1:01.49 was set by Avon’s Emma Gerdes in 2009.

            Then it was Durham’s turn to jump into the record books. She won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:12.46, breaking the old Gemini mark of 1:13.83 set by McDonald last year. The WSC standard of 1:11.26 lived to see another season. McDonald took runner-up honors with a 1:13.75, while Goepfert took third for River in 1:14.57.

            River claimed the final record-setting performance on the day in the 400 freestyle relay. Perez, McCue and Belanger, with Auzenbergs the anchor, came in with a time of 3:45.25 to stave off a strong challenge from the Rockets. McDonald, Norehad, Durham and Auckley capped off their championship day with a 3:49.96 to break the old mark of 3:50.81 as well. That WSC and Gemini record was set by the Pirates last year.

            With so many young swimmers playing key roles, the future looks just as bright as the present for the Rockets, according to Fleck.

            “We only lost four or five seniors from last year’s team, and we’re only losing four or five from this year’s team,” he said. “So we’re going to be in the running again next year.”

 

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