Winter Storm Harper threw curveballs at everyone over the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The Stow-Munroe Falls swim teams were no exception.
The weekend started perfectly for Stow. The Bulldogs hosted Cuyahoga Falls Friday at Akron General Heath & Wellness-North and won every event against the Black Tigers except boys 1-meter diving. The Stow girls won 150-33, while the boys beat the Black Tigers 129-47.
However, Stow coach Ryan Miller said his team’s focus for the weekend was the Barberton Magic Invitational Saturday — until it was canceled due to the weather.
"It was really unfortunate," Miller said. "We were going in on both sides to go all out and win it. Things didn’t go as planned. Then we couldn’t get into the pool on Sunday and, because it was Martin Luther King Day, the kids didn’t have school Monday. It certainly hurt us."
All that inactivity put Stow up against it when it hosted state power Brockville-Broadview Heights Monday. The Stow girls lost 122-64 to the Bees, while the boys 111-65.
With those results, both Stow teams finished 5-2 in Suburban League National Conference deal meets.
"It was pretty straightforward," Miller said. "We knew Cuyahoga Falls was not strong and didn’t have much depth. It was quite the opposite for Brecksiville. We knew going into that meet that it was going to test our depth and our mentality."
Against Falls, Stow mixed up their lineup, but still got a sweep of all events in the girls meet.
Miller lauded junior Molly O’Brien’s efforts, as she won the 200-yard freestyle in 2 minutes, 17.69 seconds.
"Molly O’Brien had an outstanding 200 free," Miller said. "She dropped nearly two seconds off her best time. She was in control the whole way."
Miller also loved what he saw from his girls divers, particularly sophomore Emily Lillich, who one the one-meter diving competition with a season-best 186.07 points.
"We have six female divers. They’re all improving immensely," Miller said. "It’s night and day from where they were at the start of the season. Emily Lillich made districts last year as a first-year diver. States for diving is pretty crazy, but it’s an attainable goal for her."
Senior Kayla Engle showed off versatility at the meet, as she won both 50 freestyle (27.06) and 500 freestyle (5:47.07).
Other winners for Stow girls vs. Falls included: Grace Pontius in the 200 individual medley (2:30.70); Evie Lewis in the 100 butterfly (1:04.64) and 100 breaststroke (1:19.74); and Rachel Lumley in the 100 freestyle (58.79) and 100 backstroke (1:12.39).
In the boys meet, Miller said he liked what he saw from freshman Keith Turnbull.
"He had a rough IM at the Suburban League meet, so we wanted to give him another shot," Miller said. "He dropped almost a full second from his seed time. He also had a personal record in the 100 fly. It was the first time he went under a minute."
Turnbull won the 200 IM in 2:12.48 and won the 100 butterfly in 58.25 seconds.
Fellow freshman Alex Cimera equalled Engle’s feat at the meet, winning the 50 freestyle in 23.05 seconds and 500 freestyle in 5:12.37.
In his first swim in the 200 freestyle this season, Styler Kropp won the 200 freestyle for the Bulldogs in 2:12.33
Sophomore Luke Novak won the 100 freestyle in 51.03 seconds and 100 backstroke in 55.51 seconds for the Bulldogs, while Caleb Myers scored win in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.25.
Meanwhile, Brecksville proved to be every bit as strong as advertised.
"They’re impressive. Unfortunately, for us they have a lot of upperclassmen," Miller said. "They have just a lot of depth. It was a pretty rough meet as far as times go.
"It was just all around a bad setup. We preach that we don’t make excuses. We swam to the best of our ability"
Stow managed only on individual win against the Bees, as Cimera won the 100 backstroke in 55.55 seconds.
Stow will close out the regular season by hosting Archbishop Hoban at 4 p.m.
Miller said the Bulldogs will begin tapering their practice lengths next week with an eye towards the postseason.
Stow opens the postseason at the Division I Akron North sectional meet at Ocasek Natatorium. Girls divers will dive Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. with swimming events taking place Feb. 9 at 9 a.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC