Prior to the season, Stow-Munroe Falls swimming coach Ryan Miller said big part of these season will be trying to "close to gap" on the powerhouses of the Suburban League National Conference.

The Stow boys can consider the gap closed on one of those state powers.

The Bulldog boys pulled out the biggest duel-meet win of coach Ryan Miller’s tenure Dec. 5, as the Bulldogs came from behind to score 98-85 win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights at the City of Brecksville Swimming Pool. 

In the girls meet, Stow swam well but lost 105-81.

Two nights later, Stow scored a sweep in its home opener vs. Copley at Akron General North. The boys dominated 120-48, while the Stow girls won 111-59.

Stow’s boys followed that success by defeating Wadsworth 108-62 at the Wadsworth YMCA Wednesday. Stow’s girls lead Wadsworth 87-83 with  the diving event still to come. Miller noted the girls will dive Jan. 8 at the University of Akron.

Stow’s boys improved to 3-0 with the wins, while the girls stand at 1-1. 

"We kind of went into kind of expecting to win," Miller said of the Brecksville meet. "We knew they graduated a ton of a kids. We certainly thought it would be competitive. The boys stepped up."

The boys meet vs. the Bees came down the to final event — the 400-yard freestyle relay —with Stow clinging to a 86-83 lead.

Stow left nothing to chance, as the Bulldogs finished 1-2 in the 400 relay. The team of senior Will Boggs, sophomore William Dorenkott, junior Dylan Cossin and sophomore Keith Turnbull won the race in 3:33.57. Stow also had senior Luke Baker, sophomore Cameron Stone, freshman Calvin Edwardson and freshman Jacob Hickin take second in 3:44.77.

"They’ve been very impressive as far as how fast we are in the 100 to 200 range," Miller said. "I didn’t expect them to be looking that good this early. It’s a great sign. It speaks volumes about their work ethic at practice."

After a back-and-forth start to the meet, Stow took the lead by going 1-2-3 in the 100 backstroke. Turnbull won the race in 59.09 seconds, followed by Boggs in second in 1:10.65 and Dorenkott in third in 1:01.69.

"We’re excited," Miller  said. "They’re just so strong in that distance. I never imagined that would go 1-2-3 there." 

Junior Luke Novak scored a pair of individual wins for Stow, taking the 200 individual medley in 2:03.09 in the 100 freestyle (50.58).

"He’s all around," Miller said of Novak. "He’s really putting in the work."

Sophomore state qualifier Alex Cimera won the 200 freestyle in 1:49.05. In the 100 butterfly, CImera was touched out by Brecksville state qualifier Pete Krusinski (51.01), but took second in a fast time of 51.81.

"That was an exciting one, seeing two guys of that caliber go at it," Miller said. "We just got edged out at the finish. They were with each other the whole race."

Another highlight to the meet was Cossin taking second in the 500 freestyle, as he broke the 5-minute barrier in 4:55.4.

"We are just so excited that he’s performing at that level," Miller said. "He’s come such a long way in and out of the pool." 

In the girls meet vs. Brecksville, Stow went 1-2 in one-meter diving, with freshman Paige Galpern winning with 165.22 points and senior Emily Schmidt taking second with 156.62 points.

The Wadsworth meet was Stow’ third in six day, so Miller noted he wasn’t too worried about times vs. the Grizzlies. 

"Having our dual meet schedule, it puts a lot of stress on them," Miller said. "The high school season goes by so fast. Before you know it, you’re past Christmas break. I don’t like getting off to a slow start. It was a good to start like that."

Against Wadsworth, the Stow boys claimed all three relay events.

Turnbull, Novak, Cimera and Boggs combined to win 200 medley relay in 1:45.55, while the same quarter won the 200 free relay in in 1:34.22.

Dornekott, Myers, Baker and Cossin joined forces to win the 400 free relay in 3:32.52.

Individually, Cimera won the 200 IM (2:00.89) and 100 backstroke for the Bulldogs. while Novak also scored a pair of wins in the 100 freestyle (51.28) and 100 breaststroke (1:08.52). Stow also saw Turnbull win the 200 freestyle (1:54.22) and Cossin win the 500 freestyle (4:56.07).

In the girls meet, Stow of junior Evie Lewis got back in form. Lewis boosted the Bulldogs by winning the 100 butterfly in 1:06.47 and the 100 backstroke in 1:06.71. 

"As a junior we kind of know what to expect from her," Miller said. "We haven’t had the comparison for the 500 yet. We want her to have the exposure to branch out."

Senior Elysia Gabbas helped Stow by winning 500 freestyle in 6:24.06. 

Stow took the lead at the end of the meet, thanks the 400 relay team of senior Isabel Samels, Gabbas, senior Bernice Sun and sophomore Olivia Casalinova. The quartet won in 4:13.

Stow was set to host arch rival Hudson Friday at 6 p.m at Akron General North. Miller noted his boys team is hyped up to face the Explorers.

"They want it bad. We’re excited to get up and race," Miller said. " I do believe that anything is possible. We know their potential and we know our potential."

Up next for the Bulldogs in the Christmas Invitational Dec. 21 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. Preliminaries begin at 8:30 a.m. with finals at 5:30 p.m.

Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, mleonard@recordpub.com or @MLeonard_GHO