Freshman Lainey McDaniels led a sweep of the top three spots in the 50-yard freestyle Dec. 27 despite the Cuyahoga Falls girls swimming team’s 98-62 loss at Suburban League National Conference rival North Royalton.
The Black Tigers dropped to 0-2 on the season.
McDaniels’ time was 28.9 seconds. Sophomore Olivia Smith finished second with a time of 30.01, and Jackie Carleton was third with a time of 35.27.
"Lainey and Olivia are doing well," Black Tigers head coach Richard Vaughn said. "This is only Jackie’s second year swimming, and she’s coming along nicely."
Overall, Vaughn is happy with his seniors’ taking charge.
"Seeing them step up in the leadership roles was nice to see," he said. "Being an away meet, some of our young swimmers weren’t used to the pool, the locker room and the setting. And the seniors really stepped up to help them."
McDaniels and Smith teamed with senior Bryce Matolyak and junior Lucy Ulbricht to win the 400 relay with a time of 4:25.83.
"The race went back and forth, and then Bryce had a personal-best time in her 100 part of the relay," said Vaughn. "It was an exciting race to watch, even more as a coach when you know how hard they worked during the week."
Smith finished second in the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:05.93. Carleton placed third with a clocking of 1:23.53.
"Olivia has been battling some shoulder injuries, so being able to perform like she has is great," Vaughn said. "When she is in the pool, she’s working hard. She really improved during the offseason. You can see that she’s really stepped up. She’s been a great asset to the team."
Ulbricht finished second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:14.37. McDaniels was third with a time of 1:19.14.
"We just kind of put Lucy in this event to fill a spot, and she ended up beating Lainey, which was pretty impressive," said Vaughn. "Lainey is normally our butterflier, but an injury has kept her out of that event, and she’s really stepped it up."
Matolyak finished second both in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:39.53 and in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:18.21.
"Bryce has been battling injuries, so seeing her able to perform well was a good thing," the coach said. "Due to some of our losses, she’s willing to swim any event we need her to swim. She has really been working hard to improve in the 100 breaststroke, which is her premier event. She works really hard in the offseason getting more conditioned and stronger."
Ulbricht placed runner-up in the 100 butterfly with a clocking of 1:18.86.
"Lucy is a diver, but North Royalton doesn’t have a diving board, so she was able to swim an extra event for us," said Vaughn. "We needed her to step up and fill that role, and she was willing to step into that role and did it well."
The Cuyahoga Falls boys team fell 100-52 to the Bears. The Black Tigers are now 0-2 on the season.
"It was definitely an improvement from the first meet," said Vaughn, also the boys’ head coach. "We started seeing a lot of the juniors and seniors, especially senior Dylan Holmes, take the leadership roles. That’s what you want to see as a coach."
Holmes won both the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.24 and the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.16.
"Dylan has really turned it on here lately," Vaughn said. "He’s very determined both in the pool and in the weight room to improve as much as he can. He really wanted to improve his 50 freestyle time from the first meet, and we were happy with the result.
"With Dylan not swimming last year, he wasn’t known around the National Conference that well, but they definitely now know about him in the 100 freestyle. It was a hard-fought race. He earned the win. It definitely was a good race for him more mentally than physically, just to be able to swim the 50 and then do the 100 and win both events."
Senior Zach Langbein finished second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:20.17, and Jacob Carleton was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke with a clocking of 1:19.96.
"Zach has really turned on lately. He’s really increased his intensity during practice, and that really showed in the 200 freestyle," said the coach. "Due to some injuries, we’ve had to have Jacob step up. He’ll swim whatever event you need him to swim. He really is more of a strike swimmer, meaning he powers through the water. And you can see, as he swims, he likes to compete."
Langbein finished third in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:12.93.
Christian Gonzalez placed third in both the 200 IM with a time of 2:45.3 and the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:17.22.
"Christian is competing against guys who are two and three years older than him with more maturity, strength and stamina, things like that," Vaughn said. "He always has a great attitude at practice. He’ll swim anything that you need him to swim, and that’s been important with the injuries and losses we’ve had this season. We really look forward to him stepping up in the next year or two."
Both the boys and girls teams are scheduled to host National Conference rival Twinsburg Friday at 6 p.m.
Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to compete in the Suburban League Meet at the University of Akron’s Ocasek Natatorium Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
The Black Tigers are set to host National Conference foe Wadsworth Jan. 10.