Markley leads Tallmadge boys swimming at district meet

Roger Gordon

Jack Markley did something special in the 100-yard butterfly – he dropped almost a second off his personal-best time.

Tallmadge Blue Devils

The Tallmadge junior accomplished this by swimming an 11th-place time of 58.41 seconds Feb. 19 at a Division II district meet at the Spire Sports Institute in Geneva.

“Dropping time like that in that event just doesn’t happen. This was definitely the craziest, most intense race of the meet,” Blue Devils head coach Kaela Long said. “[Junior] Nick [Archer], [freshman] Drew [Vecchio], [freshman] Bryce [Hurley], Coach [Ali] Eads and I were jumping up and down screaming. It was awesome. Jack is one of those kids who doesn’t really show his emotions, but he was smiling the biggest smile and his mom was able to watch in the stands, so it was a great moment.”

Overall, Tallmadge finished 18th with 28 points.

The Blue Devils produced two 12th-place relay finishes.

Markley and classmate Nick Archer teamed with freshmen Bryce Hurley and Drew Vecchio in the 400-yard freestyle relay for a time of 3 minutes, 37.94 seconds, a 3.78 drop from their sectionals time. The same four boys combined in the 200 medley relay for a time of 1:49.28.

“Technically, at sectionals the 200 medley relay went 1:49.27, but Coach Eads and I were so impressed by the boys’ performance that we didn’t even get their splits,” Blue Devils head coach Kaela Long said. “The boys showed up to compete and their technique was great. What hurt us ultimately were turns, but again, it was such a good race.”

Archer finished 15th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:00.05. Hurley finished 28th in the 200 individual medley with a clocking of 2:18.85.

“The 100 backstroke was another crazy one!” exclaimed Long. “This race kept us on our toes, yelling the entire time. When Nick finally hit that wall and we looked at that scoreboard he looked upset, but then he laughed. 0.05, really? Oh, well. We were and still are so proud of him! Next year, he promised he would go 55, so we are looking forward to that.

“I am proud of Bryce for swimming the 200 IM and for qualifying for districts. However, I do not think this race was an accurate representation of his ability. I think he psyched himself out before he even entered the pool – he was a freshman, in the fastest lane, and seeded with the fastest pressure. Next year, I am sure he will crush that time and probably break the school record in the process.”

Vecchio finished 21st in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.08 and 24th in the 500 freestyle with a clocking of 5:34.76.

“Remember when I talked about Bryce psyching himself out? That’s exactly what Drew did during the 100 breaststroke,” Long said. “Technique-wise, Drew’s swim was good, but it just did not have the speed it needed to keep up. Next year he will be stronger, more confident and hopefully not stressing out so much about the 400 freestyle relay.

“In the 500 freestyle, Drew dropped almost four seconds from his sectionals time and beat the swimmer seeded above him. I am proud of him both for his performance and for his coachability. He was able to practice one little correction of his turn technique and apply it.”

Long is looking forward to an even better season next year.

“Hopefully,” she said, “we have even more swimmers make it to districts. A major part of this success was due to the addition of Ali to our coaching staff. She brought much needed discipline, personality, fun and organization to our team. I can’t say enough good things about her. I absolutely love coaching this team, and I am so proud of my kids.”