Talawanda swim teams win SWOC championships

Junior Jonah Femiani, left, finished third in the boys’ 100-yard breaststroke at the league meet while sophomore Stephen Mullally was second in the event. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Junior Jonah Femiani, left, finished third in the boys’ 100-yard breaststroke at the league meet while sophomore Stephen Mullally was second in the event. CONTRIBUTED

A double championship for Talawanda’s swimming teams continued a long-standing streak for the boys’ team and started a new one for the girls in league championship meets.

The boys’ team took this year’s Southwest Ohio Conference championship at the end of January at Miami University, extending the winning streak to 16 straight league titles going back to the school’s participation in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference.

The girls’ team also captured the SWOC title last weekend returning to the top of the league after missing first place by only nine points a year ago. Prior to last year’s SWOC championships, both squads had won 14 straight. The girls used a strong roster of swimmers to capture this year’s title and return to their winning ways.

Combined ShapeCaption
Junior Maren Patterson was named Southwest Ohio Conference girls’ Swimmer of the Year after her performance in the league championships. It was her second award, having captured the same honor after her freshman season. CONTRIBUTED

Junior Maren Patterson was named Southwest Ohio Conference girls’ Swimmer of the Year after her performance in the league championships. It was her second award, having captured the same honor after her freshman season. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Junior Maren Patterson was named Southwest Ohio Conference girls’ Swimmer of the Year after her performance in the league championships. It was her second award, having captured the same honor after her freshman season. CONTRIBUTED

“The girls were second last year. It was nice to get back to their winning ways. I had a large girls team this year. Last year, we had no seniors and this year, we added to what we had last year,” coach Steve Pasquale said. “For the boys team, we had just 11 swimmers. Two were divers and one was out with COVID. I recruited divers into the relays who never swam before. They did what they needed to do. Everybody dropped a lot of time. They were fast.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Talawanda girls’ swimming and diving team celebrates their league championship at Miami last weekend. Coach Steve Pasquale, who inspired his teams with an unusual hair style with school colors red and blue, is shown in front. He was named Coach of the Year because of the success of his team coming back from a second-place finish a year ago. CONTRIBUTED

Talawanda girls’ swimming and diving team celebrates their league championship at Miami last weekend. Coach Steve Pasquale, who inspired his teams with an unusual hair style with school colors red and blue, is shown in front. He was named Coach of the Year because of the success of his team coming back from a second-place finish a year ago. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Talawanda girls’ swimming and diving team celebrates their league championship at Miami last weekend. Coach Steve Pasquale, who inspired his teams with an unusual hair style with school colors red and blue, is shown in front. He was named Coach of the Year because of the success of his team coming back from a second-place finish a year ago. CONTRIBUTED

“The girls were second last year. It was nice to get back to their winning ways. I had a large girls team this year. Last year, we had no seniors and this year, we added to what we had last year,” coach Steve Pasquale said. “For the boys team, we had just 11 swimmers. Two were divers and one was out with COVID. I recruited divers into the relays who never swam before. They did what they needed to do. Everybody dropped a lot of time. They were fast.”

The boys got a major break when two Ross relay teams disqualified from their events. One was for a false start and the other for a swimmer not wearing the appropriate swim cap.

That was a major reason why the short-handed Talawanda boys’ team took first place with 193 points and Ross was only 11 back with 182 points and in second place. Harrison was third with 106 and Edgewood fourth with 49.

Combined ShapeCaption
Celebrating 16 consecutive league swimming championships, the Talawanda boys’ team gathered on the deck at the Miami pool last weekend after capturing the Southwest Ohio Conference title. CONTRIBUTED

Celebrating 16 consecutive league swimming championships, the Talawanda boys’ team gathered on the deck at the Miami pool last weekend after capturing the Southwest Ohio Conference title. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Celebrating 16 consecutive league swimming championships, the Talawanda boys’ team gathered on the deck at the Miami pool last weekend after capturing the Southwest Ohio Conference title. CONTRIBUTED

“Relays are worth double points, so a DQ is double costly. The boys won by 11 points so if Ross does not DQ, they have enough points to win the meet,” Pasquale said. “I preach to my kids in meets like this don’t push your starts. You are fast enough, so don’t push any starts. You don’t have to.”

The girls order of finish was identical to the boys’ although Talawanda finished with a much wider winning margin, 250 points to 146 for Ross. Harrison ended with 72 and Edgewood with 68.

Talawanda junior Maren Patterson was named Swimmer of the Year in the SWOC, repeating a feat she accomplished two years ago in her freshman season with a third one possible next year. Pasquale looked ahead for her and called her the “odds-on favorite to win it again next year.”

Pasquale was named girls team Coach of the Year.

Patterson won two individual events at the SWOC championships, taking first place in the 100 Free and 200 Individual Medley.

The Talawanda boys team had two individual double winners as junior Noah Femiani won both the 200-yard and 100-yard freestyle events and senior Alex Carlson took first place in the 100 butterfly and 50 free.

Senior Daniel Mullally gave Talawanda two strong third-place finishes with his times in the 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle.

Seniors Kenna Mondello and Mercy Patterson gave Talawanda a 1-2 punch in the girls 50 free event, respectively, with times less than a half-second apart. Mondello added a third-place finish in the 100 butterfly, where sophomore Morgan Sly took fourth.

Senior Lucy Wang gave Talawanda a second-place finish in the girls’ 100 breaststroke with Sly taking fourth.

The girls’ 100-yard backstroke was heavily in the Talawanda column as team members took four of the top five spots, led by senior Mercy Patterson’s first-place finish. Coming in behind her were freshman Ellie Killy, second; freshman Lucia Rodbro, fourth; and junior Lucy Engle, fifth.

Talawanda’s girls earned first-place honors in three relay events. They won the 200-yard Medley Relay. Swimming were Mercy Patterson, Maren Patterson, Mondello and freshman Lindsey Offenburger. Mondello led the way in the 200-yard freestyle relay event, which took first place. Swimming behind her were senior Hannah Lippincott, Killy and Mercy Patterson. A relay team of Lippincott, Killy, Offenburger and Maren Patterson took first place in the 400-yard free relay.

Talawanda’s boys got a first-place finish from their 200-yard freestyle relay team of Noah Femiani, senior Ezekiel Groom, sophomore Stephen Mullally and Carlson.

The boys 200 medley relay team of Carlson, Stephen Mullally, Noah Femiani and senior Ezekial Groom took second place, as did the 400-yard free relay team of Daniel Mullally, freshman Adam Hunt, freshman Michael Stahr and sophomore Jonah Femiani.

In diving, it was a Talawanda sweep for both the girls and the boys. The top three finishers for the girls were, in order, sophomore Eliza Sullivan, junior Anna Abbitt and senior Malek Stahr. Top three in boys’ diving were juniors Julio Fuentes and Henry Hoblitzell and Stahr.

Other top-five individual finishes for Talawanda boys included: Stephen Mullally second in 200-yard IM, Groom fourth in the 50 free, Hunt fifth in the 100 butterfly and second in the 500 free, Groom third and Jonah Femiani fifth in the 100 free, Daniel Mullally fourth in the 100 backstroke, Stephen Mullally second and Jonah Femiani third in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Top-five individual girls finishes included: Lippincott fourth in the 200 free, Killy third and Wang fifth in the 200 IM, junior Kaydence Morris third in the 100 free and fifth in the 50 free, Offenburger second and Lippincott third and Engle fifth in the 500-yard freestyle.

Talawanda’s swimming teams will be taking part in the sectional tournament next weekend with swimming events Friday and diving Saturday. Pasquale is optimistic about his teams’ chances.

“We should get a number of them to move on to the districts,” he said.

About the Author