CANTON: The pressure of repeating as a Division I state champion in two swimming events didn’t faze Hudson junior Ross Palazzo on Saturday at C.T. Branin Natatorium.
Palazzo just did what he normally does, focus on his strokes and touch the wall first.
Palazzo won the 200-yard individual medley in 1 minute, 48.75 and then triumphed in the 100 breast stroke in 55.19. The state titles are his second in a row in each event.
“I am definitely thankful for the way things turned out,” Palazzo said. “I was able to defend my state championships. I am a little disappointed I wasn’t able to come closer to those records, but I am just really thankful for my teammates and coaches. It has been a really up-and-down season with illness. I am just happy it all came together this weekend.
“The past month has been rough. I have been trying to get better for this meet. Obviously, I was feeling good, but not where I wanted to be [time-wise], but I am really happy with the championships and excited for the future.”
Palazzo also expressed gratitude toward his parents and doctors.
“Ross had some really nice races,” Hudson coach Matt Davis said. “It is hard to come in and know that you are the guy that everybody is looking to beat. To get up there and defend your titles after winning two as a sophomore and do it again is impressive.”
Palazzo is garnering interest from several colleges, including Auburn, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan, as he completes his junior year.
Walsh Jesuit junior Michael “Joey” Reilman finished tied for second with Vandalia Butler sophomore Tommy Cope in the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:38.64. Cincinnati St. Xavier freshman Grant House clocked a 1:35.84 to win.
“My goal was to go 1:38 and I can’t be any happier with that,” Reilman said. “Grant House is insane. 1:35 for a freshman is awesome. I was trying to focus on my race today. I didn’t want to let anyone in my head. It hurt so bad, that last 50.
“This makes me extremely motivated. I am not going to take a break. I am going to go straight through next year. I am making it my goal to win. I don’t want to settle for second next year as a senior. I will work my hardest and good things will come.”
Reilman also finished third in the 100 backstroke in 49.79.
“Joey did a very nice job,” Walsh coach Wally Lutkus said. “He was sick last week and I didn’t know that until the next day when he couldn’t go to practice. I think he came back really well. We had another snow day in there, which doesn’t help us, but I think he made two All-American times.”
North Canton Hoover senior Stephen Watson, an Ohio State recruit, placed fourth in the 50 freestyle (20.98) and eighth in the 100 freestyle (46.51).
Hudson’s 200 freestyle relay was fifth in 1:25.57 and the 400 freestyle relay was seventh in 3:09.77. Palazzo, sophomore Cole Clampffer, senior Peyton Brown and junior Brendon Mulcahey combined to swim both relays.
Cincinnati St. Xavier won the state team title for the 35th time, scoring 255 points. Toledo St. Francis DeSales was second with 238 points. Hudson was sixth with 101 points. Strongsville placed two relays in the top five and finished with 84 points for seventh.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.