CANTON: The Northeast Classic resembled a mini-state meet Saturday night with talented swimmers plentiful at C.T. Branin Natatorium.
Firestone senior Mark Belanger and Jackson senior Chase Kinney both ended the evening beaming with smiles as each set two meet records in an event featuring schools from all over Ohio.
Belanger won the 100-yard butterfly in 49.54 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 45.03 seconds.
“I felt really good,” Belanger said. “My legs have gotten a lot stronger and I feel like that showed today. I am definitely satisfied with those times right now.
“I feel like this puts me in a great position to compete at the swim meet.”
Kinney won the girls 50 freestyle in 23.02 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 50.77 seconds.
“This is pretty cool,” said Kinney, the Division I state champ in the 50 freestyle last season. “Coming off of Christmas training, I was really tired and was not expecting to go that fast. This is really exciting and encouraging.
“My 50 was really fast. I am just getting stronger than I was last year.”
Walsh Jesuit senior Danielle Margheret won the 100 breast stroke in a meet-record time of 1:04.14.
“I am so excited,” Margheret said. “This is actually my first best time in a meet [this season]. At two other invitationals I was close, but I didn’t get my best time from last year. To be able to best this time, especially coming out of the hardest Christmas training that I have ever done and being sick [with a head cold], this just means a lot to me.”
Cuyahoga Falls senior Andrew Appleby set a meet record in the 100 backstroke (50.41) and also won the boys 50 freestyle (21.33).
“I set the previous record [in the 100 backstroke] in the morning [during a preliminary at the University of Akron’s Ocasek Natatorium],” Appleby said. “That was kind like a dry run kind of thing for me. I like to be able to see where I am at before I come out to swim in a final.”
Firestone senior Katie Miller placed first in the 200 freestyle (1:49.66) and 500 freestyle (4:54.64).
“I did a lot better than what I swam at Junior Nationals in those events, and I’m not even shaved or tapered,” Miller said. “I am really happy with that. I’m not thinking about swimming those at the end of the season. I just wanted to go out there and have fun swimming next to [Falcons junior] Natalie O’Brien. We train in the same lane every day. That kept me so relaxed. We were just yelling and listening to music before we swam.”
O’Brien placed second in the 200 IM (2:12.38) and fourth in the 500 freestyle (5:17.05).
Copley sophomore Madison Myers won the 100 backstroke in 55.39 and placed second in the 200 freestyle in 1:51.27.
“I think that was a very good performance for me,” Myers said following the 100 backstroke. “I am really tired right now. This was a very long day, but I enjoy it. I really want to win a state championship.”
Area individuals who placed second were: Wadsworth sophomore Ellie Surratt (50 freestyle, 24.59), Hudson sophomore Ross Palazzo (100 breast stroke, 56.73), North Canton Hoover junior Stephen Watson (50 freestyle, 21.63) and Walsh Jesuit sophomore Michael Reilman (100 backstroke, 52.20).
The Hudson 400 freestyle relay girls unit of senior Connie Gan, senior Emily Arther, sophomore Stephanie Boyd and junior Paige Kelly took second in 3:39.88.
Palazzo was on Hudson’s two boys relays that were runner-up. The 200 medley relay (1:38.72) had Palazzo, freshman Doni Moffa, senior Ryan Hutcheson and freshman Cole Clampffer; and the 200 freestyle relay (1:29.96) consisted of Palazzo, Hutcheson and sophomore Ryan Johnson and junior Peyton Brown.
“It is just so much fun to be able to get up and race everybody at this level because it is in Canton and a lot of these are the people you race at the end of the year,” Appleby said. “It is basically like a practice state meet. I really like the opportunity to get out and swim against some of the best competition that Ohio has. This was a lot of fun.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.