The battle between the St. Xavier Tigers and the St. Xavier Bombers at U of L’s Ralph Wright Natatorium on Saturday was intense. The Tigers prevailed over a very deep Bombers squad, 162-153.
Although Louisville St. X struggled to match up with Cincinnati toward the bottom of the depth chart, it still managed to win all three relays. This was crucial for the Tigers, as relays are worth twice the amount of points as individual events.
In the final relay, the 400 Free, junior Clayton Forde came up huge for the Tigers. He extended a .5 second lead to two full seconds with his 46.33 as the relay’s anchor. That was not his only big swim of the afternoon, though.
Forde was leading Bomber star Matt Slabe, who beat him in the 200 Free, throughout most of the 500 Free. At the 450 mark, Slabe had pushed ahead of him by .4 seconds, but Forde ultimately passed him to capture victory.
The 500 was an overall improvement for the distance swimmers from Louisville. They placed second (senior Trey Hubbuch) and fourth (Forde) in the 200 Free, then first (Forde) and third (Hubbuch) in the 500 Free. Freshman Aldan Johnston, who finished sixth in the 500, aggressively leaped out to a big lead to begin the race, only to fall off on the back half.
The Bombers dominated the 100 Free. All four of their swimmers finished in less than 49 seconds. Grant House, one of Cincinnati St. X’s top swimmers, easily took first with a 46.33. Senior and one of five team captains JD Mundt was the only Tiger to break 49 with a 48.69. He was fourth.
The sensational House took the 50 Free by more than half a second; however, the Tigers made a statement by stealing second through fifth. JD Mundt and junior Matt Steiden actually tied for third at 22.17. Louisville St. X is a solid 50 team, and it shows. The B relay was only .15 seconds away from grabbing second in the 200 Free Relay, leading Cincinnati’s A relay until House took over the final leg.
It is hard to overstate how important the divers are for the Tigers. Without them, the team would have lost the meet. Michael Miller won with 218.40 points, and George McCracken came in second with 182.62. Bryce Goldsborough and Joseph Allen were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Senior Tiger phenom Heyward Harrison, who is signed to swim for the University of North Carolina next season, won the 200 IM. Johnston and sophomore Keefer Barnum were able to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
The specialty strokes held mixed results for the Tigers. Backstroke was particularly rough. Harrison took second, but the remaining Tiger swimmers went sixth, seventh and eighth.
Steiden won the 100 Fly by a full second at 52.28, and freshman Cole Brown had a solid showing with a third-place finish.
In the 100 Breast, Barnum was dominant, blowing the field out of the water with a 58.25. Senior captain Zach Carrico came up clutch when the Tigers’ lead was narrowing. He out-touched Bomber Luke Van Gorp by .01 seconds for second place. The Bombers have an impressive group of breaststrokers. Their top four breaststrokers all finished between 1:00.07 and 1:01.17, garnering third through sixth place.
Tiger Nation, if this close meet has you worried, R-E-L-A-X. Cincinnati St. X is the premier swim program in Ohio, a nationally recognized state for high-school swimming. These guys are some of the country’s best. No team in Kentucky that the Tigers will face this year has a talent level anywhere close to on par with the Bombers. The swim team should be confident going through the remainder of their season into the regional and state tournaments after such an outstanding, signature win.
Yesterday’s meet was a defining moment in the season. At St. X, we are used to high-quality swimming, but this team is special, even considering the rigorous standards set by our school. Congratulate any swimmer you know and get ready to hear about future success from the pool.