DARKE COUNTY – A pair of athletes who have competed at state and have continued to excel throughout this season are this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week.
This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Tri-Village boys basketball player Gavin Richards and Versailles girls swimmer Lexi Fliehman.
Fliehman helped lead the Versailles girls swim team to a 17th place finish at last weekend’s Southwest District Classic, which is the largest high school swim meet in the United States.
She qualified for the finals in six events at the meet including two individual events. The Versailles senior finished sixth in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 24.81 and finished 13th in the 100 yard freestyle in a time of 54.33.
Fliehman also was part of four relay teams that qualified for the finals in the Southwest District Classic. She helped lead the Lady Tigers to a sixth place finish in the 200 yard freestyle relay, a 13th place finish in the 400 medley relay, a 13th place finish in the 200 yard medley relay and a 15th place finish in the 400 yard freestyle relay.
“She did really well at the Classic meet this last weekend, which is of course is the largest swim meet in the country,” Versailles swim coach Penny Cromwell said.
Fliehman’s is a freestyle sprinter for Versailles. She leads all Darke County girls with a time of 24.81 in the 50 freestyle and a time of 54.21 in the 100 freestyle.
The senior also is a versatile swimmer for Versailles. She’s second in the county in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:06.29, second in the county in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:06.06, third in the county in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:06.02 and fourth in the county in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:14.26.
“Her hard work and determination set her apart from others,” Cromwell said. “She’s got that drive and determination to do well. She’s set goals for herself, and she’s on the path to reach those goals. We’re hoping that she does so.”
Fliehman is a three-time state qualifier for Versailles, and she hopes to return to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state meet this year as well.
After her high school career she will swim collegiately for Miami University.
“She is very determined,” Cromwell said. “I always joke if you ever need to find Lexi go look in a swimming pool because she’ll probably be swimming. She just puts in the work ethic and the effort that she needs to get her goals.”
Richards was a starter on Tri-Village’s state championship basketball team last season, mainly serving as a distributor, defender and occasional spot shooter. This year he’s taken on a bigger load and handled it very well for the Patriots.
“He’s had a really good first half of the season,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said. “His role obviously has expanded this year on the offensive end. He’s shouldering the scoring bourdon as well and getting people the ball.”
Richards leads Tri-Village with 18.9 points per game, which also makes him one of Darke County’s top five scorers this season. He’s also second on his team with 3.2 assists per game, which puts him in the top 10 in the county for that category as well.
“His game has evolved nicely,” Sagester said. “He’s filled that role pretty comfortably for us.”
In addition to being a great offensive weapon, the Tri-Village junior generally is tasked with guarding the opposing team’s most athletic wing player.
“Defensively he’s very efficient,” Sagester said. “He’s very long and athletic and takes that to heart.”
Having improved his offensive game and being able to get his teammates involved, Richards has been a key piece to Tri-Village’s 13-1 start to the season.
“This year he’s elevated his game,” Sagester said.