GREENVILLE – Greenville senior Jose’ Badell is returning to the state swim meet and this year will have a teammate to share the experience with.
Badell qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state swim meet for a second consecutive year in the 100 yard backstroke. He’ll be joined in Canton by freshman Isabella Gable, who qualified for state in the girls 200 yard freestyle and 500 yard freestyle.
“Hopefully it’s more fun,” Badell said of having a teammate going to state with him. “It was a little lonely last year.”
For Gable, having Badell with her has calmed her nerves, a little.
“I’m more excited to go with someone else because I would be pretty terrified, or even more terrified, going alone,” she said.
This is the third consecutive year that coach Mollie Mendoza has had an athlete qualify for the state meet, but it’s the first time she’s had multiple swimmers make it to Canton. It was exciting and surprising to see both Badell and Gable qualify for state, she said.
“He’s had a rough year,” Mendoza said of Badell. “He hurt his back early in the season. He’s been struggling with that. His times actually hadn’t been that great up until this last meet, districts, and then he blew his record out of the water.”
Badell finished eighth in the district swim meet last week at Miami University with a time of 55.09, smashing his previous season best of 57.98.
In Canton Badell simply hopes to improve on his seed time, like he did last year when he entered the state meet with a seed time of 55.80 and then swam a 55.53 in the state preliminaries.
“I’m so happy for him because this is really what he wanted,” Mendoza said of Badell returning to state. “He’d been striving for that, and it just wasn’t working out for him earlier in this season. I’m just happy for him and his family because they really, really wanted to see him get there one more time before he was done.”
Badell said it feels really good to get to finish his high school career at the state meet.
“Can’t ask for any other way,” he said.
For Gable, she’s hoping this year’s meet is just the start of a great high school career.
“I hope to win state next year in something,” she said.
As long as Gable keeps going like she has this year, she’s in line for a great career.
“She’s a very strong swimmer, very technically great,” Mendoza said. “She should go (to state) every year.”
This year Gable is focused on setting personal bests in Canton.
In the 200 freestyle Gable hopes to beat her personal best of 1:52, a time she achieved in club swimming but hasn’t matched for the high school team. She’s seeded 12th in the event with a time of 1:53.41.
In the 500 freestyle the Greenville freshman wants to break five minutes and get closer to Cincinnati Seven Hills sophomore Lucy Callard, who is one of three girls in the state with a sub-five minute seed time. Gable enters the state meet seeded sixth in the event with a time of 5:01.25.
“I’m pretty nervous,” Gable said. “The person that is seeded first I’ve always wanted to beat in the 500 so hopefully I can at least get close. I always do my best times next to her.”
The Division II state preliminaries with both Greenville swimmers will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. The finals will be contested at 5 p.m. Friday in Canton.