VERSAILLES – Versailles senior Clint Morgan was ready to give up on his dream of qualifying for the state swim meet. That is until he found teammates who inspired him to dream again and helped him finally achieve his goal.
“I’ve been striving for this for years now, and it got to the point where I thought I never thought I would make it,” Morgan said.
Morgan is one of four Versailles swimmers who qualified for this year’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state meet, joining junior Cole Condon and freshmen Jack Detrick and Ryan Subler. The quartet advanced to state in the boys 200 yard freestyle relay while Condon also made it to state in the boys 50 and 100 yard freestyle events. Junior Stuart Baltes and senior Nathaniel Nelson will travel with the team as alternates.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” first-year Versailles head coach Mark Travis said. “They’re an incredible group of athletes. We set a high bar, a high standard for our team this year at the beginning of the season, making our goal to go to state this year.”
During the middle of the season, Morgan said, he doubted himself and his ability to become a state qualifier. But as the season progressed and he saw the team’s potential, he allowed himself to dream again.
“I know I’ve lacked a little bit this year with my mindset, but toward the end of the year kind of snapped back into place when I saw our chance to actually go for the state,” the Versailles senior said. “It means a lot that everyone else on the team pushed me and kept me in line for the rest of the season and it all paid off.”
Morgan wasn’t the only one with doubts. Subler only joined the swim team to stay fit for track and field and didn’t expect much else.
“Being honest I was in this sport just in order to stay in shape for track, and I was kind of surprised to be good at it,” the freshman said.
But all the Tigers saw the same potential as they dropped time toward the end of the season and put themselves in position to qualify for the OHSAA state championships. They finished sixth at districts with a time of 1:31.65 to qualify for state.
“When we started seeing the times drop at sectionals and then districts, it kind of all just hit me at once, like, hey, we’re going to state,” Detrick said.
Along with the relay, Versailles saw Condon advance in two individual events.
“He’s a remarkable athlete and been such an awesome athlete to coach this year,” Travis said. “He has really set a high bar for himself, which really raises the bar for the whole team in general. I think his leadership and his hard work are one of the main reasons this team has been able to compete very, very well at meet after meet this year.”
Condon finished second in the boys 50 yard freestyle with a time of 21.44 and fourth in the boys 100 yard freestyle in a time of 47.99 at the district meet.
“It definitely feels like a dream at this point,” Condon said. “That’s all I’ve wanted to do my whole life when I started swimming was make it to state.”
Condon enters the state meet seeded sixth in the 50 freestyle and 13th in the 100 freestyle.
“I want to try to make the podium in the 50; that’s definitely a goal,” he said. “Then the 100 I want to at least make the B consolation final.”
The Tigers’ relay team is seeded 15th entering the state meet. The boys’ goal is to make the top 16 and qualify for Friday’s finals. They anticipate the B final as their most likely destination, but they haven’t given up hope of finishing in the top eight and making the A final.
“Between 15th place and eighth place is like a second difference so I think we have a really good shot of making it, and we’re going to try really hard and give it our all,” Morgan said.
Versailles will compete in the preliminaries at 5 p.m. Thursday at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. If the Tigers finish in the top 16 of their events, they would advance to Friday’s finals.
For more information about the state meet, visit the OHSAA website at http://ohsaa.org.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.