OXFORD – Isabella Gable is going back to Canton one last time.
The Arcanum senior came in as the Division II district runner-up in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events on Friday to earn her fourth straight trip to the state meet next weekend at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
“It is great that I get to go to state my senior year because I really wanted to go all four years,” Gable said after stepping off the awards podium. “And it is very exciting to be going to state in two events.”
But Gable will not be alone in Canton. Several Darke County swimmers will also be making the trek north including Tri-Village sophomore Lucie Morris, who will swim in both the 50 free and 100 back races. She stood on top of the podium as the district champion in the 50 free on Friday with a time of 23.89 seconds.
“It is an amazing feeling to be going to state,” Morris said. “I went to state last year as a freshman and got to get a taste of it. This year I wanted to do better and I wanted to be on that podium at districts. It drove me to be in the water every single day at practice and train like I have never trained before, so being on top of that podium for the 50 free was kind of unreal. I’m am really excited for Canton.”
Versailles senior Cole Condon also is returning to state for the second consecutive year, but this time he goes as the district champion in the 50 free. His district-winning time was 21.78 seconds.
“It’s always been my dream since I was a young kid swimming and last year I got second on the podium (at districts) to someone really fast,” Condon said. “This year I really wanted to step up my game and bring it home. It is a dream come true.
“Last year was my first time at state and I psyched myself out too much,” he continued. “It was such a dream already in getting there and I was so nervous the entire race. I ended up doing OK, but this year I will have my nerves calmed down and be ready to go.”
Gable, Morris and Condon all will be competing in two events. For Gable, she was the district runner-up in both the 200 free (1:50.07) and the 500 free (4:53.8). In addition to the 50 free, Morris will compete in the 100 backstroke (59.23) after earning an at-large spot from finishing seventh at districts. Condon will also race in the 100 butterfly. He earned an at-large spot by finishing fourth at the district meet with a time of 51.48 seconds. The top two placers in each event were automatic state qualifiers with the next best 16 times coming from across the state.
“Cole was very prepared today to put out the times that he did,” Versailles swim coach Mark Travis said. “He is very happy and we are very proud of him. Experience is going to be key for him going into his second year at state. It is going to give him the confidence to be able to do what he knows is able to do.”
In addition to Condon, the Versailles boys 200 medley and 200 free relay teams are also heading to Canton after learning on Sunday they had made an at-large spot. The 200 medley team is made of Ryan Subler, Owen Schultz, Stuart Baltes and Condon, and the 200 free relay team is made of Subler, Baltes, Condon and Jack Detrick. Versailles also finished eighth as a team at the district meet.
“Today, Versailles showed up,” Travis said. “We had PRs across the board and we had some young swimmers here today and got them on this stage so we look forward to that being big for us next year. We swam really well today and they all worked very hard for it and they are seeing the return on their investment. We are very proud of the boys and excited for next week.”
For Gable, this last go-round at state will less stressful than in past years.
“This year I just really want to be relaxed and have fun,” said Gable, who placed as state runner-up in the 200 free last year. “I think like in all the years before I kind of made it very stressful for me, so whether I win or not I am just excited to be there this year and excited to race and do what I love to do.”
With her PR time of 23.89 seconds in the 50 free, Morris has the sixth-fastest time going into the state meet. She too is looking forward to a more focused effort at state after experiencing the atmosphere for the first time last year.
“The atmosphere up there is insane,” Morris said. “Going to state takes a different type of training. You discipline yourself to get in the water every single day and do it with a purpose and that has been my motto this season. Training with a purpose day in and day out and I am excited to be in that atmosphere again and hopefully have a little more success this year.”
Preliminary races for Division II swimmers will be held beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. Finals for Division II will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22.
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.