LEXINGTON — Alli McFarland’s high school career will end inside the same building each of her first three prep seasons concluded — Canton’s C.T. Branin Natatorium.
The Lexington senior and Richland Bank Athlete of the Week is headed to the state swim meet for the fourth time in as many years and, as much as McFarland would like to approach this event like any other, she knows it’s different this time around.
“I think I took it for granted my freshman year, because my times as an eighth-grader were good enough to qualify for state,” McFarland said. “I now see how big of a deal it is and how special it is to make state.”
McFarland punched her ticket to Canton in four events during last week’s Division II district meet at Bowling Green. She placed third in the 200 yard individual medley in 2:09.91 and was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.09). She also swam a leg on the 200 medley relay team that placed third (1:48.90) and the 200 freestyle relay team that placed fourth (1:38.65).
She will enter Thursday’s state prelims with the 10th fastest time in the 100 breaststroke and the 15th fastest time in the 200 IM. The 200 medley relay and 200 free relay times are seeded seventh and eighth, respectively.
While qualifying for state is nothing new, taking part in the showcase event is just as exciting this year as it was in 2016, when McFarland was a freshman competing in the 100 breaststroke and as a member of the 200 medley relay team.
“I was more nervous. I didn’t know what to expect,” McFarland said. “Being a senior, I’ve definitely grown a lot since then.”
McFarland qualified for state individually in the 100 breaststroke and as a member of the 200 medley relay team as a freshman in 2016. She placed 13th in the 100 breaststroke and eighth in the medley relay.
As a sophomore, McFarland was ninth in the 100 breaststroke and 10th in the 200 individual medley. She was a member of the 200 medley relay team that placed fourth and the 400 freestyle relay team that took 12th.
She again placed ninth in the 100 breaststroke as a junior and was 11th in the 200 IM. The 200 medley relay team was seventh and the 400 free relay team was again 12th.
In her first three years, McFarland has finished in the top 16 individually or as a member of a relay team nine times (the top 16 finishers in each individual event and the top 16 relay teams earn All-Ohio status). If the district seeds hold at the state meet, she would be an All-Ohioan in four events for a third consecutive year.
Regardless of what happens this week, McFarland will go down as one of the most decorated swimmers in Lexington history.
“My expectations aren’t any different this year than in the past,” McFarland said. “We all just want to do our best.”
McFarland is one of four seniors on the girls roster. All four will be in Canton this weekend.
“Our girls finished third at the district meet and that was fantastic for them,” Lady Lex coach Brock Spurling said. “We have four seniors and all four are going to state. That is a goal they wanted. Its awesome.”