WOOSTER — Lexington’s two-year reign as Ohio Cardinal Conference boys swimming champ came to an end, but longtime coach Brock Spurling couldn’t have been more proud of his Minutemen on Saturday.
Short-handed Lex led much of the afternoon before host Wooster took the lead for good on the penultimate event at Ellen Shapiro Natatorium and held on for a 494-482 win over the Minutemen.
“It was a valiant effort,” Spurling said. “They fought tooth-and-nail the whole way.”
The Minutemen and Generals were tied 413-413 after the 100 yard backstroke. Wooster opened a 454-448 after the 100 breaststroke, meaning Lex would have to win the final event — the 400 freestyle relay — to capture its third consecutive title. It wasn’t to be, however, as Wooster won the 400 free relay in a meet-record time of 3 minutes, 16.67 seconds.
“We knew the only way to win was to win the last race,” Spurling said.
Lexington had only a pair of individual firsts. Sophomore Tanner Holmes won the 100 butterfly in 54.94, while Max Roth led a sweep of the 1-meter diving competition with an OCC-record score of 448.75.
Ashland sophomore Rylan McDaniel, the younger brother of former Ashland state champ and Ohio State swimmer Hudson McDaniel, won the 100 breaststroke in 59.57. He teamed up with by Jun Cho, Bailey Parsons and Seth Will to win the 200 medley relay in 1:40.85.
McDaniel was slightly more than a second off the OCC record in the 100 breaststroke.
“That was the goal, but it didn’t happen today,” McDaniel said. “It will happen another year.”
Wooster’s Thomas Matthew was selected the Male Swimmer of the Year after setting four OCC meet records. He won the 200 freestyle in 1:41.90, breaking his own conference mark of 1:42.99 set last year, and the 500 freestyle in 4:43.34.
In girls action, Wooster cruised to the team title with 514 points. Lexington was second with 480.
Lexington junior Lily Weeks won the 200 individual medley in 2:19.38 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.69. She joined forces with Olivia Newman, Sarah Malaska and Tessa Gerhardt to win the 200 medley relay in 1:54.84.
“Lily is a warrior,” Spurlock said. “She will battle for you.”
Wooster’s Gracie Chelf was the Female Swimmer of the Year. The sophomore broke her own meet record in the 50 freestyle, finishing in 23.72. She also won the 100 freestyle. Chelf was a member of two record-setting relay teams.
Top honors went to the following individuals:
Coach of the year for both boys and girls Chris Matthew - Wooster.
Female Swimmer of the year - Gracie Chelf - Wooster.
Male Swimmer of the year - Thomas Matthew - Wooster.
Female Diver of the year - Brook Balas - Wooster.
Male Diver of the year - Max Roth - Lexington.