Trumpets blared but were nearly drowned out by cheering students and faculty Feb. 23 as Amherst Steele High School wished four of its swimmers good luck in this year’s state tournament.
Juniors Max Mlincek, Jake Kiska, Nathan Moore, and sophomore Sam Parker will be Steele’s representatives at the meet, which takes this weekend at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
“It feels pretty sweet to go down to state,” said Kiska. “This is my first time. It’s awesome seeing all of our hard work from this year and past years pay off, going back to when we were all just atrium swimmers.”
“It’s my first year going too,” said Parker. “We’re a top 25 team in the state, everything is falling into place, and it feels good for everyone.”
Coach Mary Bartek started the Comets swim team in 1997 and, after taking a sabbatical to raise a family, returned four years ago to again lead the squad.
“Everyone is looking really good,” she said. “This is Nathan Moore’s second time as a state qualifier and we’re looking for him to make the finals this year. We’re looking to improve on our relay times and to just see where they land.”
On what it feels like for a young athlete to know they’re among the best a state has to offer, the coach said it’s a matter of keeping butterflies under control.
“I told them this morning this is a meet like no other meet,” she said. “I’ve been to meets all over the country including Olympic trials, and the Ohio high school meet is the one to be at. There’s no feeling like it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.