There are 11 total races that compile points toward winning the County Swim Meet next Monday, but six carry a bit more weight - the relays. More specifically, they are the 200-meter medley relay, the 200-meter freestyle relay and the 400-meter freestyle relay for both boys and girls.
The reason these races are so important is because they carry twice the point total of individual races. In the SOC and county swim meet, individual races carry descending point values of seven points for first place, six for second and continually down to 1 for seventh place.
The relays, however, go from 14 points for first to two points for seventh. If a school has two teams in a given race, and takes the top two spots, it earns 24 points, more than double the result of winning two individual races.
“The individual events add up,” said Portsmouth coach Eric Musser. “But the relay teams can make or break the whole meet.”
Musser's sentiment on the importance of relays is obvious as he had no trouble running off the names of his top relay team, the Trojans' 200-meter medley squad. Andrew Simon, Drew Throckmorton, Jay Jones and Michael Barlett are all fast in their respective events and are an integral part of Musser's plan for his boys team to win the county meet.
Portsmouth's top girls relay team includes Emily Hopkins, Molly Gower, Hannah Walsh and Ceci Purtee.
Notre Dame coach Dave Gallant agrees that relays are important and stressed the individual aspect. He said the teams are usually just the four fastest racers in each individual event.
“The more they push themselves, they're going to get better,” said Gallant. “But also the relays are going to get better.”
Last season, Notre Dame's girls won both the SOC and county meets and this season head into the county meet with a record of 16-1, with another SOC title under their belts.
The Titans' best relay team is the 200-meter medley of Emily Edwards, Rachel Appleton, Kate Sand and Kristen Clausing.
Northwest has been strong, finishing around second in most meets this season. Coach Lana Speas said its top relay is the girls 200-meter medley team of Audrey Howard, Angel Holzer, Rachel Howard and Ellen Adams and the boys 400-meter freestyle group of Johannes Krickl, Jesse Childers, Thomas England and Julian Krickl.
Sciotoville's swimmers from East are much improved this year according to coach John Peters.
“For the county, I want the guys to just keep improving,” said Peters. “I wish I had them from their freshmen year.”
On the girls end, Peters will be relying on the girls' 200-meter medley relay team of Alexandra Peters, Brooke Staggs, Jennifer Kritzwiser and Jennifer Jordan to pick up some points.
Wheelersburg is a team that can pick up points in relays or individual races. The boys are undefeated this season, including claiming an SOC title, and the girls have lost only three times, all to Notre Dame.
Coach Janet Hall said the Pirates' best relays are the boys 400-meter freestyle relay of Bryce Hall, Eli Gerlach, Douglas Gentile and Spencer Hall and the girls 200-meter freestyle relay of Lauren Kelley, Chelsea Lemons, Beth Sloas and Brooke Sloas.
Valley coach Bob West said prior to the scheduled date of the SOC meet that relay teams have been a strength for his eight boys and 13 girls. He also said his competitors have been consistently placing in the top three or four spots in each event.
Though the team winners of this year's SOC meet were the same as last year, any one of these teams could force the defending champions off the blocks and take the races for themselves.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org