Area swimmers qualify well for OVAC finals

The qualifying is complete and lane assignments are set.

The annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Swimming Championship wraps up Saturday at Steubenville High’s Crimson Center with action slated to begin at 11:10 a.m.

Qualifying was held Tuesday evening at three sites – Brooke, Linsly and Wheeling Park – and the top 16 overall qualifiers earned a spot in the championship swim, which will be contested with two-heat finals. No qualifying was required in the relay events. All of those will be swam as finals on Saturday.

Here’s a closer look at the area teams’ swimmers in the top eight. The entire field for each individual event can be found on Page CX in today’s edition.

BARNESVILLE – The Shamrocks will be led to the finals by senior standout Christopher Baker.

In the 200 individual medley, Baker swam all four strokes in 2:08.98 for the top seed by nearly three full seconds.

In the 500 freestyle, which is his specialty, Baker swam a 5:12.04, which paces the conference field by seven seconds.

MARTINS FERRY – The Purple Rider girls had a strong day of qualifying at Wheeling Park High School.

“We had a really good prelim meet,”?said Riders head coach Nick Levi. “On the girls’ side, we saw some significant time drop. I was excited to see the hardwork throughout the season paying off.

“We qualified seven girls in 11 events and our goal for Saturday is to improve our time and placement

“We want to keep the positive momentum going forward throughout this week and into the sectionals,”?Levi continued.

Freshman Tara Fogle was sixth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:36.16. She had an impressive swim in the 100 butterfly, posting the third-best time with a mark of 1:07.67.

Junior Shelby Poludniak posted a 6:13.85 in the 500 freestyle, which was the seventh best time swam on Tuesday. She also punched her ticket to the finals in the 100 backstroke with a 1:11.56 in the 100 backstroke.

Tyesha Allen is the eighth seed in the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:04.05.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Red Devils also were impressive during their qualifying swims at Linsly School.

“We didn’t really have any real surprises in the qualifying,” said Devils head coach Melanie Eaton. “All but one of our kids, who was seeded in the top 16, made the finals. We’re excited for Saturday.”

The Red Devils were led by junior standout Michael Eaton, who posted the top qualifying time in both the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. He swam a 1:01.12 to lead the breaststroke by better than six seconds. His effort in that race broke the pool record at Linsly, which had stood for 27 years.

In the freestyle, Eaton posted a 50.66, which was nearly three full seconds better than his nearest competitor.

D.J. Beck earned the eighth and final spot in the hot heat for Saturday in the 200 IM with a time of 2:28.69.

Dan Kennon will swim for the OVAC title in the 200 freestyle. He’s seeded seventh in the event with a 2:05.48.

On the girls’ side, Carly Falcone positioned herself quite nicely for a swim toward the awards’ stand in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. She’s seeded fifth in the IM with a time of 2:33.16.

In the 100 breaststroke, Falcone swam a 1:17-flat for the fourth spot in the finals.

Alaina Fasola is seeded sixth in the 100 butterfly with a 1:10.94.

EAST RICHLAND Christian’s Katie Albert will be in the fast heat in both of her events. She qualified third in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:11.96. She was fourth in the 50 freestyle in a time of 27.40.

Staskey can be reached at