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St. C. girls headed to state swim in seven events

THE ST. Clairsville girls swimming team finished as district runnerup and will send five competitors in seven events to the OHSAA State Swim Meet after their district meet performance Thursday at Bowling Green State University. From left are Olivia Moyer, Casadie DiBetta, Kylie McKeegan, Brenna Planey and Maggie Marody.

St. Clairsville’s version of the ‘Fab 5’ is officially state bound!

The Red Devils took five females in 10 events to the Division II District Swimming Championship held Thursday evening at Bowling Green State University’s Cooper Pool.

All five are now making preparations for next Wednesday’s OHSAA State Swimming Championship Meet, which will be held at Canton’s Branin Natatorium.

The Red Devils finished as district runner-up for the second straight season, trailing only the Columbus School for Girls. “I am still trying to process how well these girls performed,” St. C. head coach Ernie Banks said. “Quite honestly, they out-performed even the goals I had set for them. When you consider a four-hour drive (to Bowling Green), a meet with basically no crowd and all of the things we’ve dealt with throughout the season, it was just a remarkable performance. All of the credit goes to the kids.”

More importantly, than the team hardware that’s coming back to Belmont County, is the fact that St. C. officially qualified to state in an astounding seven events. That total could go up because at-large qualifying spots will be determined throughout the weekend based on time.

“I am still trying to process that,” Banks said of the seven-event advancement. “I don’t know everyone’s history (in the area), but I know that’s something I’ve never done. It really didn’t dawn on me about the seven events until well after the meet and it’s just really something. I know if you told me at the start of the season, we’d be going to state in seven of 11 events, I would have never believed it.”

The Red Devils won two district championships.

Junior standout Casadie DiBetta — the two-time defending state runner-up in the 100 breaststroke — will make her way to Canton for the third time. She’ll take part in a full complement of four events for the second straight season.

“Cas is coming off an ear infection and to swim the way she did after that is impressive,” Banks said. “It’s so fun watching her in the breaststroke. I find myself watching her (as a fan) at times rather than as a coach because she’s so graceful in that event.”

DiBetta won the district championship in her specialty — the breaststroke — with a sizzling 1:03.26.

Earlier in the meet, she advanced with a silver medal in the 200 individual medley. She used an impressive breaststroke portion of the event to reel in swimmer after swimmer en route to touching the wall in 2:07.66.

Senior leader Maggie Marody — the Niagara University signee — made history when she finished second in the 200 freestyle with a solid 1:56.36.

In earning another trip to the state meet, Marody became the first Belmont County female to qualify to state four times. She’ll have a relatively heavy workload when she arrives in Canton, too.

“From the moment Maggie Marody arrived (in our program) as a freshman, she took our team to another level,” Banks said. “She took a strong, good team to the next level with her work ethic and her performances.”

She added another silver medal to her impressive collection of hardware when she posted a 5:10.31.

Junior Kylie McKeegan — an All-Ohioan a year ago on the medley relay — earned the right to compete in her first individual event when she touched the wall in second in the 50 free with a time of 24.81.

The Red Devils capped the meet with a blistering 3:40.34 to win the 400 freestyle relay. That included a blistering leg by Marody. She was joined by DiBetta, McKeegan and Planey on that team en route to gold.

St. Clairsville actually assured itself a trip to Canton in the first event of the meet when the quartet of DiBetta, McKeegan, Olivia Moyer and Planey grabbed the silver medal in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:49.34.

Nary an individual boy — from either St. Clairsville or Martins Ferry — qualified automatically. The Red Devils Jack Gasber was the top finisher, placing third in the 100 breaststroke. He’ll await his fate throughout the remainder of the weekend.

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