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St. C.’s McKeegan, Moyer, Planey ready for D-II state swimming

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY THE ST. CLAIRSVILLE Red Devils will send these five swimmers to the Division II OHSAA State Swimming Championship on Wednesday. From left are Brenna Planey, Casadie DiBetta, Maggie Marody, Kylie McKeegan and Olivia Moyer.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The St. Clairsville swim team has become consistent participants in the OHSAA’s State Swimming and Diving Championship Meet.

Despite seemingly constant distractions and barriers to overcome, the Red Devils girls team has raised the bar.

When the state meet opens Wednesday with the Division II girls competition at 4:30 p.m., the Red Devils’ ‘Fab 5’ of Casadie DiBetta, Maggie Marody, Kylie McKeegan, Olivia Moyer and Brenna Planey will all be on hand, taking part in multiple events.

Actually, St. Clairsville — fresh off finishing as district runner-up last week at Bowling Green — qualified for eight of the 11 events.

“The craziness of this season has been intense,” Planey said. “The atmosphere at the state meet will definitely be different than it’s been in the past because of everything that’s going on, but I am just as excited.”

Not only will be the crowd, which has been downsized to one ticket per athlete competing, and atmosphere be different, the method at which the meet is scored and medals are awarded is also different.

There will be no qualifying heats and finals on the ensuing day. All of the races will be contested as timed finals with a hot heat.

St. Clairsville finds itself in the hot heat in four of the eight events, including the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. Planey and McKeegan swim on both of those teams, while Moyer is on the medley.

“I am very excited to swim with these girls and try to do our best,” Planey said. “I’m a little nervous because I really want to perform well for the other girls. We rely on each other. I rely on them and they rely on me, so I want to perform as well as I can. I am not just doing this for me and if I swim well, I am doing it for everyone, but if I mess up, I am messing up for everyone.”

The Red Devils’ 200 medley relay team is looking to improve on the sixth-place finish it scored last season when Planey, McKeegan, Moyer and Casadie DiBetta teamed for the medal. The same quartet finished second in the district and is seeded fourth in 1:49.34.

The 400 free relay, which sees Marody step in for Moyer, is ranked sixth in 3:40.35.

“I am so excited for how well we’re seeded,” McKeegan said. “To have a legitimate chance to make podium in both relays is so exciting. I am just excited to be a part of this team

Moyer has been studying the psyche sheet and believes that a top-three finish isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

“I hope we can get top three,” Moyer said. “We’ve really been swimming well and I am just excited to see how we do.”

For the first time in her career, McKeegan will swim in an individual event, too. She finished with a silver medal at last week’s district in the 50 freestyle with a personal-best time of 24.81. She will swim in the first of three heats.

“Since I was in middle school, competing at the state meet in an individual event has been my dream,” McKeegan said. “This means the world to me. I can’t even put into words how exciting that moment (of qualifying) was to me. I was sobbing on the deck after the race because I was so happy.”

McKeegan likes the change in the format of swimming the race only once because there’s less margin for error.

“I like it because however you go out and swim it is how you’re going do,” McKeegan admitted.

McKeegan is also well aware of her seed, but she won’t let that take away from the experience.

“I am so glad to be there, and I am hopeful to move up one spot,” McKeegan said.

Moyer is back in the state meet for the second straight season. She’ll swim on the medley relay and she’s also in an individual event for the second straight season.

However, unlike McKeegan, Marody and DiBetta, Moyer had some anxious moments as she awaited the formal announcement of the at-large qualifiers.

“I am excited for the opportunity to swim again because I had a little bit of a rough district,” Moyer said. “Friday was really nerve-wracking waiting on the Northeast District (results) because that’s the district that usually has the most qualifiers. When I saw the times, I think I cried because I was so excited.”

Moyer posted a 59.42 in the district, which is good enough for the 18th overall seed and in the first heat.

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