Claiming victory at their first battle royale, the St. Louis U. High swim team absolutely eviscerated their enemies in Ladue’s water-filled coliseum. The tenth place team got 2 points, the second place team earned 337 points, and the Jr.Bills felt a tad chilly sitting on their throne so high up with 713 points.
“Overall the meet went really well,” said head coach Lindsay Ehret. “It gave us benchmarks so that now people have some ideas of (how fast they can go), and can make goals based on the performances they attained. Overall I thought everybody was pretty solid.”
The tadpoles of the team revealed themselves as swordfish, with the freshman dominating their events at their first ever high school invitational. Freshman Jaden Yarbrough walked away with a medal from every event he competed in, earning fourth place in the 200 yard freestyle, then showing off his endurance finishing third in the 500 yard freestyle. Yarbrough also contributed his skills to the 200 yard freestyle B relay and 400 yard freestyle B relay, which came in third and fifth place, respectively. Continuing the theme of young greatness, freshman Ben Chumley also laid claim to a medal in each event he competed in, with his most notable performance being his almost six second time drop in the 200 yard individual medley, in which one must display mastery of all four strokes the sport has to offer. Ben’s toil earned him fourth place with a time of 2:08.73.
“(My favorite thing to watch was) anything that the freshmen were in,” said Ehret. “Seeing them get to race for the first time was great.”
Freshman Charlie Hill shaved over three seconds off of his 100 backstroke, rocketing in at a 1:03.49, while freshman Greyson Mueller completed the 500 freestyle in 5 minutes and 10 seconds, earning him fourth place. In addition, freshman Evan Zimmerman surged through the water in the 200 Freestyle C Relay and 400 freestyle D relay, showing impressive splits in both. The final new addition to the team, freshman Luke Gill, glided gracefully into the wall at the conclusion of his 100 Breastroke, in which he earned seventh place with a time of 1:09.31.
“When I was up swimming the 100 breast and everyone was crowding around the end (of the lane) cheering me on, it just really felt like I was a part of the team and was important,” said Gill.
Not only did the fresh-faced freshman impress, but so did the state-bound seniors, dominating the competition each time they touched the water. Most notably, senior Cooper Scharff swam the fastest 100 yard butterfly that St. Louis U. High has ever seen, shattering the previous school record and further cementing himself into the history of this institution. Scharff took home nothing but gold on the day, earning first in the 200 medley relay, 100 fly, 100 back, and 200 free relay.
Following suit, senior Ned Mehmeti was a tsunami, absolutely destroying the competition in every race, taking home first in both of his individual events, the 200 IM and 500 free, as well as all of his relays.
And senior Jonas Hostetler claimed the crown in the kingdom of sprinting, seizing first place in the 50 free with a 21.88, then boasting a 47.84 100 free split in the 400 free relay.
“That 400 relay was really nice by literally everybody that swam it,” said Hostetler. “Everybody stepped up, everyone outside of the pool really cheered, and that's the type of spirit we need. That spirit is something we always bring to the table at every meet and it really makes a difference.”
Having defeated their local foes, the Jr. Bills prepare to travel to Columbia, Mo., on the 25th at their biggest meet yet. The meet takes place in Mizzou’s division one swimming facility, and will host schools from all around the state. The Ladue Invite was getting from the parking lot to the top of the turnaround, the Columbia meet is peaking Mount Everest.
“It's going to be a big test,” said Ehret. “Only one relay can score, it's the top 16 that can score, and there will be many other teams so it's harder to get in the top 16. Anything can happen. I’m optimistic that we’ll be in the top four, but there are some really, really, good teams to watch out for.”
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