PORTLAND, Ind. - For the second straight year, Versailles swept the MAC/Cav Invite swim meet and can lay claim to being the best team in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
The Tigers won four of the six relays and garnered four individual wins on the way to a 55 1/2-point win over the Fort Recovery girls and a 68-point win over the New Bremen boys at the Jay County High School Natatorium on Saturday. The boys team has now won the team trophy for the last seven years.
"It was our goal for the team going into the year to win today," Versailles coach Mark Travis said. "So to see that, their hard work and time they've put into achieving that goal has paid off."
"We went in knowing Versailles would be tough to beat," Fort Recovery coach Mindy Bubp said, "so the girls coming out with second place, we were really happy."
The Tigers' boys won the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, with Michael Menke, Alex Nelson and Zach Ahrens joining forces on both relays. Daniel Waymire was the one who took the lead for the Tigers in the second leg of the 200 free, while Menke staked them to a three-second lead in the 400 free and Dylan Dunn and Nelson stretched it to double digits before New Bremen's anchor, Andy Jiang, cut it back to seven.
"We're looking to score big in relays, because the points are doubled," Travis said. "So that was a big goal for us to get four out of the six there. I thought a big relay today was the boys 400 free relay, getting first and getting those points."
Ahrens added a win of his own in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Nelson picked up first place in the 100 free.
On the girls side, Tiana Mescher, who also swam two winning relays, picked up an individual win in the 50 free in roundabout fashion. In the fourth heat of the event, Fort Recovery's Joelle Kaup dove off the board well in advance of the whistle, but the judge made no attempt to stop the race.
Mescher, in the next lane, got a late start off the block and swam a time of 33.17 seconds, nearly 10 seconds behind her MAC-leading time coming in and only ahead of Kaup, who stopped as well. The judges called over all the coaches with swimmers in the heat and agreed to re-run it after the intermission.
Keira Knapke, who came in first in the disqualified heat, managed to shave 0.4 seconds off her initial time, but Mescher turned in a more characteristic 24.67 for a 1.5 second win.
"She was held up on the block out there and almost didn't swim it," Travis said of the first attempt. "We didn't know what was going on. So then the re-swim, definitely was good to see her swim in first."
Mescher added a more ordinary win in the 100 free, and Ava Shardo added runner-up finishes in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke. Shardo led the 100 fly until the final leg, when Marion Local's Kylie Niekamp overcame her down the stretch for a narrow win and broke the meet record previously set by Coldwater's Macy May in 2020.
Niekamp gave the Flyers their only other win in the 200 IM, taking an initial lead before Fort Recovery's Teigen Fortkamp took the lead during the backstroke. Niekamp pulled ahead again during the butterfly, then pulled ahead in the freestyle portion for a comfortable win, with Fortkamp second.
"That's not normally her event," coach Bubp said of Fortkamp, "but we were trying to get her to potentially break our high school record. She probably won't swim that the rest of the season, so this was her last shot to try it. It didn't happen, but she's got one more year to try to do it."
Fortkamp added a win over Shardo in the 100 back, taking a two-second lead in the second leg and holding on for the win. Audra Bubp gave the Indians a win in the 100 breaststroke, holding off Versailles' Alayna Rindler.
Sage Wendel earned the Fort Recovery boys two wins, starting with a comfortable win over Versailles' Dylan Dunn in the 200 free. In the 100 back, Wendel edged out New Bremen's Avery Rohr and Coldwater's Carter May to claim his second victory.
"He was able to perform well," coach Bubp said. "I think he got his best time in the 200 free and the 100 backstroke, so I was happy with that."
Fort Recovery's Caleb Smith and Abby Knapke also earned wins in diving to start the day.
New Bremen's Andy Jiang earned a dramatic win in the 200 IM, battling back and forth with Ahrens into the final leg. With both swimmers even at the final turn, Andy Jiang pulled ahead in the final 15 yards, beating Ahrens by 1.36 seconds in the final split for a 1.04-second win.
Andy Jiang also added an individual win in the 100 fly and swam in the Cardinals' first-place 200 medley relay.
Annie Jiang set new pool records in the 200 and 500 free, breaking her own mark in the latter, then swam in the Cardinals' victorious 400 free relay.
Avery Rohr made it a New Bremen sweep in the 500 free, cruising to a 21-second win over Coldwater's Eddie Obringer.
"I'm really excited going into championships and going into sectionals," New Bremen coach Amanda Kuck said. "Once they're tapered and ready to go, I think we'll have some really solid swims."
Coldwater picked up its lone win in the 50 free, where Carson Doenges emerged from a crowded field in the home stretch to finish with a time of 24.17. Doenges also turned in a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, coming in 2 1/2 seconds behind Ahrens.
"Carson was on fire today," Coldwater coach Matt May said. "He was shooting for a 23 in that 50 free, I thought he could probably get it, and he was only 0.2 off. Then his breaststroke, PR-ing in that late in the season, that's a good sign. We steered him away from that for a little while, he was a little flat for a while. So for him to drop another two seconds in that, we were really happy with that too."
Coach May noted that his team seemed to tire out late in the meet, but said that until then, most of his swimmers were setting PRs and turning in the times he's hoping to see in sectionals.
"If they can repeat what they did today, I'd be real happy," he said. "I know we'd be going on to districts. But they've got to repeat what they did today."
Minster came in third in the girls 200 medley and 200 free relays, with Cameo Cedarleaf adding third-place finishes in the 200 free and the 100 fly. St. Henry was led by Quinn Lefeld's third-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
Fort Recovery and Coldwater return to the pool on Thursday for a dual meet, while Minster travels to face Wapakoneta. Sectionals start the week of Feb. 6