This was the perfect mix.
Not only did Cathedral High School’s girls swimming team have a solid season in 2018-2019, the Irish had that season with a young team that gained valuable experience.
As Ashley Hill sees it, that makes for an optimistic combination.
“It was a fantastic year with a lot of potential for the future, which is a lot of fun,” said Hill, who in ‘18-‘19 finished her second season as the Irish’s swimming coach.
Irish girls swimming in 2018-2019 not only won the City Championship, they placed sixth in the North Central Sectional with junior diver Sophie Mernitz winning the sectional title and advancing through the regional meet to the Indiana High School Athletic Association state meet at IUPUI.
The Irish finished sixth at the sectional with 212 points, well behind sectional champion North Central (510) and runner-up Franklin Central (414) but within range of third-place Lawrence North (third, 247 points), Warren Central (fourth, 218) and Shelbyville (fifth, 216).
The Irish, who won the city title with seven individual titles and two relay titles, were led by a group of underclassmen who scored all but one of the Irish’s points at the sectional meet. They also featured a six-member senior class whose leadership Hill called “fantastic.”
“A great six kids,” Hill said of the seniors. “They were great leadership and out of the pool and did a great job for us.”
Hill said also boding well for the future are the program’s numbers. The Irish ’18-’19 Irish featured 32 girls swimmers.
“That’s a big number for Cathedral,” she said. “The kids are working hard and having fun. The results are going in the right direction. I’m really happy with our girls. I absolutely couldn’t be happier with them.”
Hill called Mernitz’s run to the state meet “amazing.”
“It was great for Soph, and awesome for Cathedral,” Hill said. “It was super fun to see all of her work pay off.”
Mernitz, a former gymnast who began diving competitively a year and half before, won the sectional meet in dominant fashion with a score of 415.5 in the finals. She then finished fourth at the regional diving meet with a score of 402.00.
Mernitz finished 12th at the state meet with a score of 413.8.
“She’s a great kid, and a great teammate,” Hill said. “She does everything we ask her to do. Watching her go through sectional and regional, for a kid who had not been through a lot of big dive meets, she handled it.
“Most of the girls she’s diving against have been at nationals and all sorts of big meets. She handled that process really well.”
Underclassmen indeed provided big performances and big hope for the future for the Irish in ‘18-‘19, a season in which the Irish finished particularly strong in the relay events.
The Irish’s 200-yard medley relay team of sophomore Charlize Ramey, junior Gabriella Bunting, sophomore Abygail Dravis and freshman Samantha Klug finished sixth in the sectional in 1:58.36. The Irish’s 200 free relay team of Dravis, sophomore Lindsey Huntzinger, junior Emily Timberman and junior Kaylor Jasiak finished fifth in 1:48.47. The 400 free relay team of Klug, Jasiak, Ramey and Dravis finished fifth in 3:53.27.
Hill called Dravis key to all three relays.
“She was one of those kids who did three relays and really was one of the reasons they finished as high as they did,” Hill said.
The youth of the Irish could be seen in the 200 free relay, a group team that was all seniors in ’17-18 and all underclassmen a year later.
“That’s a huge difference, but it was great,” Hill said.
Junior Isabella Sweeney finished 14th in the 200-yard freestyle in 2:19.94, junior Anabel Konesco finished 16th in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:37.31, and the Irish had three swimmers in the Top 16 in the 50 free: Klug (11th, 26.88), Jasiak (12th, 27.07) and Timberman (15th, 28.16).
Dravis placed eighth in the 100 butterfly in 1:06.28 and Huntzinger placed ninth in 1:04.83, with Klug finishing ninth in the 100 freestyle in 58.55 and Jasiak placing 11 in the event at 1:00.12. Ramey finished fourth in the 500 free in 5:23.31.
Ramsey finished fifth in the 100 backstroke and Huntzinger finished ninth in the event in 1:07.46, with three Irish swimmers in the Top 16 in the 100 breaststroke: Bunting (ninth, 1:12.82), Timberman (12th, 1:15.71) and Sweeney (13th, 1:17.40).
Sophomore Kennedi Harden placed fifteenth in the diving competition with 181.15 points.
“They’re a year older,” Hill said. “They’re a year more experienced. They’re starting to understand team and competing for their school. That’s kind of great to get to see that process take place. We lost a huge senior class last year that was an amazing group of athletes and kids. I think we’re growing in the right direction.”