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SWIMMING Robinson, Linnelli, King advance to state



Published: Sun, February 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state tournament starts Thursday in Canton.

CLEVELAND -- Two Mahoning Valley swimmers had repeat performances on Saturday while a third will make her first trip to state competition.

Saturday at the Northeast district swimming championships at Busbey Natatorium at Cleveland State University, Canfield junior Meghan Linnelli qualified for her second event at the state tournament in Canton with a district championship in the Division I 100-yard freestyle race.

Linnelli finished district runner-up Friday in the 50-yard freestyle.

Asked if she was nervous being seeded the number-one swimmer, Linnelli responded, "Yeah definitely.

"I like being seeded as the underdog so I can come up," Linnelli said. "There is a lot more pressure when you're seeded number one."

The way her race started didn't help.

"They false started and that made me nervous," Linnelli said. "Getting up out of the water made me cold and I think that affected my time a little."

Linnelli's time was 53.59, just more than a half second slower than her sectional qualifying time.

This is the second straight district championship in this event for the Cardinal. A year ago, she finished fifth at state with a time of 52.59.

"I'm not tapered yet, so this year I think I'll go a lot faster at state than last year" Linnelli said.

King advances: After qualifying as district runner-up on Friday in school-record fashion in the 200-yard intermediate, Warren Harding junior Nathan King added the same medal in the 100-yard backstroke to his collection. Already knowing he had qualified for Canton in one event, King said he felt more comfortable in the water on day two.

"A lot of the pressure is off and the nerves had settled a bit," King said.

His time of 52.67 put him just behind the first-place time of 52.45.

"I felt comfortable," said King. "I had a good start and good turns and the race went real smooth.

King will make his second straight state appearance in this event. Last year he was fifth coming out of the districts and finished 13th at state.

Showing poise: Imagine being a freshman at your first district swim meet, and flanked to either side of you are two seniors. That's what Boardman's Hayley Robinson faced as the third seed in the Div. I 100-yard breaststroke.

"It is intimidating," Robinson said. "I was very nervous in the block, I was shaking actually. But I think it made me become stronger because I wanted to beat them and I wanted to compete with these people. So I think that made me stronger in the race."

Robinson finished as runner-up in the race, and because of her time will be considered for all-American status.

"I just wanted to qualify, but I wanted to have my best time which was what inspired me. It was a lot of fun and I had really good competition, I enjoyed every minute of it."

Two other swimmers will have to wait till today to have their fate decided. Poland junior Carey Venglarcik finished fourth in the Div. II 100-yard backstroke. Her time of 1.00.17 will be considered for an at-large bid.

The top 11 non-qualifiers from all districts around the state receive at-large bids.

Boardman junior Tyler O'Halloran, who qualified Friday in the 50-yard freestyle, is also hoping for an at-large bid. He finished one spot from an automatic bid with a time of 47.78 in the 100-yard freestyle.




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