Boardman junior Tyler O'Halloran cruised to Friday's state title in the 50-yard freestyle.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANTON -- Boardman swimming coach Terry O'Halloran stood in front of the medal platform, turned to the first place finisher and put the medal around his neck.
And with a big smile on his face, he shook his son's hand.
They had done it.
"We're doing great," Terry said. "It doesn't get any better than this. I'm at a loss for words."
Tyler O'Halloran, a junior at Boardman, shattered his personal record of 21.00 seconds in the 50 freestyle to win the boys state championship with a time of 20.87 Friday night at C.T. Branin Natatorium.
"I feel amazing," Tyler said. "All I've thought about this season, all I've wanted to do was win this race. It feels so great."
Curtis Emerick, a senior at North Robinson Colonel Crawford, took second with a time of 21.25. The two were separated by just .08 after the preliminaries.
Great race: "He really, really stepped it up today," said Terry, who was chosen to award the medals for that event regardless of how his son finished.
"It's been a team effort for us all year and I've had great people working with me. He just did great."
When Tyler finished, he looked up at the scoreboard to see how he did but couldn't see through his goggles. But when he turned to his cheering teammates in the crowd, he knew.
He then spat a stream of water into the air, pumped his fist and smiled.
"I wish I could describe it [the race]," Tyler said. "The start felt good, the turn felt great, everything felt right. The energy in this pool is amazing."
Overcoming illness: Tyler finished second at last weekend's district meet behind North Canton Hoover's Drew Ossakow, who finished eighth Friday.
He was fighting illness -- Terry thought it might have been pneumonia -- and was on antibiotics the week before.
"Last week wasn't one of my better meets," Tyler said.
He took sixth last year -- his first year at state -- in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21.35.
Tyler will compete in the 100 freestyle today.
But for now, he's taking the chance to enjoy it.
He had a sizable cheering section, which included his Uncle Tom from Boston and many of the area's swimming coaches.
It was a dream moment -- one that changes everything.
"You have no idea," he said. "After you do something like this, the pressure's off."