Two area teams in swim finals

By Brian Dzenis

The diffence between cracking the finals of the Division I swimming tournament finals and the consolations isn’t a matter of seconds or half-seconds or even a tenth of a second.

It’s 500th of second.

That was the margin of qualifying Friday for Boardman’s 400 freestyle relay and for Callen Aulizia in the 100 freestyle. The Spartans took the eighth and last spots in those races for today’s finals with times of 3:10.90 and 46.38, respectively.

“The Division I state meet for swimming is one of the top swim meets in the country,” Boardman coach Terry O’Halloran said. “I’m not [joking] here. It’s one of the most exciting meets in the national publications because of the crowds and how fast it is.”

In that environment, Boardman qualified for finals in three of the four events it competed in during Friday’s preliminary races at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition to the 400 relay and 100 freestyle, Aulizia is in the finals for the 50 freestyle. Austintown Fitch senior Tim Kubacki will also be racing in today’s finals in the 100 backstroke.

The Spartans got off to what O’Halloran called a slow start, taking 10th place in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:36.39.

“I had to pull some rabbits out of a hat to get these guys to start believing a little bit and started getting into their face a little bit,” O’Halloran said. “I told them, ‘You’re all the same. You’re all humans and you guys worked hard too and don’t be afraid to show it,’ and they stepped up.”

Aulizia, O’Halloran’s most experienced swimmer, said he knew he had to stay positive after that early setback as he took fifth in the 50 freestyle (21.01) and eighth in the 100 free. Last year, Aulizia took fourth place in the 50 freestyle.

“I was seeded a little lower than what I was hoping for, but coach told me I’m set,” Aulizia said. “I’m all right and I’ll still do well even though I’m seeded low.”

Joining Aulizia in the 400 free relay are junior Kyle Kimerer and freshmen Matthew DunLany amd Noah Basista.

Kubaki took fifth in 100 backstroke (50.88) and tenth in the 200 individual medley (1:54.08). He needs to shave off just under a second of his time to win a title on Saturday. It’s his first time in the finals.

“I haven’t looked at [the scoreboard] and I don’t know if I’m going to. I’m just going to swim my best and whatever happens, happens,” Kubacki said. “I don’t have anything to lose at this point. It’s all icing on the cake.”

In Division II, the Canfield foursome of Bobby Kutsch, Kamran Sarac, Lake Bennett and Cullen Brady will be in two consolation races, taking 10th in both the 200 freestyle relay (1:29.04) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:15.75).

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