Boardman record-setters gear up for tourney
By Dan Hiner
The Boardman High School swimming team isn’t the largest program in the area. Boardman’s boys team consists of 16 student-athletes — 14 swimmers and two divers.
But the Spartans have developed into one of the best in the area over the past four years and members of the Boardman boys relay team broke several school records over the last two years.
The relay team consists of seniors Kyle Kimerer and Callen Aulizia and sophomores Matt DunLany and Noah Basista.
Basista said the relay team doesn’t think of themselves as individuals. They are one unit when they enter an event.
“I think [chemistry’s] still important, especially to know the guys and how they swim,” Basista said Monday. “Even emotions throughout the race — to get up pumped up before and help you out after. It’s been really great being with these three other guys.”
Since joining the All-American Conference four years ago, the Spartans have won four consecutive AAC titles.
“To actually have four really talented swimmers that are swimming four us right now that have come up through the program since they’ve been freshmen, it’s good stuff,” Boardman head coach Terry O’Halloran said. “We have a lot of depth behind them too so we have some kids that can go in there and take their place if we need to.
“We’re hoping for good things. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed.”
While they swim as a unit, the four swimmers have excelled in their own individual events.
Basista broke the school record in the 200m individual medley last season and DunLany hopes to make state in the 100m fly. But DunLany prefers to see the relay team succeed because the group has to win as a unit.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun to be on the relay team with these guys,” DunLany said. “They’re really good swimmers, really good friends and it makes the team feel a lot closer when you’re on the relay racing together.”
The Division I swimming sectional begins on Wednesday, and despite the program’s success this season, the Spartans have a chip on their shoulder.
The Spartans’ relay team lost to Hoover by 0.1 seconds in December. Boardman will cross paths with the Vikings again at sectional.
“We definitely want to get them at sectionals and get in their head a little bit,” Aulizia said. “At the same time, we have to realize the big picture is state. We can’t over do the sectional.”
Kimerer said the postseason is the “beginning of the end” for the senior class and the team needs to come out strong in sectionals.
“This weekend is really going to be the finale to everything we’ve been working on throughout the whole season,” Kimerer said. “Sectional is going to be really important to come in strong.”
O’Halloran said the team can’t enter the sectional too confident, and will need to balance rest and workouts in the postseason.
“We have to be a little bit careful because when you’ve been successful in the past, you can’t make assumptions,” O’Halloran said. “You still have to work. For everybody, every year, it’s a little bit faster. We want to make sure they know what they’re doing on starts, especially on relay takeoffs.
“We don’t want to be totally rested when they get to sectionals. We don’t wanted to be totally rested, we’ll be pretty rested, when we get to districts — districts qualifies you for the state tournament. But we feel confident that if they swim mistake free, all the talent is there so they should get back to the state meet. We just have to be careful.”