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Three Rivers Athletic Conference
St. Francis crushes D-1 District Competition
February 24, 2011St Francis de Sales High School
BOWLING GREEN -- Somehow it seemed appropriate that when the St. Francis Knights came forward to accept their Division I district swimming and diving championship trophy Friday night, the podium was too small.
The award stand had been adequate throughout the competition at the Bowling Green State University Student Recreation Center, but when it was time for the Knights to be honored with their 45th district title, the team and its coaches just overwhelmed the platform.
"This never gets old," said senior Mike DiSalle, who won four events as St. Francis (638 points) outdistanced second-place St. John's (402).
"It's still a great feeling to come in here and have a bunch of guys do well. There's pressure on us to perform based on our past success, but after a while I think we get used to it. We put pressure and demands on ourselves.
The Knights won 10 of 11 swimming events, swept the three relays, and took the top four positions in two events. The format guarantees only the first-place finisher at the district level a place at next week's state meet, but 11 at-large times from around the state also qualify, and a number of Knights are expected to be in that group.
St. Francis coach Keith Kennedy said his team, the runner-up in last year's state swimming and diving championship, has been targeting a return trip.
"They really want to do well at the district level, but the goal is always the state meet -- that's what they are shooting for," Kennedy said.
"Here at the district they're trying to post a time, trying to race the clock so they can make the state meet. The state is crazy fast, and doing well here to position yourself for the state is a big motivation."
Friday's competition opened with the 200 medley relay, and St. Francis stormed away from the field and won in 1:33.84 with the team of Rowan Williams, DJ MacDonald, Nick Carmony, and Dan DiSalle. St. John's was second.
Mike DiSalle got his first win of the day in the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:39.68, with the Knights sweeping the top four places in the event.
The field of eight swimmers in the final heat of the 200 individual medley was bunched together after completing the butterfly, but MacDonald eased out in front in the middle legs of the race, then took a big lead in the freestyle. He won in 1:55.93, just off the district record (1:55.68) set by Lorin Pierson of Bowling Green in 2009.
Dan DiSalle of St. Francis had the best 50 yard freestyle time coming into the meet, and he took the event in a time of 21.21, just off the time of 21.18 he set last year. Findlay's Dietrich Hinesman was second in yesterday's race, while Connor Trimble of St. Francis was third.
Alex Hoffman of Fremont Ross kept the Knights from sweeping every event, as he took the 100 butterfly in 52.41, with Carmony second. Mike DiSalle won the 100 freestyle in 52.41, with brother Dan second, Dan Miller third, and Trimble fourth. Kennedy expects all four to qualify for state.
"These kids see the year after year tradition, and they believe in it," Kennedy said. "You have to put in the work, but a lot of swimming is mental. You have to have the mental side, as well, to be at your best, and I think they were sharp today."
Williams took the 500 freestyle for St. Francis, with Zimmerman second and Carmony third. In the 200 freestyle relay, Mike DiSalle teamed with Miller, Zimmerman, and Trimble for the win. The 100 backstroke belonged to St. Francis freshman Nick Birkmeier, while MacDonald won the 100 breaststroke.
In the final event of the night, the 400 freestyle relay, St. Francis had the DiSalle cousins join Williams and Miller to claim a victory in 3:04.18, shattering the district record the same four set last year.
Fremont Ross was third on the boys' side, while Findlay took fifth, Southview sixth, Bowling Green ninth, and Northview was 10th.