First year head Coach Dan Reese would be the first to admit that the thought of going undefeated in the River Division of the Northeast Ohio Conference was way out on his radar as he took over the Bulldog program back in November. “I am so proud of our team as we started the year with a collection of swimmers, runners, lacrosse players, soccer players, and new athletes...but we finished our conference division in first place with a true swim team,” remarked Reese. “It is a true reflection of the dedication put forth by our student athletes, parents and coaches.”
The Bulldogs are a veteran laden team, but they also have a lot of young swimmers. What the young Bulldogs lacked in experience, they more than make up for in quality swims. "We knew we could count on our veteran swimmers, but we knew we needed strong swims by our younger guys if we were going to have a chance against a strong North Royalton team," Reese said.
A River Division regular season championship is now squarely in the hands of the Bulldogs. Dan Reese’s versatile Bulldog squad officially wrapped up its first division title under Reese’s tenure with a 105-81 win over North Royalton finishing 5-0 in the River Division. North Royalton won the River Division at the NOC meet, so with the Bulldogs winning the regular season, both teams are co-champions.
Coach Reese stated, “It was great to accomplish this championship on Senior Night. "This group of young men has given so much to this team and their leadership showed.” As the final scores were announced at AGWC, the boys erupted into a loud deafening cheer of total excitement. Senior captain, Cameron Potter commented, "It was a great meet! It really stinks to think about the fact that it was my last home meet, but our team made it really special by going out there and winning the NOC co-championship title! I'm really proud of them and what we have accomplished throughout the season.”
Senior swimmers Cameron Potter, Jacob Earle and senior diver Jeff Byrne led the Bulldogs with first place finishes in their events. Byrne scored a 165.97 to take first in the diving event. Potter took first place in the 50 Free with a 23.53. Earle went a 1:03.70 in the 100 Breast and 2:09.09 in the 200 IM for his first place finishes. Earle said, “Beating North Royalton and becoming co-conference champs was a great way to end my last home meet as a Stow Bulldog.”
Junior Cody Vantrease finished the season undefeated in conference dual meets with two first place finishes. Vantrease won the 200 Free with a 1:54.68 and the 100 Fly with a 57.51. “It was a great way to end the season for the seniors and I am so excited for them.” Vantrease stated, “Winning the NOC is such a great accomplishment because it is a team championship which makes it even better.”
All three A relay teams swam strong races to finish in first place. The 200 Medley Relay team of sophomore Shane Riddle, Earle, Vantrease and junior Curtis Henry won with a 1:49.24. The 200 Free Relay of Potter, Henry, Gabriel and Earle won with a 1:35.98 and the 400 Free Relay team of Potter, sophomore Schuyler Morris, junior Justin Faluotico and Vantrease won with a 3:35.71.
Faluotico, unable to compete at the NOC championships due to illness, had a lot to prove this meet. Faluotico came up big by scoring a second place finish in the 200 Free with a personal best time of 1:57.46 and second place finish in the 500 Free by shattering his previous best by 17.67 seconds with a new personal record of 5:27.56. Sophomore Max Bauer (2:08.02) had a personal best time placing fourth in the 200 Free.
In the 200 IM Riddle (2:22.70) took fourth and freshman Travis Delker, with a personal best time of 2:25.68, took fifth.
In the 50 Free Gabriel (24.85) took fourth and Henry (24.88) took fifth.
Senior Will Sheppard scored a 165.97 for a second place finish and Gabriel scored a personal best 141.60 for fourth place.
In the 100 Fly sophomore Josh Pflug placed fifth with a 1:22.25.
In the 100 Free, Henry (54.73) took second with a personal best time and Morris (55.92) took fourth.
Delker dropped 2.59 seconds for his personal best time to earn third place in the 500 Free with a 5:35.10.
The B 200 Free Relay team of Morris, Bauer, senior Ethan Schur and Faluotico placed third with a relay best time of 1:42.11.
In the 100 Back Riddle took second with a personal best time of 1:04.77. Sophomore Corey Dyer took fourth with a 1:06.31 and junior Caleb Studt also earned a personal best time scoring fifth with a 1:08.82.
Sophomore Alex Cremer took fourth in the 100 Breast with a 1:12.46.
The B 400 Free Relay team of Riddle, Schur, Delker and Gabriel placed third with a 3:48.78.
Coach Reese said, “We got contributions from every single athlete this meet.”