Heights swim team is LEL runner-up; sends diver Posch to state meet
Members of the Cleveland Heights High School swim team wait for the Feb. 9 Sectional Tournament at Spire Institute in Geneva to begin.
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At the Lake Erie League championships on Jan. 27, the Heights High swim team finished second for both boys and girls—the highest finish in Coach Jim Miller's 11 years with the team, and one he characterized as a highlight of the team’s season.
"It's a great accomplishment and says a lot about the team," he said. "This is one of the strongest teams I've had, and it has the most depth."
Junior diver Ellen Posch advanced to state-level competition for the first time, where she finished 18th of 24 in the one-meter dive at the state meet in Canton on Feb. 21. She was the first swimmer from Heights since 2003 to compete at the state meet.
"I absolutely love diving and wouldn't want to do any other sport," said Posch, who has been diving for Heights since her freshman year, and also swam for the team her freshman and sophomore years. Posch said the best part of competing at the state meet was the chance to compete with some of the best divers in the world. Three divers at the meet previously competed at the Olympic trials.
This year’s swim team is one of the largest Miller has coached in his time at Heights. There are more than 50 swimmers from all grades at the high school.
Kristy Miller, girls swim coach, said that the most exciting meet this year was the dual meet against Madison. "Even though we lost, the swimmers showed a lot of spirit, and many of them improved their times," she said.
The third annual "Pink in the Pool" meet, held Feb. 1 against West Geauga, is a favorite among the swimmers. The meet raises money for breast cancer research and raised almost $1,600 this year. The Heights team sold floating luminaries before the meet, and both teams also sold shirts in advance of the meet.
The Feb. 1 meet was also this year’s Senior Night, where the team's 13 seniors were recognized. While there are a lot of graduating seniors, Kristy Miller said that there are a lot of strong swimmers, "ready to rise up and replace the seniors."
The girls team's best relay event is the 200-medley relay with junior Lillie Hall (backstroke), junior Monica Chan (breaststroke), junior Casandra Espenchied (butterfly) and sophomore Silvia Iammarino (freestyle). The coaches believe the boys are a threat in all three relay events. Hall and Espenchied are the captains of the girls team, while junior James Johnson and senior Luke Boyle lead the boys team.
At the sectional tournament in Geneva on Feb. 9, Posch was the sectional runner-up and qualified for the district meet, where her fifth place finish qualified her to move on to the state meet. While no other swimmers qualified, the top 16 finishers in each event earned points for their team.
The boys 200-medley relay team finished seventh, freshman Alex Kellon was 15th in the 100 butterfly, the boys 200-freestyle relay team came in 10th, Boyle was 16th in the 100 breaststroke, the boys 400-freestyle relay team was eighth, the girls 200-medley relay team was 12th, Iammarino was 16th in the 200 freestyle, the girls 200-freestyle relay team was 13th, and the girls 400-freestyle relay team came in 12th, all earning points for Heights. The girls team finished 12th out of 16 teams and the boys were 10th in a field of 14. Many swimmers improved their individual times.
Simone Quartell, a Heights High graduate, is a student at Cleveland State University and a Heights Observer intern.