Will Cole Powers St. Xavier to 32nd-Straight Kentucky Boys State Championship Title

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Photo Courtesy: KHSAA Main Twitter (@KHSAA)

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Following the girls meet yesterday, the 2020 Kentucky Boys State Swimming and Diving Championships took place on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the University of Kentucky’s Lancaster Aquatics Center in Lexington, Ky.

For the 32nd-consecutive season, St. Xavier claimed the Kentucky state championship crown in dominant fashion. They won four individual events and swept all three relays to finish with 592 points ahead of Highlands (193) and Trinity (153).

Senior Will Cole set a new Kentucky state mark in the 100 back with a time of 46.92 and led-off St. Xavier’s state record-setting relay (1:28.96).

Click HERE for full results and team scores.

Top 5 Team Scores:

1. St. Xavier – 592
2. Highlands – 193
3. Trinity – 153
4. Bowling Green – 132
5. Paul Laurence Dunbar – 106

St. Xavier began their winning ways as Cole (21.77), Connor Kang (24.65), Holden Smith (21.59), and Ethan Highley (20.95) won the opening 4×50 medley relay in 1:28.96 to break their own Kentucky state record of 1:30.17 set in 2018. Highlands took a distance second in 1:37.75 while Bowling Green finished third in 1:38.02.

After finishing third in the 200 free a year ago, Elizabethtown’s John Hayes found himself with the gold medal this year after cruising to the wall in 1:37.24 – just off the 1:37.14 he posted during prelims. St. Xavier’s Jack Anderson also got under the 1:40-barrier in 1:39.07 for second and South Warren’s Neal Wolfram took third in 1:40.31.

Soon after helping his team to medley relay gold, Smith was back in the pool to win the 200 IM with a final time of 1:47.62. It was a 1-2 punch for St. Xavier as Kang finished right behind his teammate in 1:47.91 for second and Henry Clay’s Jackson Millard touched third in 1:51.31.

Highlands’ Mac Russell splashed-and-dashed his way to the state title in the 50 free, posting a quick 20.63 for the win. Louisville Collegiate’s Alex Brehm and Greenwood’s Luke Shourds both stopped the clock in 20.98 to tie for second as the top three finishers all cracked the 21-second barrier.

Covington Catholic’s Jude Dierker dove to first on the 1-meter diving board, finishing with a total score of 525.65 for the victory. St. Henry’s Aidan Stigall finished second with 486.45 points as Bowling Green’s Conner Twyman dove to third with a final score of 479.70.

Smith, who has verbally committed to Alabama, successfully defended his state title in the 100 fly after getting his hands to the wall the fastest in 48.01. His teammates Luke Thomas (48.97) and Jackson Mussler (49.33) made it a St. Xavier sweep as they finished second and third, respectively.

After leading off the winning medley relay, Virginia-bound Cole sprinted to first place in the 100 free with a swift 43.61 to win by over two seconds. 50 free champion Russell was the runner-up in this event after clocking in at 45.81 and St. Xavier’s Cooper Tyler took third in 46.69.

Not too long after winning the 200 free, Hayes dove back in the pool to earn his second-straight 500 free title when he raced to the wall in 4:26.37. Anderson again was the runner-up to Hayes after dropping over five seconds from his prelims time to finish second in 4:28.24 and Beechwood’s Eli Shoyat took third in 4:31.32.

St. Xavier’s Thomas (21.13), Kang (20.71), Mussler (21.22), and Highley (21.00) combined to win the 4×50 free relay in 1:24.06, well over four seconds faster than the rest of the field. South Warren (1:28.33) and Eastern (1:29.05) completed the top three relay teams.

Cole powered home to a win in the 100 back in record-breaking fashion for the second year in a row. During prelims, the senior broke the Kentucky state record of 47.23 he shared with Nicholas Albiero with a new time of 47.00 During finals, he lowered it yet again with a fast 46.92. Scott County’s Kaleb Brannock was second in 48.62 and St. Xavier’s Charlie Crush was third in 48.78.

The 100 breast proved to be one of the closest events of the meet. Highlands’ Jacob Banks led the charge, powering home to the wall in 55.65. Right behind him was Kang in a very close second with a time of 55.74, and one one-hundredth behind him was Louisville Collegiate’s Alex Brehm in 55.75 for third.

St. Xavier made it a relay sweep and secured the overall team title as the quartet of Smith (45.27), Thomas (45.98), Anderson (45.92), and Cole (43.30) concluded the meet by winning the 4×100 free relay in 3:00.47, just off the state record of 3:00.31. Highlands was second in 3:10.76 and Trinity took third in 3:14.30.

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