Somehow the Chagrin Falls Tigers swimming team got through an entire season despite the coronavirus pandemic. There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether the Tigers would get to have a season but fortunately they did. It was a great feeling for the whole team.

But the team’s annual plans for senior night hit a snag. Chagrin Falls has always shared its senior night with neighborhood rival Kenston but that tradition could not continue this year. Neither team has a home pool so they’ve always had to rent pools when hosting any meet. Due to the pandemic very few pools were available forcing Chagrin Falls to go to its back-up plan.

Thankfully the Orange Lions stepped in to lend a hand by inviting their Chagrin Valley Chagrin Conference rivals to share senior night at the Orange High School pool. It was a wonderful gesture but it did not stop the Tigers from taking care of business. Chagrin Falls swept Orange on Jan. 28 as the boys remained undefeated in dual meets with a 135-34 win. The girls claimed a 116.5-63.5 victory over the Lions at Pepper Pike on Jan 28.

“We had a great night,” Tigers swimming coach Beth Sonnhalter said. “It’s been a long season. To wrap it up and actually honor our seniors and get here and have a great time. It was a great day.”

Each team was coming off the annual CVC conference meet. The meet had to be held in three separate pools on different days because it was not deemed safe for the entire conference to get together. Both the Chagrin Falls girls and boys swimmers showed out by placing runner-up to Hawken in the Chagrin Division while the Lions took third place on the girls’ side and the boys finished in fourth place.

In the meet against Orange, the Tigers’ ladies took first place in eight events and placed in the top three twice in seven races. Annie Mills led the women with four first place finishes on the evening. Mills placed in the top spot in three team relays and one individual event. Mills teamed up with senior Kate LaMonica, sophomore Madi Machado, and freshman Alexandra Scharpf to log a 2:01.60 finish in the 200-yard medley relay.

Senior Morgan Kittle joined Mills, LaMonica and Machado to earn a first-place berth in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a 1:51.73 finish and the quartet then captured first place with a 4:05:53 time in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Mills’ lone victory in the individual event came when she logged a time of 58.70 in the 100-yard freestyle. Freshman Samantha Holtz, who won the CVC girls diving title days earlier, won the girls 1-meter diving competition with a score of 245.30.

Lions’ senior Anna Klinginsmith led her team with two first-place finishes. Klinginsmith won the 50-yard freestyle event with a 26.97 time then captured the 100-yard backstroke with a 1:03.41 finish which was less than a full second ahead than Machado’s 1:04.07 time.

The Chagrin Falls boys took home eight first-place finishes and placed in all top three spots in five races. Senior Michael Tropf and junior Joshua Rooney each won two individual events. Tropf won the 200-yard freestyle with a 1:53.47 time and then took down the 100-yard freestyle with a 51.55 finish. Rooney’s first victory came in the 200-yard individual medley when he logged a time of 2:10.80 and then won the 100-yard breaststroke event with a 1:06.08 finish to end up just 00.69 ahead of fellow Chagrin Falls’ junior Zachary Muckle. Senior Keanu Sherman took the top spot in the boys 1-meter diving event with 147.50 score.

It wasn’t quite the way the Lions wanted to celebrate their senior night but they had no regrets in sharing the spotlight with Chagrin Falls. It has been a challenging season and Orange wanted to do its part to make sure the Tigers could honor their seniors the right way.

“We’ve been grateful to at least even be in the pool. These kids have passion for the sport and they’ve been doing everything they can to make sure we can still have a season and continue with COVID and be as safe as we can,” Orange swimming coach Andrea Redal said.

The regular season has now officially come to a close for both squads. It’s now time to gear up for the annual sectional tournament. The Lions and Tigers will not just face off against CVC opponents but also take on other top teams in the state on Feb. 12 at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva.

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