Feb. 25, 2021 -- The Heights Tigers are heading to the state swim championship for the first time in nearly 20 years, after a boys relay team broke records at the Division I district meet.
Heights High School juniors Emmet Fluharty, James Huff, Aidan Peters, and Andrew Teets qualified for the medley relay and the 200 free relay at the OHSAA Northeast District meet on February 20. They finished 6th overall in the medley relay with a new school record of 1:38.18. They finished in 5th place for the 200 free relay and improved their school record time, clocking in at 1:29.52. That school record, before they broke it the first time in January, had held fast at Heights High School for 56 years.
The young men will compete in the OHSAA Swimming and Diving Championship Meet this Saturday, February 27 in Canton.
“Qualifying for the state championship meet, under any circumstances, is an incredible accomplishment. That these boys were able to do it in such a difficult year is nothing short of amazing,” said Swim Coach Dan Budin.
“They worked, they were committed, they were dedicated, and they supported each other and the rest of their teammates throughout the most challenging year of their lives. They earned their place among the elite swimmers across the country and solidified themselves as the greatest of all time in Heights history. This is a dream come true for them and for our swim program overall, and they are so deserving of this magnificent achievement.”
In the individual events, Peters finished 6th in the 50 free with a personal-best time of 21.70. He placed 5th in the 100 free with a school record of 47.56, breaking a 30-year-old record and getting his first individual record.
Huff placed 5th in the 100 breaststroke and improved his school record at 58.87. His time was one spot away from qualifying for the state meet, and he missed it by just 1/100th of a second. Huff also placed 13th in the 100 butterfly.
Senior Ari Inwood placed 26th in the breaststroke with one of his best times at 1:04.91. Junior Denzel McKenzie placed 22nd in the 100 backstroke with his second-best time of 58.71.
On the girls team, junior Patricia Chen finished 32nd in the 50 free and 34th in the 100. She was the only district qualifier from the Heights girls team.
The boys team placed 11th overall, an improvement from 17th last year.
According to Budin, the last time a Heights High School swimmer qualified for the state championship meet was in 2003, and no relay teams have been to states since the early 1990s. In 2014, a female diver from Heights High qualified for the state diving championship and placed sixth.
“I’m incredibly proud of all our athletes and coaches for the extraordinary effort they have given this year,” said Athletic Director Joe D’Amato. “Aidan, Andrew, Emmet and James embody everything we preach to our student athletes. They are high academic kids who are incredibly hard working. Obviously, their hard work has paid off. I couldn’t be happier for Coach Budin and the boys.”