Those expecting a sophomore jinx from the Medina swimming teams coached by Anthony Petruzzi might want to head west this weekend.
Squads that had success last season under their first-year coach exploded this season with one great weekend after another.
Those teams will travel to the Bowling Green Division I District on Saturday and will have a combined 43 swims.
They’ll do it after a Lakewood Sectional that saw Lexi Agee (200-yard freestyle, 500 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), Riley Junge (200 free, 500 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), Olivia Muchewicz (200 medley relay, 50 free, 100 backstroke, 200 free relay) and Crosbee Lisser (200 medley relay, 50 free, 100 breaststroke, 200 free relay) qualify in four events.
The boys will send four-event qualifiers Josh Burns (100 free, 200 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), Derek Walker (50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay) Spencer Savage (50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay) and Anthony Petruzzi (200 IM, 500 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay) to BG as well.
Incidentally, Muchewicz, Agee, Junge and Lisser broke the school record in the 200 free relay.
“I think it’s amazing what he’s done for us,” Agee said. “I didn’t expect us to get so good all of a sudden. My freshman year, the boys didn’t win that much and now they’re undefeated. Even the girls, going into my sophomore year we lost eight seniors and they were all really good swimmers.
I’m surprised at how well we’re doing. It’s awesome.”
Projected to finish fourth or fifth in the Greater Cleveland Conference, the girls finished 9-4 and placed third. They were 6-5 in Petruzzi’s first season.
Four school records were broken — Agee also broke records in the 200 free, 500 free and 200 individual medley.
The boys went undefeated at 13-0 and won the GCC, posting wins over Walsh Jesuit, Shaker Heights, Solon and Strongsville for the first time in school history with a school record broken in the 400 free relay. Under Petruzzi, the boys have won league titles two years in a row.
“A lot of our kids have gotten so much more involved in swimming,” Spencer Savage said. “They’ve totally evolved as swimmers. Kids that swim year round have so much more of an advantage than the kids that swim just the four months of our season. It really helps staying with your high school coach the entire year.”
That could be one of the biggest positives for the Bees, as Petruzzi, 52, has been the coach of the Medina Makos since 2008.
That familiarity with the kids has built a bond that has translated into the pool.
“We’re building through the Makos program,” Petruzzi said. “I could see the kids that were swimming through our program as fifth-graders that were eighth-graders (when he took over). I could see it building. That’s how you do it. You build through the club team. It took a good five years.
“I take what’s good and implement what I thought could make us better. I test them every four weeks in groups of the same speed. We do a lot of that.”
The proof is in the numbers. Last season, Medina’s program had 38 swimmers and jumped to 46 this season. With only four seniors leaving, the Bees should be up to 50 athletes next season and the future only looks brighter.
“It’s incredible that all these kids want to swim and they’re telling more kids to swim,” Petruzzi said. “It helps the Makos as well. The Makos started out with 40 kids and now we’re 150 strong and 70 percent of that feeds into Medina High School.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.