The headline has been edited to reflect the following correction: Owen Chaye holds five school records, including two county records.
Everybody loves a closer, and Medina boys swimming coach Anthony Petruzzi had a starter, middle reliever and closer in Owen Chaye.
The 2018-19 Gazette MVP didn’t just lead the Bees. He ruled the Medina County roost.
Chaye qualified for the Division I state tournament in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400 free relay and showed Medina the way all season.
“He took kids under his wing and led by example and had an incredible year,” Petruzzi said. “He stepped up from someone who had swam year-round to someone who wants to swim in college and worked hard every single day.”
That level was exceptional, as the senior scored 281.75 points.
To put that in perspective, Chaye won 19 events, finished second seven times and was a third-place finisher twice.
“I didn’t really pay attention to points,” Chaye said. “I just focused on helping my team win events. I pretty much won the 50 all year except for two meets. I didn’t notice pressure. I just focused on my swims and focused on doing well and that helped me out.”
The success that began early finished with gusto, as Chaye walked away from the Medina pool with county records in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
He holds other school records in the 50 free, 100 free and 200 medley relay.
“Over the offseason, I definitely took it more seriously,” Chaye said. “I set better goals for myself, and I started lifting and training more.
“Because it was my last year, there were some records I wanted to get. That really motivated me throughout the summer and fall. I definitely noticed some success with that and that helped me with the hard practices. It was the knowing that it would pay off at the end of the season.”
The drive to succeed was always there, but the intra-squad battles with All-Gazette teammates Brian Cuppett, Austin Olsavsky, Colin McClowry and Dom Bottini pushed him on the days when he didn’t feel like his elite self.
“The competition was definitely there,” Chaye said. “I love all those boys. They obviously helped me get to where I am. I would not be here if it weren’t for them.
“My freshman year, when Austin and Colin were going times that I wish I could go. I just wanted to be them. When I noticed I was going the same times as them, that was cool to see.
“I’ve known Brian my whole entire life. He’s my best friend. That kid, I would not want him to beat me at literally anything because he’ll let me know it. I want to be the one bragging to him. I know if he beats me off the block in the 50, it’s something he’ll tell me the rest of the day. It’s not something I want.”
A Northwest District qualifier in the 50 free, 200 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, success followed Chaye all season.
That’s what made his runner-up finishes in the 50 free and free relays at the Lakewood Sectional so satisfying for Petruzzi.
“We changed something on his freestyle, and it took six months to incorporate,” Petruzzi said. “By the fall, it was there and it was because of the work he put in. Had he not put that work in during the spring and summer, he would have never gotten to the point he did this year.”
While his times may eventually be broken, Chaye’s legacy will not because success was measured from a team standpoint.
“The big thing with some of the freshmen was they didn’t notice success right away,” Chaye said. “I made sure to tell them my freshman year that I didn’t break a minute the entire time my freshman year. I was probably one of the slowest kids on the team. I told them if I can do it, you can do it. You just have to focus on getting better in the season than the offseason.
“I remember when I broke the 50 free record, I was excited, but one of the freshmen, Lucas Tome, found out he made district in the 200 IM. When he told me that, I completely forgot about the record and was super excited for him to make it to district as a freshman because I didn’t it make individually until I was a junior.”