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Girls Swimming: Late start doesn’t slow Roosevelt’s Houk on way to state championships

Girls Swimming: Late start doesn’t slow Roosevelt’s Houk on way to state championships


Kent Roosevelt’s Ella Houk competes during the 1-Meter Dive event earlier this season.

By Susan Jenior

Staff Writer


Athletes across Ohio are traveling to Canton this week after qualifying for the OHSAA Division I and Division II state swimming and diving championships.

Local swimmers and divers from both Aurora and Kent Roosevelt will be competing at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, which is the largest swimming facility in Ohio.




The boys diving state tournaments are Tuesday, with Division II scheduled at 9 a.m. and Division I at 2:30 p.m.

The girls diving takes over the Canton Natatorium on Wednesday at the same times.

Division II girls and boys swimming preliminaries are Thursday at 5 p.m., with finals on Friday at 5 p.m. Division I girls and boys swimming preliminaries are Friday at 9 a.m., with finals on Saturday at 3 p.m.




Gabriella Melin, a Kent Roosevelt senior qualified in the 500 yard freestyle in Division I.


Melin’s qualifying time was a 5:16.39, earning her the at-large spot into the state tournament.

Her Roosevelt teammate, junior Ella Houk, earned the trip to Canton in the One Meter Springboard Diving, finishing runner-up in the district, one of the highest finishes for a Rough Rider at the district in recent memory.

Houk will dive on Wednesday at the Natatorium, competing among the best in the state.

“I have been diving for three years,” said Houk, a golfer and gymnast who started her diving career during her freshman year. “I was doing gymnastics at that time and diving seemed interesting. It was more like gymnastics than any other sport. My friends said I should try diving and the atmosphere was amazing.”

The Kent Roosevelt team included friends from the golf team as well.

Houk practices, in addition to Kent Roosevelt’s team, with the American Flyers Club.

“I do the one-meter, three-meter and platform diving,” said Houk, who has aspirations to perfect the five-meter and seven-meter platform diving following the state tournament.

At the state tournament, Houk will do two front dives, two back dives and three twisters.

“I like doing back dives, they are fun,” said Houk.

Any athlete that qualifies for the state had support and help along the way.

“I want to thank my coaches both at Kent Roosevelt and American Flyers (Katie, Dan and Curtis) for their amazing work and encouragement,” said Houk.

Corey Spicer is the varsity swim coach at Kent Roosevelt and Kameron MacLean is Houk’s dive coach.

Houk also appreciated the support of her parents, Justin and Melissa Houk, for their motivation and encouragement.

“My parents push me through the tough times,” said Houk.

Houk practices four or five times a week for a couple hours.

“Sometimes I wish I had started when I was younger,” said Houk. “I could imagine where I would be, but I am really happy how I have progressed in the last three years.”

Houk is keeping a steady schedule before state.

“The night before is an open-board warmup at Canton, and then I plan to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast.”

Houk did want to mention one of her good friends, Annie Haluch of Hudson.

“Annie finished first in the district meet ahead of me,” said Houk. “She is so dedicated to the sport, a hard-working athlete and her first-place finish was well deserved. Sportsmanship is a big part of our success.”

Houk has been to Canton at least six times this season.

“I know the boards, so I plan to keep calm and do my thing,” said Houk.

It has been a successful season for Houk and the league-champion Rough Riders.

Houk won the Suburban League diving title the last two seasons and both the boys and girls team won the Suburban League crowns this season.

“This year, Kent has some really good swimmers and everyone is just doing well in practice,” said Houk. “We are working so hard and it has paid off.”



1 Meter Diving: Colten McCrae of Aurora, Ethan Rodriguez of Kent Roosevelt, Zach Best of Aurora.

200 Yard Medley: Kent Roosevelt

50 Yard Freestyle: Jack Puhalla of Kent Roosevelt.

100 Yard Freestyle: Kadin Pyka of Kent Roosevelt, Cameron Good of Aurora.

200 Yard Freestyle Relay: Kent Roosevelt.

100 Yard Backstroke: Cameron Good of Aurora.

100 Yard Breaststroke: Kadin Pyka of Kent Roosevelt.

400 Yard Freestyle Relay: Aurora

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