Gabi Albiero, Ella Welch Set Records; Sacred Heart Wins Eighth-Straight Kentucky Girls State Title

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Photo Courtesy: Sacred Heart Sports Twitter (@sha_sports)

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The 2020 Kentucky Girls State Swimming and Diving Championships took place on Friday, Feb. 21 at the University of Kentucky’s Lancaster Aquatics Center in Lexington, Ky.

A total of three Kentucky state records were broken during the meet:

  • Sacred Heart Academy – 4×50 medley relay (1:40.43)
  • Christian Academy Louisville’s Gabi Albiero – 50 free (22.36)
  • Assumption’s Ella Welch – 100 free (49.58)

Sacred Heart dominated the field, using their impressive depth to finish first in the team standings for the eighth-consecutive season. They earned their 31st title in program history with a final score of 503 ahead of duPont Manual (159) and Christian Academy Louisville (149).

Click HERE for full results and team scores.

Top 5 Team Scores:

1. Sacred Heart Academy – 503
2. duPont Manual – 159
3. Christian Academy Louisville – 149
4. Dixie Heights – 139
5. Assumption – 126

Sacred Heart’s Annabel Crush (24.93), Claire Donan (28.17), Emily Lenihan (24.48) and Madeline Meredith (22.85) started the meet with a bang by winning the 4×50 medley relay in 1:40.43, breaking their own state record of 1:40.61 set in 2016. Christian Academy Louisville was a distant second in 1:47.68 and Dixie Heights was third in 1:48.25.

After finishing third in the 200 free a season ago, Sacred Heart’s Mackenzie Lanning found herself on top of the podium this year after stopping the clock in 1:49.40. Right behind her was soon-to-be Florida Gator Kenady Beil of Dixie Heights in 1:49.72 for second while Sacred Heart’s Caroline Pape was third in 1:50.57.

Not too long after leading off the winning medley relay, Crush was back in the water to crush the competition by taking first in the 200 IM for the second-straight year with a time of 1:57.57 as the first of only two swimmers to break two minutes. It was a 1-2 punch for Sacred Heart as Donan took second in 1:59.14 while Notre Dame Academy’s Lainy Kruger raced to third in 2:00.50.

Louisville-bound Albiero earned gold in the 50 free for the fifth-consecutive year, clocking in at a quick 22.36 to break her own overall Kentucky state record of 22.63 she set at this meet last year. Welch (22.98) and Meredith (23.38) rounded out the top three finishers.

Van McKinley of Henry Clay dove to first on the 1-meter board for the second-straight year, posting a final score of 503.15 for the win. Madison Southern’s Flanary Patterson was second with 463.95 points while Lexington Catholic’s Mackie Redford dove to third with a total score of 435.70.

Albiero flew to the top of the podium for the second time of the night, this time getting her hands to the wall the fastest in the 100 fly with a time of 52.08 for the event three-peat. Her time was just shy of Grace Oglesby’s state mark of 51.75 set in 2015. Lenihan (54.18) and Beil (55.72) finished second and third, respectively.

After taking second in the 50 free, Welch redeemed herself by winning the 100 free for the second year in a row with a final time of 49.58 as the only athlete in the race to crack the 50-second barrier. Her time also broke Sophie Skinner’s state record of 49.79 set in 2015. Sacred Heart’s Caroline Pape raced to second in 50.88 and St. Henry District’s Emma Littrell sprinted to third in 52.74.

Lanning added another gold medal to her hardware collection after dropping over five seconds from her morning swim to win the 500 free in 4:55.53. Dixie Heights’ Selina Reil, who has sent her commitment to Alabama, took a very close second in 4:55.58 while Sacred Heart’s Meredith Bauer was third in 5:03.07.

Sacred Heart’s Brinly Hardy (24.02), Chloe McDonald (24.11), Caroline Pape (23.64), and Meredith (23.18) joined forces to win the 4×50 free relay in 1:34.95. Despite Albiero’s impressive 22.45 anchor split, Christian Academy Louisville was the runner-up in 1:36.22 and duPont Manual took third in 1:38.82.

Crush, who has verbally committed to NC State, won the 100 back for the third consecutive year in 52.95 – just shy of Asia Seidt’s state record of 52.89 from 2016. Krista Wheeler of Louisville Collegiate was the runner-up in 53.67 while Lenihan powered home to third in 54.00.

After taking second in the 200 IM, Donan, who has committed to Michigan, found herself in the top spot by getting her hands to the wall the fastest in the 100 breast with a quick 1:01.61. Kruger (1:02.20) and Model’s Victoria Taylor (1:05.19) completed the top three finishers.

Sacred Heart completed the relay sweep and secure their team title as the 4×100 free relay squad of Lenihan (51.65), Pape (50.98), Donan (50.72) and Crush (49.58) concluded the meet in 3:22.93, just shy of their own 2014 state record of 3:22.79. duPont Manual was the runner-up in 3:34.35 and Assumption took third in 3:35.87.

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