WHEELING - Zoe Scarpone was a freshman when she set a lofty goal for herself.
The Linsly girls had just won the OVAC title for the sixth time since the meet was separated by gender.
Scarpone enjoyed that feeling of winning so much, she decided the Cadets would never lose at OVACs throughout her entire high school career.
Wheeling Park’s Katlyn Curnes competes in the 200 IM Saturday at the OVAC Swimming Championships in Steubenville.
Linsly’s Zoe Scarpone competes in the 200 IM Saturday at the OVAC Swimming Championships in Steubenville.
''It was a realistic goal,'' Scarpone said, ''but we knew we would have to work really hard to get it.''
Four years later, she is celebrating her fourth championship trophy while four gold medals hang around her neck. Both the boys and girls teams at Linsly took home small-school titles, while the Morgantown girls and Parkersburg South boys captured big-school crowns
''It feels really good to have a strong team and such a close team,'' said Scarpone, who was the only swimmer in the meet to win all four of her events. ''We're very supportive of each other.
''It's awesome to see how far we've come since my freshman year. I could not have asked for a better finish to my senior year.''
Fittingly enough, the meet started with Scarpone and her Linsly teammates -Samantha Schaal, Hayley Georgetti and sister, Eve - breaking the OVAC and Steubenville pool record in the 200 Medley Relay.
While breaking the record was "sweet," it wasn't the Cadets' goal.
''Our goal was to beat Wheeling Park,'' Scarpone said. ''We did it in the regular season and we did it (Saturday), but breaking that meet record was sweet. We were seeded five or six seconds away from it, so we didn't really know what it was before the race.''
It would be the first of two record-breaking swims Scarpone, who committed to Ashland University in Nov., was a part of.
The 200 Freestyle Relay team, which consisted of both Scarpone sisters as well as Carol Gao and Carleigh West, also set OVAC and pool marks.
The two events in between those relays, however, is what really separated Scarpone from the rest of the pack.
She was victorious in the 200 IM (2:12.54) and the 100 Butterfly (59.69), the third straight year she has won an OVAC title in each.
''Coach (Bill) Brubaker put me in the 200 IM and the 100 fly my freshman year,'' Scarpone said. ''I had never really swam them before, but I started swimming them more and gained more experience and found out they were my best events.''
Brubaker always seems to know how to get the best out of his swimmers.
Not only did his girls team claim a fourth straight Small School title, his boys squad won its sixth consecutive.
''The kids worked really hard and their hard work paid off with some good swims,'' the veteran coach, who the meet is named after, said. ''We broke some records and were close to a couple others.''
Four Linsly boys walked away with three gold medals in junior Drew Bastian (200IM, 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay), freshman Kevin Pietz (100 Butterfly, 200 Medley Relay, 100 Backstroke), junior Liam McNeil (50 Freestyle, 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay) and sophomore Boyd Reese (200 Freestyle, 500 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle Relay).
Steubenville Catholic finished runner up in small school on the boys' side, 185 points behind Linsly. The Wheeling Central girls finished as a surprising runner up in the small school girls' division.
The Maroon Knights had only four swimmers in the meet. Second place is the highest Central coach Jeani Humpe has finished in her seven years.
Morgantown won its third consecutive big school girls' title finishing with 116 points and ahead of Wheeling Park.
The Patriots boasted two gold-medal winners in sophomore Emilee Heilman and senior Katlyn Curnes. Heilman won the 100 Backstroke (1:05.71), while Curnes captured the 100 Breaststroke (1:07.88).
John Marshall senior Jade Worrels finished first in the 50 Freestyle (25.84).
The Park boys also finished runner up.
St. Clairsville senior Michael Eaton put on a show in his final OVAC meet. Eaton broke the meet and pool records in the 100 Freestyle (48.92) and did the same in the 100 Breaststroke (58.38).
Martins Ferry freshman Alyssa Kalinski also impressed in her first OVAC outing, winning the 500 Freestyle in a time of 5:31.08.
''We've got a core of kids in the OVAC, and it's not just Linsly, who want to swim and do well,'' Brubaker said. ''They all do quite well because they're so focused on swimming year round.''