When Cassandra Pasadyn touched the wall 0.22 seconds ahead of Highland High’s Ashley Mennenga on Saturday, the Brunswick High senior set the bar high.
In winning the 100-yard backstroke at the Division I Ohio High School Athletic Association state championship swim meet at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, she not only became a champion, she was the first to do it regardless of gender in Medina County.
Cheers poured down. Hugs were handed out. Reality had yet to sink in.
“I told myself, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really happening,’ ” Pasadyn said. “I’m looking around. I see my family in the stands. I see my teammates at the end of the pool jumping up and down and freaking out. Ashley and Taryn (Zwissler of Rocky River Magnificat) were on my side giving me hugs, the interviews and putting the medal around my neck, it was all just so much.”
Her time of 54.49 set a Medina County record.
While a second-place finish has been achieved four times in the history of the state meet from area swimmers, no one had ever hit the top step.
Pasadyn had the best time coming in and swam the fastest in the preliminaries, but to put it on paper and to accomplish it in the pool are different.
“Honestly, if you would have told me four years ago that I would become a state champion, I would have told you that you were crazy,” Pasadyn said. “It means so much to know that the four years have built up to this. Knowing that I could go out senior year as a state champ is amazing.”
As a second-place finisher a year ago in the 100 backstroke to outgoing senior Hannah Whitely of Springboro, the opportunity was there this year, but the two-time Gazette Most Valuable Player didn’t start thinking about a title until December.
“There were so many swimmers coming up and improving and dropping time as well, so I wasn’t able to see that option until halfway through the year when we saw state times and coach Vince (Colwell) said, ‘Cassandra, this can actually happen,’ “ Pasadyn said. “Even then, everyone was so close, it was really going to be anyone’s shot. It was just whoever had it in them really.”
That she finished 1-2 with junior Mennenga meant something as well. The fast friends have pushed each other to new heights over the last three high school seasons.
While the rest of the state has been chasing Pasadyn, Mennenga has been there to give her strong competition.
“It’s awesome to finish 1-2 and be there as friends,” Pasadyn said. “I’m so excited to see what she’ll do next year. We’re so supportive of each other no matter what happens. It was nice to be able to share that moment with her.”
The next step for Pasadyn is Harvard, where she will swim for the Crimson, but what she’s done for the Blue Devils can’t be measured and will be felt for quite some time.
“That sets the bar at the top,” Colwell said. “It shows them it’s something that’s possible. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom things like that. You can dream it, but you’re not necessarily sure it’s going to happen. Now that you can see one of your teammates, one of your friends, someone you’ve swam with since you were little, a kid in your program doing that, it gets every kid believing a little more and raises the program for years.”
While those seasons will come and go, Feb. 25, 2017, will never be forgotten.
“That’s a title that can never be taken away,” Pasadyn said. “A time and a record can be broken, but a state champion lives on forever.”
Contact sports writer Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
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