Gates shows guts at state

CANTON One could argue it was a gutty performance by Columbian’s Chris Gates on Thursday night.

The senior had felt awful since he left school to head to the Division II State Swimming and Diving Tournament at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.

So awful in fact, he got sick a lot.

But there was nothing keeping from swimming the 100 back.

And swim it he did. Gates finished 24th in the final high school race of his career, clocking in at 57.01. The top time of the prelims went to Cincinnati Seven Hills’ Matthew Marquardt, who finished in 51.09.

“I didn’t swim as well as I would have liked, but you know what? I had a great season and I had a great time here,” Gates said. “I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. “

He came into the race ranked 22nd with a time of 55.39 but the illness kept his time higher than he would have liked.

“I got sick right before we left and I’ve been puking my guts out the last two days,” Gates said. “So to have at least a decent swim and to finish my race was pretty much all I could have asked for.”

Coach Donna Hudacek said Gates muddled through it anyway.

“Considering that he’s been sick for the last two days, I think it was a good swim,” Hudacek said. “He started out well. He just didn’t have the energy from being sick for two days.”

Gates said it was a good start but was downhill from there.

“My start was pretty good. My first turn was good. I finished the first 50 and the second turn wasn’t so great and it all fell apart from there. The third turn was just horrific and my finish was just whatever I had left.”

She said he had nothing to be ashamed of.

“What a way to go out and not a bad swim. I mean 57.01 is not a bad swim at all for a backstroke,” Hudacek said. “It’s not disappointing in that sense. I know he was hoping for a little more but when you’ve been sick.”

Gates said to even make it to the state meet was a dream come true.

“Just to be here is amazing. I can’t even describe it. To be in the top 24 in the state in my event is just amazing,” Gates said. “Starting as a freshman, I never thought I would make it this far. To just come here and swim pretty well, I have no complaints.”