BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – For the 21st year in a row, the Boardman swim team is competing at the State Swim Meet in Canton this weekend. This year, it’s a group of five senior boys — all with a special bond since childhood.
“I remember growing up, that me and Noah [Basista] would often bounce back and forth as to who was faster and things before we kind of found what our strongest stroke was,” Matthew DunLany said. “One weekend I would win and the next weekend, he would win and we would go back and forth all season.”
“I just consider these guys my brothers,” Will Linker said. “We’ve just been together for almost all of our lives, swimming one way or another.”
All five Spartans are state qualifiers.
Basista is back for a fourth straight season, competing individually in the 100-meter breaststroke, as well as the 100-meter butterfly.
DunLany also made it a four-peat and will be in the same butterfly heat as Basista on Friday.
Linker, along with Jordan Stackpole and River Flatley, round out the group as members of the two relay teams.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team, for these kids,” said head coach Carlo Cordon. “We kind of track these kids through our summer programs, and we knew these boys were coming up and it would be a fantastic year. But to have five seniors that are all great leaders, and all very dedicated and want to do well, it’s rare.”
It’s a special friendship that will continue for the rest of their lives.
Four out of the five seniors are swimming at the collegiate level. But for now, their sole focus is one last high school meet together with everything on the line.
“Our goal is to definitely make finals and make it back to Saturday so that Friday will not be our last race,” Stackpole said. “But it’s going to be really special being with these guys one last time.”
“I’m going to miss them a lot,” Flatley said. “I’m sure we’ll still talk and get to hang out because I don’t think I’ll ever forget these guys.”
“I’m just really excited to put whatever I have left in the water one last time this weekend,” Linker said. “Like he said, we have big goals to make it in the finals, so we’re going to try to make our mark up in Canton this weekend.”
“We want to go where no Spartan has gone before,” Basista said. “And place ourselves as high as we can in the state.”