By David Fong
TIPP CITY — As one of the elite swimmers in the state of Ohio, Tippecanoe senior Jay Bell has plenty of college offers from which to choose.
Rather than cast his lot with a school on national signing day a few weeks ago, however, Bell decided to hold out until after this weekend. It’s a well-thought-out plan on his part, as he is hoping a big weekend — preferably including a title-winning performance — at this weekend’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state swimming meet will only increase his stock in the eyes of recruiters.
“I definitely want to swim in college,” Bell said. “I’ve got a couple of schools that have asked me to swim for them, but I’m taking everything in moderation right now. I’m hoping if I can win this high-level meet, it will give me some more credit in the swimming world and maybe some more colleges will make a push for me.”
After posting the fastest-qualifying time in the state in the 50 freestyle at last week’s district meet (20.95 seconds), Bell — who placed fourth in the event last year at state — is the No. 1 seed heading into the meet, which begins today in Canton. He’ll also be competing in the 100 freestyle.
“I feel pretty good,” Bell said. “I’m ready. I’ve never gone in as the No. 1 seed before; I’m feeling confident. It wouldn’t be a disappointment if I don’t win, because just getting there is an achievement. But I do want to do well while I’m there.”
Bell will be joined at state by: Teammate Evan Stapp (100 freestyle, 200 IM) and the Tippecanoe boys 200 freestyle relay team; Troy Christian’s Ezekiel Fulton (100 breaststroke) and the Eagles’ 200 medley relay team and Bethel’s Ben Wright (500 freestyle, 200 freestyle).
In the Division II girls competition, Tippecanoe’s Arielle Arnett (500 freestyle, 200 freestyle) will compete along with the Red Devils’ 400 freestyle relay team.
This will be Bell’s fourth time competing at the state meet — and he’s hoping to draw on the experiences he’s gained from his previous trips to state.
“This being my fourth time going is a big help — it’s all pretty routine now,” he said. “The first time I went up there, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was pretty intimidating.”
With this being his final trip to the state meet, Bell said he’s hoping to take in some of the pageantry — but his ultimate goal will never be too far from his mind.
“This will be the last time for me, so I do want to have some fun and soak it all in,” he said. “But in the back of my mind, this is definitely a business trip. I have a goal that I want to accomplish.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong