J.R. Jensen said Fairview's 2021-22 boys swimming and diving team ranks among the most youthful and inexperienced over his two-plus decades as coach.
That didn't deter the Tigers from a result familiar to the program.
Fairview, with a roster ripe with underclassmen, still finished first in the main portion of the Iroquois Coaches Association Invitational. The Tigers' used their depth to compile 399 points in the 13-team field.
Oil City was a distant second at 258, followed by North East at 253.
"We are in a reloading stage with some of the (underclassmen)," Jensen said. "We've got a young but deep team, but sometimes it's depth and heart that wins these meets. They had a lot of heart (Saturday)."
Fairview's lone swimming victory was for the 200-yard freestyle relay. The Tigers' Matthew Shollenberger, Jack Trabold, Garrett Thayer and Mitchell Myers won that event's final at 1 minute, 35.90 seconds.
Fairview did go into Saturday with a head start in the team standings.
Iroquois' pool has no diving board. As per tradition, that specific event was held Friday night at Harbor Creek's natatorium.
Fairview sophomore Aari Fox, with 427.70 points, won the four-man competition. Reilly Koch (407.85) and Jacob Earley (365.10) of the host Huskies were the silver and bronze medalists.
Fox had no gymnastics or tumbling background when he enrolled at Fairview. Instead, it was some constructive parental nudging that led him to try soaring off the school's springboard.
Now, in the midst of his second season, Fox has no regrets about competing for an aquatics program that's a way of life at his school.
"The coaches are amazing people," he said, "and the chemistry with my teammates is unmatched. It's fun, honestly."
General McLane senior Alec Eisert (311.80) finished fourth in Friday's competition.
Kemp produces for 'Pickers
North East's Evan Kemp was the meet's most successful Erie County swimmer.
Kemp led off two of the Grapepickers' relay titles. Their 200 medley relay won at 1:45.47 and their 400 free relay at 3:30.03.
In between them, Kemp was first in the 100 butterfly. The junior, whose heat time was 57.23, finished at 54.72 in the final.
Kemp, a returning District 10 champ, was elated to compete again on a regular basis in events like Iroquois' all-boys meet. COVID-19 forced the 2020-21 'Pickers to participate in virtual duals during the regular season.
"It's a lot nicer to see the other teams this year and race against some really fast swimmers (in person)," Kemp said. "You also get practice more often with teammates. Last year, we really weren't even able to do that."
Kemp's teammates, Grant Girts and Jackson and Mason Currier, were the other members of North East's two victorious relays.
Pike prevails on birthday
No swimmer celebrated a meet victory more than Tanner Pike.
The Union City junior, on his 17th birthday, won the 50 freestyle final in 23.32. His preliminary time during Saturday morning's heats races was even faster at 23.16.
"This (victory) is a pretty nice surprise," Pike said. "I'm glad I finally got to swim against guys who swim a lot of the same times as me. It's been a lot of hard work to get these (times) this season."
Pike, at 1:07.59, also was the bronze medalist in the 100 breaststroke. Titusville's David Hauptman won that final with a time of 1:02.95.
Sharon sophomore Mark Cattron returned to Mercer County with three of the meet's wooden championship trophies.
The last presented him was the outstanding swimmer/diver award. He received that largely from the two individual finals he formerly won.
Cattron's time 2:04.12 in the 200 individual medley was more than five seconds faster than Hauptman's 2:09.19. Cattron also finished first in the 100 backstroke at 55.62.
Being named the meet's top swimmer caught Cattron by surprise. He anticipated Franklin freshman Camden Smith, who won the 100 free and 200 free , would hear his name announced.
"I'm grateful for these opportunities," Cattron said. "I'm happy that I have good coaches and that I'm here."
Top-three medalists for the Iroquois Coaching Association Invitational:
Team: 1. Fairview (Fv) 399, 2. Oil City (OC) 258, 3. North East (NE) 253, 4. Franklin (Fr) 179, 5. Sharon (Sh) 147, 6. Titusville (Tv) 138, 7. Grove City (GC) 117, 8. Harbor Creek (HC) 112, 9. Corry (Cy) 102, 10. Girard (G) 88, 11. General McLane (GM) 82, 12. Union City (UC) 60, 13. Erie High 5
Diving: 1. Aari Fox (Fv) 427.70; 2. Reilly Koch (HC) 407.85; 3. Jacob Earley (HC) 365.10
200-yard medley relay: 1. North East (Evan Kemp, Mason Currier, Grant Girts, Jackson Currier) 1:45.47; 2. Fairview 1:47.77; 3. Franklin 1:48.97
200 freestyle: 1. Camden Smith (Fr) 1:50.49; 2. Jason Basile (Sh) 1:50.69; 3. Grant Girts (NE) 1:54.31
200 individual medley: 1. Mark Cattron (Sh) 2:04.12; 2. David Hauptman (Tv) 2:09.19; 3. Mitchell Myers (Fv) 2:12.34
50 freestyle: 1. Tanner Pike (UC) 23.32; 2. Danny Damore (GM) 23.76; 3. Caleb Stover (OC) 24.00
100 butterfly: 1. Evan Kemp (NE) 54.72; 2. Grant Girts (NE) 56.05; 3. Mac Messer (GC) 58.39
100 freestyle: 1. Camden Smith (Fr) 51.04; 2. Jonathan Albers (Cy) 51.38; 3. Jacob Carstater (G) 52.29
500 freestyle: 1. Jason Basile (Sh) 4:56.00; 2. Mitchell Myers (Fv) 5:23.71; 3. Jackson Currier (NE) 5:29.86
200 freestyle relay: 1. Fairview (Matthew Shollenberger, Jack Trabold, Garrett Thayer, Mitchell Myers) 1:35.90; 2. Oil City 1:38.12; 3. Fairview 1:40.78
100 backstroke: 1. Mark Cattron (Sh) 55.62; 2. Evan Kemp (NE) 55.90; 3. Matthew Shollenberger (Fv) 56.80
100 breaststroke: 1. David Hauptman (Tv) 1:02.95; 2. Alex Reynolds (Tv) 1:07.20; 3. Tanner Pike (UC) 1:07.59
400 freestyle relay: 1. North East (Evan Kemp, Jackson Currier, Mason Currier, Grant Girts) 3:30.03; 2. Franklin 3:38.13; 3. Sharon 3:40.16
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Young Fairview boys swimming team wins Iroquois Coaches Invitational