The Bobcats will head to Columbus on Thursday for its most important meet of the fall session at the Ohio State Invitational. 

Ohio is hoping the meet will prepare it for the Mid-American Conference Championships at the end of the season — the Bobcats will be up against stiff competition yet again this season, with multiple ranked opponents taking part in the invitational. 

Previously this season, Ohio has competed against Kentucky and South Carolina, and its first home meet of the season was against Akron, who were ranked 19th in the nation at the time.

Ohio is 0-3 in meets so far this year, but for coach Mason Norman, everything the Bobcats have done is in preparation for the MAC Championships.

“Going to this meet made an impact on the girls’ ability to step up against competition that may seemingly be ahead of them,” Norman said.

Norman believes, however, that his swimmers and divers can go against anybody they have in front of them, including the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference schools they will be facing at the OSU Invitational. 

Those tough tests are going to prepare the Bobcats for the MAC Championships, and there is tremendous value for the team in going against tough opposition.

“Being able to go stroke for stroke, dive for dive, against schools from the Big Ten and SEC will really help when we get to the MAC Championships,” Norman said.

Despite Ohio’s winless record in meets this season, there have been some great individual performances for the Bobcats. 

Freshman McKenzie Grau has been a bright spot for Ohio this season, and after a strong performance in the opening two meets, she took home MAC Swimmer of the Week with two second-place finishes and a first-place finish against Akron.

Two of the other standout performers for the Bobcats have been Emilia Lahtinen, a senior swimmer from Finland, and Taylor Miller, who has been Ohio’s best diver so far. 

Lahtinen, who swims breaststroke, has finished in the top two in the majority of her solo races this year. Miller has performed well in all of Ohio’s meets but was particularly good against Akron, finishing second in both the one and three-meter dives.

The Bobcats are hoping to improve their score at the MAC Championships again this year, and a strong performance at the OSU Invitational would be a huge step towards achieving that goal.