Ross Kuhn

Crestview's Ross Kuhn competes in the 100-yard backstroke during last week's sectional swim meet at Malabar Intermediate School.

OLIVESBURG — He was an All-Ohio first-team quarterback in the fall and will run both track and cross country in college.

As good as he is on dry land, Crestview’s Ross Kuhn is every bit as comfortable in the water.

A senior, Kuhn qualified for this week’s northwest district swim meet in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. He will be gunning for his second state swim meet berth when district action begins Friday at Bowling Green State University.

If Saturday’s performance is any indication, Kuhn could very well find himself at Canton’s C.T. Branin Natatorium, site of the state meet, next week.

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever swam in this pool by seven-tenths of a second,” Kuhn said after winning the morning flight in the 50 free. “That’s a good feeling to know that I’m not tapered or shaved and still be able to swim right around my season’s best. I’m excited about that.”

Kuhn is seeded 16th in the district after swimming a 23.16 in the 50 free. He’s in even better shape in the 100 backstroke, where he is seeded sixth in the district after swimming a 56.34 at the Malabar sectional meet.

“I’m stronger in the back,” Kuhn said. “I qualified for state in the back as a sophomore, but not as a junior even, though I swam faster at the district meet as a junior.”

Two years ago, Kuhn’s district time of 55.54 in the backstroke earned him a spot at the state meet. He would finish 21st at state in 55.50.

Last year at Bowling Green, Kuhn swam the 100 back in 55.25 seconds. That time, although almost three-tenths of a second faster than his district time as a sophomore, was not good enough to earn a state berth.

“That has been motivating for me. I think I have a pretty strong shot to get back to state,” Kuhn said “We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Even if things don’t work out this weekend, Kuhn’s athletic future is secure. He will run both track and cross country at Division II Hillsdale (Michigan) College, specializing in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs.

He qualified for the state track meet as a member of Crestview’s 3,200-meter relay team as a freshman and sophomore, finishing 10th in 2018 and eighth in 2019. He also qualified for state in the 1,600 run as a sophomore, placing eighth in 4:27.16.

Giving himself fully to track means giving up both football and swimming.

“It was a really hard decision for me. I’ve been around football since I was 4 years old. I remember going to football practice with my dad (Crestview athletic director Tim Kuhn) when he was the coach at Northmor,” Kuhn said.

“And I’ve been swimming since I was 5. It’s going to be hard to drop all of them but at the end of the day, if I want to be as good as I can be in cross country and track, the I to make some sacrifices," he said.

Did Kuhn ever consider trying to play more than one sport at the collegiate level?

“I never really thought about it,” Kuhn said. “When me and my dad talked he said, ‘If you want to be as good as you can be in a sport, you’ve got to focus on it, especially at the college level.’ ”

Kuhn’s senior season in football was one to remember. He completed 106 of 164 passes for 1,969 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 644 yards and 10 TDs on 77 carries. Crestview was 8-3 and advanced to the second round of the Division VI playoffs.

Because he always played football, Kuhn never participated in high school cross country. That will change this fall at Hillsdale.

“That’s going to be an experience,” Kuhn said. “I’ve never ran cross country and I’m going to hop directly into (eight-kilometer) races.”

Before then, Kuhn would like to cap his swimming career with another trip to Canton and the state swim meet.

“I can’t put too much pressure on myself to swim fast,” Kuhn said. “I’ve just got to trust my training and do what I know I can do.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.