Columbus School for Girls swimming and diving coach Stephanie Donley was hoping her team would be competitive in the Northeast Classic even though most of her top athletes didn't rest for the meet and weren't swimming their best events.
The Unicorns ended up surpassing Donley's expectations by setting four program records and placing fifth (139 points) of the 38 squads that scored Jan. 11 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Granville won with 186 points.
"This is probably the biggest highlight of our season thus far because we broke four (program) records and finished ahead of a lot of big (Division I) schools," Donley said. "A lot of our girls swam off-events in this meet or we probably could have finished in the top three."
Rachel Politi set program records in two individual events and helped set two more in relays. She finished second in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 8.83 seconds) and third in the 200 individual medley (2:10.22).
She also owns CSG's records in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 free.
"I swam 1,700 (yards) in total (Jan. 11) and it was exhausting but fun," Politi said. "It's really exciting because I've been working hard all season to try to get these (records) and finally doing it is a big confidence booster. It's a huge honor to carry on the CSG tradition by lowering the times of these school records."
Also setting program records were Miranda Donley, Eleanor Smith, Annie Moosavian and Politi in the 200 free relay (fourth, 1:38.98) and 400 free relay (fourth, 3:37.04).
"I love relays more than anything and it was a lot of fun for all of us to lower our relay records again," Politi said. "I'm so excited to see us do so well as a team."
Miranda Donley, who is the coach's daughter, swam personal bests while placing fourth in the 100 fly (57.24) and ninth in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.43).
Erin Balasky, Charlotte Lennox, Kirby Boes and Nicole Narcross finished eighth in the 200 medley relay (1:59.41), and Boes also finished 22nd in the 100 breast (1:11.77).
"Qualifying all three relays to the finals was good because it gave extra experience to a lot of girls," coach Donley said. "Our girls had to get used to the starting blocks and walls in that pool, but I hope that's just a preview of what can come for these girls when they go back there to swim in the (Division II) state meet, because I think we can do even better there in the future."
The Unicorns play host Thursday, Jan. 16, to DeSales, New Albany and Watterson and Saturday, Jan. 18, to Upper Arlington.
Watterson is the seven-time defending CCL champion heading into the league meet, which will be held Jan. 23 at CSG and Jan. 25 at St. Charles.
The Unicorns finished second (360) last year behind Watterson (404).
"Of course, we want to win against all three teams (Jan. 16) but I don't know that all of our kids will be competing in their strongest races in that meet," coach Donley said.
"I hope we can compete with UA even though they have larger numbers than us. They have a great history and still have a very strong lineup, so that meet will be a big challenge for us."
Basketball team preps for Wellington tourney
The basketball team lost five of its first 10 games by 20 or more points.
The Unicorns were 1-9 overall before playing Patriot Prep Academy on Jan. 14. They are 0-5 in the CCL.
"We're playing OK as a team, but we're playing a lot of hard teams in the CCL like Watterson and DeSales," senior point guard Ashley Harrington said.
The Unicorns compete in the Jaguar Invitational on Friday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 18, at Wellington. They open against Shekinah Christian and play Wellington or Horizon Science Academy the following day.
"This tournament is big for us because these are teams that we have a chance to beat," Harrington said. "To win more games, we need to pass better and do a better job of getting in the right position."
CSG defeated Horizon Science 33-19 on Dec. 13 as Annie Parkhill scored 10 points and Lindsay Hester scored nine.
"That was a good team effort where we had good defensive communication," Harrington said. "Annie Parkhill, Myrial Holbrook and Lindsay Hester are scoring well, and Sadiyah Babatunde and Megan Wong are passing well."