First-year Big Walnut High School swimming and diving coach Sarah Cline is pleased with her teams' performances so far this season.
Cline took over the coaching reins during the offseason, replacing Andy Chatterton, who led the program for five seasons.
The Golden Eagles opened Nov. 30 by sweeping a tri-meet. The boys team scored 121 points to defeat Watkins Memorial (95) and Central Crossing (62), and the girls team scored 123 to finish ahead of Watkins Memorial (104) and Central Crossing (53).
Big Walnut competed in another tri-meet Dec. 2, with the boys scoring 274 points to finish behind Whetstone (325) and ahead of Eastmoor Academy (97) and the girls scoring 327 to beat Whetstone (255) and Eastmoor (168).
The Golden Eagles then competed in the Northridge Viking Splash Invitational on Dec. 7 at New Albany, with the boys finishing first (112) of nine teams and the girls placing second (58) of 10 teams, behind Marion Pleasant (99).
Top swimmers for the boys team were senior Carter Marsch, who won the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 12.63 seconds) and freshman Wesley Hammond, who was first in the 200 individual medley (2:26.06).
The girls team was led by senior Michelle Stefaniak, who won the 50 freestyle (26.71) and 500 free (5:57.09), and senior Jessica Osburn, who finished first in the 100 free (1:01.26).
"We only had 10 girls total in (the Viking Splash Invitational)," Cline said. "So each and every one of those swimmers had to pull her own weight and contribute for that second-place (finish). They did an amazing job and should be very proud of themselves."
Ashley White represented Big Walnut in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 7 at Ohio State, finishing 12th in diving. The junior placed ninth in diving in the Division I district meet last season at Ohio State.
The boys team has nine returning letterwinners in Marsch, seniors Tyler Sholl and Joel Windle, juniors Caleb MacDonald and Jens Paglialunga and sophomores Bret Stacy, Michael Stanwick, Gabe Swim and Jacob Watson.
Also on the boys team are Hammond, junior Justin Beyer, sophomore Sam Beckett and freshmen Judah Armbrust, Dominic Cotungo, Lane Davis, Ilya Geraci, Zach McDonald, Chase Muhlbaier, Philip Roberto, Johnathan Shnipke, Grant Wecker and Drake Wilson-Hobert.
Eight letterwinners have returned for the girls team in Osburn, Stefaniak, seniors Lauren Fleser and Katie Von Hollen, junior Jen Hupp and sophomores Alison Hager, Kylie Stickrath and Josie Sweeney-Rogers.
Also on the team are junior Bethany Rannebarger (diver), sophomores Gresa Brerisha and Madeline Wecker and freshmen Cora Standiford and Alyssa Zumpone.
"Our seniors are vital in keeping up morale and leading by example," Cline said. "I expect our returning letterwinners to lead the way to a few invitational wins this year and I expect the new swimmers to assist in that process as their skills in the sport grow throughout the season."
Last season in the OCC-Capital Division meet, the boys team finished seventh and the girls team placed sixth.
"Being a smaller school, we don't enjoy going to the OCC (meet)," Cline said. "We will do our best, score some points and just enjoy working together as a team."
Wrestling team places 12th at Kilbourne
The wrestling team went 1-4 and placed 12th in the 16-team, dual-format Wolfpack Classic on Dec. 14 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Big Walnut tied St. Charles at 39 but lost on criteria in the first round and lost to eventual champion Mason 78-3 in the second round before defeating Brookhaven 54-22 in the third round.
The Golden Eagles then lost to Jamestown Greeneview 48-34 in the fourth round before losing to Mason B 40-27 in the 11th-place match.
The top performer for Big Walnut was sophomore Nico Grier, who went 3-1 at 113 pounds and 1-0 at 120. Senior R.J. Martin went 2-2 at 138 and 1-0 at 145, sophomores Evan Watkins (195) and Daniel Zittello (182) went 3-2 and sophomore Anthony Pisano (152) and freshman Nate Helsey (106) went 2-3.
The Golden Eagles, who lost to West Jefferson 45-30 and defeated DeSales 54-30 in a tri-meet Dec. 18 at West Jefferson, don't compete again until the Pioneer Invitational on Jan. 4 at Olentangy Orange.
Burks, Beiwinkler leading bowling teams
The boys bowling team dropped to 1-4 overall, 1-4 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 2,343-1,838 loss to Westerville Central on Dec. 13.
Grant Burks was leading the team with a 172.5 game average through five matches.
The girls team also was 1-4 overall, 1-4 in the COHSBC-North and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Central 1,960-1,431.
Alexis Beiwinkler led the Golden Eagles with a two-game score of 265.