The Dublin Jerome High School boys swimming and diving team entered the season looking to build on its success from a year ago, when Jake Moore won the Celtics' first state title.
Although Moore and fellow state-qualifier Matt Minns graduated, coach Tyler Prose believes he returns a strong squad.
Seniors Tanner Barton, Connor Cashman and Michael Robinson should lead the team, according to Prose.
Barton, Cashman, Minns and Moore finished 15th in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 28.06 seconds) last year at state. Moore won the 100 butterfly title in 49.62 as the Celtics were 13th (54 points) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (297) as 47 teams scored.
Senior Grant Saale, a North Carolina State recruit, was fourth (474.2) in diving at state and holds the program-record scores for six (294.25) and 11 dives (490.1).
Sophomore Jack Scott also qualified for state a year ago with the 400 free relay, which was disqualified in the consolation final.
"My goal is to have as many people qualify to district and state as possible," said Prose, who is in his sixth season. "We want to continue on. We want personal-bests also."
Other swimmers are senior brothers Stephen Graber and Matthew Graber, sophomore Kanaad Parvate and freshmen Mitchell Burns, James Kwak, Junho Lim and Nathan Minns.
Jerome opened the season by defeating Worthington Kilbourne 101-68 and Thomas Worthington 103-66 in the Worthington/Dublin Invitational on Nov. 29.
The Celtics defeated Hilliard Bradley 118-26, Hilliard Darby 87-85 and Hilliard Davidson 117-43 in the Hilliard/Dublin Invitational on Dec. 1 and lost to host New Albany 95-88 on Dec. 4.
Jerome finished 13th (105) of 48 teams that scored in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State. Upper Arlington (370) won.
Last season, Jerome (253) won the OCC-Cardinal Division meet ahead of Westerville Central (215), Olentangy (190), Dublin Scioto (163), Westerville North (141), Olentangy Liberty (135), Westerville South (132) and Marysville (96).
Liberty and Marysville have moved to the OCC-Central, Olentangy now is in the OCC-Capital and Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne have joined the OCC-Cardinal.
The Celtics (343) won last year's nine-team sectional at the Union County YMCA ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (295). At district at Ohio State, Jerome was third (170) behind champion UA (435) as 26 teams scored.
Coffman returns key swimmers
Coffman returns two swimmers who helped the team tie Solon for 22nd (26) at state last season.
Juniors Grant Horton and Daniel Flower were members of the 400 free relay, which finished 17th (3:15.41). Flower, Horton and junior George Colson were part of the 200 free relay, which finished 21st (1:28.75).
According to seventh-year coach Steven VonSchriltz, Colson is expected to miss the season because of a shoulder injury.
Horton and senior Jack Carlson are captains.
Other swimmers are senior Silas Chao, juniors Chance Davis, Feodor Orlov and Ian Stamm, sophomores Louie Mayo and Mike Sullivan and freshmen Kevin Hsieh, Cory Mills (diver) and Christian Morales. Orlov is a move-in from West Lafayette, Ind.
"This is a great group," VonSchriltz said. "They get along well. Our dry-land (training) has been going really well. They're really supportive and understand how important the dry land is to our training."
Coffman opened the season by defeating Kilbourne 89-78 and Thomas 88-77 in the Worthington/Dublin Invitational. The Shamrocks then defeated Bradley 96-24 and Davidson 94-54 and lost to Darby 87-73 in the Hilliard/Dublin Invitational.
The Shamrocks defeated Westerville South 92-78 on Dec. 7 and were 20th (52) in the Ned Reeb Invitational.
Last season, Coffman was fourth (169) in the OCC-Central meet behind UA (463), Thomas (209) and Kilbourne (192) and ahead of Darby (124) and Central Crossing (65). Davidson did not score and Westland doesn't have a team.
The Shamrocks were seventh (124) at district.
Scioto looking for improvement
Scioto returns seven swimmers from a team that finished fourth in the league meet but did not qualify a competitor for state.
Back are senior Noah Schuster, juniors Shawn Cordi (diver), Jessie Jordan and Max O'Connell and sophomores Dylan Confer, Kiujoy Kokko and Ben Weaver. Other swimmers are freshmen Ryan Larivee, Joel Schuster and Joe Weeks.
Scioto lost to Kilbourne 90-73 and Thomas 88-75 in the Worthington/Dublin Invitational.
The Irish defeated Worthington Christian 96-44 and lost to Westerville Central 104-71 and Olentangy 107-68 on Dec. 1.
Scioto was 25th (33) in the Ned Reeb Invitational.
Last season, the Irish were third (254) in the Union County YMCA sectional and 17th (31) at district.
"We can build on the relationships that I formed last year," second-year coach Matt Williams said. "The kids now know me and they know what to expect. There's some trust there."