Among the items on the wish list for the Gahanna Lincoln High School swimming and diving program this season are OCC-Ohio Division championships for both the boys and girls teams.
Junior Morgan Belli also wouldn't mind a better finish in the Division I state meet if she's fortunate enough to get there for the third consecutive season.
With a deep girls team, a healthier Belli and a growing boys squad, second-year coach Erin Darrah believes those goals are within reach.
Gahanna competed against Olentangy Liberty on Dec. 7, with the boys losing 117-52 and girls losing 118-50. The Lions will compete Friday, Dec. 14, against Dublin Jerome and Saturday, Dec. 15, against Hilliard Darby.
"Our girls were OCC champions last year, so that's something they really want to defend," Darrah said. "The boys were second behind Pickerington North and they beat us (110-60 on Nov. 30), so they know they've got a lot of work to do.
"Morgan last year was (almost) in the top 10 in the state in both of her events (the 200-yard individual medley and 100 backstroke), but we found out after the meet that she had (mononucleosis)."
Belli is the top returnee for the girls team after finishing 10th in the state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton in the 200 IM in 2 minutes, 6.06 seconds and 11th in the 100 back in 57.21. She had placed fourth in both events at state in 2011.
Her performance at state a year ago gave Gahanna 13 points to place 34th behind champion Upper Arlington (300.5) as 55 teams scored.
The Lions have two seniors in Allison Mason (100 back) and Emily Demjanenko (distance freestyle). Also looking to contribute are juniors Annie Devaney (sprints, distance free) and Kirstyn Thomas (100 breaststroke, sprints), sophomore Ashley Twigg (sprints) and freshmen Regan Nolan (100 butterfly, distance free) and Victoria Nye (sprints). Sophomore Maddie Rapp returns in diving.
Seniors Mitch Courtney (100 breast) and Joe Scott (sprints), juniors Jon Chang (sprints), Kyle Clark (100 fly), Javier Patron (100 fly, sprints) and Josh Vandervort (distance free), sophomores Andrew Lewis (distance free) and Owen Mair (sprints) and freshmen Chris Kusovski (100 back) and Peter Reventlow (distance free, 100 back) are expected to lead the boys team.
Last season, the girls team won the OCC-Ohio meet with 241 points, finishing ahead of Pickerington North (238.5), Pickerington Central (220), Grove City (198), Reynoldsburg (174.5), Lancaster (126) and Newark (1).
Groveport does not have a swimming program.
Gahanna then placed fifth (120) in the 11-team sectional at Thomas Worthington behind champion Thomas (262) and scored 56 points in the district meet at Ohio State to finish 13th behind champion UA (522) as 27 teams scored.
The boys team placed second (227) in the OCC-Ohio last season behind Pickerington North (365) and ahead of Lancaster (211), Grove City (151), Reynoldsburg (116), Pickerington Central (80) and Newark (5). It was the Lions' second consecutive runner-up finish in the league after winning four consecutive titles from 2007-10.
Gahanna then placed ninth (100) in the 11-team sectional at Thomas behind champion New Albany (254) and finished 22nd (13) at district behind champion UA (435) as 26 teams scored.
Bowling teams like state chances
The boys bowling team advanced to the state tournament in 2011 and the girls squad made it a year ago.
According to first-year coach Kelly Ferguson, both teams are looking to reach state this winter.
"We have great hopes for the girls to make it to state again," said Ferguson, who took over the program from Bruce Zink, who stepped down as coach after five seasons. "We plan on making it all the way again. The boys have a great chance to make it to state as well."
The girls team finished 16th (2,683) in the 16-team qualifying round of the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl as Massillon Jackson (3,041) secured the eighth and final spot for the championship round.
Seniors Kelsey Ferguson (60th, 486) and Morgan Wiles (67th, 471) and junior Erika Reed (89th, 310) all competed at state.
Also back are senior Amanda Paez, juniors Erin Holt and Nicole Kirk and sophomore Samantha Toale. Rounding out the roster are junior Mickayla Moyer and sophomore Anna Retherford.
Competing for the boys team are seniors Michael Chau, Collin Price and Shane Walker, junior Dyante Foster and sophomores Conner Hammonds, Alex Kasson, Jason McCann and Brandon Pierce.
Last season, the girls team went 8-1 to finish second in the 11-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division behind Westerville Central (10-0) and ahead of Westerville South (8-2), Liberty (6-4), Hilliard Darby (5-5), Westerville North (5-5), Olentangy Orange (3-7), Worthington Kilbourne (3-7), Hilliard Davidson (2-7), Big Walnut (2-8) and Jonathan Alder (2-8).
The Lions went 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to place second, behind Westerville Central (5-0) and ahead of Westerville South (3-2), Delaware (2-3), Westerville North (1-4) and Big Walnut (0-5).
Gahanna placed second (3,327) in the 22-team sectional at Columbus Western Bowl behind Briggs (3,494) and finished third (3,415) in the 18-team district tournament at HP Lanes behind Westerville Central (3,603) and Cardington (3,585).
Also competing at state were 2012 graduates Harmony Kirtos (53rd, 498) and Sarah Lebowitz (66th, 475).
The boys team went 3-8 in the 13-team COHSBC-North to finish 10th, behind co-champions Westerville North (11-1) and Jonathan Alder (11-1), Westerville South (10-2), Westerville Central (9-3), Darby (7-5), Big Walnut (6-6), Orange (6-6), Davidson (5-6) and Thomas Worthington (5-7) and ahead of Liberty (2-8), Kilbourne (2-10) and Worthington Christian (0-12).
The Lions went 1-4 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to tie Big Walnut and Delaware for fourth behind Westerville Central (4-1), Westerville North (4-1) and Westerville South (4-1).
Gahanna finished 12th (3,253) in the 28-team sectional at Eastland Lanes behind champion Westerville South (3,916).
Ryan Rudd, a 2012 graduate, tied for 20th (533) at sectional to advance to district, where he placed 20th (562).