Freshmen and sophomores have buoyed the Grove City High School swimming and diving teams for much of the season, so coach Amy Miller wasn't surprised to hear sophomore standout Margo Leist rattle off not only her own goals, but those of many of her teammates.
"She's pretty intelligent," Miller said after the Pickerington Central Tiger Invitational on Jan. 12 at Thomas Worthington. "All these kids have a pretty good idea of how they need to improve."
Leist, a district qualifier in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles as a freshman who is a co-captain with junior Kayla Heacock and sophomore Allyson Payne, can't conceive of not being as in tune with her teammates' objectives as her own.
"The more involved I am with the team, especially being a captain, the more I'll be able to know how far everyone needs to go to achieve where they want to be, to feel the rush of achieving those goals," Leist said. "It's also a motivation. If other people know where you need to be, they can push you to do that. You're not just by yourself. Swimming is such an individual sport that you need that support to tell you (that) you can do it and everyone is rooting for you."
The Greyhounds have had a lot to root for. The boys team scored 234 points in the Tiger Invitational to finish second behind Westerville Central (376), and the girls were seventh (133) behind the champion Warhawks (361).
Freshman Isaac Stretch got Grove City's only win of the day, completing the 100 breaststroke in 1 minute, 7 seconds. Senior Jack Bailey was second in the 100 free (48.65), freshman Kalvin Koethke was second in the 50 free (23.36) and the Greyhounds got third-place finishes from the 200 free (3:34.65) and 400 free (3:34.65) relays as well as junior William Best in the 500 free (5:28.64).
"(Stretch) surprised us today," Miller said. "He's been going 1:09 in the 100 breast, and all of a sudden he goes 1:07 today, which was an awesome swim.
"We've had some surprising swims. Some of them are above where we think they should be and some aren't there yet, but overall we are right on track for (the OCC-Ohio Division meet Jan. 26 at New Albany). We have a few more weeks before that, so we'll start slowing down the week after OCC for the sectional (meet Feb. 9). We're doing great."
Leist was fifth in the 200 free (2:13.41) and sixth in the 500 free (5:53.5) in the Tiger Invitational, and she helped the 400 free (4:21.39) and 200 free (1:54.49) relays to fifth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively.
"She right now is probably where we'd thought she be," Miller said. "I'd like to have her a bit faster, but ... without a meet (this) week, she'll gain a bit of time. Then I have a junior (Jennifer Ford) who's a beginner swimmer and she just dropped four seconds in the 50 free. That's how it's been with all our new swimmers."
Comets nearing league meet
Central Crossing gets one more warm-up event for the OCC-Central meet when it competes against Dresden Tri-Valley on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Urbancrest YMCA.
The Comets fared well the last time they swam against the Scotties, scoring 118 points to win the mixed championship of the Tri-Valley Holiday Relays on Dec. 8 at Zanesville Rosecrans. Central Crossing won two events and was second or third in five more to defeat second-place Tri-Valley by 30 points.
Central Crossing is coming off a strong showing in the Teays Valley Invitational on Jan. 12. The girls scored 271 points to finish ahead of runner-up Teays Valley (206), and the boys were second (300) behind the host Vikings (342) and well ahead of third-place Amanda-Clearcreek (80).
Senior Tyler Smith led the Comets, winning the 50 free and 100 breast. The girls team won four events, including all three relays and sophomore Emily Donovan in the 100 backstroke, and the boys had wins in the 200 medley relay and from senior Curtis Yohman in the 200 individual medley.
The league meet is Jan. 26 at Thomas. Upper Arlington has dominated the meet in recent years. The UA boys, who were Division I state runners-up a year ago, have won 12 consecutive league titles, and the eight-time Division I state champion UA girls have won 13 league titles in a row. In last year's league meet, the Comets boys scored 65 points and finished sixth behind UA (463) and the girls were seventh (52) behind UA (467).