The Grove City High School boys swimming and diving team finished third in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Jan. 26 at New Albany, just as it had three of the previous four years.
But several Greyhounds jumped and danced around the pool deck in celebration, much as champion Pickerington North was doing in the pool just a few yards away.
"We were pretty excited. I can't remember the last time we brought a relay to victory here, so we were really excited to get that place," senior Jack Bailey said. "These guys were very pumped to be OCC champions in an event."
Bailey, an Allegheny College recruit, won the 50-yard freestyle (22.11 seconds) and 100 free (48.79) and helped the 200 free relay to a first-place finish (1:35.16) with classmate Chase Stock and freshmen Kalvin Koethke and Adam Stretch.
Grove City scored 187 points to edge fourth-place Gahanna by a point.
"We dropped a lot of time recently and we're not even tapering," said Koethke, who was third in the 50 free (23.17) and 100 free (51.02).
On Jan. 12 in the Tiger Invitational at Thomas Worthington, the same relay was third in 1:37.78.
The Greyhounds, who were fourth last year and placed third in 2009, 2010 and 2011, came in behind North (349) and Lancaster (197) and ahead of Gahanna, Pickerington Central (169), Reynoldsburg (75) and Newark (48). Groveport does not have a swimming and diving program.
The girls team got third-place finishes from sophomore Margo Leist in the 200 free (2:15.09) and the 400 free relay (4:16.03) while scoring 107.5 points to place sixth behind champion North (306), Gahanna (297.5), Reynoldsburg (205), Central (175) and Lancaster (129) and ahead of Newark (30).
"We may be a little behind (on dropping time) with the girls, but overall once we taper them, I think the girls will be there," coach Amy Miller said. "Some of their times were faster last year than they are this year already, but if we work on a few things I hope those can be straightened out. They're dropping time, but they're not at their best times yet. That's what they should be doing now."
Grove City and Central Crossing both will compete in the 12-team Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington.
The winner of each event qualifies for the district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until the district meet.
Last year, Bailey was 11th in the 100 free at district in a personal-best 48.8, 17th in the 50 free (22.77) and helped the 200 medley relay (1:49.83) and 400 free relay (3:32.65) to 20th-place finishes. None qualified for state.
Leist qualified in the 200 and 500 free but did not advance to the finals in either event.
"We'll do really well with the boys. We'll always be strong there," Miller said. "But I'm down to about eight girls on the team. We have to get some more girls swimming and we can compete, but until that happens, we're not going to be able to compete with some of those top teams."
Comets have mixed bag at league meet
Central Crossing adjusted its expectations after taking just eight boys and seven girls to the OCC-Central meet Jan. 26 at Thomas Worthington.
The boys scored 51 points and placed seventh in the seven-team field behind champion Upper Arlington (428), Olentangy Liberty (229), Thomas (214), Dublin Coffman (200), Hilliard Davidson (96) and Marysville (72). The girls were sixth behind champion UA (452), Thomas (240), Liberty (185), Coffman (182) and Davidson (115) and ahead of Marysville (48).
No Comets finished in the top three in any event.
"We had several (personal records) and we're very happy with that, but the OCC (meet) is a no-win situation for us because we don't have a diving team and we go in down a ton of points," coach Robert Boggs said. "We've had some sickness and injuries and kids with scholarship auditions (Jan. 26), so it was a small group. Basically we use the league meet as one of our last evaluations and we set up our relays (for sectional). That's the biggest emphasis we put on OCCs."
Boggs put juniors Zach Aleman and Ben Campbell, senior Tyler Smith and senior Curtis Yohman on the 400 free relay in the league meet, but he might mix in senior Shawn Seigneur in the postseason.
"(Seigneur) is a first-year swimmer and he's caught on quickly," Boggs said. "He'll probably be on a couple relays. He also plays baseball and he's just an athletic kid who we don't have to teach much."