Even as Grove City High School swimming and diving coach Amy Miller celebrated her boys team's second-place finish in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Jan. 25 at Thomas Worthington, she couldn't help but think about how the day could have been better.
Miller didn't necessarily mean beating champion Pickerington North, which scored 330 points to easily outdistance the runner-up Greyhounds (232). After it won the day's first event, the 200-yard medley relay, by .23 over Gahanna, Grove City recorded four runner-up finishes by a total of 4.19 seconds.
The Greyhounds also were without senior Luca Ficarelli, a dependable distance freestyler. An exchange student from Italy, he had to miss the meet because of academic commitments.
"We'd have performed a little better and probably would have had a little better 400 free relay at the end," Miller said. "But still, we're very happy. This is always a tough league, and we held our own."
North and Grove City were followed by Lancaster (211), Gahanna (209), Pickerington Central (132) and Reynoldsburg (27). Grove City's girls were sixth (85) behind Gahanna (354.5), Reynoldsburg (222), North (221), Lancaster (157.5) and Central (135).
Newark did not attend the meet because of wintry weather conditions, and Groveport does not have a swimming and diving program.
Grove City's boys started with a flourish, winning the 200 medley relay in 1:47.67 with Kalvin Koethke, Isaac Stretch, Graham Sullivan and Adam Stretch.
Koethke, a sophomore, twice finished second to North's Andrew Martin, in the 50 freestyle (22.21) and 100 free (50.72). Martin won those events in 21.89 and 48.9, respectively.
Sullivan, a freshman, was second in the 100 free (1:00.74), behind Lancaster's Garrett Dunn (58.99), and fifth in the 50 free (24.22).
"I told him he needed to step up a notch and he did that. I kind of put the fire under him," Miller said of Sullivan. "I just had to get him focused on his events. I told him we needed him here, and he realized today where he needed to step up and he did that."
Isaac Stretch was third in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.31), and William Best was third in the 500 free (5:28.64) and fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:04.52). Adam Stretch was fifth in the 100 back (1:05.7).
"We know Pickerington North is a very good team, but we were confident enough that we figured we'd be somewhere in the top three," Grove City's Killian Hartman said. "This year, a lot of strong freshmen came in. We have maybe 10 new freshmen and we thought they were good, but they're really good, and we have good sophomores like Kalvin and the Stretches. We hope this means we're going to be competitive for the next few years."
Grove City's girls were led by the fourth-place 400 free relay of Mallory Best, Kayla Heacock, Margo Leist and Allyson Payne (4:25.53). Leist, a junior who missed the entire offseason after surgery to remove a tumor behind her right ear, was seventh in the 200 free (2:20.52) and eighth in the 100 free (1:03.12). Payne was fifth in the 500 free (6:24.02).
Comets place seventh in OCC-Central meet
Both Central Crossing teams finished seventh in the OCC-Central meet Jan. 25 at Thomas.
The girls (48) placed behind Upper Arlington (470), Olentangy Liberty (229), Thomas (205), Dublin Coffman (131.5), Hilliard Davidson (119) and Marysville (64.5), and the boys (28) placed behind UA (372), Liberty (260), Coffman (206), Davidson (151), Marysville (145) and Thomas (126).
"Most of our swimmers swam three relays and one individual event because we knew we'd be overmatched in the individual events," coach Robert Boggs said. "We tried to stack relays. They're all solid swimmers and did a good job for us today. We're just using this as a building block for sectionals. We're fine-tuning our relays right now to see who will be on the 'A' relays at sectional. We pretty much figured that out today."
The girls 400 free relay was fifth (4:56.07), and finishing seventh were the boys 400 free (4:10.35) and 200 medley relays (2:07.19) and the girls 200 free (2:05.62) and 200 medley relays (2:23.53).
Evan Storts had the Comets' top individual finish, placing 15th in the boys 50 free (26.21). Also for the boys team, Zack Aleman was 16th in the 100 butterfly (1:06.95).
Nikki Brewer of the girls team was 17th in the 200 free (2:26.46) and 19th in the 500 free (7:00.37), and Abby Rhodes was 19th in the 100 breast (1:42.87).
Central Crossing and Grove City will compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Upper Arlington. The winner of each event qualifies for district Feb. 15 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.