Brian Dickmann can't wait to see what the Hilliard Darby High School boys swimming and diving team accomplishes next season.
Led by junior Hunter Cook, the Panthers finished 30th in the Division I state meet Feb. 21-23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Cook placed in both of his individual events to account for all of Darby's 23 points.
Cincinnati St. Xavier (270) won the state title as 57 teams scored.
"Darby loses seven seniors, but all of the district (and state) qualifiers and all of the points they scored in the OCC-Cardinal (Division meet) return," said Dickmann, who coaches the boys and girls teams at Bradley, Darby and Davidson. "The Darby boys team is the best team in swimming that any school has had."
Cook placed seventh at state in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 55.17 seconds) and eighth in the 500 freestyle (4:40.46).
Junior Cory McLaughlin finished 24th in the 200 IM (2:01.98) and Cook, McLaughlin and sophomores Blake Dickmann and Ross McDonald combined to finish 19th in the 200 medley relay (1:39.71) and 21st in the 400 free relay (2:16.2).
"I think they're hungry to come back and do better next season," coach Dickmann said. "We'll set the bar high for them. They will have great and tougher expectations, but I think they're up for the task."
In the district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State, Cook won the 500 free (program-record 4:37.8) and was runner-up in the 200 IM (program-record 1:54.28). According to coach Dickmann, the title in the 500 free represents the first district championship in any event for all of the Hilliard boys or girls teams.
Also at district, McLaughlin placed eighth in the 200 IM (1:58.07), the 200 medley relay was fifth (1:38.56) and the 400 free relay was seventh (3:15.55). The relay times were all-Hilliard records.
The Panthers finished fourth (149) behind champion Upper Arlington (380) as 24 teams scored.
The top two placers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide. The top three boys divers and top four girls divers also advanced to state.
Dickmann and McLaughlin just missed qualifying for state in the 100 backstroke. Dickmann placed eighth (54.04), just .33 of a second behind the final at-large state qualifier, and McLaughlin finished ninth (54.05).
Also competing at district were Dickmann in the 200 free, sophomore Tyler Long in the 500 free and 100 butterfly, sophomore Ross McDonald in the 50 free, sophomore Griffin Jones in the 100 breaststroke and freshman Zack Gbur in the 100 back.
Darby placed third (183) in the 10-team sectional Feb. 9 at Union County YMCA in Marysville behind champion Dublin Coffman (230) and placed second (195) in the OCC-Cardinal meet Jan. 26 at Thomas Worthington behind Dublin Jerome (226) and ahead of Westerville South (187), Westerville Central (166), Worthington Kilbourne (153), Westerville North (144), Dublin Scioto (143) and Bradley (26).
The Darby girls team did not have any state qualifiers, but freshmen Mackenzie Caruthers and Olivia Wile set program records at district, as the Panthers finished 20th (25) behind champion UA (491) as 24 teams scored.
Caruthers placed 12th in the 200 free (program-record 1:59.16) and was sixth in the 500 free (5:20.05). Wile finished 16th in the 100 fly (program-record 1:00.64) and 21st in the 100 back (1:04.06).
Also competing at district were sophomore Maddie McDonald in the 100 fly and the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free relays.
Darby placed seventh (89) in the 10-team sectional Feb. 16 at Union County YMCA behind champion Olentangy Liberty (248) and finished sixth (135) in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind Jerome (341), Westerville Central (209), Westerville North (199), Scioto (150) and Kilbourne (141) and ahead of Westerville South (126) and Bradley (0).
The Panthers lose three seniors, including Robyn Gauder, who competed at district in relay events.
"Darby will return 13 of their 16 (team members)," coach Dickmann said. "They have a strong freshman class and I think there will be some eighth-graders who will contribute greatly next season."
Bradley boys hope to increase numbers
The Bradley boys team was represented at state by junior Jon Satre, who finished 15th in the 100 back (53.6) as the Jaguars scored two points to finish 54th.
"As good as Jon is and as much as he has done, the biggest thing he and his teammates, (sophomore) Chester Bonnell and (freshman) Noah Kauffman, have to do next year is become recruiters," coach Dickmann said of the only three boys on the roster. "They need to grab some friends, get some kids from the YMCA team. To be a team, the OHSAA constitutes you have to have seven and hopefully we can get the roster to seven or more next season."
Bradley finished 19th (26) at district as Satre placed fifth in the 100 back (53.26) and seventh in the 200 free (1:44.94), setting program records in both. The Jaguars finished 10th (24) in the Union County YMCA sectional.
The Bradley girls team did not have any state or district qualifiers and failed to score in the Union County YMCA sectional or the OCC-Cardinal meet.
The Jaguars' roster consisted of seven members and three missed a considerable portion of the season to injury.
The only senior was Kaitlyn Windham.
"I expect them to have a team of 10 or so next year," coach Dickmann said. "The three injured girls (juniors Delaney Banda and Rebecca Woodson and freshman Lauren Valdez) should return strong and join (junior) Kyra Sommer (and sophomores) Hannah Giese and Hannah Zeis.
"Plus, (the Bradley girls) also should have a strong corps of eighth-graders coming in to help."
Davidson ended season at district
The Davidson boys team ended its season at district, where it finished 21st (12).
Freshman Alex Waldron finished 12th in the 100 back (program-record 54.77) and 24th in the 200 IM (2:08.4) and freshman Kalen Sipl placed 10th in diving (282.35 points).
Also competing at district were the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free relays.
Davidson finished ninth (40) in the Union County YMCA sectional and placed fifth (96) in the OCC-Central meet Jan. 26 at Thomas, behind UA (428), Liberty (229), Thomas (214) and Coffman (200) and ahead of Marysville (72) and Central Crossing (51).
Westland does not have a swimming and diving program.
The Wildcats lose two seniors in Brandon Moore and Lou Takahashi.
"We'll miss them because of their work ethic and leadership," coach Dickmann said. "Lou did a great job with our relays. We'll have 10 returnees and a bunch of eighth-graders who I believe will make an immediate impact."
The Davidson girls team also ended its season at district, where it finished 16th (43).
At district, senior Megan Wittman placed ninth in the 500 free (program-record 5:24.26) and 11th in the 200 free (program-record 1:58.6), junior Megan Schmalenberger placed eighth in the 100 free (all-Hilliard-record 53.3) and 10th in the 100 fly (59.2), sophomore Felicia Fantin finished 25th in the 100 breast (1:14.49) and freshman Jessie Lewis finished 22nd in the 100 fly (1:01.96).
Also competing at district were the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 relays.
The Wildcats finished sixth (93) in the Union County YMCA sectional and placed fifth (115) in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind UA (452), Thomas (241), Liberty (185) and Coffman (182) and ahead of Central Crossing (52) and Marysville (48).
Davidson loses three seniors in Wittman, Kylie Hardin and Jenny Waldron.
"Wittman and Waldron have been a large part of the team for years and Hardin did well as a newcomer," coach Dickmann said. "It'll be hard to replace those two veterans. They had 11 freshmen this year and seven lettered. Schmalenberger will be the lone senior next year, but I think they're building some depth for a bright future."