Hunter Cook, Blake Dickmann, Cory McLaughlin, Griffin Jones and Zack Gbur played major roles in helping the Hilliard Darby High School boys swimming and diving team win its first league championship.
The Panthers won four events and totaled 258 points in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet that concluded Jan. 25 at Thomas Worthington to finish ahead of Dublin Jerome (240), Westerville Central (208), Dublin Scioto (179), Westerville South (171), Westerville North (151) and Bradley (62).
"It wasn't just the Darby boys program's first championship. It was the first one ... for any varsity swim program in all Hilliard schools," said Brian Dickmann, who coaches the boys and girls teams at Bradley, Darby and Davidson. "It's a major accomplishment and we're all still excited about it."
McLaughlin won the 100-yard backstroke (54.77 seconds), Cook won the 200 individual medley (2:00.23) and Blake Dickmann won the 100 butterfly (53.64).
"All of Darby's top swimmers did their thing, but what pushed them over the top was getting unexpected points by guys like Griffin Jones and Zack Gbur," coach Dickmann said. "We also used different relay lineups to try to maximize their chances of gaining team points. It was a calculated risk, but it was a great team effort that paid off."
Jones had the seventh-best seed time (1:08) among those competing in the 100 breaststroke, but won the event in 1:02.24.
"I've been working on my stroke all season, but I hadn't had a (personal record)," Jones said. "I think my previous best was a 1:04.8. I was nervous because I knew what was riding on my swim. When I finished, I knew it was good. But everyone was yelling at me, so I looked up at the board and was surprised at my time."
The Panthers were strong in the 200 IM, as McLaughlin placed second (2:03.06) behind Cook and Gbur was fourth (2:12.28).
Also placing in the top four were the 200 medley relay (second, 1:41.02), Dickmann in the 200 freestyle (third, 1:49.25), Gbur in the 100 back (fourth, 58.25) and Mark Marquardt in diving (fourth, 289.9).
The diving competition was held Jan. 24 at New Albany.
"It was a great experience to be the first (Hilliard swim team) to win a league championship," Blake Dickmann said. "It was a great atmosphere and everyone stepped up.
"Now our goal is to compete for a district championship with Upper Arlington, Dublin Coffman and St. Charles. We want to win that, qualify as many as we can to state and finish in the top eight as a team there and as individuals."
The boys and girls teams for Bradley, Darby and Davidson will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Union County YMCA in Marysville.
The winner of each swimming event automatically qualifies for the district meet Feb. 14 and 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large berths for each swimming event will be awarded based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until district.
The Darby girls team placed third (177.5) in the OCC-Cardinal meet, behind Jerome (403) and Westerville Central (197) and ahead of Westerville North (133), Canal Winchester (119), Westerville South (102.5), Bradley (81) and Scioto (80).
The Panthers won two events, with the 200 medley relay of Tia McLaughlin, Destiny Camp, Olivia Wile and Mackenzie Caruthers finishing first in a program-record 1:55.78 and Caruthers finishing first in the 500 free (5:29.72).
Caruthers placed second in the 200 free (2:02.63).
"Mackenzie defended her title in the 500 free," coach Dickmann said. "She is just an all-out competitor with lots of heart and determination to fight through the pain in her hip (caused from salmonella, which she contacted last September)."
The 400 free relay also placed second (3:54.42) and Wile was third in the 100 fly (1:02.09).
Driscoll, Satre lead Bradley in OCC meet
The Bradley girls team was led in the OCC-Cardinal meet by Brynn Driscoll, who won the 100 breast in a program record (1:10.88) and placed third in the 200 IM (2:24.34).
"Being an OCC champion and holding a school record as a freshman ... that's an outstanding season," coach Dickmann said. "It'll be fun to see what she does in the postseason."
Leading the boys team in the league meet was Jon Satre, who placed second in both the 100 back (55.22) and 200 free (1:46.42).
"Jon Satre had some really good swims and is on track for another strong postseason," coach Dickmann said. "Last year in the OCCs, he tied (Darby's) Cory McLaughlin for first place in the 100 back. Cory won this year, but Jon is a very hard worker and they will continue to push each other in practice and in the postseason."
Satre, a senior, placed 15th in the 100 back at state last year and was a district qualifier in the 200 free.
Davidson boys, girls finish in top five in OCC
The Davidson girls team finished fifth (119) in the OCC-Central meet that concluded Jan. 25 at Thomas.
The Wildcats finished behind UA (470), Olentangy Liberty (229), Thomas (205) and Coffman (131.5) and ahead of Marysville (64.5) and Central Crossing (48). Westland does not have a swim program.
Jessie Lewis had the Wildcats' top finish in an individual event, placing fourth in the 100 fly (1:01.66). She also swam the lead leg for the 400 free relay that placed third (4:06.36).
Also on the relay were Alexis Zody, Rachel Serafy and Megan Schmalenberger.
The boys team finished fourth (151) in the league meet, behind UA (372), Liberty (260) and Coffman (206) and ahead of Marysville (145), Thomas (126) and Central Crossing (28).
Keith Serafy was runner-up in the 200 free (50.74) and placed third in the 50 free (23.19), and Alex Waldron finished third in both the 200 IM (2:06.97) and 100 back (55.45).