First-year coach Rachel Furr already has seen times fall for the athletes in the Northridge High School swimming and diving program.
The Vikings, who have 17 swimmers, including three girls, opened Dec. 7 as host of the Viking Splash at New Albany.
"I think we have been doing well," Furr said. "We had an intra-squad meet before Thanksgiving and we had a lot of personal bests, and that was just in a pretend meet."
The three girls in the program are seniors Riley Love and Katie Pileski and sophomore Josie Bunstine. Love was a Division II district qualifier last season, finishing 16th (2 minutes, 34.16 seconds) in the 200-yard individual medley and 24th (1:10.05) in the 100 backstroke. Bunstine also was a district qualifier, finishing ninth (1:11.27) in the 100 breaststroke and 11th (1:02.81) in the 100 butterfly.
"We only have three girls, which is too bad because we can't have a relay," Furr said. "We have three talented girls and if we had had a fourth we would have done well in some relays."
The boys team features seniors Nathan Castle, Brandon Eckstein and Ryan Strong, juniors Mason Alexander, Bryce Curtis, Jasen Dean, Paul Haught, Chris Lindsay, Mat Scott, Steven Wickham and Nick Willeke, sophomores Adam Eckstein and David Stanton and freshman Eli Rushmore.
Last year at district, Brandon Eckstein was 25th (2:27.33) in the 200 IM. He also joined Scott, Lindsay and Dean on the 25th-place 400 freestyle relay (4:03.48) and the 24th-place 200 medley relay (2:02.37).
"We have been working on a lot of technical things," Furr said. "We have been working hard in practice, but we have been working on starts and flips and other things that help to drop time."
There has not been an LCL meet scheduled.
Wrestling team has 'quality' talent
The wrestling team has 11 athletes, including two returning Division III state qualifiers in senior Rob Mickey (160 pounds) and junior Jake Adkins (106).
Last season, Adkins finished eighth at 106 and 2013 graduate Thomas Williams was fourth at 145 to become the first two Vikings to reach the awards podium at state in the same season.
Mickey was 1-2 at 160 at state to finish 44-10, while Adkins finished 51-7.
"We're saying it's quality over quantity," said coach Eric Potts, who is in his fourth season. "We don't have a lot of kids in numbers, but they are pretty good. The ones who are here have a lot of experience. We have to focus on what we have."
Senior Jacob Burke, a district qualifier at 170 as a sophomore, missed last season with a broken foot and will miss this season with a knee injury. Senior Wade Stischok qualified for district last season at 152, but moved to Newark, according to Potts.
The Vikings have three seniors in Alex Arnold (145), Jonathan Barber (220) and Mickey. Barber was a district qualifier at 195 last season.
The roster also includes juniors Brennan Angus (182) and Hunter Reese (132), sophomores Michael Holly (106), Jacob Maynard (132) and Mason Royer (170) and freshmen Hunter Corbin (132) and Steele Strout (120).
The Vikings opened Nov. 30 in the Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon, finishing sixth (339) of 12 teams behind champion Delaware (531). Adkins won at 106, while Maynard won at 138 and Corbin took fourth in that class. Mickey was second at 160 and Royer placed fourth at 170.
"I thought that we did well for a first tournament," Potts said. "The kids wrestled well, but they aren't at the weights they need to be yet."
Last season, the Vikings reached a semifinal in the inaugural Division III state team tournament and captured the program's first league championship, winning the MBC Duals with 395 points, ahead of runner-up Loudonville (235). Northridge now is in the LCL.
"I like (going to the LCL) even though we have wrestled in the Licking County Tournament for the past few years, so it's not that big of a difference," said Potts, whose team won the county tournament last season with 276 points, ahead of runner-up Licking Valley (250). "It's much better for wrestling than the MBC."
Girls basketball team opens with victory
The girls basketball team won its opener, defeating Mount Gilead 62-27 on Dec. 2 in coach Joe Rucker's debut.
Junior Belinda Marcum scored 15 points, sophomore Jamie Swickard had 14 and senior Sara Pribonic and junior Mikaela Pankuch had 11 apiece. Senior Summer Prevost added seven points.
"I was really pleased with it being our first game because our energy level was there," said Rucker, whose team was 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the LCL before playing Granville on Dec. 7. "One of our veterans, Sara Pribonic, got into foul trouble early and the girls were able to push through that without Sara for a while. Once (Pribonic) returned, we were able to play to our full capabilities."
On Dec. 5, the Vikings defeated Utica 56-55 in overtime in the LCL opener. Pribonic scored 20 points, Marcum had 14 and Swickard added 10.
Boys basketball team falls to Johnnies
The boys basketball team opened its season and LCL schedule by losing to Johnstown-Monroe 61-36 on Dec. 3.
"You could tell it was our first game and (the Johnnies') second," coach Ben Patrick said. "We didn't play bad defensively, but we weren't aggressive offensively."
Junior Chad Campbell scored 12 points and senior Matt Grindle added eight.
The Vikings played Utica in a league game Dec. 6.