Marysville High School gymnastics coach Amber Calvert believes her first-year program entered the season with a distinct advantage.
While some first-year programs might struggle to find experienced athletes, the Monarchs' 11 gymnasts all have experience in the sport.
"I have a bit of a lofty goal," said Calvert, whose team opened Dec. 6 against Big Walnut. "I really want to qualify for state as a team. ... We've talked about routines and starting scores and skills that we need. We know we won't be there with our routines for these first couple meets, but it'd be a great experience to work as a team to get to state. We'd love to do that."
Senior Selena Sorensen, who has competed for several clubs and has reached level 10, should lead the Monarchs, according to Calvert.
Senior Hannah Burns and sophomore Molly Tuchfarber have reached level 7.
Other gymnasts are junior Kaley Austin, sophomores Emily Haudenschield and Katie Shoemaker and freshmen Macy Earnest, Madaline Grimm, Carly LaDu, Mikayla Seiter and Emma Zimmerman.
"All of the girls have the love for the sport and we can certainly grow it as we continue moving forward," Calvert said.
Calvert, 40, competed in the sport for three years at Mountain View High School in Vancouver, Wash., before graduating in 1991. She has coached the club team at the Union County YMCA the past 11 years and also has coached at the collegiate level.
"The high school is a different type of program and I wanted to have that opportunity for girls here in Marysville," Calvert said.
The Monarchs practice and hold their home meets at the former middle school on North Maple Street.
While the team is considered a club program, it will compete in the OCC-Capital Division meet and OHSAA postseason events.
The Monarchs are joined in the OCC-Capital by Big Walnut, Central Crossing, Dublin Jerome, Franklin Heights, Hilliard Bradley and Olentangy Orange. Last season, Bradley finished first (24 points, 5-0) in the league ahead of Orange (18, 4-1), Jerome (18, 3-2), Franklin Heights (10, 1-4), Central Crossing (8, 2-3) and Big Walnut (6, 0-5).
Swimming program under new leadership
Craig Faircloth has taken over as swimming and diving coach in place of Ann Rausch, who resigned last spring after 11 seasons.
Faircloth has been the aquatics and sports coordinator at the Union County YMCA since July. He also is a former Ohio State assistant coach and has coached at the club level the past 16 years.
"They've been very receptive to the stroke technique drills that we've been introducing and we have more to share with them as the season progresses," Faircloth said of his athletes.
The Monarchs opened the season Dec. 3 against Worthington Kilbourne at Thomas Worthington. The boys lost 96-74 and the girls lost 98-72.
Junior Gavin Mickelson, who opted not to compete at the high school level last season because of club commitments, won the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 53.4 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (57.59) for the boys in the opener.
Sophomore Micah Haynes won the 100 butterfly (57.75) and was second in the 500 free (5:33.64).
Seniors T.J. Borawski, Braxton Cruea and Christian Madsen and sophomore Ryan Groehl won the 200 free relay (1:40.2).
For the girls, senior Jessica Cowgill, juniors Andrea Daily and Morgan DeWitt and freshman Alexis Moore won the 200 free relay (1:54.64).
Seniors Zack Barton and Aubry Beany join Cowgill and Madsen as captains.
"This was our first meet and we didn't know what to expect, but we were very pleasantly surprised at how well we swam," Faircloth said. "We had a lot of personal-bests and for the beginning of the season that's outstanding."
Faircloth is a 1996 graduate of Thomas, where he was a member of the 200 medley relay that still holds the program record.
"This is my passion and I just ultimately wanted to give back," he said.
Last season, Marysville didn't score in the boys or girls district meets. The Monarchs expect to improve on that performance this season.
"We definitely want to do better in districts and we definitely have the team for it," Barton said. "We have some freshmen that are really good this year and a couple returning people who didn't swim last year back on the team, so it should be a lot better."
The Monarchs do not have any divers this season.
Girls basketball team starts 3-0
The girls basketball team was 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Westland on Dec. 6.
The Monarchs defeated visiting Hilliard Darby 56-28 on Dec. 3, as Meranda Wilson scored 12 points and Sarah Wiseman added 10.
"We have worked really hard this preseason and the beginning of this season is showing that," coach Andrea Hackett said.
"We are playing as one team and not depending on just one or two players, which is great to see."
Boys basketball team opens with victory
The boys basketball team opened Dec. 3 by defeating host Darby 68-44, as Logan Roston had 22 points, Case Chamblin scored 13 and Drew Mellen added 12. The Monarchs opened OCC-Central play Dec. 6 against Westland.