With only seven seniors between New Albany High School’s boys and girls swimming teams, 17th-year coach Dave Wharton isn’t sure what to expect.
Seniors John Angell and Phillip Smoyer return to lead the boys team after helping two relays to the Division I state meet, as the Eagles attempt to improve on a sweep of the OCC-Capital Division championships and remain among the area’s top teams.
“It’s going to be a much younger team than we’re used to,” Wharton said. “My initial impression is the kids are working pretty hard and we’re going to see some big improvements from the younger kids. We’ve seen some already.”
Both teams opened the season with two wins Nov. 30 at Ohio Wesleyan. The boys defeated Delaware 123-57 and Central Crossing 141-34, and the girls beat Delaware 104-81 and Central Crossing 152-24.
The boys team also features seniors Alec Lucas and Max Yudovich, juniors Max Glick, Brendan Murphy, Nick Noe and Griffin Spychalski, sophomores Blake Bergere, Jordan Gundlach and Tom Stewart and freshmen Victor Alfonso, Parker Edman and Harrison Jenny.
The girls team consists of seniors Mirra Galbreath, Elly Gleason and Haley McLellan, juniors Sydney Brown, Paige Cackovic, Olivia Fenster, Riley Gundlach, Rachel Herman, Amanda Jenny, Lyndsey Starrett and Vickie Wang, sophomores Allyson Backiewicz, Taylor Berend, Victoria Houser, Alexandra Stark and Abbi Tuller and freshmen Julia Kim, Nikhil Malakalapalli, Olivia Neff and Grace Taylor.
McLellan is a University of Cincinnati signee.
The Eagles lost 2012 graduates Zach Berks, Chase Honeycutt, Frederick Jenny and Corey Ziegler from the boys team and Sam Budin and Stephanie Jones from the girls team.
Honeycutt and Jenny advanced to state, respectively, in the 50-yard freestyle (ninth, 21.49 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (ninth, 58.37). Jenny, Angell, Smoyer and Honeycutt competed at state on the 200 free relay (19th, 1:28.45) and the disqualified 400 free relay.
Honeycutt and Jenny won the consolation finals in their individual events at state as the Eagles tied Westerville Central for 19th (29 points) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (297.5).
New Albany finished fifth (134) in the district meet at Ohio State behind champion Upper Arlington (435) and was first (254) in the Thomas Worthington sectional. Honeycutt won a sectional title in the 50 free (22.29), and the 200 (1:31.16) and 400 (3:23.45) free relays also finished first.
Jones, who competed at state all four years, teamed with Berend, Gleason and McLellan on the girls state-qualifying 200 (16th, 1:39.94) and 400 (22nd, 3:43.1) free relays.
The 200 free relay won a sectional title and set a meet record (1:42.48), and Berend won sectional titles in the 100 free (55.93) and 200 free (2:00.42). Jones set school records in both the 50 free (24.69) and 100 free (53.4) at district as the Eagles were 10th (92) behind champion UA (522), which went on to win an eighth consecutive state championship (300.5).
New Albany tied Mansfield, Miamisburg, Cincinnati Princeton and Toledo Whitmer for 51st (2) at state, and the Eagles were third (162) at sectional behind host Thomas (262).
The boys team won six events in the home OCC-Capital meet and finished first (389) ahead of Delaware (221), Mount Vernon (201), Olentangy Orange (130), Watkins Memorial (103), Big Walnut (98) and Hilliard Bradley (25).
The girls won four events in the league meet to finish first (326) ahead of Delaware (282), Watkins Memorial (170), Mount Vernon (155), Orange (155), Big Walnut (110) and Bradley (92).
Olentangy has replaced Bradley in the league.
“My biggest hope is a lot of these kids pick up right where they left off last year, and that a lot of their exper-iences pay off,” Wharton said.
Led by two nationally prominent divers in sophomores David Dinsmore and Estee Pryor, New Albany’s diving team has a record 17 participants.
“We met in (a commons area adjacent to the pool) to go over our season goals and objectives and it was packed,” 14th-year coach Selene Kelley said. “People were standing. I had never seen such turnout.”
Dinsmore was eighth (441.25) at state as a freshman.
On Oct. 11 at the FINA World Junior Diving Championships in Adelaide, Australia, Dinsmore won the bronze in the boys group B platform event behind Chinese divers Tai Xiaohu (505) and Li Pingan (500.05). In the summer, Dinsmore was first in platform (511.2) and second in 3-meter (473.95) at the Junior National Diving Championships.
Also in Adelaide, Pryor teamed with Bexley’s Samantha Bromberg to place eighth (251.43) in the girls synchronized 3-meter behind winners Zheng Qulin and Liu Jiao (287.7) from China.
The Eagles have four boys divers – juniors Derek Hale and David Torres, Dinsmore and freshman Charlie Steurer.
The girls team consists of seniors Morgan Ebbing, Ilise Green and Jenna Metcalf, juniors Kat Corson, Bailey Fitzgerald, Abby Manning and Grace Martin, sophomores Claire Ebbing, Jessica Metcalf and Pryor and freshmen Jessie Bernard, Abby Lowe and Peyton Vlaservich.