The Olentangy Orange High School boys swimming and diving team had only eight athletes on its roster when Dan Harris took over as coach before the 2010-11 season.
Two years later, Harris is excited about the Pioneers' potential after a team-record 19 boys came out for the team.
Orange opened Dec. 1 with a 128-58 loss to Liberty. On Dec. 8, the Pioneers scored 122 points to beat Bexley (108) and Centennial (74).
"We have a lot more boys than we've ever had, and that makes a big difference," Harris said. "When you have a small team, your athletes have to do the same events over and over. With higher numbers, we can rest people and move kids around to swim the different events. That's important because it makes the kids feel like the weight of the world no longer rests on their shoulders every time they swim."
Returning to lead the Pioneers are senior Alex Chugh and sophomores Cameron Fisher, Carson Miller and Ric Reynolds.
Diving for Orange are junior Garrett Sohnley and freshman Jack Brooks.
Filling out the roster are senior Spencer Linscomb, junior Skyler Siles, sophomores David Cordle, Kyle Gilliam, Andrew Haidet and Tommy Zabonik and freshmen Tyler Brown, Jacob Christofi, Matthew Gallegos, Matthew Hu, Ben Messner, Drishna Perumal and Rio Siles.
"This is the first time our boys team has had divers and that will help us a lot," Harris said.
Last season, Orange finished fourth (130) in the OCC-Capital Division meet behind New Albany (389), Delaware (221) and Mount Vernon (201) and ahead of Watkins Memorial (103), Big Walnut (98) and Hilliard Bradley (25).
The Pioneers placed eighth (120) of nine teams in the Division I sectional at the Union County YMCA behind champion Dublin Jerome (343).
Orange then scored six points to finish 23rd in the district meet at Ohio State behind champion Upper Arlington (435) as 26 teams scored.
At district, Miller, Chugh, Reynolds and 2012 graduate Brad Haney finished 22nd in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3 minutes, 36.1 seconds, and those four also finished 14th (1:36.55) in the 200 free relay.
Reynolds, 2012 graduate Mark Gamble, Miller and Chugh also finished 22nd (1:51.56) in the 200 medley relay.
"As always, our goal is to qualify as many kids as we can through each level of the postseason," Harris said.
Coach: Braves young but talented
Olentangy opened Nov. 30 with an 87-83 victory over Granville.
In a quad-meet Dec. 1, Olentangy defeated Dublin Scioto 107-68 and Worthington Christian 119-34 and lost to Westerville Central 92-78.
In the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State, the Braves finished 21st (51) behind champion Upper Arlington (370) as 48 teams scored.
Back to lead Olentangy are senior captains Mitchell Newman and William Paull, juniors Ashtin Bowden, Colby Brothers and Robert Wyatt and sophomores Andrew Davis, Kyle Deistler, Keanan Fomich and Tyler Norris.
Freshmen Evan Fratianne and Winston Kuriger also are expected to make an impact.
"This is a very young group, but they're experienced swimmers who have had success as part of a YMCA or club team in the past, so we don't have to explain the importance of training to them," 10th-year coach Steve Gipe. "We have 17 boys, and it's nice to have a good-sized team because we're able to fill all the events in dual meets."
The Braves will compete in the OCC-Capital meet this season.
Last season, Olentangy finished third (190) in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind Dublin Jerome (253) and Westerville Central (215) and ahead of Scioto (163), Westerville North (141), Liberty (135), Westerville South (132) and Marysville (96).
Olentangy scored 244 points to place fourth in the Union County YMCA sectional.
The Braves then scored 72.5 points to finish 13th at district, as Norris placed eighth in both the 200 free (1:47.37) and 500 free (4:53.84).
Fomich, Davis, Paull and 2012 graduate Eric Evans also finished 10th in the 200 medley relay in 1:43.31.
"New Albany is a perennial power and Delaware and Orange have good teams, too," Gipe said of the OCC-Capital. "But we have some talented athletes and I think we can challenge for the top two spots right away."
Patriots looking to improve on last year
Liberty opened Dec. 1 with a victory over Orange and then defeated Gahanna 117-52 on Dec. 7 before finishing 16th (84) in the Ned Reeb Invitational.
Back to lead the Patriots are seniors Matthew Lennon and Tommy Dawson and sophomores Alex Kowal (diver) and Nick Tracewell.
Freshmen expected to contribute include Jeremy Karr, Jack Saczawa and Cameron Thatcher (diver).
"We've got some talented boys back and we've got a lot of talent in our freshman class," seventh-year coach Laurie Karr said.
"Cameron crushed our team record for most points scored (294.5) in diving in our first meet and he's only going to get better."
After finishing sixth in the OCC-Cardinal meet last season, the Patriots placed fifth (226) in the Union County YMCA sectional.
Liberty then finished 20th (20) at district, as Kowal scored 434.7 points to finish fourth in diving, one spot from qualifying for state.
"Our goal is to get some boys to the state meet this season," coach Karr said.