Olentangy Valley News

Girls Swimming & Diving

Braves ahead of last year's pace

View Slideshow Buy This Photo
JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKSPORTS
Ellie Nebraska of the Olentangy girls swimming and diving team prepares for the 100-yard freestyle during the state meet last season. Nebraska, a sophomore, is one of four returning state qualifiers for the Braves.
By

Although the Olentangy High School girls swimming and diving team hasn't added any standout athletes to its roster, coach Axel Birnbrich believes the Braves are better than they were last season.

That's because all four of their Division I state qualifiers have returned in seniors Mara Nebraska and Erika Poling and sophomores Ellie Nebraska and Abbey Newman, and the rest of the Braves have gotten better, according to Birnbrich.

"We didn't lose any of our high-end swimmers and some of our medium swimmers swam year-round and have moved up to make us a well-rounded team," Birnbrich said. "All of our girls have stepped up at least a little bit and we're further ahead of where we were at this time last year, which is a real positive for us."

Olentangy opened by finishing seventh (161) in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 7 at Ohio State behind champion Upper Arlington (488) as 46 teams scored.

Poling, junior Ally Fomich and the Nebraska sisters finished sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3 minutes, 42.34 seconds. Poling, Mara Nebraska, freshman Kaylyn Cochran and Newman finished sixth in the 200 medley relay in 1:53.45.

Ellie Nebraska was sixth in the 200 free (1:56.4) and seventh in the 100 free (54.66). She also joined Newman, Cochran and sophomore Carly Wolfe to finish ninth in the 200 free relay (1:42.32).

"We have six girls who are top-notch who are going to score well in most meets," Birnbrich said. "We're a lot deeper this year, too."

The Braves are hoping to again compete for the OCC-Capital Division title after finishing second (274) last season behind New Albany (312) and ahead of third-place Delaware (259).

"Our league meet should be competitive and it should come down between Dela-ware, New Albany and us," Birnbrich said. "Our top swimmers should do well, but it will depend on our medium girls to win it."

Last season, Olentangy placed third (212) at sectional behind champion Liberty (248) and fifth (146) at district behind champion UA (491).

At state, Newman was 15th in the 50 free (24.73). Poling, the Nebraska sisters and Newman were 13th in the 400 free relay (3:37.76) and Ellie Nebraska was 20th in the 100 free (53.84).

"Our goal is to get our relays and at least three individuals to the state meet," Birnbrich said.

Pioneers break two team records in opener

Orange opened its season by finishing 33rd (20) in the Ned Reeb Invitational.

Freshman Alyssa Haidet finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke in a team-record 1:09 and freshman Anna Peura was 23rd in the 100 butterfly in a team-record 1:02.66.

"Our girls already have broken two school records and we're swimming really well as a team," coach Dan Harris said.

Other experienced competitors for Orange are seniors Hannah Blackwell, Haley Johnson, Julia Pinciotti and Jasmine Wright, junior Kara Miller, sophomores Eily Cogan and Joy Wharton and freshmen Olivia Boling, Anna Peura and Olivia Reynolds.

"Some strong freshmen have joined our team and this is one of the strongest teams talent-wise that we've had," Harris said.

After placing fourth (167) in last year's OCC-Capital meet, Miller set team records while placing 18th in the 200 free (2:04.32) and 12th in the 500 free (5:27.91) at sectional.

At district, 2013 graduate Brooke Pulkrabek, Johnson, Cogan and Miller placed 19th in the 200 free relay in a team-record 1:48.62. Johnson also set team records while placing 23rd in the 100 breast (1:13.95) and 26th in the 200 individual medley (2:20.72).

"We've gotten a lot stronger, but the OCC-Capital is going to be a steeper challenge this year with Worthington Kilbourne joining," Harris said. "But we look forward to the challenge of going up against top-notch teams like Kilbourne, New Albany, Olentangy and Delaware in our league meet."

Patriots feature five state qualifiers

Liberty finished 19th (59) in the Ned Reeb Invitational, as sophomore Justine Kenny, freshman Ally Braun, junior Caroline Racke and sophomore Reilly Haas placed 11th in the 200 medley relay (1:53.52).

Five state qualifiers have returned in senior divers Olivia Ball and Brittany Menninger, Haas, Kenny and Racke.

Menninger is expected to miss the first half of the season with a foot injury.

Other key contributors are sophomores Becky Brock and Caitlin McConaghy, juniors Bailee Braun and Same Dawson and senior Makenzie Karr.

Last season at state, Ball scored 461.75 points to win her second consecutive diving title. Menninger placed 11th in diving (417.8), while Kenny, 2013 graduate Olivia Bently, Racke and Haas finished 19th in the 200 medley relay (1:50.77) and 2013 graduate Cameron Hiltner finished 18th in the 200 free (1:55.82).

"We graduated two state qualifiers and Brittany is injured and those losses hurt quite a bit, but the rest of our girls are working hard to drop their times and fill those spots," coach Laurie Karr said. "Our girls are training with more focus and purpose this season."

Last season in the OCC-Central meet, Liberty took third (185) behind UA (452) and Thomas Worthington (240).

"We'd like to beat UA but we probably don't have that kind of talent, so we'll do the best we can to push them for first," coach Karr said.

After winning a sectional title, Liberty placed third (167) at district as Hiltner set team records in the 200 free (fifth, 1:54.48) and 100 fly (11th, 59.23).

"We're just trying to rebuild our team and get better right now," Haas said. "Our goal is to get back to state with several people."

Schedules

LIBERTY

Dec. 7 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State

Dec. 13 -- Dive meet at Thomas Worth-ington

Dec. 14 -- NEK Pancreatic Cancer Crush at Westerville Community Center (diving) and Thomas Worthington (swimming)

Dec. 21 -- Delaware County Classic at Ohio Wesleyan

Dec. 27 -- Mount Vernon at Kenyon College

Jan. 3 -- DeSales and Reynoldsburg at TBA

Jan. 4 -- Dive meet at New Albany

Jan. 17 -- Delaware and Olentangy at Delaware YMCA

Jan. 18 -- Westerville North and Westerville South at TBA

Jan. 24-25 -- OCC-Central meet at TBA

OLENTANGY

Dec. 7 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State

Dec. 14 -- NEK Pancreatic Cancer Crush at Westerville Community Center (diving) and Thomas Worthington (swimming)

Dec. 20 -- at Columbus Academy

Dec. 28 -- Orange at Delaware YMCA

Jan. 4 -- Dive meet at New Albany

Jan. 11 -- Olentangy-Hilliard Showdown at TBA

Jan. 17 -- Delaware and Liberty at Delaware YMCA

Jan. 24 -- Hartley at Delaware YMCA

Jan. 24-25 -- OCC-Capital meet at TBA

Jan. 31-Feb. 1 -- Ken Gipe Relays at Port Clinton

ORANGE

Dec. 7 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State

Dec. 13 -- Dive meet at Thomas Worthington

Dec. 14 -- North Robinson Colonel Crawford Relays

Dec. 20 -- Westerville Central at Westerville Community Center

Dec. 21 -- Delaware County Classic at Ohio Wesleyan

Dec. 28 -- Olentangy at Delaware YMCA

Jan. 4 -- Marysville at Union County YMCA

Jan. 10 -- Wellington at TBA

Jan. 11 -- Olentangy-Hilliard Showdown at TBA

Jan. 17 -- Centennial at Columbus Aquatics Center

Jan. 24-25 -- OCC-Capital meet at TBA

Jan. 31-Feb. 1 -- Ken Gipe Relays at Port Clinton

Comments