After the OCC-Capital Division meet concluded Jan. 25 at New Albany, the Olentangy High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams gathered near the pool to wait for the official results.
The Braves cheered and embraced one another after it was announced the girls team had scored 298 points to capture its first league title since 2001, ahead of New Albany (282), Delaware (254), Orange (181), Worthington Kilbourne (142), Big Walnut (82) and Mount Vernon (49).
Moments later, the Braves broke out into a celebration when they learned the boys squad had captured its first league championship since 2007, scoring 263 points to finish ahead of New Albany (246), Kilbourne (229), Delaware (200), Mount Vernon (144), Orange (116) and Big Walnut (69).
The Braves jumped up and down together before pushing their coaches into the pool and diving into the water themselves.
"This is the first time any of us have won the OCC and for all of us to experience this together is special because it caps a great season for both of our teams," Keanan Fomich said.
Tyler Norris helped lead the boys team, winning the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 47.4 seconds) and the 500 free (4:58.99). He also combined with Winston Kuriger, Colby Brothers and Fomich to win the 200 free relay (1:30.16) and teamed with Kuriger, Andrew Davis and Fomich to win the 400 free relay (3:19.46).
"It was nice to be able to come out here and step up to help our team win OCC," Norris said. "I swam the anchor leg of the 400 free relay and I felt a lot of pressure to hold onto the lead, but I knew I wasn't going to let my team down. We have a team party scheduled after this meet and it's a lot more fun to party with your teammates after winning a championship."
Fomich also won the 100 backstroke (54.83) and placed second in the 200 free (1:48.61), while Davis placed second in the 200 individual medley (2:09.35).
"New Albany is the defending champion of our league and they scored a lot more points than us in diving, so we knew this was going to be a big challenge," boys coach Steve Gipe said. "But we had some good swims and time drops, and Tyler Norris and Keanan Fomich helped score a ton of points for us."
Both Olentangy teams will compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Union County YMCA. The winner of each sectional event qualifies for district Feb. 14 and 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until district.
"We have a good shot at winning sectional," Kuriger said. "Dublin Jerome and Liberty definitely are a threat to win it, too, so we want to at least finish in the top three."
Ellie Nebraska led the girls team in the league meet, winning the 200 free (1:58.75) and 100 back (1:01.07). She also combined with Mara Nebraska, Kaylin Cochran and Abbey Newman to win the 200 medley relay (1:55.17) and teamed with Erika Poling, her sister and Cochran to finish second in the 400 free relay (3:41.67).
"We're super-excited about winning the OCC because we're a team that not that many people know about," Ellie Nebraska said.
"It feels incredible to win this because we've all worked so hard for it," Mara Nebraska said.
Also finishing second for the Braves were Cochran in the 200 IM (2:19.32) and Abbey Newman, Poling, Maura Parker and Carly Wolfe in the 200 free relay (1:45.82).
"Liberty has more depth than us, so they are favored to win sectional again," girls coach Axel Birnbrich said. "We just want to get a lot of kids to district."
Miller, Peura lead way for Orange girls
Kara Miller finished second in the 500 free (5:28.86) and Anna Peura finished second in the 100 butterfly (1:02.1) to lead the Orange girls team in the OCC-Capital meet.
The duo also combined with Jasmine Wright and Haley Johnson to place fourth in the 200 free relay (1:48.98), while Miller teamed with Alyssa Haidet, Joy Wharton and Eily Cogan to place fourth in the 400 free relay (4:02.15).
"Kara and Anna really put their hearts into this meet and were big scorers for us," coach Dan Harris said. "Our girls team had big time drops all over the place."
Jack Brooks placed fourth in diving (325.25) to lead the boys team. Placing fifth were Ric Reynolds, Rio Siles, Tommy Zabonik and Skyler Siles in the 200 medley relay (1:58.83) and Reynolds, Andrew Haidet, Matthew Hu and Carson Miller in the 200 free relay (1:37.51).
"Our boys team had time drops all over the place and Ric Reynolds and Carson Miller had great races in multiple events," Harris said.
Both Orange teams will compete in the Union County YMCA sectional.
"Sectional is where we want to peak out at," Harris said. "We probably will get all three relays through (to district), and on top of that, we want to get individuals through in multiple events."
Liberty boys, girls second in OCC-Central
The Liberty boys team finished second (260) in the OCC-Central meet Jan. 25 at Thomas behind Upper Arlington (372) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (206), Hilliard Davidson (151), Marysville (145), Thomas (126) and Central Crossing (28).
Jack Saczawa won the 100 fly (54.86) and placed second in the 100 back (54.44), and Cameron Thatcher won diving (575.1) ahead of teammate Alex Kowal (494.05).
Tom Dawson won the 100 breaststroke (1:02.98) and the 200 medley relay finished second (1:43.76).
The girls team finished second (229) behind UA (470) and ahead of Thomas (205), Coffman (131.5), Davidson (119), Marysville (64.5) and Central Crossing (48).
Olivia Ball won diving (501.7). Placing second were the 200 free relay (1:44.12), Justine Kenny in the 100 back (1:03.4) and the 400 free relay (3:51.67).
Both Liberty squads will compete in the Union County YMCA sectional.