Swim squad success adds confidence
Members of the Wellington School boys and girls swimming and diving teams combined to set 58 personal records and four program records during a three-meet stretch in recent weeks.
That has coach Bill Miller optimistic about how the Jaguars will fare when they compete in the Division II sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 9, at Upper Arlington.
"We've done really well recently with a lot of our kids getting their personal-best times, and it's exciting to imagine how well they will swim once we begin our taper for sectional and district," Miller said. "Our kids plan to have their best swims of the year at sectional to qualify for district."
At the UA sectional, there are no automatic berths for the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State. Twenty-seven at-large district berths will be awarded for each event based on times from the three Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until the district meet.
Last year at the same sectional site, the girls team finished third (287 points) of four teams, behind Grandview (349) and Centennial (318), and had all three relays and five individuals qualify for district.
"Winning our sectional would be a bonus, but if we finish second or third and get a lot of kids to district, we will be happy," Miller said. "Annie Miller, Jenna Tugaoen, Kate Miller, Gabrielle Regusa and Abby Fleeter should be able to make it to district in individual events, and I'm hoping we'll get all three relays through again."
Coach Miller is not related to Annie or Kate Miller.
The boys team placed fourth (125) of five teams at sectional last season, behind champion Grandview (383), and had all three relays and three individuals advance to district.
"Our boys team is small in numbers (with seven athletes), but I think we can get our 200(-yard) freestyle relay and 200 medley relays to district," coach Miller said. "Matthew Xin should make it in the 500 free and 200 free, and Joe Campbell is going to be close in the 100 free and 500 free."
In the Bexley Invitational on Jan. 12, Xin won the 500 free in a program-record 5 minutes, 23.5 seconds, as the boys team finished third (124) behind Bexley (405) and St. Charles (392).
Also for the boys team, diver Michael Haring won with a then-program-record 226.7 points in a 232-99 loss to Bexley on Jan. 18. The next day, he broke his own mark when he won the event with 247.2 points in Centennnial's Stars Invitational.
Xin won the 100 free (54.73) in the Stars Invitational, as the boys team finished last (123) of six teams, behind champion Olentangy Orange (296).
Brittany Anderson scored a program-record 271.4 points in diving for the girls team when she won the event in the Stars Invitational, as the Jaguars finished third (343) of seven teams, behind Centennial (366) and Orange (362).
"Our athletes are beginning to peak at the right time," coach Miller said. "We're right on target or maybe even a little better than we anticipated we would be at this point. Now we just need to make sure we continue getting better."
Injuries taking toll on girls basketball team
The girls basketball team, which has only 13 players in its program, has been hit hard by injuries and other medical problems.
Forward Molly Anderson suffered a knee injury during a 52-16 loss to Gahanna Christian Academy on Jan. 14 and is expected to miss the rest of the season. In that same game, post player Donnette Cox had her nose broken in two places.
Cox played in the following game, a 40-26 win over Columbus School for Girls in the Jaguar Invitational on Jan. 18, but she suffered a concussion in that contest and, as of late last week, had not been medically cleared to play.
Post player Paige Harper missed four games last month because of a foot injury and forward Gwen Hughes recently returned to the lineup after missing 14 games after undergoing an appendectomy.
In addition, guard Jane Borgemenke has not played all season because she was ruled ineligible by the Ohio High School Athletic Association as the result of transferring from another school district.
Through 19 games, Cox was averaging 8.8 points and 13.9 rebounds and Anderson was averaging 4.3 points and four rebounds.
The Jaguars won five of their first nine games but went 1-9 in January, averaging just 25 points in those 10 games. They averaged 34 rebounds a game with both Cox and Anderson in their lineup, but averaged only 21 without both players.
"January has been a bad month for injuries and illnesses, and we were down to seven healthy players at one point," coach Bill Mitchin said. "Injuries are a part of the game, but this has been the most challenging season I've ever had as a coach as far as missing players.
"Donnette and Molly are two key components of our team and we haven't been able to rebound or score the same without them. We've had to go back to ground zero when it comes to finding the right combination of players to put on the floor."
Point guard Helen Fite and forward Mallory Tannous were the only players who started each of the first 19 games.
Through 19 games, Fite was averaging 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists, forward Halle Jefferson was averaging 6.3 points and 7.6 rebounds, Tannous was averaging 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds and guard Abbey Mayne was averaging 3.7 points.
"The odds have been stacked against our team, but I love the way our players keep fighting," Mitchin said. "Halle and Abbey have really stepped up their game since we've had all of these injuries, and all of our players' attitudes have been great."
The Jaguars will conclude the regular season Saturday, Feb. 9, at home against Berne Union. They then will prepare for the Division IV district tournament, which starts Feb. 16.
"Our kids are competing hard, but they just haven't had enough gas left in the tank to finish games because of how small our bench has been," Mitchin said. "But our younger players are continuing to get better and this extra playing experience will make them stronger in the future."