The Westerville North High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams will begin what they hope will be a successful postseason when they compete in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet this weekend.
The diving competition will be held Friday, Jan. 25, at Upper Arlington and the swimming competition will take place Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thomas Worthington.
Last season, the North boys team finished fifth (141 points) in the league meet, behind Dublin Jerome (253), Westerville Central (215), Olentangy (190) and Dublin Scioto (163) and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (135), Westerville South (132) and Marysville (96).
The girls team finished seventh (94) a year ago, behind Liberty (261), Central (245), Jerome (226), Olentangy (155), South (147) and Marysville (114) and ahead of Scioto (92).
As part of OCC realignment, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne joined the league, with Liberty and Marysville moving to the OCC-Central and Olentangy moving to the OCC-Capital.
Although coach Jeff Riegler expects his girls team to be competitive, he said a lack of divers could prevent the Warriors from contending for the league title.
Senior Mary Dybdahl, who holds program records for six (240.9 points) and 11 (400.2) dives, opted not to compete this season.
"We're going to be way behind," Riegler said. "We might be able to swim with just about anybody. But when you're down by 40 or 50 (points) because of diving, that's going to be too hard to overcome."
In this week's area honor roll, senior Rachel Jackson has the fourth-fastest time in the 100-yard backstroke (1 minute, .17 seconds) and is seventh in the 100 butterfly (59.32) and ninth in the 50 freestyle (25.35).
Also for the girls, the 200 medley relay is seventh (1:56.68) and the 200 free relay is eighth (1:45.43).
"Rachel is doing extremely well," Riegler said.
In the boys area honor roll, sophomore Mason Miller has the fastest time in the 100 free (47.98) and the second-fastest time in the 50 free (22.01). He also is sixth in the 100 fly (54.43) and 10th in the 200 individual medley (2:02.45).
Sophomore diver Kieran Blake is 10th with 161.75 points in six dives.
"I don't know if the boys have enough depth," Riegler said of the team's chances to win the league meet. "I think the girls will do better than the boys. I've had much better teams than this depth-wise."
South boys expect to contend for OCC title
South coach Kevin Kissling is hoping his boys team contends for the OCC-Cardinal championship.
Senior Jared Higdon, who was a Division I state qualifier the past three seasons, is first in the 100 fly (51.96) and fourth in the 100 free (48.61) in the area honor roll. Junior Calvin Higdon is fifth in the 100 fly (53.85), and the 400 free relay is seventh (3:24.58).
"Jared will be great at the end of the season. All of our guys will," Kissling said. "Our boys are probably one of the top four teams who are going to be at the league meet with a chance to win. The four teams at the top are very close. Jerome, South and Westerville North will be really good at OCC.
"We have more numbers on the boys team and a pretty talented group of older swimmers, and a bunch of kids that are learning every day."
Senior Riley Buer, a three-time state qualifier, leads the girls team into the league meet. She is seventh in the 200 IM (2:13.47) and seventh in the 100 back (1:01.31) in the area honor roll.
"Our girls team is really small this year, but they're coming along," Kissling said. "We have a mix of the younger kids on the team and a handful of really good experience. We have a nice balance on the girls side."
Central teams expect success in league meet
First-year Central coach Austin Staab expects his teams to make a good showing in the league meet.
"We feel like if we put a good lineup together and instill some inspiration into these guys, we definitely have a shot at winning that," he said. "It's not going to be easy. There are some pretty tough teams in our OCC, but we definitely have a shot if we sneak in a few firsts instead of seconds."
Expected to lead the boys team are sophomores Gabe Whitaker and Jon Brooks.
In the area honor roll, Whitaker is fourth in the 50 free (22.15) and Brooks is seventh in the 100 fly (54.62). The 400 free relay is sixth (3:22.89) and the 200 free relay is seventh (1:32.24).
For the girls team, senior Sally Thompson is sixth in the 50 free (25.15) and 100 free (53.58) in the area honor roll.
Senior Marissa Kramer is 10th in the 100 fly (1:00.93), senior Chloe Merriss is sixth in diving (206), the 200 free relay is seventh (1:44.48) and the 400 free relay is 10th (3:49.48).
Thompson and Kramer were state qualifiers last season.