The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls swimming and diving team has accomplished something this season that it hasn't done in a while -- win a dual meet.
"We hadn't won a dual meet in three years, so the girls were very excited," said Jim Callahan, who coaches the boys and girls teams for Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington. "It was great to finally get that monkey off our back."
The Wolves, whose roster consists of eight swimmers and three divers, defeated Marysville 89-66 on Dec. 4.
"We beat Westerville South 88-85 (on Jan. 4) and Hilliard Bradley 86-56 (on Jan. 16) after that and we're 3-9 (in dual meets), so it's been great for these girls," Callahan said. "We have a senior, Emily Wallin, who has waited a long time to be on the winning side of one, so that was special for her."
Sophomore Jackie Wachtel, who was selected the team's Most Valuable Swimmer last season by her teammates, is encouraged about the direction of the team.
"This is a lot better than last season," said Wachtel, who specializes in the sprint freestyles and the 100-yard breaststroke. "We've got some good freshmen and we came together well this season. Emily has been a great role model and leader for us. After we won once, we wanted to come back and do it even more."
Another newcomer, sophomore diver Rachel Rabadue, has contributed greatly to the Wolves' point total in meets. As of last week, she had the highest six-dive point total (290.85) in the state.
"She's a top-notch performer who competed only in club last year," Callahan said. "She just finished second in the Northeast Classic (on Jan. 11 and 12 at Branin Natatorium in Canton) and she's definitely a state-finalist contender."
The OCC championships are being held this week. The Kilbourne boys and girls teams will compete in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet and the Thomas boys and girls teams will compete in the OCC-Central meet.
The diving competition is Friday, Jan. 25, at Upper Arlington and the swimming competition is Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thomas.
Thomas girls meeting their expectations
The Thomas girls team has lived up to its expectations so far this season.
The Cardinals are 11-0 in dual meets thanks to their balance and depth.
"We had the second-best score of Central District teams in the Ned Reeb Invitational (on Dec. 8 at Ohio State) behind only Upper Arlington," said Callahan, whose team scored 177 points in the Ned Reeb meet to finish fourth behind champion UA (439). "So it's not as though our depth is overwhelming opponents in duals. We've got a nice mix. We're very balanced in terms of our ages and our events. We've got a core of eight or nine swimmers doing very well and we've got another 10 providing good depth."
The Cardinals returned six of their seven swimmers who competed in a combined seven events, including three relays, in the state meet last season when they tied for 13th (47) behind champion UA (286).
In this week's area honor roll, sophomore Kaylee Witkiewicz is ranked in the top five in three events. She has the third-best time in both the 100 backstroke (59.78 seconds) and the 50 free (24.78) and the fifth-best time in the 100 free (53.43).
Last season at state, Witkiewicz placed eighth (56.53) in the 100 back and 20th in the 50 free (24.64).
"The backstroke was my strength last year, but I kind of changed gears now," she said. "I worked a lot on freestyle in practice for the 400 relay, so the 100 freestyle just grew on me. I want to win state (in the 100 free) and make podium in the 100 back."
The 400 free relay (3:42.72) and 200 medley relay (1:50.92) are ranked second in the area honor roll and the 200 free relay was sixth (1:44.28). Senior Maren Reeder is fourth (1:08.45) in the 100 breaststroke and junior Julia Valentine (1:09.76) was ninth in the 100 breast.
Harper leading way for Thomas boys
Senior Trenton Harper of the Thomas boys team has the fastest time in the area honor roll in the 100 breast.
His time of 59.6, which was set in the Northeast Classic, also ranks sixth in the state.
"I have two goals the rest of the way," Harper said. "I want to get in the 57s and make podium at state. I think it's reasonable. I was second (in the area) most of the year behind (UA's) Ian Reardon, who is a close friend of mine. I'm looking forward to the district (Feb. 16 at Ohio State) and seeing what we can do."
Harper won the district title in a program-record 58.36 last season, as Thomas finished 10th (110) behind champion UA (435). He finished 21st (1:00) at state.
Harper is fourth in the area honor roll in the 200 individual medley (2:00.03).
"Trenton has had a good season as we anticipated," Callahan said. "In addition to the 100 breast, he's been strong in our relays, as have (seniors) Anton Teufel and Mason Zurovchak. Anton just went 49.55 in the 100 free and Mason is our relay anchor. He responds well under pressure."
The 200 free relay is ranked third (1:30.52) in the area honor roll and the 200 medley relay is fifth (1:43.36).
"We've have a great season as a team," Harper said. "We have a lot of depth. I really like our chances in the relays, especially the 200 free and 200 medley."
Kilbourne boys excelling in relays
The success of the relays for the Kilbourne boys team has surprised Callahan.
"Our underclassmen have been doing a really nice job and that has helped solidify the lineup with our relays," he said. "The relays have been a pleasant surprise, especially the 200 medley relay with Rika Kaida, Justin Jiang, Nick Ramos and Yuki Tajima."
The 200 medley relay is sixth (1:43.79) in the area honor roll and the 200 free relay is eighth (1:33.39). Tajima is eighth in the 50 free (22.39) and Kaida is 10th in the 100 back (56.23).