The Scioto Country Club swimming team entered this year's Private Country Club Athletic League meet in an unfamiliar, yet enviable, role -- as the hunted instead of the hunter.
Thanks in large part to its youngest competitors, the Sharks will enjoy another year in the driver's seat.
Parker Neri and Avery Voss each won three events July 10 at Ohio State, and Scioto won six relays and finished second in three more to amass 3,965 points and win its second consecutive PCCAL title.
Before dethroning six-time defending champion New Albany last year, Scioto had not won a league title since 2009 in the Country Club Swim League.
The Penguins were second again this year with 3,269 points, ahead of The Lakes (2,674), The Country Club at Muirfield Village (1,646), Worthington Hills (1,155) and Brookside (1,028).
"We knew that New Albany and The Lakes had numbers in a lot of the older kids' events, but we felt we matched up pretty well with quality," Sharks coach Tim Bridgham said. "There are only six teams and we scored to 20 places, so numbers were really important as well. We were able to offset their quantity with some quality splits. Some we expected and some came out of the blue."
Neri, a University of Texas recruit, won the boys 15-and-older 50-yard backstroke (27.45 seconds), 50 butterfly (25.74) and 50 freestyle (meet-record 23.02). Voss won the boys 13-14 50 back (30.46), 50 fly (28.35) and 50 free (25.71).
"My family has been doing this meet for a while. This meet by itself is a lot of fun," Neri said. "I'm upset that that this is my last meet for Scioto. It came too soon. (This summer) is all about training. I haven't done any big meets. I am just trying to get in shape. I am trying to worsen the butt kicking I will get when I get to (college). I just want to be stronger and more in tune with the training I will get there."
Only swimmers ages 9 and older competed July 10.
Scioto established a solid lead during the 8-and-younger meet July 8 at The Lakes, as it had 1,336 points, ahead of New Albany (682), The Lakes (648.4), Muirfield (368.5), Worthington Hills (331) and Brookside (208.5).
Although younger athletes competed separately, points carried over.
"We did feel a little extra pressure (to defend our championship), but the younger kids gave us such a huge lead that we felt pretty comfortable," girls swimmer Molly Dierker said. "We were excited to defend it."
Other individual winners were Jack Colombo in the boys 9-10 25 breaststroke (20.48) and 25 fly (18.39) and Avery Catalano in the girls 13-14 50 breast (36.46).
The Sharks also won the boys 9-10 100 medley (1:15.43), girls 9-10 100 medley (1:16.31), girls 9-10 200 free (2:36.84), boys 15-and-older 200 free (1:39.52), boys 15-and-older 200 medley (2:05) and girls 15-and-older 200 medley (2:06.13) relays.
"I think we train a certain way that allows us to individually be really good at certain events, so people have their strengths and we were able to optimize those," girls swimmer Hannah Caldwell said. "We just happen to have a lot of strong swimmers in each stroke. When we come together, it all works."
lead New Albany
New Albany standout Ava Lachey spent maximum effort in winning three events, including two record-setting performances.
Lachey won the girls 13-14 50 back (meet-record 31.11), 50 fly (29.92) and 50 free (meet-record 27.63), breaking older sister Mia's record in the latter event by .04 of a second.
"Backstroke has always been the stroke I've been best at. That's where I win the most," said Lachey, who is entering eighth grade at New Albany Middle School. "I didn't think about getting any specific times. I just wanted to get the meet records and win my events. Whatever it took to do that, I was going to be happy with that."
Mia Lachey won the girls 15-and-older 50 free (27.32) and was second in the 50 breast (35.59) to help lead a balanced effort that saw six New Albany individuals win at least one event and the Penguins capture four relay titles.
Other individual winners for New Albany were Elyse Bergmann in the girls 11-12 50 breast (meet-record 37.05), Olivia Bergmann in the girls 15-and-older 50 back (31.66), Caelan Knettler in the boys 9-10 50 free (35.38) and Makena Knettler in the boys 11-12 50 free (30.03).
The winning relays were the boys 9-10 200 free (2:33.12), girls 15-and-older 200 free (1:59.67), boys 13-14 200 medley (2:09.98) and girls 11-12 200 medley (2:16.61).
Alex Arlin was runner-up in the boys 13-14 50 breast (31.97), 50 fly (29.36) and 50 free (26.38).
power The Lakes
Lauren Moorhead won two events for The Lakes, which finished first or second in nine relays.
Moorhead won the girls 9-10 25 back (17.64) and 25 fly (16.76) and was second in the 25 breast (20.16). Pierce Bateman won the boys 9-10 25 breast (18.59), and Michael Gutman won the boys 15-and-older 50 breast (31.03) and was second in the 50 fly (24.82) and 50 free (24.2).
The Lakes won the boys 11-12 200 medley relay (2:23.73), boys 13-14 200 free relay (2:12.66) and girls 13-14 200 free relay (2:11.67).
Although she was competing in the girls 15-16 age group for the first time, Hannah Bailey won the 50 breast (33.4) and 50 fly (28.67) for the second consecutive year.
She won both last year in the 13-14 races.
Will Chorich won the boys 11-12 50 breast (39.79), and the Marlins also got a win from their girls 11-12 200 free relay (2:02.95).
Libby Grether was second in the girls 11-12 50 back (32.46) and 50 fly (32.18), Thomas Clark was second in the boys 15-and-older 50 back (28.29) and Katherine Paull was runner-up in the girls 9-10 25 fly (17.83).
Riley Murphy earned all three of Worthington Hills' victories, winning the girls 11-12 50 back (32.29), 50 fly (31.82) and 50 free (28.96).
Fourth-place efforts from the 11-12 200 free relay (2:35.92) and 9-10 200 free relay (2:54.61) led the boys team.
Hayden and Riley Hollingsworth each won two events to pace Brookside.
Hayden Hollingsworth repeated as girls 9-10 25 breast champion (17.86) and also won the 50 free (31.8). Riley Hollingsworth won the girls 7-8 25 fly (18.41) and 25 free (17.3) and was second in the 8-and-younger 25 breast (24.46).
Brookside also won the boys 11-12 200 free relay (2:17.92), and its girls 15-and-older 200 medley relay was second (2:16.06).