With the nucleus of his team back from a season ago, Columbus Academy boys swimming and diving coach Craig Yakscoe expects the Vikings to again contend for a high finish in the Division II state meet.
Last season, Academy finished third (146 points) behind Gates Mills Hawken (230) and Cincinnati Seven Hills (171).
"I'm really pleased with what I've seen so far," Yakscoe said. "We've had some really good, solid opening meets. Both the boys and girls are swimming very well."
The boys team returns several key swimmers, including seniors Max Dreisbach (individual medley/backstroke/butterfly) and Luke Tiberi (fly/breaststroke) and junior Jacob Eismann (freestyle/back).
"Our guys want to just keep improving," Tiberi said. "Even though we lost (2017 graduate) Nate Goldfarb, who was an incredible breaststroker, we'll still be able to bounce back in the 200-yard medley relay and be able to compete for that state title."
Last season, Goldfarb, Dreisbach, Eismann and junior Jack Campbell (fly/back) opened the state finals by apparently earning the program's first state title, but the 200 medley relay was disqualified for a premature start to the final stroke. It resulted in Hawken finishing first in 1 minute, 33.92 seconds.
The Vikings won the six-team Columbus Academy Relays on Dec. 9 with 98 points, ahead of runner-up Gahanna (96).
Also back are seniors Zac Beck (free), Chris Heermann (dist-ance/breast), Harry Zaye (free/fly) and Zach Zhou (free), juniors David Barren (breast/free), Jacob Beck (free/IM) and Eric DeVore (free) and sophomores James Cao (free) and Mike DeAscentis (distance/IM/breast).
Other swimmers are junior Ethan Nankervis (free), sophomores Ezra Johnson (free/back), Ali Khan (free), Jacob Liu (free) and Umar Rehan (breast) and freshman Rowan Hennessy (free).
"I love everyone on this team and our chemistry is at an all-time high from what I've seen the past four years swimming in high school, and we're looking to do big things this year," Tiberi said.
Academy also won the MSL meet last season with 421 points, finishing well ahead of runner-up Teays Valley (177).
"On paper, the boys are looking very strong," said Yakscoe, who is in his 13th season. "We can come very close to what we did last year if not at least the same, so we're looking forward to that."
Led by a pair of divers who qualified for state last winter, the girls team also entered the season with high hopes.
Senior Esther Lawrence finished second (455.1) and junior Jordan Skilken was fourth (459.75) at state, helping the Vikings finish seventh (90) behind champion Hawken (305).
Lawrence is a three-time state qualifier who established a state record (579.95) in winning the district title at Ohio State, and Skilken is a two-time state qualifier.
Also back are senior Jane Li (fly/back), junior Samantha Kass (IM/breast/sprint free) and sophomore Whitney Hannallah (fly/breast/IM), who were part of the fifth-place 200 medley relay (1:48.98) last season at state.
Other returnees are juniors Mercedes Crestanello (free/ breast), Inji Kang (fly/back), Molly Milbourne (IM/breast) and Callista Popp (free) and sophomores Sarah Edwards (free/back), Annalise Grammel (IM/breast), Rachel Raque (IM/breast/distance free), Taylor Warren (back/free) and Abby Yakam (IM/breast).
"We're looking at a really successful season both in the season and the postseason," said Popp, whose team won the Academy Relays with 106 points, ahead of second-place Delaware (78). "We would love to get back to the state meet. We have to have people who want to work hard and they have to be determined throughout the season. We have to have good team chemistry and we have to have good people to put in the relays. They have to work well together."
Other swimmers are senior Sarah Cabre (fly), junior Mary Hatcher (free/back) and sophomores Amelia Bettinger (free/back), Noelle Boltz (distance/back), Riley Hennessy (distance free) and Ellie Jeffers (breast/free).
Academy (398) won the MSL meet last season, ahead of runner-up Grandview (275).
Pearson to lead wrestling team
Senior wrestler Josh Pearson is looking to close his prep career in the Division III state tournament.
After reaching state as a sophomore and finishing 0-2 at 182 pounds, Pearson went 2-2 at 182 at district last season to finish 35-7.
He will compete at 182 and 195 this season.
"This has to be (Pearson's) year. He doesn't have a choice," 12th-year coach Paul Bukky said. "He's a tough kid. He did some offseason work and that should put him in a different perspective than most guys."
Also back are senior Angus Soderberg (19-14 last season, 170) and juniors Bobby Diller (120) and Thomas Jones (19-19, 160). All three went 0-2 at district last year.
Senior heavyweight Carson Nichols, who also went 0-2 at district and finished 15-14, will miss the season after sustaining a left ACL injury during football season.
Junior Phillip Soderberg returns at heavyweight, and sophomore Sam Lichten (160/170) also is back.
Other wrestlers are juniors Cole Duffy (195/220) and Eric Menq (160/170), sophomore Grant Hillman (170/182) and freshmen Vassar Barney (132/138), Keiran Gorospe (120/125), Ethan Halpern (120), Ethan Stahl (182/195) and Chris Sugar (125/132).
Sophomore Donovan Simpson will miss the season after undergoing nasal surgery. He went 0-2 at district last season at 220.
"We don't look too bad," Bukky said. "Once we get everybody down to their weights, we'll be in pretty good shape."
Bukky expects to fill at least 12 of 14 weight classes.
"That would be huge for us because most of the matches that we were in last year we lost because of forfeits, giving away 36 points," he said.
Young bowlers hit the lanes
Second-year bowling coach Michael Hoffman is hoping his teams gain valuable experience this season.
"Our goals this year are basically to get organized since almost every person is new to the team and almost all are new to bowling," Hoffman said.
The boys team is 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division, with its most competitive match being a 1,696-1,533 loss to Centennial on Dec. 4.
Senior returnee Michael Reagan had a team-best 321 two-game series.
Also back is sophomore Michael Hoffman, who is the coach's son.
Other bowlers are senior Max Chavarria and freshmen Cole Leis, Josh Tu and Xander Wood.
The girls team is 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the COHSBC-B.
The Vikings defeated Hilliard Davidson 1,319-1,181 on Dec. 6 as senior Izzy Bettinger had a 266 series and sophomore Nikki Turley had a 258. Both return from last season.
Other bowlers are senior Jade Juniper, junior Katie Wunsch, sophomore Malala Howard and freshman Sanskruti Admane.
*Dec. 4 -- Centennial at HP Lanes
*Dec. 6 -- Hilliard Davidson at HP Lanes
*Dec. 8 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes
*Dec. 12 -- Pickerington Central at HP Lanes
*Dec. 14 -- Pickerington North at HP Lanes
*Jan. 5 -- Worthington Kilbourne at HP Lanes
*Jan. 9 -- Reynoldsburg at HP Lanes
*Jan. 12 -- Groveport at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 16 -- Thomas Worthington at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 23 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
*Jan. 25 -- Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 30 -- Hilliard Darby at HP Lanes
Feb. 3 -- MSL tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Feb. 10 -- COHSBC tournament at Game of Western Columbus
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- vs. Watterson
Dec. 2 -- Athens Invitational at Ohio University
Dec. 8 -- vs. Delaware
Dec. 9 -- Columbus Academy Relays
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 21 -- vs. Granville
Jan. 5 -- at St. Charles with Columbus School for Girls
Jan. 6 -- vs. Dover
Jan. 11 -- vs. Hartley, Madison Christian and Wellington
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 19 -- vs. Bexley
Jan. 23 -- vs. DeSales and Madison Christian
Jan. 27 -- MSL meet at home
Dec. 2 -- Tony Pizzuro Memorial Tournament at DeSales
Dec. 7 -- at Hamilton Township
Dec. 16 -- East Knox Invitational
Dec. 21 -vs. Grandview, Marion-Frankin and St. Charles
Jan. 6 -- Grandview Invitational
Jan. 11 -- at West Jefferson with Grandview
Jan. 20 -- Kevin Michael Invitational at home
Jan. 27 -- at Saltsburg (Pa.) Kiski Prep
Feb. 3 -- MSL-Ohio tournament at Whitehall
Feb. 6 -- at Thomas Worthington with New Albany and Whetstone
Feb. 9 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll, Centennial and North Union
Feb. 14 -- vs. Beechcroft, DeSales and Northland
Feb. 17 -- Pepper Pike Orange Tournament
Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus Academy boys basketball and girls basketball teams:
Dec. 27 -- New Albany in Bruin Holiday Tournament at Briggs
Dec. 28 -- Briggs or Westland in Bruin Holiday Tournament at Briggs
Dec. 22 -- At Northridge