Despite a coaching change, the Columbus School for Girls swimming and diving team expects its success to continue.
The Unicorns are seeking their sixth consecutive CCL championship in their final season in the league. They also are aiming for their sixth consecutive Division II district title.
Also last season, CSG placed fifth at state, totaling 136 points to finish behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (345) as 52 teams scored. The Unicorns were runners-up to Hawken, which has won 19 consecutive state titles, in 2017.
"We would like to duplicate last year's success," said first-year coach Brian Botzman, who was an assistant the past six seasons for former coach Stephanie Donley. "We want to win conference and district championships again and finish in the top two at state. It'd be great to send nine or 10 athletes to state again."
Botzman, the owner and head coach of Unified Aquatics Club, also guided the Unicorns' cross country program in 2015 and '16.
Among the returnees are five state qualifiers in seniors Emily Dewolf, Riley Rogers and Anna Ray Ziegler, junior Jordan Aurnou-Rhees and sophomore Nyah Funderburke.
Last season, Aurnou-Rhees won the state title in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing in a program-record 54.47 seconds. She also placed third in the 200 individual medley in a program-record 2:02.94.
Funderburke placed fourth in the 100 fly (56.59) and fifth in the 50 freestyle (23.94).
Aurnou-Rhees and Funderburke also joined Ziegler and 2018 graduate Julia Lunt on the runner-up 200 medley relay (program-record 1:45.2) and teamed with Lunt and 2018 graduate Madeline Swoboda on the sixth-place 400 free relay (3:36.16).
Ziegler finished 14th in the 100 backstroke (59.43) and Rogers was on the 200 free relay that placed 13th (1:41.17).
"Emily is a strong all-around athlete and hard worker," said Botzman, whose team opens Saturday, Dec. 1, with the St. Charles Showdown. "She competes with the track team and is one of our strongest relay options. Anna Ray also is a hard worker and a state qualifier in the 100 back. They are our team captains.
"Jordan and Nyah are both All-American swimmers."
Other swimmers are seniors Danielle Hall, Mary Hernon, Immanuelle Polite, Allison Purdum and Eleanor Richardson, juniors Alexandria Parsons and Cosette Persall, sophomores Lauren Dittrick, Ava Fortney, Leah Giller, Julia Gumina, Sophia Koffler and Amelia Purdum and freshmen Julianne Aslaner, Marlie Boiston, Anja Fleege, Riley Murphy, Mairin Pema, Ruthie Saar, Natasha Spivak and Abigail Vanderzwan.
Senior Margeaux Rocco is expected to lead the diving corps. Other divers are senior Cecilia Best, junior Elena Grundy and sophomore Olivia Barry-Wilson.
New basketball coach excited about future
The basketball team returns four starters from last season, when it finished 4-17 overall and 0-4 in the CCL.
The Unicorns also have considerably more depth this season. And with just three seniors, first-year coach Heath Goolsby is excited about the future.
"We are implementing an offense and defense that takes two years to fully comprehend," said Goolsby, whose team opened Nov. 27 against Horizon Science. "I like that we are mostly a team of underclassmen and look forward to seeing the growth in the next couple of years. Plus, we are moving out of the CCL next season and will play more teams our size."
Goolsby was an assistant with the Unicorns for four seasons, including the past two under former coach Isaac Klopfenstein. Goolsby also is a former assistant at Hartley and Whitehall.
"My first order of business was to build a program," he said. "Last year, there were eight girls on the roster at one point. But due to injury and other commitments, there were only six or seven available on some nights. I personally invited girls to summer workouts and open gyms and they responded.
"I feel we had a great summer season and now we have a varsity and j.v. team. My hope is that with proper habits and the ability to give players more rest, we will stay healthy."
Sophomore guard Eva Nicolosi leads the returnees after averaging 7.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season. Junior center Veronica Ross averaged 4.5 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Also back are seniors Annie Feibel (guard) and Elizabeth Johnson (center).
"Eva likes to attack the basket off the dribble, can create her own shot and is becoming more of a floor general in her second year on varsity," Goolsby said. "She is communicating better what the coaching staff wants to see on the floor."
Also vying for starting positions are senior Hattie Person (forward/center), sophomore Bella Sloan (forward) and freshmen Kayden Edwards (forward) and Emma Spangler (point guard). Person played varsity as a sophomore, but did not play last year.
"Emma is a steady point guard who does the little things well," Goolsby said. "She will make sure to move the ball so it doesn't sit on one side of the court. She sees the entire floor and makes good decisions and having her gives us the luxury of having two point guards, with either Eva or Emma getting to a shooting guard.
"Hattie brings stability to the offense. She always seems to be in the right place at the right time and she has solid post moves on the block. She is an interior presence on offense, but will find the open man if pressured."
Completing the roster are sophomore Jolien Kusi (guard) and freshmen Tori Johnson (forward/center), Makenna McCoy (guard), Allie Renshaw (guard) and Lauren Sloan (point guard).
"We will be successful if we compete consistently throughout the season," Goolsby said. "Our team has outlined what we want to accomplish every night, no matter who the opponent is. If we are able to check those boxes most nights, the wins will come."
Nov. 27 -- at Horizon Science
Nov. 30 -- Belpre at Wellington
Dec. 4 -- vs. Madison Christian
Dec. 6 -- vs. Patriot Academy
*Dec. 8 -- at Ready
Dec. 10 -- vs. Grandview
Dec. 13 -- vs. Fisher Catholic
Jan. 8 -- at Village Academy
Jan. 12 -- at Berne Union
*Jan. 15 -- at DeSales
Jan. 17 -- vs. Granville Christian
Jan. 22 -- vs. Harvest Prep
Jan. 24 -- vs. New Hope Christian
*Jan. 26 -- vs. Watterson
*Jan. 29 -- vs. Hartley
Jan. 31 -- at Delaware Christian
Feb. 5 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Feb. 7 -- at Northridge
Feb. 9 -- vs. Bexley
Feb. 12 -- vs. Cristo Rey
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- St. Charles Showdown at home and at St. Charles
Dec. 7 -- vs. Hunting Valley University School
Dec. 8 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 15 -- At St. Charles with Rocky River Magnificat
Jan. 11-12 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 18 -- vs. Pickerington North
Jan. 25 -- DeSales and Watterson at St. Charles
Jan. 26 -- CCL meet at St. Charles
Feb. 1 -- Bexley and Village Academy at St. Charles