This season is starting a little differently for the Northridge High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams.

This season is starting a little differently for the Northridge High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams.

Fourth-year coach Rachel Furr has noticed her swimmers are close to -- or even surpassing -- their performances from the end of last season.

Their dedication is paying dividends.

"A lot of our kids have started to figure out that they needed offseason training," Furr said. "Northridge doesn't have offseason workouts or programs. They have to do things on their own, so many of them worked out or joined club teams.

"In years past, they came in and had to make up ground in the first month. But when November started this year, they had very little ground to make up. Their times pretty much resemble their times from last year, so now we work to keep dropping time."

Northridge started strong in the 13-team Viking Splash on Dec. 3 at New Albany, as the boys were second (227 points) behind Mount Vernon (306) and the girls were third (254) behind Mount Vernon (289) and Marion Pleasant (274).

Junior Katelyn Darby, who finished 10th in the girls 500-yard freestyle (program-record 5 minutes, 41.94 seconds) in the Division II district meet last season, won that event in 5:44.64 in the opener.

"I think I can have a good season because I was so close to my time from last season," said Darby, who also was runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:29.95). "I came in really prepared and I'm excited to see what I might be able to do."

Freshman Riley Bunstine started her prep career by setting a program record in the 100 backstroke while finishing second (1:05.34) behind Liberty Union's Taci Miller (1:05.08). The sister of 2016 graduate Josie Bunstine also was fourth in the 200 free (2:11.15).

"Riley has been wanting this for a long time after watching the success Josie had in the pool," Furr said. "She's ready to go and should see a high level of success this year."

Other top performers in the opener for the girls were junior Maddi Giffin in the 100 butterfly (sixth, 1:20.3), junior Alex Rahde in the 100 free (seventh, 1:06.05) and freshman Quinn Love in the 100 breaststroke (fourth, 1:24.98).

The 200 free relay of Giffin, Darby, Rahde and Bunstine was third in 1:55.21.

Giffin and Rahde also competed at district last season.

Sophomore Brian Scott led the boys team by finishing second in the 100 back (1:10.32) and fifth in the 200 IM (2:41.03). Junior Gabe Miller was third in the 100 breast (1:13.76) and sixth in the 50 free (26.23), and junior Victor Weaver was sixth in the 200 IM (2:50.33). Freshman Gabe Farthing was third in the 200 free (2:14.71).

The 400 free relay of senior Eli Rushmore, freshman Jason Roser, freshman Aidan Calhoun and senior Chase Douglas was third in 5:06.67.

Miller, Rushmore, Scott and Weaver all were district qualifiers last season.

"There are always some things that we need to work on, but I couldn't be more proud of the teams," Furr said.

"This is the highest that the boys have placed in this meet and the girls are fired up and ready to go. We have some great talent this season and it should be a lot of fun."

Also on the girls team are seniors Grace Christophersen and Leah Kinkead, juniors Casey Day, Emma Holbrook and Tori Strong and sophomore Audrey Holt.

Sophomore Isaac Sweetman also competes for the boys.

Hinkle resigns as football coach

Commuting became too difficult for Shawn Hinkle, so he resigned as football coach Dec. 1.

The Vikings went 8-12 overall in Hinkle's two seasons, going 4-6 both years. They also were 1-7 in the LCL-Cardinal Division.

"It was taking me more than an hour one way to get there every day, and that got to be too much," said Hinkle, who teaches history at Canal Winchester Middle School. "The kids were great, the administration was great, but it was just a lot of stress rushing up there every day."

Hinkle also was the coach at Canal Winchester from 2011-13, finishing 16-16.

He took over a Northridge program that was 1-9 in 2014 and last had a winning record in 2005 when it was 6-4. The Vikings went 23-67 from 2006-14 and had not won more than three games since going 4-6 in 2008.

Northridge's league win under Hinkle came in the 2016 season finale, 39-14 over Utica on Oct. 28. Before that, the Vikings had lost all 15 of their league games since returning to the LCL in 2013.

"Coach Hinkle did a great job for us over the last two years, helping to set a mindset for the program and get the kids to have a winning mentality," athletics director Justin Grieger said. "He got us going with consistent offseason workouts and allowing us to compete with area teams.

"He was commuting an hour to coach, but you would never know it. He was dedicated to the program. But if you have an hour commute, it's tough on anyone, especially if you have a family."

Applications are being accepted through Dec. 23.

"We're trying to make the transition as smooth as possible," Grieger said. "We want to get things going around Christmas and hopefully have someone in place by mid- January."

Boys basketball team making adjustments

During the season's first week, the boys basketball team learned it was far from a finished product.

The Vikings were 2-1 after defeating East Knox 79-54 on Dec. 8. Dan Hatfield scored 26 points, and Chris George added 18 points with four 3-pointers.

Northridge opened with a 61-47 win over Cardington on Dec. 2 and lost to Grandview 57-46 on Dec. 6.

"What (the Grandview game) showed us was that we still have a lot of work to do on both ends of the court," said coach Brian Blume, whose team opened league play Dec. 10 against Licking Valley. "We have to take it as a learning experience and continue to work hard on the things we need to shore up."

Against the Bobcats, Aaron Estep had 16 points, Jackson Wilson scored 13 and Nick Hatten added nine on three 3-pointers.

"Our zone offense needs a lot of work," said Estep, who also had 10 points in the opener. "We have been going out and taking some bad, unforced shots."

Wilson had 17 points with four 3s against Cardington, and Hatten scored 13 with three 3s.

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Schedules

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 3 -- Viking Splash at New Albany

Dec. 10 -- Newark Catholic tri-meet at Licking County YMCA

Dec. 17 -- Mount Vernon Small-School Invitational at Kenyon College

Dec. 30 -- Newark tri-meet at Licking County YMCA

Jan. 3 -- Granville at Denison

Jan. 7 -- Newark tri-meet at Licking County YMCA

Jan. 11 -- Caledonia River Valley at Marion YMCA

Jan. 14 -- Viking Classic at New Albany

Jan. 21 -- Reynoldsburg at St. Charles

Jan. 26 -- at Oakstone Academy

Feb. 4 -- LCL meet at New Albany

Below are the coming schedules for the Northridge boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 -- At Heath

*Dec. 17 -- Home vs. Utica

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Licking Heights

Dec. 17 -- Home vs. Delaware

WRESTLING

Dec. 16-17 -- Olentangy Liberty Classic

*League contest