The Granville High School swimming and diving teams have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

The Granville High School swimming and diving teams have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

On the boys side, a deeper pool of 25 athletes is led senior Danny Cathcart and juniors James Datz and Cody Washka. They'll be complemented by several newcomers as well.

Moreover, the Blue Aces no longer have to worry about competing at the Division II district meet against New Albany, which has moved up to Division I. The Eagles swept the boys and girls district team championships a year ago. At the state meet, New Albany's girls were runners-up to Gates Mills Hawken while the boys placed fourth behind champion Hunting Valley University School.

"Given the experience we have and how hard the boys have worked, the competition within our own team for spots is going to be fierce," coach Kevin Yates said. "Our goal is to contend for the district (team) title. We still have to deal with our rivals, Columbus Academy, but we think we have a legitimate shot at it."

The Blue Aces did a fair job contending for state-meet berths a year ago, which was the first season there were two boys divisions. They're looking for more postseason rewards this year despite the graduation of standout Robby Spichiger, who is now competing at DePauw.

Cathcart and Datz are back from the 200-yard medley relay team that placed 22nd at state in 1 minute, 45.82 seconds. Datz and Washka return from the 400 freestyle relay that finished 21st in 3:25.88.

The medley relay captured the MSL Division title (1:46.9) as did Cathcart in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.91). Granville (211 points) was the league runner-up to Academy (306), and it also was second (239) behind Coshocton (259) at the Southeast Ohio Swim League meet.

Some of the newcomers include sophomore Trung Le and freshmen Tom Barrett, Jack Barrett and Seth Stahl.

"We definitely think we can make a run at the district title. Some teams like New Albany (and Olentangy Orange) have moved up to Division I, and that leaves more openings," Cathcart said. "We may not have a lot of big names on our team, especially with Robby leaving, but we're definitely deeper in almost every event."

The girls team is a little younger overall, but Lori Davis is the star among a strong group of sophomores. She advanced to the state meet in four events a year ago and won the consolation final in both the 50 free (24.53) and 100 free (53.56) while helping the 200 free relay take second (1:42.42). The 400 free relay qualified for state as well after finishing second (3:45.11) at the district meet, with sophomores Kelsey Haller and Amberly Greisse returning. Haller also was on the 200 free relay, which finished third (1:42.17) at the district meet.

At the MSL meet, Davis won first-place medals in four events as the Blue Aces (218) were the team runner-up behind Academy (305). She won the 50 free (26.0) and 100 free (57.49) and swam on the first-place 200 (1:47.74) and 400 (4:00.76) free relays. Granville then won the SEOSL team championship.

"Our girls team, wow, they are really going to be good," Cathcart said. "They've got some nationally-ranked kids coming up in the junior high, too, and in a couple of years they're probably going to contend for state."

Moreover, Yates said he believes newcomers such as Danitza Bygrave and Allison Schroeder are strong enough to follow in Davis' footsteps and qualify for state as freshmen. He has 30 girls overall.

"We feel there's a lot of potential with both our teams," said Yates, who is expected to have as many as 19 individuals competing at Granville's next big meet, the invitation-only Ned Reeb Invitational on Jan. 9 at Ohio State. "With that in mind, we're trying to log as much practice time as possible.

"We're jamming 55 kids into three lanes at the YMCA in Newark several mornings before school, and we're also getting time at the Mount Vernon YMCA and the Jewish Center in Bexley. I'm making a lot of phone calls to make it happen."