Members of the St. Charles Preparatory School swimming and diving team are looking to define their roles so they can experience optimal success when the postseason begins in February.
The Cardinals were the top central Ohio team in the Division I state meet last season, finishing third (171 points) behind Cincinnati St. Xavier (434) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (173) as 53 teams scored. Upper Arlington (114) was fourth.
Three swimmers are back from state in seniors Michael Gutman and Patrick Pema and junior Jonathan Sugar. Senior Stephen Julian has returned after being the program's first diver to compete at state, where he finished 20th (244.15).
Gutman, Pema and Sugar joined 2017 graduate Hans Kabelka on the third-place 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 25.88 seconds), and Kabelka, Pema, Sugar and 2017 graduate Ben Sugar were on the third-place 400 free relay (3:07.25).
"We need to find everyone's place on the team," Pema said. "We're trying to work toward a lineup for district and score pretty well.
"To do that, we need to have good practice attendance and work hard in the pool. (Ninth-year) coach (Geoff Gear) is good at designing sets to maximize our potential. With winter break coming up, we're getting ready for our toughest training of the season."
The Cardinals have five seniors in Gutman, Julian, Benjamin Mooney, Pema and Andrew Shyu.
Other top returnees are junior Griffin Beam and sophomores Thomas Lennox and Alex Nash. Will Elsrod and Mitchell List could be impact performers as freshmen.
"We have got a lot of young talent to carry us," said Gutman, who finished 10th in the 100 butterfly (51.2) and 16th in the 50 free (21.9) at state last season. "We have five seniors on the team and we need a lot of the younger kids to step up."
The Cardinals opened Dec. 1 by defeating Lakewood St. Edward 104-66. The next day, they finished second (499.5) in the St. Charles Showdown behind Toledo St. Francis (574.5) as Pema won the 50 backstroke (24.86) and 100 back (53.83), and Nash won the 50 fly (25.55).
St. Charles won its fourth consecutive district championship last season. It also won its 19th CCL title in a row.
"I think we are coming together as a team really well," Gutman said. "We're a close group. I think we will develop into where we need to be."
Wrestling program under new leadership
The wrestling program features 20 athletes, including three returning Division I district qualifiers.
First-year coach Mike Flusche, who formerly led the programs at Eastmoor Academy and Licking Heights, took over for longtime assistant Steve Montgomery.
Montgomery led the program for one season before returning to his assistant duties.
"I have been an assistant (wrestling coach) at several places, but I took time away from being a head coach to help raise my sons," said Flusche, who recently completed his 11th season leading the Columbus West football program. "I'm really looking forward to this because this is a great group of student-athletes."
The three returning district qualifiers are seniors Kenton Colvin (132 pounds) and Ian Noonan (138) and junior Sean Grim (170). All three went 1-2 at district last season.
Other top returnees are senior Jake Waltermeyer (220) and junior Steve Metzger (145).
"Other than those five, we're pretty inexperienced," Flusche said. "We'll be looking for them to lead us."
The five led St. Charles in the season-opening Bad Apple Brawl on Dec. 2 at Mount Vernon. The Cardinals took six competitors to the event and finished fifth (232) of 13 teams behind champion Gahanna (391).
Colvin, Noonan and Waltermeyer all won titles, and Grim and Metzger both placed third. Sophomore Declan Cooper (152) also competed.
Also expected to work their way into the lineup are juniors Marvin Moore (195) and Ilya Yankelevich (152), sophomores Troy Hungerford (138) and Caleb Kish (145) and freshmen George Cottrill (182), Andre Long (heavyweight), Peter Minneci (182), Liam Smith (182), Brady Westin (106) and Kurt Wichman (152).
Assistant moves up to lead bowling team
After being an assistant with the bowling program for seven seasons, Bill Pritchett has taken over as coach. Nelson Thomas left after four seasons because of new responsibilities with his job.
The Cardinals finished 14-5 overall last season and were third (12-3) in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division behind Beechcroft (15-0) and Ready (14-1). They also were second (5-3) in the CCL behind Ready (8-0).
"I believe that the most important part of bowling is the mental aspect," said Pritchett, who competed on the PBA Tour and has three 300 games. "If (the players) work on their mental game more than their physical game, they will achieve more. They need to concentrate and focus on their approach and their release."
St. Charles returns three bowlers in senior Chris Walker (178.9 average last season) and juniors Grant Flory (173.0) and Dominck Koeth (162.0).
Other top bowlers are senior William Ullom, junior Aidan Brennen, sophomore Jack Anderson and freshman Alex Etheredge.
"We look to have a lot of potential," Pritchett said. "We have a great bunch of kids who listen well. I think they are starting to come together as a team."
The COHSBC has realigned. The Cardinals now compete in Division D with Africentric, Columbus East, DeSales, Eastmoor, Hartley, Independence, Linden-McKinley, Mifflin, Ready, Walnut Ridge, Watterson and Whitehall.
They opened by defeating Mifflin 2,085-1,740 on Dec. 4 as Flory rolled a 385 series and Etheredge had a 371.
St. Charles opened CCL play Dec. 12 against DeSales.
*Dec. 4 -- Mifflin at HP Lanes
*Dec. 12 -- DeSales at HP Lanes
*Dec. 13 -- Whitehall at HP Lanes
*Dec. 14 -- Africentric at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 4 -- Columbus East at Eastland Lanes
Jan. 6 -- Columbus High School Classic at HP Lanes
*Jan. 8 -- Watterson at HP Lanes
Jan. 10 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes
*Jan. 11 -- Eastmoor Academy at Eastland Lanes
*Jan. 16 -- Linden-McKinley at HP Lanes
*Jan. 18 -- Independence at HP Lanes
*Jan. 19 -- Walnut Ridge at Eastland Lanes
*Jan. 22 -- Hartley at HP Lanes
*Jan. 26 -- Ready at HP Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- vs. Lakewood St. Edward
Dec. 2 -- St. Charles Showdown at home and at Columbus School for Girls
Dec. 9 -- Olentangy Orange at Columbus School for Girls
Dec. 15 -- Hunting Valley University School and Toledo St. Francis at Columbus School for Girls
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Jan. 5 -- vs. Hartley and Pickerington North
Jan. 6 -- Larry Lyons Invitational at Cincinnati Sycamore
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 19 -- at Upper Arlington with Watterson
Jan. 20 -- 11 Dive Invitational at Columbus School for Girls
Jan. 26 -- vs. Big Walnut, DeSales, Fisher Catholic and Village Academy
Jan. 27 -- CCL meet at Columbus School for Girls (diving) and at home (swimming)
Dec. 2 -- Mount Vernon Bad Apple Brawl
Dec. 6 -- at Westerville North with Thomas Worthington
Dec. 9 -- Worthington Kilbourne Wolfpack Duals
Dec. 21 -- at Columbus Academy with Grandview and Marion-Franklin
Dec. 29-30 -- Marion Harding Invitational
Jan. 13-14 -- Catholic Invitational Tournament at Cleveland St. Ignatius
Jan. 20 -- Hamilton Township Classic
Jan. 27 -- New Albany Invitational
Feb. 15 -- CCL tournament at Hartley
Feb. 17 -- Nye Cardinal Classic at home
Below are the coming schedules for the basketball and hockey teams:
Dec. 16 -- At Briggs
Dec. 15 -- Cleveland St. Ignatius in Parma Padua Holiday Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
Dec. 16 -- Lakewood St. Edward
and Padua in Padua Holiday Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
Dec. 17 -- TBA in Padua Holiday Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville