The Whetstone High School boys swimming and diving team is coming off one of the best seasons in program history, but has only four returnees.
Seniors David Maston and Francisco Soto and sophomores Kai Hoenshell and Alex Marcum are back and are expected to lead the Braves, who lost four swimmers and one diver who competed in the Division II state meet last season at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"The returnees and incoming swimmers will give us a solid base," 17th-year coach John DeRing said. "We are coming off a terrific season last year, but we have lost Connor Flanagan, Mitchell Nottage, Drew Marcum, Pak McCollum and Trevor Karnehm to graduation. All (but Marcum) went to state."
The Braves competed in three events at state, but did not score.
Karnehm finished 21st in diving with 134.9 points, Nottage placed 23rd in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 2.18 seconds) and Flanagan, Nottage, McCollum and Maston finished 23rd in the 200 medley relay (1:43.04).
Maston, Soto and Alex Marcum were district qualifiers in individual events last season. Maston placed fifth in the 100 freestyle (49.3) and was disqualified in the 200 free, Soto finished 11th in the 100 butterfly (58.13) and 19th in the 50 free (23.57) and Marcum finished 23rd in the 100 backstroke (1:07.68).
Maston and Soto also teamed with Flanagan and Nottage to place third in the 200 medley relay (1:42.49) and eighth in the 200 free relay (1:33.56). Soto was replaced by McCollum in the 200 medley relay at state.
Also in the district meet at Ohio State, Hoenshell and Alex Marcum teamed with Drew Marcum and McCollum to finish 25th in the 400 free relay (3:58.24).
"David and Francisco are fourth-year (varsity) competitors," said DeRing, whose team placed fifth (129.5 points) at district last season behind champion Columbus Academy (353.5) as 39 teams scored. "David has a goal to break team records in both the 100 free and 200 free and advance to state individually. Francisco can swim all strokes and should have another strong season.
"Alex is solid in all strokes, but freestyle and backstroke are his best. Kai was a late bloomer who came on really strong at the end of the season in freestyle events."
The Braves have four newcomers in junior Jake Marshall and freshmen Will Ave, Matthew Conroy and Javier Cruz.
"Jake is just getting back into swimming, but he will be a major contributor," DeRing said. "Will comes from a strong swimming family and is strong in freestyle and breaststroke, as is Matthew. Javier will compete in freestyle and butterfly."
The Braves, who won their second consecutive sectional title last season by scoring 236 points to edge runner-up Centennial (224) at Upper Arlington, are seeking their fifth consecutive City League championship.
In last season's league meet, Whetstone won 10 events, took the top two spots in four events and set two meet records. The Braves totaled 178 points to finish ahead of runner-up Centennial (140).
Girls swim team aiming for City title
The girls swimming and diving team also is seeking its fifth consecutive City title.
In last year's league meet, Whetstone won seven events and took the top two spots in four events to total 179 points and finish ahead of runner-up Centennial (140).
The Braves have returned all of their top competitors and are hoping to be healthy when the postseason arrives.
Last season, Whetstone had multiple competitors miss the Division I sectional at UA because of illness and several others competed despite being ill. The Braves qualified for district in just two events and did not score.
Seniors Bryn Van Dommelen, Mary Doherty and Abby Schaefer and junior Carrie Legg placed 27th (1:53.89) in the 200 free relay and the 200 medley relay of Schaefer, Van Dommelen, junior Amelia Zamonski and Doherty was 28th (2:10.74).
"Bryn is very dedicated and looking for a strong season," said third-year coach Mollie Walser-Hayes, whose team finished 11th (15) at sectional last season, behind champion UA (415). "She wants to break the program record in the 500 free and qualify for state.
"Abby is a strong leader who is eyeing program records in the 100 free and the 100 backstroke. Carrie is a hard worker who is showing a lot of promise and quickly becoming one of our top breaststrokers."
Other returnees are seniors Clarisse Hoenshell and Rebekah Spulgis, junior Hannah Schaefer and sophomores Audrey Beers, Catie Flanagan, Catherine Leahy, Alyssa Proudfoot and Leah Schaefer.
The Braves have four newcomers in sophomores Deborah Jaeger and Emilie Johnson and freshmen Emma Schaefer and Lydia Schaefer.
"Our team goals are to win the City and get as many girls as possible to district," Walser-Hayes said. "Our kids are very dedicated and continue to carry on. They always give their best."
SWIMMING & DIVING
Nov. 28 -- Hilliard Davidson and Grove City at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 4 -- Delaware and Village Academy at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 11 -- Braves Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 19 -- Grove City at Grove City YMCA
Dec. 29 -- Wellington Holiday Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 8 -- Central Crossing, Grove City, Portsmouth and Village Academy at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 12-13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 17 -- Marion Harding at Marion YMCA
Jan. 22 -- Beechcroft and Central Crossing at Columbus Aquatics Center
Feb. 4 -- City League meet at Columbus Aquatics Center
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 15 -- At Beechcroft
Dec. 16 -- At Dublin Jerome
*Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Northland
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Beechcroft
Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Delaware
*Dec. 18 -- Beechcroft at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Dec. 20 -- Marion-Franklin at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Dec. 16 -- Bexley Duals
Dec. 20 -- New Albany Duals