Nine freshmen have coach Jacob Shiplet focusing on fundamentals in his second season leading the Hilliard Bradley High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams.
The Jaguars have only 16 total athletes, including two seniors on the girls team in Nebraska White and Macy Williams and two seniors on the boys squad in Alec Razor and Alex Ward.
"I have a very experienced group and a very young group," Shiplet said. "I have some very vocal and good leadership, especially from my seniors.
"We have five of the nine freshmen who have never been in a pool (competitively). They could do front crawl but not even a freestyle stroke. They have been doing things that they didn't think that they could do. They are doing really well."
The freshmen are Nicholas Garbesi, Ethan Razor, Logan Reagan and Jackson White for the boys team and Hannah Mesa, Madison Myers, Madelyn Taylor, Jenna Vosskuelher and Madison Wester on the girls team.
"Our team is young and we have a lot of freshmen coming in, so I try to keep those values of sportsmanship and things like that so they have someone to look up to and they have someone to go off of so they can keep it going when we leave," Williams said. "I try to be there if they have questions like how things go at meets, what they need to do and how they should prepare.
"Most of them have never swam before and during dry-land workouts in the gym, I show them what to do and give them words of encouragement to keep them going. I tell them, 'It's OK, I'm exhausted, too. Just keep going.'"
Williams was a Division I district qualifier last season, finishing 13th in the 100-yard butterfly (59.35 seconds) and 14th in the 200 freestyle (1:56.96). She also was on the 13th-place 200 medley relay (1:55.75) with 2017 graduates Brynn Driscoll and Abby Shouse as well as senior Carolyn Satre, who did not return this season because she is focusing on crew. The same four girls were on the 17th-place 400 free relay (3:49.79).
"I think personally I want to make it to state," Williams said. "I missed (state) by a little bit last year and had a pretty tough district meet. I sometimes psych myself out. I need to trust myself and training, so the mental aspect is important."
The boys team has four swimmers with district experience in Alec Razor, Ward, junior Emerson Alspaugh and sophomore Ben Wirantana. Last season at district, Razor, Ward and Wirantana were on the 26th-place 200 medley relay (1:52.24) with 2017 graduate Trent Nguyen, while Razor, Alspaugh, Ward and Nguyen competed on the 400 free relay that was disqualified.
Sophomore Carson Cross rounds out the boys roster.
"I think our youth is a strength and they have a lot of determination," Shiplet said. "We are going to continue to grow and our program is only going to get bigger."
Gymnastics team returns top athletes
The gymnastics team is looking for its sixth consecutive league championship with an experienced lineup.
Grace Jones was the lone gymnast lost to graduation for the Jaguars, who went 6-0 (28 points) in the OCC-Cardinal Division last season. Worthington Kilbourne (22, 5-1) was the league runner-up.
Jones was Bradley's only state qualifier last season, finishing 33rd of 36 competitors on balance beam with an 8.1.
"We have one of our largest teams in recent years with 14 girls," said ninth-year coach Carol Eskay, who also coaches Darby and Davidson. "We lost only one senior and had a big influx of kids."
The Jaguars have five seniors in Reagan Beard, Marlayna Miller, Greta Planck, Elisa Reed and Niya Shalash. Also on the team are juniors Makayla Cornell, Serena Owens and Lexi Patterson, sophomores Heather Dailey, Ashlee Mascolino and Amy Wagner and freshmen Gabrielle Graff, Judith Hamilton and Alice McAnespie.
Patterson, Planck and Reed are expected to lead the Jaguars.
"The big thing Greta, Elisa and Lexi give us is depth," Eskay said. "They are three consistent all-around competitors and that helps make our core better.
"We have good leadership and good work ethic and initiative. If I'm a few minutes late to practice, the seniors have things set up and have already started on what we need to do in practice."
The Jaguars opened Dec. 6 by finishing third (129.95 points) behind Davidson (125.95) and Darby (125.75) and ahead of Thornville Sheridan (123.95) and host Marysville (120.5). Planck won floor exercise (9.0).
Dec. 6 -- at Marysville with Central Crossing, *Darby, Davidson and Thornville Sheridan
Dec. 11 -- at Davidson with Central Crossing, Darby, Franklin Heights, Grove City and Westland
Dec. 16 -- Hilliard Invitational at Davidson
Jan. 5 -- at Davidson with Darby, *Delaware, *Thomas Worthington and Washington Court House Miami Trace
Jan. 9 -- at Upper Arlington with Darby, Davidson and Olentangy
Jan. 13 -- McGee Invitational at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 17 -- at Dublin Coffman with Darby, Davidson, Delaware, *Dublin Jerome and *Dublin Scioto
Jan. 23 -- at Davidson with Darby, Delaware, Dresden Tri-Valley and Thomas Worthington
Jan. 27 -- Dresden Tri-Valley Invitational
Feb. 1 -- at *Worthington Kilbourne with Darby and Davidson
Feb. 10 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at TBA
Feb. 13 -- at Davidson with Big Walnut, Darby, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 2 -- Davidson and Dublin Jerome at Hilliard YMCA
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 28 -- Delaware Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan
Dec. 29 -- Grove City and Groveport at Grove City YMCA
Jan. 10 -- Worthington Sprints at Thomas Worthington
Jan. 13 -- Hilliard/Olentangy Challenge at Hilliard YMCA
Jan. 18 -- at New Albany
Jan. 20 -- Darby at Hilliard YMCA
Jan. 26-27 -- OCC-Cardinal at Thomas Worthington
Feb. 3 -- Upper Arlington Invitational
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Cincinnati La Salle
*Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Dec. 16 -- At Watterson
*Dec. 19 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Dec. 15 -- Reynoldsburg at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Dec. 20 -- Delaware at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Dec. 16 -- Kettering Fairmont Firebird Classic at Wright State