After falling short of having a Division I state qualifier last season, Westerville South High School swimming and diving coach Shane Davis hopes the program can reach that level this winter.
"I love what I see so far," Davis said of the boys and girls teams. "Our numbers are up, the kids are having a blast and team chemistry is wonderful. The kids are swimming super-fast to start, so it's been good."
The boys team should be boosted by the return of senior Nate Stadler (freestyle/backstroke), who missed the latter part of last season with an illness.
Davis, who is in his third season, said Stadler is back to full strength and ready for a strong season.
"He's already had a couple great swims in our first two meets and it's just phenomenal to see him back in the water in top shape, going in the right direction," Davis said. "He's flying in the water. He's back at personal-best times."
As a sophomore, Stadler finished 18th in the 100-yard free at state and was on the 200 free and 400 free relays that competed in the meet.
Stadler and senior Caleb Baker (sprints) are part of the program-record-holding 200 free relay (1:28.78).
Baker led the boys team at district last season, finishing 12th in the 50 free (22.18) and 15th in the 200 free (1:48.47).
"Personally, I have a goal to go to state individually," said Baker, adding his best chance is likely in the 50 free. "As a team goal, I want more people to go to state. That's what I want for everybody."
Also back are seniors Kosta Gesouras (butterfly), Jason Li (free) and Aidan Tansey (distance), juniors Andrew Baker (breaststroke), Mason Crow (fly), Dylan Gary (back/individual medley), Bayden Jung (fly/IM) and Reece Marcelain (diver) and sophomores Ian Allison (diver/free) and Dakota Kivel (breast).
Other swimmers are freshmen Riley Andrews (free/breast), Hunter Jones (free) and Jack Kielmeyer (back/free).
South finished fifth (107) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet last season behind champion Olentangy Liberty (365), but with a deeper roster and with Stadler back, Davis expects the Wildcats to improve on that effort.
"The team goal is to win OCC and to return to state," Davis said. "After missing it last year, we'd like to get back to state this year."
Christie among leaders for girls swim squad
The girls swimming team returns several key athletes, including senior Abigail Ellsworth (back/free) and sophomore Ayden Jones (sprints), who were part of a program-record effort of 1:52.4 in the 200 medley relay last season at district.
Also back is Reagan Christie (sprints), who is looking forward to her senior season.
"My goal has always been to get my 50 free and 100 free as fast as I can get them, but I want to go as far as I can," Christie said. "Right now I'm here to swim because it's my last year. I'm here to have a good time."
Other returnees are seniors Grazia Santos (free) and Madison Schroeder (free), juniors Taylor Fletcher (fly/back) and Abigail Willis (distance/free) and sophomores Cara Jennings (diver), Lauriel Richards (fly), Claudia Santino (breast) and Emma Secrest (free/back).
Junior Taylor Henderson (sprints), a move-in from Proctorville, should contribute, Davis said.
Also looking to contribute are juniors Sara Elayan (free) and Hannah Garrett (free), sophomores Allie Diller (diver), Nora Eichenberger (free/breast) and Kimberly Fort (free) and freshmen Katherine Blais (fly/free), Cassidy Carter (distance), Izzie Kotik (free), Melia Lowe (free), Kerrigan Morrison (breast/free), Alia O'Brien (distance/free), Inioluwa Oyewusi (free/fly), M.J. Roberts (free/back), Maeve Stacey (breast) and Abbey Williams (breast).
Elayan is an exchange student from Jordan.
Boys basketball team off to good start
Despite losing several key players to graduation, the boys bask-etball team is 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye as it prepares to visit Liberty on Thursday, Dec. 14.
South opened league play with a 69-60 win over visiting Olentangy on Dec. 8. Ryan Greggs scored 24 points, and Hafiz Turay added 15 points and seven rebounds.
South defeated Gahanna 61-58 on Dec. 1 and Worthington Kilbourne 65-53 on Dec. 5.
Jordan McMillian scored 15 points and Emmanuel Sunnyway had 13 against Gahanna.
Against Kilbourne, Turay scored 17 points and Sunnyway added 10.
Girls basketball team bounces back from loss
The girls basketball team rebounded from a season-opening 75-37 loss to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame on Nov. 25 by defeating Northland 56-44 on Dec. 6 and Olentangy 52-37 on Dec. 8.
The Wildcats are 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the league as they prepare to play host to Liberty on Friday, Dec. 15.
Against Northland, Sommer Pitzer scored 22 points, Anyssa Jones had 12 and Peyton Guice added 11.
Cailin Duffy scored 17 points and Jones had 15 against Olentangy.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- Worthington/Westerville Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 2 -- Gahanna at Westerville Community Center
Dec. 8 -- at Upper Arlington
Dec. 9 -- Hilliard Darby at Hilliard YMCA
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 23 -- Westerville Central and Westerville North at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 5 -- Diving: Delaware Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan
Jan. 6 -- Swimming: Delaware Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan
Jan. 19 -- Canal Winchester at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 20 -- Olentangy Liberty at Liberty Township/Powell YMCA
Jan. 26 -- OCC diving meet at New Albany
Jan. 27 -- OCC-Buckeye swimming meet at Thomas Worthington
Feb. 2 -- Big Walnut at Westerville Community Center
Below are the coming schedules for the South boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 14 -- At Olentangy Liberty
Dec. 16 -- At Dresden Tri-Valley
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Liberty
Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Africentric
Dec. 19 -- At Gahanna
Dec. 14 -- At Grove City
Dec. 20 -- Home vs. Liberty Union