While five of the New Albany High School girls swimming and diving team's Division I state qualifiers from last season have returned, the Eagles had yet to swim at full capacity entering the week.
One of them, junior Mia Lachey, has not competed in a meet yet because she participated in the 2018 Winter Junior Nationals last weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Senior McKayla Moffat was injured to start the season and her return date is uncertain.
Junior Lexi Elkovitch swam in the Eagles' season-opening tri-meet Nov. 27 at home against Canal Winchester and Lancaster but then was sidelined by a concussion and likely will not swim again for the next week or more.
Nonetheless, New Albany swept its opening tri, defeating Lancaster 125-19 and Canal Winchester 115-48, and scored big again in a 135-31 home win over Groveport on Dec. 4.
"It shows how competitive we are and even though we don't have those girls, we can still perform well and we're going to be even better with them," said senior Kelly Shur, who was on the fifth-place 200-yard freestyle relay at state with Lachey, Moffat and 2018 graduate Lauren Sadler. "The relays are leading us right now. They are all so competitive and we have a lot of fast swimmers, especially the freshman group. They have so much potential and I can't wait to see what they do with their four years here."
The Eagles' fifth returning state qualifier is sophomore Stacy Saribalas, who was part of the seventh-place 400 free relay with Elkovitch, Lachey and Moffat.
Elkovitch, Lachey, Moffat and Saribalas comprised the seventh-place 400 free relay.
Lachey was 10th in both the 100 free and 200 free at state.
Her younger sister, freshman Ava Lachey, also participated in the Junior Nationals.
Their first meet is scheduled to be Saturday, Dec. 15, when New Albany plays host to perennial power Upper Arlington.
"When Mia and Ava get back, they'll both fall right into the fold because they've been practicing with us," 23rd-year coach Dave Wharton said. "They've been a part of the team; they just haven't been in meets."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Maddy Brandon, Jada Johnson, Jasmine Kelley, Sydney Nowak and Evie Samanich, juniors Olivia Bergmann, Livy Meeting and Harshi Puram, sophomores Kiara Crumbley, Cade Helms, Emma Hogan, Abigail Leatherman and Rebecca Zhang and freshmen Carolyn Daly, Calie Demers, Marisa Downs, Carrie Emerman, Olivia Hovorka, Sydney Lane, Ellie Moellering, Evie Morris, Audrey Morris and Emma Skinner.
Skinner is the team's only diver.
"We have a lot of opportunities to play with our lineup right now and figure out the best fits for the kids and for the team. That's fun for a coach," Wharton said. "A lot of the kids have the versatility to be pretty much anywhere. Our 100 (butterfly) is in pretty good shape on the girls side. We'll have some solid people there.
"At the end of the year, you only get four entries (per event) so it stabilizes everything across the board for all the teams. That's why we tell the kids we'll put them in all kind of events but right now, we are focused on letting the kids train and getting in shape and do different things. It opens up everybody's opportunities."
Rzepka, Spychalski among boys leaders
The boys team also found itself shorthanded to start the season, although it returned three Division I state qualifiers in senior Pearson Spychalski and divers Noah Duperre and Jordan Rzepka.
However, Duperre, a junior and two-time state runner-up, will miss the season as he recovers from a broken right ankle. Rzepka, a sophomore, qualified for state as a freshman but had to sit out the meet because of a fractured right thumb.
Rzepka made his season debut in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State and finished second.
"(Duperre) is on the mend and will be fine but he won't be with us this year. They'll take it slow so (his) rehab goes exactly how they want it to go," diving coach John Coffman said. "Jordan is looking for good things this year. He's a little bit bigger and a little older so good things should happen. He will have a good season."
Spychalski was 10th in the 200 free and 12th in the 100 free at state last year.
New Albany began the season Nov. 27 by defeating Lancaster 111-44 and Canal Winchester 113-48.
The rest of the roster consists of seniors Nick Carlson, Diarmuid Hutchinson, Jack Woo and Ethan Yudovich, juniors Alex Arlin, Dreyson Keels, Jimmy Lapsley, Luke Parsons, Sam Sarkisian and Max Townsend, sophomores Alex Aguila, Patrick Daly, Andrew Levine, Thomas Morris and Caleb Schimming and freshmen Akhil Baskaran, A.J. Denny, Jay Painter, Darden Spychalski and Fede Van Den Berg Monsalve.
Much as with the girls team, Wharton plans to shuffle the boys lineup for most of the regular season.
"We always challenge our kids," he said. "We want them to be the best they can for themselves and for the team. I think the kids enjoy the size of the team and getting involved. And we just want them to race well. Every chance to race is an opportunity."
SWIMMING & DIVING
Nov. 27 -- vs. Canal Winchester and Lancaster
Dec. 4 -- vs. Groveport
Dec. 7-8 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 15 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Dec. 21 -- vs. Middletown Fenwick
Jan. 4 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Jan. 8 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Jan. 12 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 17 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Jan. 22 -- vs. Olentangy
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Capital meet at home
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 14 -- At Big Walnut
Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon
Dec. 18 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Dec. 14 -- At Big Walnut
Dec. 18 -- At Westerville North
*Dec. 14 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller Easton
*Dec. 15 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Northland Ice Arena
*Dec. 16 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 12 -- Home vs. Central Crossing, Whetstone and Whitehall