Although there are 37 competitors in the Reynoldsburg High School swimming and diving program, many are new to the sport.
Those athletes have one season to learn from one of central Ohio's best boys swimmers in senior Harvey Culbert, a two-time Division I state qualifier.
New coach Josh Dorsett is a 2013 Reynoldsburg graduate who is young enough to have competed on the same youth team as Culbert.
"We have a lot of new swimmers this year, so it's really cool to see a lot of their hard work pay off," said Dorsett, who teaches at Wagoner Road Junior High and has been coaching youth swimming for three years. "Harvey is a senior, so that's going to be amazing having him. I've known Harvey since he was 8 years old. I taught swim lessons with his mom for years. It's been really cool to have him and to see him and a couple of the other boys grow up."
Reynoldsburg opened Dec. 1 by placing sixth (105) in the 12-team Catholic Showdown behind champion and host St. Charles (616) despite not having Culbert, who was competing at a national meet.
Culbert, who has signed with West Virginia, was 16th in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 55.87 seconds) and 14th in the 100 breaststroke (57.9) at state last season. He also competed at state in both events as a sophomore.
Expected to join Culbert on relays are senior Justin Barnhart and sophomore Nate Gaver, both of whom are returnees, and freshman Max Hutson-Comeaux.
Hutson-Comeaux is the brother of junior Bella Hutson-Comeaux of the girls team.
Others on the boys team include seniors Nigel Bryant, Greg Johnson Jr. and Matthew Ufferman.
Gaver was 18th in the 50 freestyle (program-record 22.26) and 15th in the 100 free (49.29) at district last season. He also joined Culbert, 2018 graduate Tanner Wooddell and senior Jared Davis on the 200 free relay that was 10th (1:29.76).
Davis, who also was a district qualifier in the 100 butterfly, is not back with the team.
Another key athlete lost to graduation was TaJah Reynolds.
"We had some really good swimmers graduate," Dorsett said. "(Johnson) has been rallying the boys and getting them where we need as a leader."
Lichtner leads girls swimmers
The girls swimming team opened Dec. 1 by placing eighth (39) in the 10-team Catholic Showdown behind champion Toledo St. Ursula (556).
Sophomore Kasey Lichtner is the top returnee after finishing 15th in the 100 breast (1:10.14) in last year's Division I district meet.
Bella Hutson-Comeaux and senior Anise Hodge also are key returnees.
"(Lichtner is) really strong," Dorsett said.
"A lot of my swimmers are club swimmers, so it's really cool to see them come in and see them take over the leadership. Our girls relays are still kind of a work in progress."
Others looking to contribute include seniors Olaysia Brooks, Ryenne Cupe, Mateya McCoy, Niya Salett and Asiah Taylor.
In the Catholic Showdown, Lichtner advanced to the finals in the 50 breast and 100 fly.
"A lot of the girls are new," Dorsett said.
"We've got a couple girls from the soccer team, so we're getting new girls that are athletic and we're trying to get them to see their potential. We have a couple girls who showed a lot of potential (at the Catholic Showdown). I was telling them their time drops and they were amazed. I had one girl drop a minute off her 100 free and she was so amazed. It was really cool to see."
Boys basketball team planning to grow
During its opener against Xenia Legacy Christian on Dec. 1 in the All-Ohio Nike Showcase at Pickerington North, the boys basketball team committed eight turnovers in the first quarter.
The Raiders, who settled in after that and pulled away for a 71-37 victory, know they might have to battle through rough moments early on because senior guard Ben Fort is the only returning starter from last year's Division I district championship team.
"The further the season goes, the better we'll get," Fort said.
Reynoldsburg opened OCC-Ohio Division action Dec. 7 by beating Gahanna 58-53 and was 2-0 before playing Watkins Memorial on Dec. 10.
The Raiders got 18 points from Fort against Gahanna and outscored the Lions 17-3 in the second quarter.
The Raiders continue league action Friday, Dec. 14, at Grove City and play Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Newark. Last season, Reynoldsburg beat the Greyhounds 59-47 and 66-60 and Newark 59-53.
Senior forward Sahmi Willoughby, who missed the opener because of an ankle injury, is expected to join Fort and junior forward Sean Moore as key scoring options.
Moore scored 22 points and Fort added 16 in the opener.
Moore scored 11 and Willoughby had 10 against Gahanna.
"Ben and Sean seem to have emerged as our top guys and they played very well (in the opener)," coach Scott Davis said.
"We're quick, they're coachable and they play together. We're bringing up a bunch of guys from the (junior varsity) team and we're just learning a lot about our team as we go."
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- Catholic Showdown at St. Charles
Dec. 8 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 14 -- at St. Charles with DeSales
Jan. 5 -- Grove City at St. Charles
Jan. 12 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton and Teays Valley Invitational at Pickaway County YMCA
Jan. 19 -- Senior meet at St. Charles
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Upper Arlington
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 14 -- At Grove City
Dec. 18 -- At Newark
*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Grove City
Dec. 18 -- At Newark
*Dec. 14 -- Hilliard Darby at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 17 -- Whitehall at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 18 -- Pickerington Central at Rule 3
Dec. 15 -- Xenia Invitational