Spencer Keane of the Groveport Madison High School boys swimming and diving team is seeking a return to the Division I state meet this season, and second-year coach Ilana Webber would like the senior to be joined at district by at least a few of his teammates.
"Spencer is the lone district and state qualifier back for the boys team and our goal is to get at least one relay and some other individuals to district with him," said Webber, who shares coaching duties for both teams with Kathleen Milling. "I'm excited to see the growth during the season of our newcomers and our veterans."
Last season, Keane finished 22nd in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.97 seconds) at state and set a school record in the event when he placed fourth in 58.05 at district. He also finished 13th in the 50 freestyle (22.22) at district.
"Spencer is a hard worker who is inspiring his teammates," Webber said. "He's always trying to help them and giving them pep talks."
Keane, who placed seventh in the 100 breast (1:00.53) and eighth in the 100 free (50.45) in the Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State, was Groveport's only district qualifier a year ago. The Cruisers have four other returnees who competed at sectional last season in junior Jordan Murphy and sophomores Carl Giddens, Jaydan Henderson and Justin Malinowski.
Malinowski, Giddens, Henderson and 2018 graduate Miles Mason competed in the 200 medley relay and Murphy, Mason, Giddens and Keane competed in the 200 free relay.
"We're optimistic about getting those two relays to district this year," Webber said. "Right now, I'm thinking that Murphy, Giddens, Spencer and his brother (freshman Trevor Keane) have an inside shot in those relays, along with Malinowski and (freshman) Bobby Anderson.
"Trevor is fast with natural ability but needs some swim maturing. Bobby looks good in the backstroke. We have some other guys that look pretty decent, too, but we don't have much flexibility with the boys team because we have fewer swimmers who are strong in multiple strokes."
Completing the roster are senior Abdoulaye Ba, junior Darrell Smoot, sophomore Isaiah Rogers and freshmen Jaylen Brockman and Isaac Welch.
The girls team returns its lone district qualifier from a year ago in junior Madison Newsom, who placed 21st in the 500 free (5:34.83).
"Madison can swim all strokes and is one of our returning leaders," Webber said. "The girls have more swimmers who swim multiple strokes well and that should help us cover more events. It definitely helps with relays. Like the boys team, we'd like to get the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay to district."
Also back after competing at sectional last season are junior Katelyn Kirk and sophomore Jazlyn Winski, both of whom competed on the 400 free relay with Newsom and Sarah Wagner. Wagner did not return for her senior season.
Webber said Winski should lead the team in the breaststroke, junior Nina Brookman should lead in the butterfly and freshman Gabby Majaras should lead in the backstroke, along with Haylee Ottman, the team's lone senior.
Completing the roster are junior Mia Pantoja, sophomores Laney Michael, Donneaka Ross and Veronica Simonson and freshman McKenna Casaday.
"There are a lot of spots open on our relays and we're going to mix and match until we find the lineups that give us the best chance to get to district," Webber said.
Wrestlers win opening event
Muhamad Conteh and Jake Nelson won titles to help the wrestling team finish first in the 13-team Granville Invitational on Dec. 1.
Competing in the gold pool, Conteh finished first at 113 pounds and Nelson was first at 195. A.J. Joyce (220) and Ashton Reese (138) both finished third in the event, which concluded with a dual format, with the Cruisers beating Utica in the championship match.
The Cruisers also had a good showing in the 14-team Logan Invitational on Dec. 8, scoring 231 points to finish second behind Fairfield Union (257).
Nelson finished first at 195, while Conteh (113), Emmanuel Anthony (220) and Jason Pinkston (120) placed second and Josh Aguon (126), A.J. Joyce (220), Skyler Mouser (182) and Johnathan Thompson (170) placed third.
Girls basketball team notches first victory
Brooke Reese had 18 points and Laney White scored 17 as the girls basketball team beat host Franklin Heights 62-33 on Dec. 7 for its first win of the season.
The Cruisers, who lost their first three games, outscored the Falcons 40-19 in the middle quarters en route to improving to 1-1 in the OCC-Capital.
Groveport lost to Darby 56-42 on Dec. 8 and was 1-4 overall before playing Grove City on Dec. 11.
Boys basketball team playing well at home
The boys basketball team seems to be getting comfortable in its new gymnasium, as it opened the season with consecutive home wins.
The Cruisers defeated Westland 65-60 in the opener Nov. 29 and beat Franklin Heights 71-38 in the OCC-Capital Division opener Dec. 7.
However, Groveport lost to visiting Hilliard Darby 38-37 on Dec. 8 and was 2-1 before facing Grove City at home on Dec. 11. The Cruisers will play their first road game Friday, Dec. 14, when they visit Canal Winchester in a league contest.
Against Westland, Javon Miller had 21 points, Nahki Taylor scored 17 and Elijah Hawk scored 12. Taylor had 18 points against Franklin Heights, while Hawk scored 12 and Scott Lomax added 11.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- Athens Invitational at Ohio University
Dec. 4 -- at New Albany
Dec. 14 -- at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 28 -- Grove City at Grove City YMCA
Jan. 5 -- Southeast Classic Invitational at Ohio University; Westerville North at Westerville Recreation Center
Jan. 11 -- Athens at Ohio University
Jan. 19 -- Central Crossing at Urbancrest YMCA
Jan. 25 -- OCC-Cardinal diving meet at Thomas Worthington
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal swimming meet at Thomas Worthington
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 14 -- At Canal Winchester
Dec. 18 -- At Pickerington Central
*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial
Dec. 18 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*Dec. 18 -- Hilliard Darby at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Dec. 15 -- Bexley Duals