Westerville Central High School swimming and diving coach Ron Staab expects his girls team to be in the running for several berths to the Division I state meet.
The Warhawks return several key swimmers and also have added some talented contributors, according to Staab.
"We're going to be strong on the girls side and hopefully we'll get a couple of girls to the state meet, if not a full relay team and some individual swims," Staab said.
Central received an early test when it competed in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State. The Warhawks finished fifth (190 points) of 38 teams behind champion Upper Arlington (391.5) as junior Macey Swearingen (backstroke, freestyle) won the 100 back (56.32 seconds) and 200 individual medley (2:07.59) while setting program records in both.
The Warhawks opened the season by competing in the Worthington Kickoff Classic Invitational on Nov. 30 at Thomas Worthington. Central finished first (120) of five teams, ahead of second-place Westerville North (116), as Swearingen won the 200 IM (2:13.54) and 100 back (1:00.5).
Swearingen was one of two state qualifiers for the Warhawks last season. She finished 14th in the 100 back (57.64).
"This year we have a good chance of getting relays to state, too," Swearingen said. "We have a better chance this year, so hopefully we'll have more girls. Team bonding and motivating each other are keys because last year we didn't do that great of a job with that, so this year that's something we can improve on."
A key loss to graduation was Annie McNenny, who finished 20th in the 100 butterfly (57.89) and 23rd in the 500 free (5:14.15) at state.
Staab also expects a strong season from senior Kaila Aaron (free), junior Sophia Antonetz (free, fly) and freshman Kiah Smith (free, fly).
Other returnees are seniors Ella Pyke (back) and Mia Rivera (fly, IM) juniors Anna Huddle (free), Samantha Jones (breaststroke), Rachel Kaufman (free) and Makayla Sampson (free) and sophomores Lauryn Chapman (breast), Ashley Hockstok (free) and Chloe Stefan-Adams (back, free).
Other athletes are juniors Grace Braslawsce (free), New Rungnak (free) and Lucy West (free) and sophomores Victoria Davis (free), Allyson Okonak (free) and Valentina White (diver).
"We should be well-represented at state," Staab said. "Kiah Smith is new to the team and she could place well. Hopefully, Macey will do what she's done in the past and get into an event or two, and we're hoping Kaila Aaron pops a good 50 (free) and 100 (free) in her senior year."
Staab coached the program for its first seven seasons when the school opened in 2003 then served as an assistant for his son, Austin, for three years before returning as head coach in 2015. He shares coaching duties with his wife, Linda.
Boys team features young talent
Staab believes the boys swimming team has a bright future as several underclassmen have joined the program.
"We have the numbers with the boys," he said. "We're still working with a young team as far as nobody has (competed) much from a (prep) career perspective."
Sophomore diver Kaden Jacob was 13th (301.35) at district last season to lead the Warhawks.
Junior Aiden Fay (free) is another key returnee.
"I've gotten a lot better," said Fay, who is in third season with the program. "I feel like I'm doing better than when I swam in club and I'm really enjoying it a lot. ... My personal goal is to go to state by my senior year. I've never been there."
Other key returnees are seniors Adam Aziz (free, fly), Brandon Gifford (breast), Matthew Kolberg (fly, free) and Alex Ross (IM, breast), junior Noah Palozzi (breast, IM) and sophomores Luke Burky (free), Riley Jacob (diving), Brenden Leonard (free), Evan Radecki (back), Grant Radecki (free) and Luke Radecki (fly, free).
Evan, Grant and Luke Radecki are triplets.
Other competitors are freshmen Tyler Rhodes (free) and Nick Van Allen (free).
Martin earns first win on home court
First-year boys basketball coach Kevin Martin earned his first home win when the Warhawks held off North 57-55 on Dec. 7 in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener for both teams.
Martin is a 1994 North graduate who helped lead the Warriors to the Division I state title in his senior season.
Tyler Beckel's 3-pointer with 17.8 seconds remaining proved to be the winning basket. He connected on five 3s and finished with a game-high 21 points, and Chas Dixon added 19 points.
Central was 2-1 overall before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Dec. 11.
Girls team falls to North
The girls basketball team was 3-1 overall before playing Dublin Jerome on Dec. 11.
Central rebounded from a 36-25 loss to visiting North on Dec. 7 in the OCC-Buckeye opener to defeat Mount Vernon 55-32 on Dec. 8.
Karmen Long led the Warhawks with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Michayla Brenning added 10 points.
Long had 10 points against North.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Nov. 30 -- Worthington Kickoff Classic Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 8 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 15 -- Watterson at Westerville Community Center
Dec. 21 -- Westerville North and Westerville South at Westerville Community Center
Dec. 28 -- Big Walnut at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 4 -- DeSales and Hilliard Bradley at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 5 -- Southeast Classic at Ohio University
Jan. 12 -- Central Ohio Splash at Thomas Worthington
Jan. 25 -- OCC diving meet at Thomas Worthington
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Thomas Worthington
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 15 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Orange
Dec. 15 -- Orange Baker Bash at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 19 -- Olentangy Liberty at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Dec. 15 -- Hilliard Invitational at Hilliard Davidson
Dec. 15 -- Bexley Duals