CJ Morabito is hoping her experience in swimming and her knowledge of the sport carries over to her new position as swimming and diving coach at Westerville South High School.
Morabito has replaced Shane Davis, who guided the program for three seasons.
“It’s been a good season so far,” Morabito said. “It’s always a challenge changing coaching staffs. Our entire staff is new this year, but it has been really positive and we’re optimistic.”
Morabito is a 1998 graduate of Westerville North and a 2003 graduate of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, where she competed for four seasons.
She was the swimming coach for the Westerville Special Olympics from 2007-12 and has been a coach with the Westerville Aquatic Club since 2014.
In Morabito’s first meet with the Wildcats, the Worthington Kickoff Classic Invitational on Nov. 30 at Thomas Worthington, the boys team finished fifth (79 points) behind first-place Worthington Kilbourne (115).
Sophomore Riley Andrews (all strokes) was second in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 27.63 seconds), senior Mason Crow (free, butterfly) was third in the 50 free (24.28) and 100 fly (1:03.4), senior Dylan Gary (all strokes) was third in the 200 free (2:03.1) and freshman Heath Benton (backstroke) was third in the 100 back (1:04.98).
“I’m a big fan of what (Morabito) does here,” Gary said. “She really brings the team together. It really feels like a family and she’s doing a great job.”
Along with Andrews, Crow and Gary, sophomore Jack Kielmeyer (breaststroke) also is a returnee.
Other swimmers are seniors Andrew Baker (breast) and Mason Williams (free, breast), juniors DeShaun Boyd-Anderson (sprint free) and Cody Kivel (distance free) and freshman Ben Predragovich (distance free, breast).
Seniors Chip McGrew and Bryce Williams are divers.
“I can already tell it’s going to be a good season based on the results we’ve gotten and the amount of kids we have,” Gary said. “It’s going to be a fun season. We might not win, but that’s not what we’re concerned about. We are concerned with our individual progress and how we can improve in each race and that’s a lot of what CJ wants to talk about.”
South is looking to replace 2018 graduate Nate Stadler, who is swimming at Florida State after finishing ninth in the 100 back (program-record 50.76) and 10th in the 100 free (46.66) in the Division I state meet last season.
“The numbers are a little bit smaller,” Morabito said. “I think we have some athletes who weren’t excited about a coaching change and for whatever reason decided not to swim, but I’m really excited about those that are here. It’s a smaller team, but those that are here are really competitive.”
The girls team finished fourth (108) in the opener behind first-place Westerville Central (120).
Sophomore Maeve Stacey (diver, breast) was second in the 100 breast (1:11.53), freshman Caroline Bowling (all strokes) was third in the 200 free (2:09.55) and 100 fly (1:05.95), senior Taylor Henderson (sprint free) was third in the 100 free (58.05), sophomore Cassidy Carter (distance free) was third in the 500 free (6:02.55) and freshman Emily Ellsworth (all strokes) was third in the 100 back (1:03.59).
Stacey, junior Lauriel Richards (free), sophomore Inioluwa Oyewusi (fly, free) and freshman Claire Gleason (free) were third in the 400 free relay (4:00.4).
Senior Taylor Fletcher (individual medley, back) also returns.
Other swimmers are senior Hannah Garrett (free), juniors Tamara Butacevic (free), Nora Eichenberger (breast) and Makayla Roberts (fly), sophomores Kerrigan Morrison (free) and Alia O’Brien (breast) and freshmen Lauren Arn (fly, back), Rheygyn Carr (free, back), Chloe Coss (fly) and Allison Tinkham (back, distance free).
Sophomore Abbey Williams is a diver.
A key loss to graduation was Abigail Ellsworth, who is swimming at Ashland after finishing eighth in the 100 back (program-record 58.55) and 16th in the 100 free (program-record 53.22) at district last season.
Boys basketball team wins league opener
The boys basketball team opened OCC-Buckeye Division play with a 79-69 overtime win at Olentangy on Dec. 7.
Jordan McMillian scored 27 points to lead the Wildcats. Manny Sunnyway had 19 points, Ryan Greggs scored 12 and Peter Pedrozo added 11.
South, which is 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the league, defeated visiting Kilbourne 78-51 on Dec. 4.
McMillian scored 27 points, Jaiden Guice had 12 and Jacob Singleton added 11.
Girls basketball team out to strong start
The girls basketball team is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Wildcats began league play with a 77-61 win over visiting Olentangy on Dec. 7.
Gabby Hutcherson scored 23 points, Anyssa Jones had 16, Peyton Guice had 13 and Sommer Pitzer added 10.
Jones scored 18 points, Guice and Pitzer each had 12 and Hutcherson added 11 in a 68-28 win over visiting Lexington on Dec. 8.
Wrestlers finish fifth in tournament
The wrestling team finished fifth (190) behind champion Medina (306) in the 16-team Jeremy Ammons Kilted
Klassic on Dec. 8 at Sparta Highland.
Aaron Morton won the title at 160 pounds and Fuanyi Fobellah was second at 106. Bobby Henderson (152) and Jacob Shalvey (182) were third, and Nick Ifju (132) was fourth.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Nov. 30 – Worthington Kickoff Classic Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 1 – Olentangy Orange at Westerville Community Center
Dec. 8 – Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 15 – Hilliard Darby at Hilliard YMCA
Dec. 21 – Westerville Central and Westerville North at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 5 – Delaware Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan
Jan. 11 – Dublin Scioto at Dublin Recreation Center
Jan. 19 – Big Walnut and Canal Winchester at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 25 – OCC diving meet at Thomas Worthington
Jan. 26 – OCC-Buckeye meet at Thomas Worthington
Feb. 1 – Olentangy Berlin and Worthington Christian at Westerville Community Center
Below are the coming schedules for the South boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 14 – Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
Dec. 17 – At Gahanna
*Dec. 13 – At Liberty
Dec. 17 – Home vs. Gahanna
*Dec. 14 – Olentangy Berlin at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Dec. 15 – Olentangy Orange Baker Bash at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Dec. 19 – Home. vs. Liberty Union