The success Brenna Cooper enjoyed as a freshman in 2015-16 was only the beginning of what she was hoping to accomplish during her prep career with the Dublin Jerome High School girls swimming and diving team.
The past two seasons, though, didn't go according to plan.
After reaching the state podium with an eighth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, 6.95 seconds as a freshman, Cooper swam 1:07.47 and tied for 12th as a sophomore as illness hindered her performance.
Last winter at district, her time in the 100 breast again wasn't what she hoped for as she placed 10th (1:07.68).
Now a senior, Cooper is cautiously optimistic that she is trending toward earning a state berth in the 100 breast.
"The last two years at district were kind of rough," she said. "I was in the hospital (with illness) my sophomore year before district, so I was kind of out of it. Last year, my training was just kind of off. This year, it's going so much better than it has been.
"My 100 breast is looking better than last year, for sure. It's looking better, but it's hard to tell right now because I taper really well and I don't swim as well midseason."
Cooper swam faster than she did at any of her previous district meets in the 100 breast when she placed 13th (1:06.86) in the Northeast Classic on Jan. 12 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"She's looking pretty good right now," coach Patrick Johnston said. "With her, what's really exciting is that she used to be only a breaststroker and everything else kind of suffered, but this year it's fantastic because I can put her in freestyle events, be it the 50, 100 or 200. I can put her in some things and she'll perform really well. She's become a really well-rounded swimmer, and the most important thing is that she's become a top-notch leader. She's very on top of keeping everyone in high spirits and does a good job communicating with the coaches about the team needs."
The Celtics will be looking to defend their league title when they compete in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thomas Worthington.
At the Northeast Classic, Jerome scored 106 points to place ninth behind champion North Canton Hoover (243) as 48 teams scored.
Junior Maya Geringer won the 500 free (4:58.45) and was runner-up in the 200 free (1:53.03), freshman Kelsey Cooper placed fourth in the 100 backstroke (57.41), Brenna Cooper, Geringer, junior Macy Weeks and freshman Michelle Yang placed sixth in the 200 free relay (1:41.33) and Brenna Cooper, Kelsey Cooper, Geringer and Weeks placed seventh in the 200 medley relay (1:49.36).
On Jan. 18, the Celtics lost 120-60 at Upper Arlington as Cooper was runner-up in the 100 breast (1:11) and Geringer placed second in both the 500 free (5:12.2) and 200 free (1:58.04).
Brenna Cooper and Geringer both swam on the 200 medley relay that placed 13th (1:47.42) at state last season.
"We're better than last year, for sure," Brenna Cooper said. "The dynamic is different on the team. We have a lot of new freshmen girls who are really strong and our underclassmen are very strong."
Boys swimmers prep for OCC, postseason
The boys swimming and diving team is feeling confident as it prepares for the OCC-Cardinal and postseason meets.
The Celtics scored 232 points to win the Northeast Classic for the first time as 42 teams scored.
The 200 free relay of senior Max Scott and juniors Austin Davis, Reno James and Ian Smith finished first (1:25.28), Scott was runner-up in the 50 free (21.11) and James was runner-up in the 200 individual medley (1:55.62). The Celtics had four competitors place in the 100 breast, with Smith finishing fourth (59.17) to lead the way.
Then on Jan. 18, the Celtics lost to UA 97-89 as Scott won the 50 free (21.77) and 100 free (48.16), Matt Shepard won the 100 butterfly (53.64), Davis won the 100 backstroke (55.21), Joey Haas finished first in diving (200) and the 200 free relay (1:28.95) and 200 medley relay (1:40.77) also were first.
"Our junior boys are looking really strong, especially with a lot of our relays consisting of a lot of juniors," Scott said. "Even when my class leaves, we'll have a lot in the tank for years to come."
Boys team looking to avenge loss to Cards
The boys basketball team rallied from a nine-point deficit to force overtime but fell short in the extra session against host Thomas Worthington on Dec. 14 and lost 69-61.
Both teams have been in the upper echelon of the OCC-Cardinal since that game. They meet in the second round of league play Friday, Jan. 25, at Jerome.
The Celtics were 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before facing Olentangy Berlin on Jan. 22 and the Cardinals were 10-3 and 5-3 before playing Delaware on Jan. 22.
"Our guys always play hard, battle and compete their tails off," coach Richie Beard said. "One of the things we're looking for is just to finish games. It's a process, and the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Overall, I'm very pleased with my guys. This group is a joy to coach."
Jerome had won four games in a row before facing Berlin, including beating Scioto 56-43 on Jan. 11 behind 17 points from junior guard Dan Lee and Worthington Kilbourne 73-63 on Jan. 18 behind 18 points from senior wing player Trey Ballengee and 17 from senior forward Matthew Montgomery.
"Dan Lee has made huge strides since last season," Beard said. "He (was) a gym rat in the offseason and now we're seeing it pay off as he's our second-leading scorer."
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington. The Celtics lost to the Cardinals 69-61 (OT) on Dec. 14.
*Jan. 25 -- At Thomas. The Celtics lost to the Cardinals 46-41 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 29 -- At New Albany
Jan. 29 -- At Coffman with Scioto, *Delaware, Grove City, Marysville and Westerville Central
*Jan. 25 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The Celtics beat the Golden Bears 4-2 on Nov. 25 and 2-1 on Jan. 13.
*Jan. 26 -- Olentangy at Chiller Dublin. The Celtics beat the Braves 6-1 on Dec. 1.
*Jan. 27 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton. The Celtics lost to the Eagles 4-3 in shootout Nov. 24, beat the Eagles 3-2 in shootout Dec. 2 and lost to the Eagles 9-3 on Dec. 16.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Thomas
*Jan. 24 -- At Hilliard Bradley
Jan. 26 -- Jimmy Wood Memorial at New Lexington