With 2018 graduate Grant Cicci and 2019 graduate Max Scott leading the way, the Dublin Jerome boys swimming and diving team led central Ohio in points at the Division I state meet two seasons ago.
The Celtics accomplished the same feat last winter when they scored 95 points at state to place seventh behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310).
Excelling at the district level, however, requires more than just having a few high-caliber athletes like Cicci, who is now swimming for Miami University, and Scott, who is competing for Indiana.
Jerome won its first district championship two seasons ago and defended it last year.
"We always put a high emphasis on performing well at the district meet," fourth-year coach Patrick Johnston said. "At the state meet, you can go in with a few kids and score high, but district is a lot more about participation. You're not just going to win it with a few swimmers. We've got some pretty big team goals."
Seniors Austin Davis, Reno James and Ian Smith give the Celtics a strong base to build around after joining Scott on the 400-yard freestyle relay that placed third (3 minutes, 5.34 seconds) at state last season.
James has committed to Cleveland State.
Senior Ronith Doddi and Davis joined 2019 graduates Reid Newman and Matt Shepard on the 200 medley relay that was 11th (1:35.78) at state.
Competing at state a year ago as individuals were James in the 200 individual medley (11th, 1:52.89) and 100 breaststroke (16th, 58.87), Smith in the 200 free (12th, 46.58) and 100 breast (14th, 58.35), Davis in the 200 IM (22nd, 1:56.54) and sophomore Carson Smith in the 500 free (13th, 4:39.02).
Other returnees who competed at district last season are senior Patrick Wellman (100 butterfly, 500 free), junior Austin Wyner (100 free, 200 free) and sophomores Alex Davis (100 backstroke, 200 IM) and Nicholas Kremin (500 free).
Junior Eddie Kelly is a returning diver.
Others swimmers looking to contribute are sophomores Adam Bartlett and D.J. Lloyd and freshmen Luke Dauer, Nicholas Leonard, Andy Lu, Dean Sherrer and Kai Van Bourgondien.
Geringer to lead girls swim team
The girls swimming and diving team also has a major-college recruit leading the way in senior Maya Geringer, an Ohio State commit who was the Division I state runner-up in the 500 free (4:51.74) a year ago.
Also at state last season, Geringer placed 12th in the 200 free (1:52.16) and joined 2019 graduate Brenna Cooper, senior Macy Weeks and sophomore Kelsey Cooper on the 17th-place 200 medley relay (1:47.96) and the 17th-place 200 free relay (1:38.93).
Kelsey Cooper added a 10th-place finish in the 100 back (57.05).
The only other senior is Caity Laycock, who was a district qualifier a year ago in the 200 free and 500 free.
Other returnees who competed at district last season are junior Claudia Sherrer (200 IM, 100 back) and sophomores Lauren Smith (100 breast, 200 IM) and Michelle Yang (100 free, 200 free).
Senior Alyssa Heinlen returns in diving after placing seventh at district (444.05) last season.
Other swimmers looking to contribute are sophomore Ahnika Dauer and freshmen Libby Grether, Charlotte Laycock, Zoe Musselman, Lily Schwelgin and Ashlyn Walter.
"Maya Geringer will lead the way on the girl side," Johnston said. "One of the things that's really good is our freshman class."
Wrestlers have depth, experience
The wrestling team has returned three of its six Division I district qualifiers from last season.
Among the returnees is senior Jack Viola, who went 1-2 at district at 106 pounds and finished 31-13 overall.
The Celtics, who had no state qualifiers last season and tied for third in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 4-3, are expected to fill all 14 weight classes and have 16 seniors after having just two last winter.
"With a full roster, we're looking to compete in the state dual tournament and make a deep run," third-year coach Matt White said. "With as many kids as we have, there will be competitions within almost every weight class."
The other returning district qualifiers are senior Drew Kavinsky (195) and junior Austin Wagner (113). Kavinsky went 0-2 at district and finished 19-21 overall, while Wagner did not compete at district and finished 23-14.
Senior Joe Huber, who was a district alternate at 195 and finished 14-11 last season, is at 220.
Seniors Alex Boukheir (145), Nicholas Henkel (152) and Mason Lee (138), junior Anthony Sarosi (160) and sophomores Salim Haqq (138) and Luke Milanovich (132) competed at sectional last season.
Others looking to contribute include seniors Dangino Fortin (132), Konnor Gay (170), Jay Halsey (heavyweight), Jonathan Lee (195), Craigen Lenker (126), Joe Racan (152), Matthew Sale (182), John Stolmeier (138), Will Tarrant (152) and Evan Wieklinski (220), junior Stephen Lenker (145), sophomores Coleton Fleury (182), Jose Hernandez (126), Jayden Loper (152), Hudson Peele (152), Gabe Priar (126), Ronin Rodriguez (126), Othman Taha (160) and Eli Vilkinofsky (120) and freshmen Coleson Anderson (138), Ryan Hammond (120), Brandon Kramer (106), Ryan Sulc (170) and Mason Williams (heavyweight).
Jerome placed fifth (151) in the 18-team Bad Apple Brawl on Dec. 7 at Mount Vernon behind the champion and host Yellow Jackets (305), as Viola finished first and Boukheir, Huber and Kavinsky each placed third.
"Our hopes as a coaching staff this year are to continue to work hard and to improve from the previous year's results," White said. "We have a veteran team with 16 seniors with great leadership. We have kids who have experienced success at all levels throughout the lineup."
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 13 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Dec. 17 -- At Westerville North
*Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Berlin
Dec. 14 -- Hilliard Invitational at Darby
*Dec. 13 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Dec. 15 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 13-14 -- Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 14 -- PJ's Pizza Wrestling Classic at Big Walnut