The Columbus Academy swimming and diving program has become accustomed to having strong representation in the Division II state meet each year.
While the boys and girls teams were hit hard by graduation, coach Craig Yakscoe still expects several swimmers to qualify for state Feb. 20 and 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"We're pretty young," Yakscoe said. "We don't have as much of the experience with the club swimming and different swim meets that we have had, especially on the boys side. The girls still have it, but they're young, too, mostly sophomores. The seniors are starting to come together and moving us in the right direction. It's fun to watch."
Academy was able to experience the state meet atmosphere by competing in the Northeast Classic on Jan. 10 and 11 at Branin Natatorium.
"We like to get them in the state meet pool and see some good competition within the state," Yakscoe said. "It's a little preview of the state meet. ... For the girls, we could potentially get eight to 10 swimmers to state, maybe more. For the boys, we can sneak in a relay or two to get four boys there (and) maybe two or three individuals."
The girls finished 29th (16) behind champion New Albany (311.5) as 44 teams scored. Sophomore Lauren Klinefelter finished sixth in the 100-yard butterfly (57.39 seconds) and 14th in the 200 individual medley (2:10.41) to lead the way.
Yakscoe expects Klinefelter to be a leading candidate to reach state. Last season at state, she was on the seventh-place 400 freestyle relay (3:37.17) and 11th-place 200 free relay (1:40.03) and also finished 18th in the 100 fly (58.21).
The boys team did not score in the Northeast Classic. Gavin Lewis, Luke Boltz, Rowan Hennessy and James Cao were 15th in the 200 free relay (1:37.36) and 17th in the 200 medley relay (1:50.07) to lead the Vikings.
Cao was 22nd in the 200 free (1:52.34) and 23rd in the 100 fly (56.52).
The girls finished first (214) ahead of Hartley (201) and Wellington (46) in a meet Jan. 9 at home. Mary Kate Prall won the 200 free (2:09.43) and 100 free (58.72).
"The goal for me this season is to make it to state and continue to go on to district for a fourth year and really continue to grow our team," senior Taylor Warren said. "We have a really young team and I really want to make sure that we, as captains, continue to grow and nurture our young kids, so we have good swimmers to leave behind once we leave."
The boys finished first (179) ahead of Wellington (105) and Hartley (76) as Cao won the 200 IM (2:10.11) and 100 free (51.72).
"I'd really like to see the team continue to grow like we have been," said senior Ezra Johnson, who won the 50 free (25.29). "We have a pretty young team, but one of the things that we've been trying to develop is getting our younger swimmers more confident and getting them some (personal records) for the postseason to get them more experience."
Bowling coach likes teams' progress
First-year bowling coach Gerardina Garita has been pleased with her teams' play.
The boys were 3-5 overall and in the COHSBC-C Division before facing Columbus West on Jan. 13.
The Vikings defeated Bexley 1,603-1,584 on Jan. 6 as Ryan Reagan led with a 324 for two games. Vincent White had a 291.
Academy lost to Marion-Franklin 1,851-1,586 on Jan. 7 as Donovan Simpson (294), White (284) and Jacob Mowery (276) led the Vikings.
The Vikings also lost to Teays Valley 2,239-1,662 on Jan. 8 as Simpson led the with a 301.
The girls also were 3-5 overall and in the league before facing West.
Academy defeated Bexley 1,476-1,306 led by Gianna Bates (286) and Evelyn Olexio (254).
The Vikings defeated Marion-Franklin 1,420-1,257 with Bates (275) and Nikki Turley (263) leading the way.
Bates (277) and Olexio (272) led Academy in a 1,468-1,405 loss to Teays Valley.
"Both teams have the possibility of ending the season around .500," Garita said. "Both the varsity and junior varsity teams have done a good job this season working hard to get better while still having fun. The returning team members, as well as the newer team members, have improved greatly and will continue to do so throughout the rest of the season."
Boys basketball team edges rival Whitehall
The boys basketball team defeated visiting Whitehall 55-54 on Jan. 7 in MSL-Ohio play as Carter Warstler scored 30 points and Tanner Compton added 15.
Warstler scored 13 points and Compton had 10 in a 61-47 league loss at Buckeye Valley on Jan. 11.
The Vikings were 5-5 overall before playing Johnstown on Jan. 14. They are 2-3 in the MSL-Ohio.
Below are the coming schedules for the Academy boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
*Jan. 21 -- At Grandview. The Vikings lost to the Bobcats 51-44 on Dec. 7.
*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Wellington. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 55-9 on Dec. 3.
*Jan. 21 -- Home vs. Bexley
Jan. 17-20 -- Walter F. Ehrnfelt Memorial Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Bexley, Bloom-Carroll, Chillicothe, Licking Heights and Madison Christian
Jan. 18 -- At St. Charles with Columbus School for Girls and Olentangy Liberty
Jan. 21 -- Home vs. Watterson