With only six athletes competing, the Dublin Coffman girls swimming and diving team understood that there was little margin for error if it were to meet its goal of winning the Division I state title.
Things went almost exactly according to plan during the opening day of state Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton when the Shamrocks qualified for the championship heat in all three relays and in all but one of their individual events.
Having its 200-yard freestyle relay finish four places lower than its seed didn't deter Coffman from leaving the meet Feb. 22 with its first state championship trophy.
The Shamrocks, who totaled 214 points, finished third in the 400 free relay to close the meet but already had wrapped up the title. New Albany, which was the district champion, finished runner-up with 205 points and Upper Arlington, which beat Coffman for the OCC-Central Division title, placed third with 187.
Coffman finished fourth at state last season.
"We had some races like the (100) backstroke and the 50 freestyle where we had no one and the other teams in the running had multiple people, but it couldn't have gone more perfectly," junior Ellie Andrews said. "It was very nerve-wracking in the middle because some things didn't go as planned, but we're going to remember this day forever. It's really exciting."
Andrews starred throughout the meet, receiving a plaque for being named the girls swimmer of the meet.
She joined senior Hannah Bailey and freshmen Emma Bowman and Gretchen Schneider on the 200 medley relay that opened the meet by winning the state championship in 1 minute, 41.88 seconds.
Later, she defended her state title in the 200 individual medley (2:00.83) and followed a state runner-up finish in the 100 breaststroke last year by winning the title in 1:01.12.
Andrews closed the meet by joining senior Kristyn Sabol, Schneider and junior Ava Warren on the third-place 400 free relay (3:27.71).
"We were swimming for each other, and that's what makes it so easy," Andrews said. "We're racing because we know how hard each other works and we want it for them more than we want it for ourselves.
"It's very cool to not only win (the 200 IM) last year, but also to win it this year. (My time) was a little slower than last year, but I have some other things to fix and I'll be back at it next year."
Sabol, a Kentucky recruit, was state runner-up for the second year in a row in the 200 free (1:47.77) and added a second-place finish in the 100 free (50.2) after placing seventh in the 100 butterfly in her second individual event last season.
She also made the awards podium in two individual events as a sophomore.
"It's key that we're so close to each other," Sabol said. "These girls are my best friends, my family and I can't go a day without seeing them. It's the first time in Coffman history (that the school has won state), so we're very proud of that. It was a very lofty goal."
Bailey, a Pittsburgh commit, made it onto the awards podium in two individual events in each of her four seasons. This year, she finished third in the 100 fly (54.82) and fourth in the 100 breast (1:03.57).
The 200 free relay of Bailey, Bowman, Sabol and Warren was sixth (1:35.8) and Schneider placed eighth in the 500 free (5:03.03) and 17th in the 100 back (57.92).
"(Winning state has) been our goal the whole season," Warren said. "We've been talking about it every practice, every (time we work out). Our main goal has always been to win state. We're such a small team, but we have so many powerful swimmers. We're just really happy. We were definitely the underdog."
Andrews, Bowman, Schneider and Warren should lead the group of returnees next season. That group also should include juniors Cameron Das, Ryoka Nishibori and Aislin Rodgers and freshman Isabella Palazzo.
Shaw leads boys swimmers at state
Senior Ethan Shaw led the boys swimming and diving team to a 15th-place finish (49) in the Division I state meet behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 53 teams scored.
Shaw placed sixth in both the 200 free (1:40.76) and 500 free (4:33.76). Last season at state, he finished ninth in the 500 free and 10th in the 200 free.
"My goal was to get on the podium, so I was very happy with my performances this weekend," said Shaw, a Purdue commit. "It was so hard getting ninth at prelims last year. I'm really looking forward to next year (at Purdue)."
Also competing at state were the 200 medley relay of seniors Brendan Oshida, Will Randall and Shaw and sophomore Zac Stump (ninth, 1:34.19), Oshida in the 100 breast (14th, 57.84), the 400 free relay of Shaw, Nadur, Stump and Randall (16th, 3:11.3) and Stump in the 500 free (17th, 4:41.25) and 100 back (tied for 20th, 51.86).
Others eligible to return include junior Dominic Novak and sophomore Tejdeep Somi Reddy.
Girls basketball team wins tourney opener
The fourth-seeded girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament with a 60-15 victory over 24th-seeded DeSales in a second-round game Feb. 21.
Coffman improved to 21-2 and advanced to play 19th-seeded Jerome in a district semifinal Feb. 26. The winner plays seventh-seeded Gahanna or 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district final Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion faces Watkins Memorial, Newark, Canal Winchester or Olentangy Orange in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at Otterbein.
Against DeSales, Imarianah Russell had 19 points, Kenzie Bicking scored 15 and Juliana Burris added 13 as the Shamrocks outscored the Stallions 36-10 during the middle quarters.
Wrestlers to open postseason action
The wrestling team will compete in a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Newark, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.