Notebook: St. Charles Cardinals swimming team excels during hectic season

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
St. Charles junior Spencer Aurnou-Rhees swims on the third-place 400-yard freestyle relay during the Division I state meet Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. He also was second in the 100 free and third in the 200 free.

The St. Charles swimming and diving team endured a season filled with obstacles only to finish as one of the state’s top squads in Division I.

All teams had to deal with COVID-19 protocols, but the Cardinals also faced the added distraction of the midseason resignation of coach Geoff Gear. But not only did St. Charles capture its 22nd consecutive CCL championship Jan. 30 at home, it went on to finish sixth (103 points) in the state meet Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (227.5).

“I was very pleased with our performance,” said Kyle Goodrich, who took over the program after Gear resigned Jan. 15. “We had eight swimmers there and all of our guys did well. It wasn’t a perfect meet, but we were projected to finish fifth and we were sixth, so we were pleased with that.” 

Junior Spencer Aurnou-Rhees was runner-up in the 100-yard freestyle (44.92 seconds) and third in the 200 free (1:39.18). Last season, he placed fifth in the 200 individual medley (1:49.94) and tied for 12th in the 500 free (4:39.25).

“I was really happy with how I did at state and how I improved,” he said. “I was happy with the team and the way we supported each other in a tough year with a lot of things going on.”

Aurnou-Rhees was a member of the third-place 400 free relay (3:04.33) with seniors Lukas Rakowsky and Chase Bateman and junior Ben Stevenson. He also joined Bateman, Stevenson and senior Sean Noonan on the sixth-place 200 free relay (1:24.45).

The seventh-place 200 medley relay (1:33.68) featured seniors Will Elsrod and Mitchell List, Noonan and Rakowsky.

Stevenson tied for ninth in the 100 free (46.15) and finished 11th in the 50 free (21.1), and Elsrod placed 11th in the 100 breaststroke (57.4) and 17th in the 200 IM (1:56.4).

Rakowsky was 18th in the 50 free (21.61) and 24th in the 100 butterfly (53.35). List was 19th in the 200 IM (1:57.33), senior Will Borchers placed 20th in the 200 free (1:43.33) and Bateman was 24th in the 100 free (47.72).

The Cardinals were runners-up (306) in the district meet Feb. 21 at Bowling Green behind Upper Arlington (348.5). Aurnou-Rhees set program records while winning the 100 free (44.77) and 200 free (1:37.75), and the 400 free relay won (program-record 3:04.0) with the same four swimmers as at state.

“We had a lot of seniors and I applaud them for the way they stayed focused,” Goodrich said. “We had such great leadership, which was a luxury in a season like this.

“It was an amazing season, but it was tough with all of the changes. The best part of it is how well the swimmers handled all of that. I felt like our team, as a whole team, stayed focused and handled it very well.”

Bexley sophomore Nicholas Minkin placed 16th in the 100 backstroke in the Division II state meet Feb. 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

•The Bexley boys and girls swimming teams each had one competitor in the Division II state meets at Branin Natatorium.

Nicholas Minkin placed 16th in the 100 backstroke (54.37) on Feb. 25. The sophomore was seeded 19th after placing fourth (54.62) at district Feb. 18 at Bowling Green.

Anja Hoy was 20th in the 100 back (1:00.82) at state Feb. 24. The freshman was runner-up (59.48) at district.

“I think all things considered it was a great season,” coach Sandy Sliwowski said. “Thankfully, we were able to make it all the way to the end and have both Anja and Nicholas at state.”

At district for the girls, the 200 medley relay of sophomore Bridget O’Reilly, freshman Annabel Long, Hoy and senior Arianna Martin was eighth in 2:00.4, and the 400 free relay of senior Ally Grieshop, Long, O’Reilly and Hoy was eighth in 3:54.85.

Grieshop was sixth in the 500 free (5:35.54). In the 200 IM, Hoy was fourth (2:16.33) and Long was seventh (2:22.97).

“The girls did a really great job at sectional and district,” Sliwowski said. “We had a big group of seniors for both the boys and girls that will leave some big shoes to fill.”

Minkin led the boys at district, also placing fifth in the 100 fly (54.93). Junior Eli Dresbach was third in the 200 IM (2:08.28).

“The boys had a great season as well,” Sliwowski said. “They had a smaller team this year, but they really worked well together. They had a great run at sectional and district.”

•The Bexley girls basketball team lost four games this season, and all four setbacks came against teams that at least reached district finals. 

The Lions lost to Worthington Christian 59-41 on Jan. 13 and 60-43 on Feb. 5 in MSL-Ohio Division play, and 55-43 to Granville on Dec. 30. The Warriors won a Division III district championship and Granville won a Division II title.

Third-seeded Bexley lost 52-48 in overtime to eighth-seeded Jonathan Alder on Feb. 19 at home in the second round of the Division II district tournament to finish 13-4 overall.

“We didn’t lose to any slouches, that’s for sure,” coach Brycen Baugh said. “We would’ve liked to have gotten past Alder. We didn’t have a giant collapse or anything. We didn’t score when we had the chance and they did.”

Senior guard Maddy Young (first-team all-league) led the Lions in scoring at 13.2 points per game and made 53 of 123 3-point shots (43.1 percent). She scored more than 1,000 points in her career and finished as the school career leader in 3s with 170.

Guard Aly Cox missed her senior season after suffering a knee injury in soccer, while guard Natalie Griffith was the other senior.

“Maddy had a great career for us and will definitely be missed,” said Baugh, whose team finished second (8-2) in the MSL-Ohio behind Worthington Christian (9-0). “We lost Aly to a knee injury and she was not only a great leader but one of our best defenders.”

The Lions expect to return plenty of talent, led by junior point guard Grace Heilman (second-team all-league, 7.4 points, 2.1 assists, 2.9 steals) and sophomore forward Sydnie Smith (second-team all-league, 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds). Sophomore forward Sofia Sheridan (honorable mention all-league, 6.9 points, 5.9 rebounds) also started along with junior guard Regan Comstock (6.5 points). Sophomore guard Mikayla Williams (6.4 points, 2.2 steals) gave Bexley a spark off the bench.

“We lose one starter (Young) and we have a chance to be good if we can get to work in the summer,” Baugh said. “We’ll have a lot of experience coming back in Grace, Regan, Sofia and Sydnie. Mikayla really came on this year, and (sophomore forward) Madison Ingram played some minutes for us later in the season. We hope to continue to improve.”

Junior guard Emma Spangler should be the top returnee for CSG after averaging 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds and being named honorable mention all-league.

•The Columbus School for Girls basketball team finished 6-6 overall in coach Rebecca Bailey’s first season. 

The 15th-seeded Unicorns lost 60-18 at top-seeded Granville on Feb. 19 in the second round of the Division II district tournament. They went 4-5 in the MSL-Ohio.

CSG had two seniors in guard Eva Nicolosi (7.3 points, 7.8 rebounds) and forward Bella Sloan.

“Eva and Bella demonstrated immeasurable leadership in a season unlike any other, both on and off the court,” Bailey said. “These young women showed immense grit and determination this year, always pushing themselves and their teammates.”

The Unicorns expect to return their leading scorer in junior guard Emma Spangler, who was honorable mention all-league after averaging 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds. 

Freshman guard Carmen Albrecht took over at point guard when junior Lauren Sloan missed time with broken fingers, while junior forward Tori Johnson was a key player in the post. 

“We’re incredibly excited about our future,” Bailey said. “Next year we expect to return nine varsity letterwinners, including four players who started in multiple games throughout this past season.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

BEXLEY GIRLS BASKETBALL

Record: 13-4 overall

MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (9-0), Bexley (8-2), Whitehall (5-2), Columbus Academy (4-3), Columbus School for Girls (4-5), Buckeye Valley (3-5), Grandview (1-9), Wellington (0-8) 

Seniors lost: Aly Cox, Natalie Griffith and Maddy Young

Key returnees: Regan Comstock, Grace Heilman, Madison Ingram, Sofia Sheridan, Sydnie Smith and Mikayla Williams

Postseason: Lost to Jonathan Alder 52-48 (OT) in second round of Division II district tournament

CSG BASKETBALL

Record: 6-6 overall

Seniors lost: Eva Nicolosi and Bella Sloan

Key returnees: Carmen Albrecht, Tori Johnson, Lauren Sloan and Emma Spangler

Postseason: Lost to Granville 60-18 in second round of Division II district tournament

BEXLEY SWIMMING & DIVING

MSL-Ohio standings: Boys — Academy (337), Bexley (208), Wellington (175), Buckeye Valley (189), Grandview (180), Worthington Christian (21); Girls — CSG (394), Academy (241), Grandview (164), Bexley (157), Buckeye Valley (76), Wellington (64), Liberty Union (24), Worthington Christian (23)

Seniors lost: Boys — Maxwell Clous, Atticus Keels, Ryan Kemp, Gavin Levine, Phillip Martin, Will Meyer and Ethan Shea-Stultz; Girls — Ally Grieshop, Sophia Jones, Arianna Martin, Eimear McCann, Isabella Minkin, Olivia Mitchell, Maria Steinke and Phoebe Wasserstrom

Key returnees: Boys — Eli Dresbach and Nicholas Minkin; Girls — Anja Hoy, Annabel Long and Bridget O’Reilly

Postseason: Boys — Third (181) at sectional behind champion Granville (273), 14th (75) at district behind champion Dover (218.5), tied for 59th (1) at state behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (228); Girls — Third (208) at sectional behind champion CSG (452), seventh (119) at district behind champion CSG (308), did not score at state

ST. CHARLES SWIMMING & DIVING

CCL standings: St. Charles (539), DeSales (217), Hartley (196), Watterson (115), Ready (2)

Seniors lost: Chase Bateman, Cooper Beggs, Will Borchers, Will Elsrod, Austin Grzybicki, Matt Kravitz, Mitchell List, Angus Moore, Sean Noonan, Lukas Rakowsky and Donnie Richardson

Key returnees: Spencer Aurnou-Rhees and Ben Stevenson

Postseason: First (634) at sectional, second (306) at district behind Upper Arlington (348.5), sixth (103) at state behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (227.5)