Swimming & Diving: Dublin Coffman girls ready to defend state title
Part of being the defending Division I state champion means the Dublin Coffman girls swimming and diving team believes it can be ready for whatever obstacle comes its way.
The Shamrocks, like every other team in central Ohio, might not know what the finish line will look like for a while considering the Central District has yet to find a pool for the district meet.
The state meet — where Coffman scored 214 points to capture its first state title after finishing second in the OCC-Central Division, first at sectional and second at district — is scheduled for Feb. 24-27 but likely will take on a new look even if it again is held at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
“The girls team is focused on trying to defend our state championship,” 15th-year coach Steve VonSchriltz said. “We’ve handled things as well as can be expected. The kids are being very careful and training has been going very well. We just need to start competing and get focused and prepared for whatever championship they throw at us.”
The area’s top returning swimmer and possibly Ohio’s top all-around competitor is senior Ellie Andrews.
A Texas signee, Andrews won the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, .83 of a second) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.12), swam on the winning 200 medley relay (1:41.88) and helped the 400 freestyle relay place third (3:27.71) last season at state.
“It’s obviously very different with COVID and it’s harder to get people in pool space, so some of us have had to outsource our training,” Andrews said. “We lost a good chunk of seniors, but hopefully we’ll be able to defend our championship.”
Sophomores Emma Bowman and Gretchen Schneider return after also swimming on the 200 medley relay, and Schneider and senior returnee Ava Warren were on the 400 free relay.
Bowman and Warren also swam on the 200 free relay that was sixth (1:35.8).
Freshman Emily Brown is a swimmer who VonSchriltz believes can have an immediate impact on relays and in distance free events.
Sophomore Isabella Palazzo will be asked to take on a bigger role and will be on relays along with freshmen Gabi Adams and Issabella Cicak.
Sophomore Bridget Karaba and freshman Reena Ding round out the roster.
Lost to graduation were Hannah Bailey, who is at Pittsburgh after swimming on the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay and finishing third in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 100 breast, and Kristyn Sabol, who is at Kentucky after placing second in the 200 free, second in the 100 free and swimming on the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
Competing for the boys team are senior Dominic Novak, juniors Joseph Nadur and Zach Stump and freshmen Ali Abdurahman, Juan Horta-Baltazar and Ben Nadur.
Stump was on the 200 medley relay that was ninth (1:34.19) and the 400 free relay that was 16th (3:11.3) at state. He added a 17th-place finish in the 500 free (4:41.25) and tied for 20th in the 100 backstroke (51.86).
Joseph Nadur also was on the 400 free relay.
“We don’t have many boys, but Zach Stump will be one of the best swimmers at this year’s state meet, and Joseph and Ben Nadur could score in multiple events this year,” VonSchriltz said.
New Celtics coach
likes team’s approach
Among the 30 athletes in Jerome’s program are six girls and four boys who competed at last year’s Division I state meet.
The Celtics have a new coach in J.J. Spangler, who has been an assistant the past six seasons at Upper Arlington and also has been the water polo coach at UA for five seasons. He was hired in October to take over for Patrick Johnston, who led the program for three seasons.
“The men’s and women’s teams are an awesome group full of extremely talented and enthusiastic athletes,” Spangler said. “Every day they come to practice with positive attitudes and good work ethic in a time that’s challenging for everyone. The athletes have kept their heads up dealing with the different COVID challenges that the team has had to face this year. They’ve been extremely welcoming and accepting of me as a new coach being willing to try new things always ready for a challenge.”
The girls team is led by juniors Kelsey Cooper, Lauren Smith and Michelle Yang and sophomores Libby Grether, Charlotte Laycock and Zoe Musselman.
At state last year, Grether finished 11th in the 200 free (1:53.04) and Cooper tied for 14th in the 100 back (57.73).
In addition, Grether and Musselman swam on the 200 free relay along with 2020 graduates Maya Geringer and Macy Weeks that was 11th in a program-record 1:37.59. Cooper, Grether, Laycock and Smith were on the 200 medley relay that was 19th (1:49.45), and Cooper, Geringer, Grether and Yang swam on the 400 free relay that placed 20th (3:36.95).
Also on the girls team are senior Claudia Sherrer, sophomores Morgan Erdmann, Ava Keener, Elle Recor, Lily Schwelgin and Ashlyn Walter and freshmen Sydney Boone-McDougall, Audrey Brink and Tanvi Peruri.
The top returnee for the boys team is junior Carson Smith, who swam on the seventh-place 200 free relay (1:25.9) and eighth-place 400 free relay (3:07.62) with 2020 graduates Austin Davis, Reno James and Ian Smith.
Carson Smith also was 12th in the 500 free (4:36.34).
Senior Austin Wyner, junior Alex Davis and sophomore Andy Lu also have returned after joining 2020 graduate Patrick Wellman on the 200 medley relay that was 17th (1:37.02). Davis also was 23rd in the 200 IM (1:57.62).
Others on the boys team are seniors Jackson Byrne and Edward Kelly, juniors Nicholas Kremin and Davis Lloyd, sophomores Luke Dauer, Alexander Kremin, Nicholas Leonard, Dean Sherrer and Kai Van Bourgondien and freshmen Antonio Borromeo and Grant Sargel.
“I’m hopeful that this season will continue to move forward and I have a positive outlook on the season because it’s all about the athletes getting a chance at the end of the season to taper and to race, and it seems that everyone is trying their best to make this happen,” Spangler said.
eye state berths
After failing to advance a swimmer to the Division I state meet the previous two seasons, Scioto hopes to reach that level this winter.
Ema Rennie was the program’s last state qualifier, as she finished 18th in the 50 free (24.29) in 2018.
“I’m happy with our numbers,” eighth-year coach Brian Worhatch said. “We have a lot of new faces, too. … We’re trying to get as many kids to the district meet as possible. I’d like to get at least 75 percent of my team to the district meet.”
The boys team returns four swimmers who competed in the 400 free relay last season at district, where they finished 16th in 3:31.3. That group features senior Ian MacLaughlin (free), juniors Marko Gjurevski (distance free) and David Perry (IM, free) and sophomore Drew Baughman (back).
In individual races at district, Gjurevski was 21st in the 500 free (5:02.51) and 28th in the 200 free (1:54.59), and Perry was 25th in the 500 free (5:05.95) and 29th in the 200 IM (2:08.24).
Another key returnee is senior Colson Wenzel (free, fly), who has committed to Kenyon but missed the postseason last year with an injury.
Freshman Camren Abel (free, fly) rounds out the team.
The girls team should be led by seniors Abby Ng (sprint free, breast) and Mary Stancil (breast) and junior Madeline Liston (free). They were part of the 200 free relay (20th, 1:49.37) and 400 free relay (26th, 4:01.94) at district last season.
“I’m looking forward to my senior year, but it’s going to be really weird,” Ng said. “(The COVID-19 policies) are really difficult, but all of us doing it together makes it easier. We’re all learning together. … I’m just trying to get back down to my times that I got last year and I’m just hoping the team can make it through the entire season without having anything happen.”
Other swimmers are junior Emma Zhang (free), sophomore Ananya Patel and freshmen Diana Dyussemaliyeva (back, free), Amiah Gillam (back, free), Elena Gjurevski (free) and Muthoni Ngigi (free).
“Diana will be somebody to watch in the future years,” Worhatch said.
With the start of the season delayed, the Irish are scheduled to open Jan. 16 against Marysville at the Dublin Recreation Center.
“It’s a different season trying to make sure they’re swimming socially distanced and making sure we’re trying to be safe,” Worhatch said. “It seems like we’re going to get the season in. They’re still excited to swim. It’s the uncertainty of the competition part. We try to get up on the blocks every once in a while and race to keep that competitive spirit going.”
•Coach: Steve VonSchriltz, 15th season
•Top athletes: Boys — Ben Nadur, Joseph Nadur, Dominic Novak and Zach Stump; Girls — Ellie Andrews, Emma Bowman, Emily Brown, Isabella Palazzo, Gretchen Schneider and Ava Warren
•Key losses: Boys — Brendan Oshida, Will Randall and Ethan Shaw; Girls — Hannah Bailey, Cameron Das, Ryoka Nishibori, Aislin Rodgers and Kristyn Sabol
•2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Boys — Upper Arlington (600), Hilliard Davidson (400), Coffman (316), Marysville (217), Central Crossing (112); Girls — UA (573), Coffman (456), Marysville (288), Davidson (241), Central Crossing (163), Westland (70)
•2020 postseason: Boys — Fourth at sectional, sixth at district, 15th at state; Girls — First at sectional, second at district, first at state
•Coach: J.J. Spangler, first season
•Top athletes: Boys — Alex Davis, Andy Lu, Carson Smith and Austin Wyner; Girls — Kelsey Cooper, Libby Grether, Charlotte Laycock, Zoe Musselman, Lauren Smith and Michelle Yang
•Key losses: Boys — Austin Davis, Ronith Doddi, Reno James, Ian Smith and Patrick Wellman; Girls — Maya Geringer, Alyssa Heinlen, Caity Laycock and Macy Weeks
•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Boys — Jerome (543.5), Hilliard Darby (328), Olentangy Berlin (257), Thomas Worthington (240), Delaware (180), Scioto (179.5), Worthington Kilbourne (168), Hilliard Bradley (69); Girls — Jerome (499), Berlin (361), Delaware (315), Kilbourne (273), Thomas (185), Bradley (157), Darby (145), Scioto (54)
•2020 postseason: Boys — First at sectional, third at district, ninth at state; Girls — Second at sectional, fifth at district, 16th at state
•Coach: Brian Worhatch, eighth season
•Top athletes: Boys — Marko Gjurevski, Ian MacLaughlin and Colson Wenzel; Girls — Madeline Liston, Abby Ng and Mary Stancil
•Key losses: Boys — Drew Joseph; Girls — Lauren Perry
•2020 postseason: Boys — Ninth at sectional, 23rd at district; Girls — 11th at sectional; did not score at district