Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Brandon Carpico earns Lions boys tennis team’s first state title
As the son of a successful coach, Gahanna Lincoln boys tennis coach Chris Schwinnen had a different perspective from some when sophomore Brandon Carpico captured the first Division I state title in program history May 29 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
During Denny Schwinnen’s 35-year career at Elida in northwest Ohio, he coached two doubles teams to titles.
“My dad had state titles with two doubles teams, so I know how difficult it is,” Chris Schwinnen said. “When I started coaching, I never thought in a million years that I’d have a state champion. (Carpico) played phenomenal tennis for really the last two weeks, hitting deep, solid shots and really keeping his head about him. Wow, it’s just incredible.”
Carpico became just the second Gahanna player to reach the second day of the state tournament when he beat Cincinnati St. Xavier senior Charlie Temming in a singles quarterfinal. Carpico lost the first set 4-6, won the second 6-4 and was winning the third 2-0 when Temming was forced to retire. Temming began cramping toward the end of the second set.
The opening day of the state tournament was held May 28 at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Cincinnati.
After beating Cleveland St. Ignatius senior Nate Day 6-4, 6-4 in a semifinal, Carpico faced Mason junior Vignesh Gogineni, who was a state runner-up in doubles as a freshman.
Carpico went on to win 6-4, 6-3 for the title, eclipsing the fourth-place finish in singles turned in by the Lions’ Canyon Teague in 2013.
Carpico was told afterward that he had a first-serve percentage of better than 80 percent in the championship match.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “The goal was just to qualify and be here and now I’m at center court with the trophy. Going into high school, I wanted to win states because that’s the big thing for high school tennis. I didn’t really expect it this year because I’m young, but it’s really come true.”
Carpico – who helped the Lions finish 16-3 overall and earn a runner-up finish in the OCC-Ohio Division at 3-1, behind New Albany (4-0) – was one of only two underclassmen the program had compete in the postseason.
Carpico was the runner-up in the Hilliard Bradley sectional May 15 and then won the district title May 22 at Reynoldsburg.
He lost just two singles matches all season.
Freshman Matt Ryan, who played mostly doubles, will be another returnee along with sophomore Quinn Smith, who saw action in exhibition matches and a few matches at second doubles.
Senior Jacob McFall lost in the second round in singles at sectional, while the doubles teams of seniors Shawn Ugbana and Nick Wunderlin and seniors Thomas Giles and Zach Wunderlin both lost in the second round at sectional.
“It was a good feeling (heading into state) knowing there wasn’t any pressure any more,” Carpico said. “I’m still young, still a sophomore. Most of our team was seniors, so we’re going to be a young team coming up next year. It was a really good season.”
‘in a great spot’
With an eight-member senior class leading the way, the boys volleyball team won the OCC-Ohio title for the second consecutive season at 14-0.
Lions coach Mike Sage recently announced he was stepping down after leading the program since 2004.
Gahanna was the third seed for the Division I, East Region tournament but lost 19-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23 to sixth-seeded Thomas Worthington on May 25 in a semifinal to finish 19-4 overall.
“(The program is) in a great spot,” said Sage, who led the team to a 267-166 record. “We just got outplayed a little by Thomas Worthington. They played very well and we had some untimely errors. It was a fun one to watch.”
Among the losses to graduation are setter Logan Burrell and right-side hitter McCord Riegler. Both were first-team all-league, with Riegler earning Player of the Year honors.
Seniors Jackson Duebner (outside hitter) and Connor Tilton (outside hitter) were second-team all-league, senior Jason Raymond (middle hitter) was special mention all-league and senior Mitchell Ledbetter (defensive specialist) was honorable mention all-league.
“It was a great season overall,” junior A’me Baccus said. “I wasn’t satisfied with the ending because our season was cut short by a team we could’ve beaten. I learned a lot from coach Sage. The group of guys coming up are great. They just need a bit more experience and they’ll be ready. They already show great qualities and this is because of the program coach Sage has installed. It’s great. It makes people want to come back and work harder while having fun. The overall program is amazing.”
Baccus, who plays middle hitter, and junior J.J. Vandermark, who played multiple positions, should be the top returnees.
Junior Jordan Mason is the top candidate to take over at setter, and junior Thaddaeus States (outside hitter) also should return.
Track teams shine
at regional meet
The girls track and field team headed into the Division I state meet June 4 and 5 at Hilliard Darby after scoring 84 points May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North to capture its sixth consecutive regional championship.
The boys team scored 26 points to finish 10th at regional behind champion Darby (68).
Winning titles for the girls were Camden Bentley in the 100-meter hurdles (13.66 seconds) and 300 hurdles (43.77), Alyssa Shope in the 1,600 (5:01.94) and 3,200 (10:57.65), Faith Hunter in the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches) and Ciarra Carter in the long jump (17-7 1/2).
Also advancing were Ayanna Stafford in the 100 (fourth, 12.28) and 200 (fifth, 25.65, at-large berth), the 800 relay of M’Kaia Trent, Keena Sanders, Bentley and Stafford (second, 1:42.85) and the 400 relay of Sanders, Carter, Camryn Nelson and Stafford (fourth, 50.21).
Also competing were Daisha Decree in the long jump (ninth, 16-2), Savannah Flusche in the discus (10th, 103-6) and shot put (12th, 31-5), Nelson in the 100 hurdles (ninth, 15.89), Lauren Stringer in the 300 hurdles (10th, 46.67), Trent in the 400 (10th, 1:00.76), the 1,600 relay (12th, 4:12.47) and the 3,200 relay (8:08.59).
For the boys team, the 400 relay of Ronald Blackman, Tristin Cook-Fisher, Maxwell Cummings and Andrew Pizzico was third (42.85), the 800 relay of Blackman, Cook-Fisher, Cummings and Mondra Curry was second (1:28.01) and the 1,600 relay of Cook-Fisher, Cummings, Chris Finklea and Donovan Hight was fourth (3:25.54) to advance automatically to state.
Blackman was sixth in the long jump (21-11 1/2), but qualified for state with an at-large berth.
Also competing were Alex Eggleston in the 800 (2:03.26) and the 3,200 relay (seventh, 8:08.59).
•Record: 16-3 overall
•OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (4-0), Gahanna (3-1), Pickerington North (2-2), Grove City (1-3), Westerville Central (0-4)
•Seniors lost: Thomas Giles, Jacob McFall, Shawn Ugbana, Nick Wunderlin and Zach Wunderlin
•Key returnees: Brandon Carpico, Matt Ryan and Quinn Smith
•Record: 19-4 overall
•OCC-Ohio standings: Gahanna (14-0), New Albany (12-2), Pickerington Central (10-4), Pickerington North and Westerville Central (both 7-7), Delaware and Reynoldsburg (both 3-11), Westerville South (0-14)
•Seniors lost: Logan Burrell, Jackson Duebner, Mitchell Ledbetter, Tyler Monk, Noah Palmer, Jason Raymond, McCord Riegler and Connor Tilton
•Key returnees: A’me Baccus and J.J. Vandermark
•Postseason: Defeated Hilliard Davidson 25-14, 25-14, 25-18; lost to Thomas Worthington 19-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23 in Division I, East Region semifinal