Swimming & Diving: Grove City navigating COVID-19 restrictions

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Junior Hannah Routh is the top returnee for the Grove City swimming and diving program. She was 16th in both the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke in the Division I state meet last winter.

For Grove City swimming and diving coach Amy Miller, dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has created obstacles.

Even so, Miller believes her swimmers have the potential to compete at the state level once the postseason begins.

One major obstacle has been a roster limited to 20 athletes because of COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the Greyhounds’ home pool, the Grove City YMCA.

“I’ve never had to have a tryout and we had to have one because the (YMCA) only allows us to have so many kids in the pool at the same time,” said Miller, who is in her ninth season. “We only get four lanes and we’re only allowed to have five kids in a lane, so my team is only 20 kids. We would have more kids come out if there wasn’t a tryout.”

The top returnee is junior Hannah Routh of the girls team. She qualified for the Division I state meet last season in the 100-yard butterfly (16th, 57.52 seconds) and 100 backstroke (16th, 57.99).

“I know a lot of the competitive seniors (from last season) are luckily out, but I do know that there are some sophomores who were freshmen last year that are coming up and they’re really fast,” Routh said. “Hopefully it will balance it out and I can at least be within 13th (place) or under or possibly top eight (at state).”

Routh is expected to team with senior Madelyn Holcomb (sprints), junior Audrey Bueter (distance) and sophomore Mya Holcomb (fly) on relays.

“I want to do some relays,” Routh said. “Hopefully we can make it to state this year. I know we make it to district every year. Hopefully we can at least make it to district and possibly shoot for state.”

Amid the pandemic, Routh has remained active with her Endeavor Performance Swim Club.

“I’m definitely excited for high school, but I’m glad high school is starting a little later because we’re doing some club meets so I have some time to get some times that aren’t necessarily for high school events,” Routh said.

Other girls looking to contribute include seniors Rose Byas (breaststroke, individual medley) and Rocsi Rader (distance).

Junior Jacob Antonelli is the top returnee for the boys team after swimming on the 400 freestyle relay (17th, 3:32.74) and 200 medley relay (20th, 1:47.92) at district.

Senior Gregory Kingsbury and junior Gunnar Byas opted not to compete this season.

Miller also is counting on contributions from freshmen Lucas Antonelli and Preston Tussing.

“Preston has good potential,” Miller said.

Grove City, which expects to open the season in January, will compete in the OCC-Ohio Division with Gahanna, New Albany, Pickerington North, Westerville Central and Westland.

“Everyone is doing really well, they’re all coming to practice and they’re all doing what I’ve asked them to do,” Miller said.

Senior Maverick Smith is among a handful of returning Division I district qualifiers for the Central Crossing boys team.

Comets boys relays

expect to lead way

The Central Crossing boys team has several returning standout performers while the girls roster is filled with young, inexperienced athletes.

Seniors Mason Smith (free) and Maverick Smith (breast, free), juniors Matt Groom (back, free) and Uniah Neville (free) and sophomore Mitchel Smith (fly, free) are returning district qualifiers in relays but did not compete because of illness on the team.

Sophomore Brice Wotring (free, back) also returns, while newcomers include juniors James Northrup (free) and Nihvey Tran (free) and freshman Lance Howard (free, breast, back).

“The boys team is very strong this year,” said coach Robert Boggs, who is in his 14th season. “The Smith brothers along with Uniah and Matt finished very strong last year, and they’ve picked up this year where they left off. Our relays are very quick, and I expect them to make a few teams take notice.”

The girls team will be anchored by senior Sarah Rush (breast, free), a four-year varsity swimmer, and junior Haylee Howard, who was a Division I district qualifier in the 50 free. She placed 28th (25.55) at district and set the program record while finishing eighth in 25.41 at sectional.

Sophomores Hannah Scoggin (back, free) and Amy Thompson (fly, free) are the other returnees. The roster also features freshmen Alexis Christenson (all strokes), Breanna Jackson (free), Kylie Quillen (free) and Haley Triplett (breast, back, free).

“This will be a building year for the girls team,” Boggs said. “We have some very determined girls who are ready to work as hard as needed to reach their goals.”

The Comets are scheduled to open Jan. 14 in a quad at the Pickaway County YMCA.

“The kids are all working very hard despite everything that’s going on with COVID,” Boggs said. “The Urbancrest YMCA closed their pool and we’re practicing at the Grove City YMCA at 5:30 a.m. Everyone is working hard and making huge improvements.

“Although we only have three meets scheduled so far, everyone is making the best of it and enjoying the time that they’re getting to spend with their teammates. Social distancing and practicing in pods has definitely put a damper on training. We've had to eliminate a lot of our fun drills and games, but we’re just happy to be able to practice.”

—Scott Hennen

sports@thisweeknews.com

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CENTRAL CROSSING

Coach: Robert Boggs, 14th season

Top athletes: Boys — Matt Groom, Uniah Neville, Mason Smith, Maverick Smith and Mitchel Smith; Girls — Haylee Howard, Sarah Rush, Hannah Scoggin and Amy Thompson

Key losses: Boys — Logan Watson; Girls — Madison Huffman, Madison Studt and Emma Thompson

2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Boys — Upper Arlington (600), Hilliard Davidson (400), Dublin Coffman (316), Marysville (217), Central Crossing (112); Girls — UA (573), Coffman (456), Marysville (288), Davidson (241), Central Crossing (163), Westland (70)

2020 postseason: Boys — 10th at sectional, did not score at district; Girls — Sixth at sectional, did not score at district

GROVE CITY

Coach: Amy Miller, ninth season

Top athletes: Boys — Jacob Antonelli, Lucas Antonelli and Preston Tussing; Girls — Audrey Bueter, Rose Byas, Madelyn Holcomb, Mya Holcomb, Rocsi Rader and Hannah Routh

Key losses: Boys — Gregory Kingsbury and Joseph Martin; Girls — Reese Rader

2019-20 OCC-Ohio standings: Boys — Gahanna (484.5), Pickerington North (468), Reynoldsburg (284), Grove City (229), Pickerington Central (205.5), Lancaster (202); Girls — Gahanna (623), North (473), Lancaster (230), Grove City and Reynoldsburg (197), Central (129)

2020 postseason: Boys — 10th at sectional, did not score at district; Girls — Fifth at sectional, 20th at district, tied for 50th at state