Swimming & Diving: Hilliard Davidson Wildcats coach expects another successful season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Katie Woollard is one of six returning district qualifiers for the Davidson girls swimming and diving team and fifth-year coach Lynn Bowers.

Led by senior Sergio Suarez, the Hilliard Davidson swimming and diving teams are looking for continued success under fifth-year coach Lynn Bowers. 

Suarez was the program’s lone representative at the Division I state meet last season, finishing 15th in the 50-yard freestyle (21.4 seconds) and tying for 20th in the 100 backstroke (51.86). 

“I’ve been trying to get my practice going, keeping my skill level to where it was because I’m trying my hardest to improve, but in times like this it’s not easy for me,” Suarez said about training during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. “State is definitely my goal as well as the Olympic trial cut.” 

Davidson returns several other swimmers who had success at the district level. 

“They’re enthusiastic,” Bowers said of her teams. “I have a huge senior class, and they’re trying to bring the others along and lift them up. I have some very enthusiastic freshmen that are just wide-eyed and ready to go, so that’s fun.” 

Suarez, seniors Gregory McGuire (butterfly, free) and A.J. Zody (free) and junior Josh Chi (fly, individual medley) were sixth in the 200 medley relay (1:29.6) at the district a year ago. 

Other returning district qualifiers are seniors Cy Hess (back), Alain Martin (fly) and Troy Tarlton (breast, back), juniors Ben Bartels (fly, IM) and Mason Deerwester (breast, IM) and sophomores Quinn Harman (fly, distance free) and Owen Johannsen (breast, IM, 500 free). 

Returning district qualifiers for the girls are seniors Vivian Smith (sprint free), Ellie Warren (free) and Katie Woollard (back), junior Logan Long (IM) and sophomores Addie Johanssen (all strokes) and Karissa Smrecansky (fly). 

“It’s been different, but I’ve been trying to keep things going for the kids and make it as normal as possible,” Bowers said of the delayed start to the season. 

Bowers said all meets have been canceled in December and she is hoping to open the season Jan. 6 at Thomas Worthington. 

Suarez credited Bowers for assisting the athletes as they continue to deal with the pandemic. 

“She’s been a great influence on us,” Suarez said. “She’s trying her hardest to help us get back in the water and get back to how it used to be. She’s been trying her best.” 

Davidson is competing in the revamped OCC-Central Division with Dublin Coffman, Bradley, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Upper Arlington. 

At last season’s league meet, the boys were second (400) behind Coffman (600) and the girls finished fourth (271) behind champion UA (773). 

Darby's Hayden Apel finished third at the Division I state meet as a junior after placing ninth as a sophomore and 19th as a freshman.

Apel seeks fourth 

trip to state meet 

Darby should again be led by senior diver Hayden Apel, who is seeking his fourth state-meet berth. 

Apel turned in his best performance at state a year ago, finishing third with 414.85 points behind New Albany’s Noah Duperre (582.85) and Solon’s Jackson Salisbury (451.5). 

He placed ninth (412.8) as a sophomore and 19th (260.75) as a freshman. 

Another returning state qualifier is junior Mason Peck, who was 17th in the 200 free (1:43.02). 

Peck joined senior Mason Irwin (back, free) and juniors Jared Hopkins (breast) and Casey Maruniak (breast, sprint free) on the 200 medley relay that finished 13th (1:36.1) at state. 

The girls team should feature junior diver Keira Porter, who was seventh (350.1) at the district meet last season. 

Other returning district qualifiers are senior Natalie Wood (sprint free), juniors Madison Blue (back, free) and Rachel Hopkins (breast, free) and sophomore Marina Connell (distance free, relays). 

Darby is competing in the OCC-Cardinal with Dublin Jerome, Marysville, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin and Thomas Worthington. 

Last season at the OCC-Cardinal meet, the boys team finished second (328) behind Jerome (543.5) and the girls were seventh (145) as Jerome (499) swept the titles. 

“Our goals for the season remain the same as always,” said coach Brian Dickmann, who is in his 22nd season. “We want to win more dual meets than we did last season, qualify as many relays and individual swims as we can to the district meet, qualify for the state meet, improve on last year’s performances and have fun while doing it.” 

–Frank DiRenna 

Bradley finds ways to 

cope with obstacles 

The Jaguars expect to have depth on the girls team and a solid group of scorers for the boys squad as they await their first competition. 

Because of the delays from the coronavirus pandemic, Bradley is not scheduled to open until January.

“We’ve gone from practicing four days a week to three, and we’ve limited our dry-land workouts to things we can do at home,” fifth-year coach Jason Shiplet said. “We’re staying out of the weight room because of all of the other athletes using it, and it only takes one person to get the coronavirus to shut down your program.  

“We want to limit exposures and try to do everything we can to get through the season safe and healthy.” 

The girls return Kaitlyn Sims, who signed with Wisconsin-Green Bay. The senior placed 14th in the 200 IM (2:11.5) at the Division I district meet at Ohio State last season, and she also finished 23rd in the 100 fly (59.72). 

Seniors Madison Wester, junior Paige Williams and sophomores Grace King and Ava Riley also competed on relays at the district. 

“I think the girls team can be good,” said Shiplet, who has 12 girls participating. “We have the most depth we’ve had here in three or four years.” 

The Jaguars expect to get a boost from a freshman class that includes Erinn Minamyer, Neve Murray and Samantha Sims. Sims, who is the sister of Kaitlyn Sims, is working her way back from a knee injury. 

“We have some freshmen that can really help us right away,” Shiplet said. “We’re hoping (Samantha Sims) will be able to make it back to compete before the Jan. 25 deadline for her to participate in the postseason.”  

The boys team has nine participants led by senior Ethan Razor, juniors Marshall Alspaugh and Jacob Baxendell and sophomore Tyler Moore, who are all returning district qualifiers. Senior Jackson White also is expected to be a key scorer. 

“This probably could be the best boys team we’ve ever had,” Shiplet said. ‘We’re kind of top heavy. We have a few boys who can score in every dual meet, but we need to build up the rest to be able to find more scorers.” 

–Scott Hennen 

BRADLEY 

•Coach: Jacob Shiplet, fifth season 

•Top athletes: Boys – Marshall Alspaugh, Jacob Baxendell, Tyler Moore, Ethan Razor and Jackson White; Girls – Grace King, Ava Riley, Kaitlyn Sims, Madison Wester and Paige Williams 

•Key losses: Boys – Carson Cross; Girls – Isa Brooks 

•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Boys – Dublin Jerome (543.5), Darby (328), Olentangy Berlin (257), Thomas Worthington (240), Delaware (180), Dublin Scioto (179.5), Worthington Kilbourne (180.5), Bradley (69); Girls – Jerome (499), Berlin (361), Delaware (315), Kilbourne (168), Thomas (185), Bradley (157), Darby (145), Scioto (54) 

•2020 postseason: Boys – Ninth at sectional, did not score at district; Girls – Tied for eighth at sectional, tied for 24th at district 

DARBY 

•Coach: Brian Dickmann, 22nd season 

•Top athletes: Boys – Hayden Apel, Jared Hopkins, Mason Irwin, Casey Maruniak and Mason Peck; Girls – Madison Blue, Marina Connell, Rachel Hopkins, Keira Porter and Natalie Wood 

•Key losses: Boys – Ryan Herr and Nolan Willoughby; Girls – Margaret Lee, Joy Yuet Yee Mak and Isabel Quimba 

•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Boys – Jerome (543.5), Darby (328), Berlin (257), Thomas (240), Delaware (180), Scioto (179.5), Kilbourne (168), Bradley (69); Girls – Jerome (499), Berlin (361), Delaware (315), Kilbourne (273), Thomas (185), Bradley (157), Darby (145), Scioto (54) 

•2020 postseason: Boys – Third at sectional, seventh at district, tied for 24th at state; Girls – 10th at sectional, 22nd at district 

DAVIDSON 

•Coach: Lynn Bowers, fifth season 

•Top athletes: Boys – Mason Deerwester, Cy Hess, Owen Johannsen, Gregory McGuire, Sergio Suarez, Troy Tarlton and A.J. Zody; Girls – Addie Johanssen, Vivian Smith, Ellie Warren and Katie Woollard 

•Key losses: Boys – Xan Harman and Cameron Wiksell; Girls – Paige Erdman and Brogan Gehring 

•2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Boys – Upper Arlington (600), Davidson (400), Dublin Coffman (316), Marysville (217), Central Crossing (112), Westland (0); Girls – UA (773), Coffman (456), Marysville (288), Davidson (241), Central Crossing (163), Westland (70) 

•2020 postseason: Boys – Third at sectional, tied for 12th at district, 52nd at state; Girls – Tied for eighth at sectional, 26th at district