Swimming & Diving: Hilliard Darby Panthers divers Hayden Apel, Bailee Sturgill pleased with state finishes

Frank DiRenna
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Darby's Hayden Apel, a four-time state qualifier, finished third at the Division I state meet Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

As senior diver Hayden Apel capped a stellar prep career at Hilliard Darby, freshman diver Bailee Sturgill kicked off what she hopes is also a strong four years with the Panthers. 

Both competed in the Division I state meet, with each placing third. 

Apel, a four-time state-qualifier, totaled 459.65 points Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton to finish behind Solon’s Dominic Roberto (491.45) and Olentangy Liberty’s Kaden Springfield (485.40).

“I am very happy,” said Apel, who will continue his diving career at West Virginia. “I was just trying to soak it all in and enjoy every last minute of it because it’s the end of my high school diving career.” 

He posted a 535.65 at district to eclipsed his program record and place second Feb. 15 at Jefferson Country Club.

“Hayden’s points are going to be hard to replace,” coach Brian Dickmann said. 

Competing at state Feb. 26, Sturgill (427.35) trailed Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame’s Sarah Krusinski (468.1) and Mason’s Langley Peterson (433.1). 

“I was very excited to represent Darby,” Sturgill said. “It was definitely a great experience for me to be there. I was super excited to compete with all the girls there. … My main focus this season was to have fun and be able to experience it.” 

She established a program record (493.6) in winning district. 

Apel was joined at state by senior Mason Irwin, who was 12th in the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 39.65 seconds) and 17th in the 200 free (1:42.89). 

Irwin, and juniors Chase Ellis, Mason Peck and Jared Hopkins finished 12th in the 200 medley relay (program-record 1:35.02). 

Irwin, Ellis, Peck and senior Brady Bower were 12th in the 400 free relay (3:09.22). 

Peck finished 14th in the 100 butterfly (50.69) and 24th in the 200 free (1:44) and Hopkins was 23rd in the 100 breaststroke (59.47). 

Darby finished 15th (44) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (261.5). 

Sturgill was joined at state by junior diver Keira Porter, who finished 16th (375.3). 

The Panthers were 30th (17) behind champion New Albany (246.5). 

“It’s always great to qualify kids to the greatest high school meet in the nation,” Dickmann said. 

Davidson's Sergio Suarez finished sixth in the 50 free (20.83) and 14th in the 100 backstroke (51.39) Feb. 27 at the state meet.

Suarez leads

Wildcats at state

Senior Sergio Suarez led the Davidson boys team at state, finishing sixth in the 50 free (20.83) and 14th in the 100 backstroke (51.39). 

Sophomore Owen Johannsen was 13th in the 100 breast. (57.72). 

Seniors Cy Hess, Gregory McGuire and A.J. Zody and junior Josh Chi were 17th in the 200 free relay (1:28.06) and McGuire, Zody, junior Mason Deerwester and freshman Luke Morelli were 21st in the 200 medley relay (1:39.6). 

Davidson finished 27th (19.5). 

“The boys swam great and stepped up to the challenge,” coach Lynn Bowers said. “I was delighted with the relays. They had great exchanges, great turns. We were working really hard on turn speed and their turn speed was great. It was great swims to end the season.” 

The girls team’s season concluded at district, with seniors Vivian Smith and Katie Woollard and sophomores Addie Johannsen and Karissa Smrecansky finishing 14th in the 200 free relay (1:46.02). 

“I just wanted the kids to get through the season healthy and make it through the season without having to shut down and we did it,” Bowers said. “We really maintained the protocols. The kids did an outstanding job of doing what needed to be done so we could have our season.” 

–Frank DiRenna 

Sims set pace for

Jaguars at district

Kaitlyn Sims led the Bradley girls team in two individual events at district, but did not qualify for state.

The senior 12th was in the 200 IM (2:10.13) and 16th in the 100 back (59.91). Sims also competed on the 400 free relay (3:48.71) with senior Madison Wester and freshmen Neve Murray and Riley Shiplet.

The boys team did not have any district qualifiers. In the sectional on Feb. 14 at the Hilliard YMCA, sophomore Tyler Moore was runner-up in the 100 fly (56.15) and fourth in the 500 free (5:09.97), and senior Ethan Rasor was third in the 500 free (5:09.65) and fifth in the 200 free (1:55.5). Junior Jacob Baxendell placed fourth in the 100 free (55.65), and senior Jackson White (100 free, 58.17) and junior Jason Keck (100 breast, 1:13.72) were fifth.

–Scott Hennen

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BRADLEY

•Seniors lost: Boys – Ethan Razor, Jackson White and Brady Williams; Girls – Kaitlyn Sims, Madelyn Taylor and Madison Wester

•Key returnees: Boys – Jacob Baxendell, Jason Keck and Tyler Moore; Girls – Neve Murray and Riley Shiplet

•Postseason: Boys – Did not compete at district; Girls – 20th (20) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5)

DARBY

•Seniors lost: Boys – Hayden Apel, Brady Bower, Mason Irwin, Malik Tarazi and Omar Urena De La Cruz; Girls – Natalie Wood 

•Key returnees: Boys – Mason Peck, Chase Ellis and Jared Hopkins Girls – Keira Porter and Bailee Sturgill 

•Postseason: Boys – Sixth (170) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (348.5), 15th (44) at state behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (261.5); Girls – 17th (38) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), 30th (17) at state behind champion New Albany (246.5) 

DAVIDSON

•Seniors lost: Boys – Michael Foster, Chase Freeman, Cy Hess, Jonathan Lynch, Alain Martin, Gregory McGuire, Riley Palanca, Sergio Suarez, Troy Talton and A.J. Zody; Girls – Gwen Duncan, Vivian Smith, Ellie Warren and Katie Woollard 

•Key returnees: Boys – Mason Deerwester and Owen Johannsen; Girls – Addie Johannsen and Karissa Smrecansky 

•Postseason: Boys – Ninth (104) at district behind champion UA (348.5), 27th (19.5) at state behind champion St. Xavier (261.5); Girls – 23rd (11) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5)