New Albany Roundup: Swimming teams eager to chase more success

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Junior diver Emma Skinner is one of several New Albany returnees who competed in the Division I state meet last season. The Eagles boys and girls teams expect similar success this winter, and coach Dave Wharton said "expectations are high."

New Albany swimming coach Dave Wharton felt his program was much further along than it otherwise could be entering the season, and not just because the girls team returns several key contributors from an unprecedented postseason run. 

Despite having to train in smaller groups because of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic-related guidelines, the Eagles are doing so in their pool and already have several high-level swimmers on both the boys and girls teams.

“We got some good work in right out of the gate when the (preseason) started. Having our own facilities makes a huge difference,” said Wharton, whose 25th season is scheduled to begin Friday, Dec. 18, at home against another perennial power in Upper Arlington. “Our club swimmers and kids who swim year-round already follow great protocols and that’s what we’ve tried to do here. We’re in pods of 10 to 12, still (recording) great practice times and staying active. We’ve tried to provide as much normalcy as we can.”

UCLA commit Ava Lachey, a junior, and sophomore Carly Meeting return after helping the girls 400-yard freestyle relay to its second consecutive Division I state championship and the 200 medley relay to third place. 

Meeting also was third in the 100 backstroke and Lachey was fifth in the 100 free at state, helping the Eagles finish second with 205 points — behind Dublin Coffman (214) — a week after they won the program’s first Division I district championship. 

The other half of the 400 free relay, Lexi Elkovitch and Mia Lachey, now swim at Villanova and Ohio State, respectively.

Senior Sydney Boals, a Florida State recruit who was on the runner-up 200 free relay and 200 medley relay and was seventh at state in the 200 individual medley, is one of four more state qualifiers to return. 

That group is rounded out by juniors Olivia Hovorka (100 butterfly, 200 medley relay) and Emma Skinner (diving) and sophomore Hope Schimming (100 backstroke).

Skinner finished 13th at state last season.

Four state qualifiers return for the boys in seniors Patrick Daly (200 IM, 400 free relay), Cade Helms (200 medley relay, 400 free relay), Tommy Morris (50 free, 100 free, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay) and Caleb Schimming (400 free relay).

Daly is a Denison recruit.

The program has 46 swimmers and six divers.

Scheduled meets Dec. 3 at home against Lancaster and Dec. 11 against Dublin Jerome at the Dublin Community Recreation Center were canceled.

Nonetheless, Wharton said the delay did not necessarily equate to extra preparation time.

“Having 45 kids but only being able to have 10 in the pool at one time just means we’re using all of our allotted time, but I wouldn’t consider it extra time,” Wharton said. “Expectations are high. We were fortunate to get our entire season last year even if we didn’t realize it at the time. All we can do is the best we can do.”

Junior Owen Perry is one of three returning Division I district qualifiers for the New Albany wrestling team. Perry went 28-20 last season.

Key competitors back 

for wrestling team

Three of the wrestling team’s four Division I district qualifiers return in senior Colin Swincicki (120/126 pounds), junior Owen Perry (138) and sophomore Tyler White (170), who combined to win 88 matches last season.

Swincicki went 41-8, Perry was 28-20 and White finished 19-24.

“We’re ready to keep the momentum going that we ended the year with last year,” seventh-year coach Larry Reichard said. “Everyone put in work over the offseason the best way they could during this pandemic. I’ve seen a lot of gains since the end of last season. The veterans are looking great. We have awesome leaders on our team and they’ve stepped up.”

Seniors Chris Breuer (145) and Gianni Nocera (152), juniors Ganathiban Balakrishna (170) and Alex Chattos (170) and sophomore Michael Roth (220) also are among the returnees.

Roth was a district alternate as a freshman.

New Albany graduated its first state qualifier since 2011 in Michael Zusman, who finished with 98 career wins — 46 of which came last season — and placed fourth at district. The state tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Jack Lee (132) and Nicolas Zatezalo (145), juniors Payton Galbraith (195), Colin Mahoney (152) and Jack Sautter (182), sophomores Tyler English (145), Richard Gilchrist (182), Weston Hopple (170) and Colin Wright (126) and freshmen Beckam Keating (145), Thomas Roberts III (132), Noah Rosen (120), Tobey Rubin (120) and William Staufenberg (160).

“We’re looking solid all the way up (with) returning district qualifiers at each end of the team,” Reichard said. “The guys have figured out how to chain wrestle and combine multiple moves to score.”

The Eagles are scheduled to open Friday, Dec. 18, at home against Whitehall. They begin OCC-Ohio Division competition Jan. 7 at home against Grove City.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

SWIMMING & DIVING

Coaches: Swimming — Dave Wharton, 25th season; Diving — John Coffman, seventh season

Top athletes: Boys — Patrick Daly, Cade Helms, Tommy Morris and Caleb Schimming; Girls — Sydney Boals, Carly Meeting, Ava Lachey, Hope Schimming and Emma Skinner

Key losses: Boys — Alex Arlin, Noah Duperre and Jimmy Lapsley; Girls — Olivia Bergmann, Lexi Elkovitch, Mia Lachey and Olivia Meeting

2019-20 OCC-Capital standings: Boys — New Albany (596.5), Big Walnut (496.5), Canal Winchester (295), Newark (142), Groveport (77); Girls — New Albany (616), Big Walnut (363.5), Canal Winchester (317), Groveport (253.5), Newark (218)

2020 postseason: Boys — First at sectional, fifth at district, 12th at state; Girls — First at sectional, first at district, second at state

WRESTLING

Coach: Larry Reichard, seventh season

Top athletes: Gianni Nocera, Owen Perry, Michael Roth, Colin Swincicki and Tyler White

Key loss: Michael Zusman

2019-20 OCC-Capital standings: Big Walnut (5-0), Groveport (4-1), Canal Winchester (3-2), Newark (2-3), New Albany (1-4), Franklin Heights (0-5)

2020 postseason: Sixth at sectional, 18th at district