DeSales Roundup: Brady McInerney, Libby Ruff return to lead swimmers
Experience abounds in a few key areas for the DeSales swimming and diving program, and in a few other spots, sixth-year coach Ryan Buechner sees lofty potential.
Two-time Division II state-qualifier Brady McInerney returns to lead the boys team, while two-time Division I district-qualifier Libby Ruff is back on the girls side and hoping to become its first state qualifier since Maureen Cummins in 2016. Both are juniors.
“I know that they’ve been working hard at their practices despite not being able to do many competitions,” Buechner said. “We do have some talented new freshman girls (Isabella Felter and Olivia Sanabria) who will both most likely be on my A relays.
“I do expect our relays to improve up on their finishes from district the last few seasons … and we have three out of the four swimmers from our boys fifth-place 200 medley and fifth-place 200 free relay (in the Division II district meet) back from last season (in McInerney, junior Will Jordan and sophomore Wyatt Hanley).”
McInerney finished seventh in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 55.41 seconds) and 13th in the 100 backstroke (54.02) at state last season.
He set program records in both events — 1:54.04 in the 200 IM and 53.97 in the 100 back — during preliminaries the day before, and already held the 200 freestyle (1:44.82) and 500 free (5:01.49) records.
Ruff was 12th in the 500 free and 14th in the 200 free at district last year.
“Brady has definitely had a lot of interest from many colleges across the country because of his results the last two years at the state meet. If he continues to work hard, he’ll be able to pick any college he wants to swim for,” Buechner said, adding that Ruff also hopes to swim in college. “I can directly correlate her development to her passion for the sport and commitment to working hard in practice. Both swimmers are also very willing to adjust their strokes based on their coach’s advice.”
The boys team’s only loss to graduation, Aaron Spittell, remains with the program as an assistant coach while he pursues a nursing degree at Otterbein.
DeSales’ schedule was not finalized entering the week, although Buechner said a Jan. 8 dual against CCL rival Watterson will take place at the Westerville Community Center.
Total turnout is down to 33 from 45, something Buechner attributed to both virtual learning and discomfort on the part of some swimmers because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The team also had switched practices from the Northland YMCA to Westerville.
“I know the swimmers we have are extremely committed to want to get up early and work hard each day,” Buechner said. “I’m hoping this is a sport that can move on in this socially distanced atmosphere.”
continues to build
The wrestling team graduated its only Division II state qualifier in Cole Potts, who finished his career with 137 wins and now plays football at James Madison.
The Stallions return district-qualifier Owen Eagan, however, and add a group of younger wrestlers about whom third-year coach Collin Palmer is encouraged.
Eagan went 31-13 at 132 pounds last season as a freshman and was a district alternate.
“We’re starting to fill just about every weight class. We have a lot of club guys and good freshmen coming in, so I think we should have better success than last year,” said Palmer, whose team went 1-3 in the CCL and struggled to fill out its lineup because of low turnout. “We have 17 kids total, so hopefully we’ll be stacked within the next year or so.”
Other contributors will include senior Romiaun Speed (145/152), juniors Evan Campbell (145/152) and Nate Siegrist (170), sophomores Seamus Bonte (160/170), Marshall Froehlich (170/182) and Rebekah Oladokun (145/152) and freshmen Cameron Gwinn (160), Zack Lopez (126), Aidan Rush (132) and Max Shulaw (195).
Oladokun placed sixth at 143 in the inaugural girls state tournament last February.
Shulaw recorded nine tackles at linebacker in the football team’s 31-28 double-overtime loss to Chardon in the Division III state final Nov. 21.
DeSales is scheduled to open Jan. 9 in a quad at Olentangy.
This season’s CCL schedule still was being determined entering the week, although Palmer said the dual format of previous years is likely to be spread out over several weeks rather than run in two multi-team events.
“The extra time (before the season) might be a good thing because it will help us get more prepared,” Palmer said. “We didn’t do any type of real match preparation (until early December). We mostly did training until Thanksgiving, then more of a focus on teaching after that.
“That’s different than it’s been, but almost everything is. They understand there are peaks and valleys to the training regimen. We’re putting a lot of focus on technique.”
SWIMMING & DIVING
•Coach: Ryan Buechner, sixth season
•Top athletes: Boys — Wyatt Hanley, Will Jordan and Brady McInerney; Girls — Isabella Felter, Libby Ruff and Olivia Sanabria
•Key losses: Boys — Aaron Spittell; Girls — Bernadette DeGuzman and Cate Leithauser
•2019-20 CCL standings: Boys — St. Charles (441), DeSales (228), Hartley (162), Watterson (83); Girls — Watterson (414), Hartley (360), DeSales (206), Ready (33)
•2020 postseason: Boys — First at sectional, eighth at district, tied for 37th at state; Girls — 11th at sectional, 24th at district
•Coach: Collin Palmer, third season
•Top athletes: Seamus Bonte, Evan Campbell, Owen Eagan, Rebekah Oladokun and Nate Siegrist
•Key losses: Josh Morse and Cole Potts
•2019-20 CCL standings: Hartley (4-0), St. Charles (3-1), Watterson (2-2), DeSales (1-3), Ready (0-4)
•2020 postseason: Eighth at sectional, tied for 22nd at district