Swimming & Diving: Olentangy Liberty Patriots look to build on strong season

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Junior Anthony Sciulli is back for the Liberty boys swimming and diving program after finishing fifth in last season's Division I state meet.

With 14 senior boys and a girls team propelled by a talented group of sophomores and juniors, the Olentangy Liberty swimming and diving program emerged as one of the state’s best last winter.

Even with diver Jack Matthews not competing at state because of an international competition, the boys finished seventh (111.5 points) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as they reached the awards podium in three events.

The girls, meanwhile, had both of their state representatives reach the podium, with Olivia Lynch capturing the diving championship (428.55) as the Patriots placed 19th (34) behind champion Dublin Coffman (214).

Coach Peter Krosnosky is optimistic that the improvements his program showed can continue this winter even after losing such a strong senior class as well as Matthews, who would have been a senior but graduated early and is now at the University of Miami.

“It will be fun after having a large, dominant force of senior boys graduate last year to see these new guys rise to the challenge,” said Krosnosky, who is in his fourth season. “New faces and swims from kids who have been beaten out of sectional swims by their own teammates now get the chance.

“(We have a) huge 11th- and 10th-grade group (of girls) who qualified into districts. ... Developing relay swims from top to bottom will move this program back up into district prominence.”

The top returnee for the boys team is senior Christian Hosler. At state, he swam on the third-place 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 22.81 seconds) and fourth-place 200 medley relay (1:32.97) and was fourth in the 50 free (20.48).

Junior Anthony Sciulli is the other returning state qualifier after finishing fifth (410.75) in diving.

Junior Gavin Weis and sophomores Aiden Gaier, Keegan McCauley and Isaac Wolfe are other top returnees.

The only other senior boy is Andrew Barker, and sophomore Niccolo Sciulli is another diver.

The girls team’s other state qualifier last season along with Lynch, who now is a senior, was 2020 graduate Kate Saczawa, a four-time state competitor. She finished fifth in the 100 backstroke (55.8) and is now at Purdue.

Seniors Sarah Beavers, Brooke Kleinschmidt and Sarah Worster, juniors Meggie Gehring, Kirin Loughrey and Amelia Wells and sophomores Morgan Hofmeister, Morgan Lisch and Christina Racke are top returning swimmers.

Junior Kaitlyn Mathews and sophomores Emma Friedauer and Bella Skoog are other divers.

The other senior swimmers are Holly Gabriel and Sami Jones.

State qualifiers lead

way for Braves girls

Division I state runners-up Cameron Kuriger and Martina Peroni, both juniors, return to lead an Olentangy girls team that finished seventh in the district and 17th at state last season.

Kuriger finished second in the 100 butterfly (54.76) behind Kiara Anchrum of Mason (54.48), while Peroni was runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:01.63) behind Coffman’s Ellie Andrews (2:00.83) and seventh in the 500 free (4:55.86).

Both were on the 17th-place 400 free relay with junior Anna McGrath and sophomore Regan Blythe.

“They’re definitely the backbone and strength of the team,” third-year coach Calvin Higdon said. “(Kuriger and Peroni) both bring experience to the team and provide the other swimmers an insight to what it takes to perform at such a high level.”

The boys team graduated its only state qualifier in Preston Kuriger, who tied for 10th in the 100 free and finished 16th in the 100 back and now swims for Ohio State. They have eight swimmers — including junior returnee Max McAlister and sophomore distance specialist Clay Edwardson — as well as a diver in sophomore Gunnar Carlson.

Rounding out the girls roster are seniors Sophia Arnold, Lauren Kerscher, Eva Lahiri, Juliana Lee, Bryn Tokarz and Lia Volpe, juniors Ellie Berry, Izzie Lengal and Rory VanGorder, sophomores Erica Bartholomew, Kendall Caffey, Regan Kauderer, Courtney Kossick and Anushka Maharana and freshmen Mya Harrison-Mills, Gillian Jeffries, Skylar Mechling and Lily Miller.

Berry and Volpe are divers.

The rest of the boys team includes junior August Jacobsmeyer, sophomores Jonah Kowalski and Austin Tulanowski and freshmen Alexander Lee, Michael McGrath and Parker Reed.

Olentangy is scheduled to open Jan. 2 against Orange at Mount Carmel Fitness Center.

“No days off has been the message since day one,” Higdon said. “I told the kids they need to take advantage of every single practice they’re afforded.”

—Dave Purpura

Junior Noah Crowe is among the top returnees for a veteran Orange program that features strong senior leadership.

Senior class

to lead Pioneers

Sixth-year Orange coach J.R. Fourqurean has veteran boys and girls teams that have persevered through the difficulties of COVID-19 protocols.

He believes that leadership will help the Pioneers as they prepare for their opener Saturday, Dec. 19, at Upper Arlington.

“We have 15 seniors and only around 35 total kids,” Fourqurean said. “They’ve made it pretty easy to get practices going. We’re spreading out and social distancing as much as we can.

“We’re excited and hope we’ll get a chance to compete. It will be interesting to see how the end of the season goes.”

The boys team has several district qualifiers back led by sophomore Tuckor Lambert in the 100 back (15th, 54.87) and senior Graham Weidenhamer in the 100 breaststroke (16th, 59.94). They also were part of the 13th-place 200 medley relay (1:43.61) and 15th-place 200 free relay (1:35.06) with junior Noah Crowe and sophomore Tannor Lambert.

Seniors Tavo De La Rosa (500 free, 200 IM) and Ben Reusser (200 free, 500 free) and junior Jack Helmer (50 free, 100 free) are other key performers, and freshman Brady Farren (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly) also is expected to contribute.

“The boys team is really versatile despite (having only 14 participants),” Fourqurean said. “We don’t have the numbers, so everyone is forced to do everything to help with dual meets. That can help at the end of season when they get to choose what they want to do in the postseason.”

The girls team has 19 athletes, including three divers in seniors Paige Kadar and Carissa Long and freshman Augusta Ness.

At district a year ago, junior Alex Knodel was 15th in the 200 free (1:58.6) and junior Kayla Fisher placed 16th in the 100 free (54.1). They joined seniors Brooke Farren and Emma Logan on the ninth-place 400 free relay (3:41.9), and the 200 medley relay of Fisher, Knodel, Farren and sophomore Ava Row was 13th (1:53.13).

Also expected to contribute are seniors Lauren Muffley (100 free, 200 free) and Joanna Ross (100 fly, 100 back) and freshmen Elise Robinson (100 fly, 200 free) and Ella Schirtzinger (200 free, 500 free).

“The girls are my grinders,” Fourqurean said. “They’re the hard-workers and they’re making everyone go during practice. They’re also versatile and able to score the points to be successful.”

—Scott Hennen

Seniors leading Bears

through COVID hurdles

Third-year Berlin coach Glenn First believes his athletes have been working to build team chemistry despite the limitations from coronavirus protocols.

“This year’s seniors have had to step up to the plate and they’re doing a great job,” First said. “We have a fairly large group of new swimmers, and we’re trying to bring them into the fold.

“It’s been hard for us. We put a lot of stock here in team building and laying the foundation by welcoming the freshmen and building that camaraderie. That’s been tough.”

Missing from last year is Grace Butcher, who finished 14th in the 100 breast (1:05.62) as a senior in her third trip to state. She is swimming at the University of Houston.

“We lost some of our speed with Grace, but I feel like we’re a little deeper overall on the girls team,” First said.

Top returnees for the girls include senior Olivia Young, juniors Staci Nation and Callista Rousher and sophomores Audrey Butcher, Lauryn Ebersole, Ava First and Grace Zercher.

The boys team will be led by junior Brogan Robinson, who placed 14th in the 200 IM (program-record 1:54.28) in his second trip to state. Also returning are senior Carson Reed and sophomores Daniel Petrowsky and Mark Petrowsky. 

Sophomore Benjamin Coverdale, a move-in from Beavercreek, is expected to contribute.

“With Brogan coming back and as strong as he is and the Petrowsky brothers, we’re excited about the season,” coach First said. “Benjamin Coverdale is a really good replacement for events swam by (2020 graduates) Garrett Graybill (100 fly) and Ben Paull (sprint freestyle). We’re excited about the season, and we’re looking to get out and compete.”

The Bears are scheduled to have a dual against Liberty on Friday, Dec. 18, at Mount Carmel Fitness Center.

“They have good attitudes and are good kids who work hard and communicate well with each other,” coach First said. “It’s a good sign of what we’ve done in the past and what we’ll have in the future. We want to get them in some meets, get them going and see what they can do.”

—Scott Hennen

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BERLIN

Coach: Glenn First, third season

Top athletes: Boys — Benjamin Coverdale, Daniel Petrowsky, Mark Petrowsky, Carson Reed and Brogan Robinson; Girls — Audrey Butcher, Lauryn Ebersole, Ava First, Staci Nation, Callista Rousher, Olivia Young and Grace Zercher

Key losses: Boys — Garrett Graybill, Zach Lambert, Ben Paull and Pietro Pozzi; Girls — Grace Butcher and Lauren Delligatti

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

2020 postseason: Boys — Fifth at sectional, tied for 12th at district, tied for 49th at state; Girls — Fifth at sectional, 13th at district, tied for 48th at state

LIBERTY

Coach: Peter Krosnosky, fourth season

Top athletes: Boys — Aiden Gaier, Christian Hosler, Keegan McCauley, Anthony Sciulli, Gavin Weis and Isaac Wolfe; Girls — Sarah Beavers, Morgan Hofmeister, Brooke Kleinschmidt, Kirin Loughrey, Olivia Lynch, Christina Racke, Amelia Wells and Sarah Worster

Key losses: Boys — John Bently, Micheal Boothman, Cameron Friedauer, Andrew Gehring, Eli Grubbs, Isaac Iversen, Jack Matthews, Mitchell McKee, Max Miller, Blake Overly and Nick Sells; Girls — Lydia Colvin, Jenna Lutz and Kate Saczawa

2019-20 OCC-Buckeye standings: Boys — Liberty (688), Westerville North (315), Orange (268), Olentangy (245), Westerville South (175), Westerville Central (173); Girls — Liberty (466), Orange (312), Olentangy (296), Central (295), North (284), South (271)

2020 postseason: Boys — Third at sectional, sixth at district, seventh at state; Girls — Third at sectional, second at district, tied for 19th at state

OLENTANGY

Coach: Calvin Higdon, third season

Top athletes: Boys — Max McAlister, Clay Edwardson, August Jacobsmeyer and Austin Tulanowski; Girls — Regan Kauderer, Cameron Kuriger, Anna McGrath and Martina Peroni

Key losses: Boys — Preston Kuriger, Chris Sabharwal and Nate Steele; Girls — Ciara Szerencsits

2020 postseason: Boys — Sixth at sectional, 11th at district, 41st at state; Girls — Fourth at sectional, seventh at district, 17th at state

ORANGE

Coach: J.R. Fourqurean, sixth season

Top athletes: Boys — Noah Crowe, Tavo De La Rosa, Brady Farren, Jack Helmer, Tannor Lambert, Tuckor Lambert, Ben Reusser and Graham Weidenhamer; Girls — Brooke Farren, Kayla Fisher, Alex Knodel, Emma Logan, Lauren Muffley, Elise Robinson, Joanna Ross and Ava Row and Ella Schirtzinger

Key losses: Boys — None; Girls — Josie Vance

2020 postseason: Boys — Seventh at sectional, 20th at district; Girls — Sixth at sectional, 17th at district