Reynoldsburg Roundup: Nate Gaver, Raiders boys swim team getting on track
Nate Gaver had one word Jan. 15 for how it felt to be in a competitive atmosphere for the first time in several months: "Phenomenal."
A Division I state qualifier in two events last season, the Reynoldsburg senior spent much of his offseason trying to stay in shape with a limited amount of competition because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
His club team, the Greater Columbus Swim Team of Ohio, typically practices at Columbus Academy but spent some of its offseason time at other pools and in aerobic training because of limitations caused by the pandemic.
The Raiders have had limited access to pools this season and didn’t have any meets in December even after the season was permitted to begin during the middle of the month.
On Jan. 15 at the Westerville Community Recreation Center, the boys team lost to Westerville North 102-55 as Gaver won the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 2.86 seconds) and 100 freestyle (48.75). He also swam on the 200 free relay that was third (2:17.35) and the 400 free relay that was runner-up (3:34.68).
“The racing isn’t what I’ll be doing at the end of the year, but being back out here with all of them, especially the guys in the relays, I’ve got a couple guys over there I’m friends with,” Gaver said. “It feels great actually. The only big thing we’ve been missing out on is the competitions like this. Our practices pretty much throughout the whole COVID era have been pretty on track. We had a little bit of a rough patch between the summer season and the fall season where we were out of the pool for a week and a half, but that’s the only time I had to stop training.
“In the summer we were just training and didn’t host any meets or go to any meets. That was constant from the end of May to the end of September when we did outdoor long-course training nonstop.”
The OCC has canceled the league meets for all five divisions, and the postseason is scheduled to begin with sectional competition during the second week of February.
Gaver, who is hoping to compete collegiately, likely will compete in the 50 free and 100 free again during the coming postseason. He was seventh in the 50 free (20.91) and seventh in the 100 free (46.11) at last year’s state meet.
Also in the opening meet against North, junior Max Hutson-Comeaux won the 200 free (1:55.88) and was second in the 100 butterfly (1:01.09), senior Tyler Dowling was runner-up in the 500 free (7:24.06) and freshman Andrew Taulbee was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.16).
In addition, coach Josh Dorsett has been pleased with the improvement of junior sprinter Zion Jackson-Wilborn.
“We were long overdue for (a meet),” Dorsett said. “Everybody wanted to go to one but nobody can really host it. We’re ready to continue what we started. I couldn’t be more happy with how (Gaver is) looking. We have a few kinks to work out, but time-wise and technique-wise, it just looks great. They’re working hard.”
The girls swimming team opened with a 117-48 loss to Westerville North on Jan. 15.
Senior Kasey Lichtner won the 100 butterfly (1:02.89) and was third in the 100 breast (1:14.13) to lead the way.
She also is among the competitors in the program who competes at the club level.
“For a lot of people, (the meet with Westerville North was) their first time in the water. Since I’m on a club team, I’ve been able to practice. I haven’t raced in a really long time so it felt really good. We had practices (over the summer) and did a lot more dry-land oriented things, too, because of limited water time.”
Lichtner was a district qualifier last season in the 50 free and 100 fly and is expecting to compete in the same events during the coming postseason.
“At first, with all the changes, it was pretty difficult, but I’ve gotten in the swing of things and I think I’m doing well now,” Lichtner said.
Also against Westerville North, freshman AnnaLiess Stith won the 200 individual medley (2:21.74) and was runner-up in the 100 breast (1:14.05) and junior Olivia Dulay was second in the 500 free (7:58.45).
Freshman Araceli Gaver, who is Nate Gaver’s sister, has been another immediate contributor for the girls team.
“I’m really excited for our freshman girls,” Dorsett said. “We’re trying to fill out our girls relays. We’re looking solid and technique-wise we’re there. We’re working on trying to get back into shape. Normally we have that whole month of November before we have a meet and we started working out three weeks ago, so we’re just trying to get our feet wet and getting everything under control, trying to get some fast times.”
to find rhythm
A little less than a month remains before the postseason begins for the wrestling team with Division I sectional competition Feb. 27 at one of four sites.
The Raiders, in some ways, are just now starting to find their rhythm.
After the start of its season was delayed until late December, Reynoldsburg had a pair of meets in late December before going on a two-week quarantine.
The Raiders opened OCC-Buckeye action with a 46-24 loss to Newark on Jan. 14 and then lost three matches Jan. 16 at Teays Valley – 47-26 to Newark, 51-24 to Hilliard Davidson and 78-6 to the host Vikings – to fall to 2-5 overall.
“As a team, this has been a challenging season,” coach Jon Forgy said. “We were really getting into a stride and progressing and then we were shut down for two weeks. As a team, we’re really showing perseverance and controlling what we can control by putting the best effort forward when given the chance.
“Our team is competing and improving when we’re able to get in the room. It definitely has been a team effort to plan and organize practices and events. It’s been an ever-changing process to try and find what works best for us as a team. We’re just trying our best to get to the postseason and to get our wrestlers as many matches as we can along the way.”
On Jan. 16 in the girls Heart of Ohio Tournament at Mechanicsburg, Reynoldsburg had four competitors. Gracie Straughter finished runner-up at 111 pounds, Summer Batts was fourth at 101, Christy Thelmusa was fourth at 143 and Cass Gall competed at 137.
There will be a district tournament for girls for the first time Feb. 14 at Olentangy Orange, and the state tournament will be Feb. 20-21 at Davidson.
Landon Bray (126), Michael Dawkins (132), Dalton Hall (heavyweight) and Caleb Smiley (145) also have impressed Forgy during the season’s first few weeks.
Logan Smalley, who was a district qualifier last season but was unable to compete at district because of injury, is expected to be healthy by the postseason.
“Gracie has been showing leadership and the drive to continue to improve,” Forgy said. “She’s been staying after practice almost every day to work on her skills. (Caleb Smiley) has continued to do what is needed for the team. He’ll go to any weight where he’s needed. As a sophomore, he’s really shown that he’s engaged in what we’re doing and buying in to the program. He continues to improve every day and is very coachable and wants to improve from match to match.”