Wellington Roundup: Swim teams focus on preparing for season

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Wellington's Heath Thomas leads the list of returning swimmers for the boys team after finishing 21st in the 500 freestyle and 24th in the 200 free last year at the Division II state meet.

Even through the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Wellington swimming and diving coach Bill Miller has been impressed with how the athletes in his program have responded. 

Nearly all the competitors who represented the Jaguars at the Division II state meet have found ways to continue working regularly, according to Miller. 

“I’ve seen some good stuff at practice even with the kids not swimming this summer at their summer clubs or pools,” Miller said. “The kids are working hard, and it’s a good release for them to be doing something. There’s not as many kids at practice, and we can’t do team dinners. We usually do a Thanksgiving meal the day before Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t do that this year.  

“But I’m glad we practice at a facility (Columbus Aquatics Center) that’s open and our school has made a commitment to in-person learning, which I think is very healthy. We’ve got so many precautions at school that are safe and they’ve made a commitment that athletics are a part of school.” 

Wellington is hoping to schedule a meet before the end of the month. 

Senior divers George Callanan and his twin, Taso Callanan, have been training out of state while enrolled at in school. 

George Callanan followed a fourth-place finish at state as a sophomore by scoring 469.5 points to become the first boys diver at the school to win a state title last winter. Taso Callanan followed back-to-back seventh-place finishes at state by placing fourth (402.75) a year ago. 

Also competing at state for the boys team was senior Heath Thomas, who finished 24th in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 50.86 seconds) and 21st in the 500 free (4:57.78). 

“This season so far has definitely been different, but the Wellington swim team has still been working hard,” Thomas said. “The swim team this season has had a lot of members step up to lead the team. … This season, we’re focusing on just preparing as best as we can for any upcoming meets.  

“Wellington, thankfully, has access to a great pool during this time, and the team is making the most of it. Practices recently have been some of the best I’ve seen. This season, however different, will show the Wellington team’s continued improvement.” 

Senior Avery Rennick, juniors Simon Anderson and Alex Lott and sophomore Eric Albers are other key returnees, and the roster also includes senior Kiran Mokadam and sophomores Tyrell DeBose, Jake Johnson, Samson Minigone and Kyler Sanders. 

“We have a very small group because of the COVID,” Miller said. “Some families decided not to swim because of that. We have a good core group of boys coming back, led by Heath Thomas.

"I’m not sure what he’s going to swim this year. Heath has found a different club to work with, so he’s practicing with us and also club and is ready to go and start competing. We have 10 boys, not including the divers, so we’ll be able to fill the relay events and be able to spread the wealth around.” 

Taylor Vargo returns for her senior year after placing 19th in the Division II state meet in diving last season.

Returning for the girls team after competing at state in diving are senior Taylor Vargo, who was 19th (212.35), and sophomore Olivia Robinson, who placed 24th (135.0). 

Seniors Paige Bennett and Christine Cooke and junior Drew Ober are returning swimmers. Sophomore Annabelle Kyrgier and freshmen Natalie Allen and Flo Oquendo also should fill spots on relays. 

“The girls team is going to be led by senior Christine Cooke and senior Paige Bennett, who are both all-around swimmers and do kind of everything,” Miller said. “Since there are so few girls, we have to decide how we’re going to structure the relays.  

“Drew Ober is a junior who’s a very strong practice swimmer. Once we get meets under way, I’m expecting big drops out of Drew. Our sophomore, Annabelle Kyrgier, is going to be an OK breaststroker and fill out the medley relay. Luckily we did get two freshmen out.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

SWIMMING & DIVING 

•Coach: Boys, girls – Bill Miller, 21st season 

•Top athletes: Boys – Eric Albers, Simon Anderson, George Callanan, Taso Callanan, Alex Lott, Avery Rennick and Heath Thomas; Girls – Paige Bennett, Christine Cooke, Drew Ober, Olivia Robinson and Taylor Vargo 

•Key losses: Boys – Will Miller; Girls – Serene Abdelbaki, Sarah Anderson, D’Nisa Oocumma and Kath Olson 

•2019-20 MSL standings: Boys – Columbus Academy (238), Bexley (201), Wellington (175), Buckeye Valley (150), Grandview (111), Teays Valley (83), Bloom-Carroll (59), Logan Elm (50), Liberty Union (41), Fairfield Union (32), Worthington Christian (30), Zanesville Rosecrans (20), Hamilton Township (5); Girls – Columbus School for Girls (393), Academy (224), Grandview (158), Bexley (123), Liberty Union (102), Fairfield Christian (88), Wellington (66), Worthington Christian (59), Fairfield Union (50), Teays Valley (35), Buckeye Valley (33), Bloom-Carroll (24), Logan Elm (17), Grove City Christian (4), Circleville (4) 

•2020 postseason: Boys – First at sectional; ninth at district; 17th at state; Girls – Third at sectional; 15th at district; did not score at state