Upper Arlington Roundup: Avery Voss puts team goals first as boys swimmers begin postseason

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington's Avery Voss is the defending Division I district champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, but his top goal is the state team title for the Golden Bears.

The chance for a fourth consecutive Division I state meet appearance and third in a row individually is not what drove Upper Arlington boys swimmer Avery Voss throughout his senior season. 

The owner of program records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and defending district champion in both, Voss has insisted on a step-by-step approach rather than squarely focusing on his final meet as a Golden Bear before heading to Stanford next fall. 

“My biggest motivation has probably just been winning, first to help the team out because our goal this whole year has been to win the state championship and we have to get results to be able to do that,” said Voss, who finished third in the 50 free and second in the 100 free at state a year ago.  

“Then if that happens, it benefits me. If I win my events, I will go my best times. If I win and that helps our team win the state championship, I don’t really care about what time I put up.” 

Voss and the Bears began the postseason with a home sectional last weekend and hoped that journey ends at the state meet Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. District is Feb. 21 at Bowling Green, where Voss aims not only for individual repeats but also to help the 400 free and 200 free relays back to state to improve on last year’s second- and fourth-place finishes, respectively. 

When Voss committed to Stanford on Aug. 28, SwimSwam.com said he had been “the top pure sprinter” in the country who had yet to pick a college destination. 

“A big thing for him is buying in. Very rarely does he question why,” coach Mike de Bear said. “The kids who succeed the most are the ones who trust the process. He trained in the distance line for a while as a freshman because we knew long-term, that was best for him. He has a very quiet confidence.” 

The 6-foot-4 Voss competed at state as a freshman as part of the 20th-place 200 free relay, but he took the next step his sophomore season by finishing third at district in both the 50 and 100 free. He was seventh and eighth, respectively, in those events at state. 

Voss said he gravitated to sprints during his time with Upper Arlington Swim Club but still did distance training to become more well-rounded. 

“I was always better at the 50 and 100 free and Mike saw that, so we just built on that,” Voss said. “I got the most reps in those so I got comfortable with those. I think it was pretty clear after I did a couple (distance events) that those events are not for me.” 

Even so, Voss holds UA’s pool record of 1:39.63 in the 200 free, edging 2017 graduate and current Texas swimmer Parker Neri. Voss ranked second all-time in the 100 butterfly (49.63) by 0.37 of a second entering the sectional. 

At sectional, 24 individuals and 16 relays qualified to district on an at-large basis. 

From district, the top two finishers in each event advance to state. In addition, 16 swimmers in each event will earn at-large berths based on times statewide. 

“What we’ve been doing in the water practice-wise has been great for all of us. Personally, I’ve been going the times that I want to see all season,” Voss said. “Hopefully I can have a great end of the season hitting the goals I want.” 

Jack Purcell and the Upper Arlington boys basketball team are seeded 21st for the Division I district tournament. The Golden Bears will play host to 23rd-seeded Walnut Ridge on Feb. 23.

Boys basketball team

seeks consistency 

Boys basketball coach Tim Casey expressed some frustration after recent losses, including a 61-39 home setback to Olentangy Orange on Feb. 5, that the team is not making the progress he had hoped to see by mid-February. 

UA was 6-8 overall but just 1-6 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Dublin Coffman on Feb. 12. The Bears had not won consecutive games all season before Feb. 12 but also had not lost more than two in a row. 

“We lack a lot of physical strength. We lack defensive cohesiveness,” Casey said. “We really struggle to stay in front of the ball (and) we’re getting dominated on the offensive boards because of our lack of physicality. 

“(Against Orange,) we gave up 12 offensive rebounds for 18 points. It’s hard to win that way. We did have only eight turnovers and the first time we played them (in a 45-43 road loss Dec. 30), we had 21, but we’ve been making too many mistakes and not offering enough resistance.” 

The loss to Orange was UA’s third by at least 22 points in less than three weeks. The other two were against Hilliard Bradley, 58-29 on Jan. 19 and 68-43 three nights later. 

UA earned the 21st seed in the 49-team Division I district tournament and will play host to 23rd-seeded Walnut Ridge on Feb. 23. The winner will visit eighth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne for a second-round game Feb. 26. 

Casey said his message the rest of the way will remain consistent but added he hopes it sinks in as games become more critical. 

“We need to trust the process,” he said. “We’re not passing the ball enough. It’s frustrating for me and the kids, too. We’re not making the progress I want to see us make.” 

Hockey team

falls short of title 

The hockey team came up one point short of the CHC-Red title but quickly turned its attention to the upcoming district tournament. 

UA went 11-3-0-2 with 24 points in league play, which it finished with a 1-0 win over St. Charles on Feb. 7 at OhioHealth Ice Haus. Nolan Adams scored and goalie Garrett Alderman made 30 saves against the Cardinals, who had wrapped up the division championship the previous night and finished 12-1-1 in CHC play with 25 points. 

The Bears were 14-9-0-4 overall and ranked eighth in the state before participating in the Blue Jackets Cup from Feb. 11-14. 

Seeded second in the 25-team district tournament, UA took a first-round bye and will play 18th-seeded Kettering Alter or 19th-seeded Columbus Academy in the second round Feb. 21 at the Ice Haus. The winner will advance to a district semifinal Feb. 27.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave