Wellington Roundup: Jaguars swimmers wrap up season at state meet

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior Taylor Vargo represented Wellington in the Division II state meet Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

Considering the logistics his program had to go through, Wellington swimming and diving coach Bill Miller found numerous reasons to be happy with the performances of his competitors throughout an abbreviated season. 

The Jaguars were represented in the Division II state meet by a girls diver Feb. 24 and two boys swimmers Feb. 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. 

“I thought (the third week of February) was a pretty special week for us in swimming in central Ohio as well as for Wellington in that we were able to have a district meet,” Miller said. “We were basically left without a district site and Bowling Green was very gracious and allowed us to come so the Central District could be able to compete.

“My kids performed not like we planned and wanted to, but actually better than I could even have imagined especially with us practicing for two and a half months with no meets. We were not sure if we were going to have a postseason after not having a lot of information of what the season was going to look like at the end.” 

Senior Heath Thomas won the 200-yard individual medley and placed second in the 500 freestyle at district Feb. 18 at Bowling Green and then finished 18th in the 200 IM (program-record 2 minutes, 1.66 seconds) and 23rd in the 500 free (5:01.5) at state. 

Thomas, who competed at state last season in the 200 free and 500 free, will swim for Rose-Hulman. 

“Heath is a special swimmer,” Miller said. “He’s a unique kid in that he’s a super hard worker and knows what it takes to be a great swimmer, but he also understands the mental part of racing and can talk to the other kids and connect with them and make them believe they can do a lot more.” 

Sophomore Eric Albers followed his district runner-up finish in the 100 breaststroke by becoming the first boys swimmer in program history to score at state as he placed 16th (1:00.55). 

Albers also competed at district in the 100 free and on the third-place 200 medley relay (program-record 1:43.83) with Thomas, senior Avery Rennick and sophomore Jake Johnson. 

“(Since last season) I’ve grown a little taller and this year I took swimming a lot more seriously,” Albers said. “My training got a lot better than last year. I’m going to be transitioning into becoming a year-round swimmer.” 

After finishing 19th in the state girls diving meet last season, senior Taylor Vargo finished 23rd (131.0) this year. 

Vargo, who finished third (362.15) in the district meet Feb. 16 at Jefferson Country Club, will compete for the University of Rochester. 

“I definitely did not do as well as I did at districts, but most of my dives went over, which is better than going under,” Vargo said. “It was really cool to be at state again.” 

At district, Albers, Johnson, Rennick and Thomas also placed fifth in the 400 free relay (3:30.07). 

Rennick also was a district qualifier in the 50 free and 100 free. 

Representing the girls at district was senior Christine Cooke, who placed 23rd in the 100 breast (1:21.17). 

Sophomore post player Daniela Casline and all of her teammates on the Wellington girls basketball team are expected to return next season.

Girls basketball team 

losing no seniors 

The girls basketball team is set to return its entire roster after going 1-12 overall, with its win coming 24-19 over Shekinah Christian on Jan. 11. 

“Our team improved on a number of things (such as) boxing out, working together and defense,” coach Matt Conkling said. “We had no seniors this year (and are) looking forward to having everyone back.” 

Sophomore guard Dylan Ehlers led the Jaguars in rebounding (6.5) and blocks (4.0) per game and sophomore forward Katie Kuttrus was the leading scorer, according to Conkling. 

Others eligible to return include junior guards Jameela Askira, Abigail Burkhardt and Rhea Singh and sophomore post player Daniela Casline. 

The Jaguars went 0-8 in the MSL-Ohio Division. They were seeded 16th for the Division IV district tournament and lost 70-17 at top-seeded Berne Union on Feb. 20 in the second round.

“We are expecting the entire team to be back for next season,” Conkling said. “We look forward to getting back in the gym and building off of what we started this year.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

GIRLS BASKETBALL  

Record: 1-12 overall 

MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (9-0), Bexley (8-2), Whitehall-Yearling (5-2), Columbus Academy (4-3), Buckeye Valley (3-5), Columbus School for Girls (4-5), Grandview (1-9), Wellington (0-8) 

Seniors lost: None 

Key returnees: Jameela Askira, Abigail Burkhardt, Daniela Casline, Dylan Ehlers, Katie Kuttrus and Rhea Singh 

Postseason: Lost Berne Union 70-17 in second round of Division IV district tournament  

SWIMMING & DIVING  

MSL-Ohio standings: Boys — Columbus Academy (337), Bexley (208), Wellington (189), Buckeye Valley (180), Grandview (169), Worthington Christian (37); Girls — Columbus School for Girls (413), Academy (254), Grandview (171), Bexley (157), Buckeye Valley (92), Wellington (87), Worthington Christian (32), Liberty Union (24) 

Seniors lost: Boys — Kiram Mokadam, Avery Rennick and Heath Thomas; Girls — Paige Bennett, Christine Cooke and Taylor Vargo 

Key returnees: Boys — Eric Albers, Simon Anderson, Tyrell DeBose, Jake Johnson, Samson Minigone and Kyler Sanders; Girls — Natalie Allen, Annabelle Kyrgier, Drew Ober, Flo Oquendo and Olivia Robinson