Upper Arlington Roundup: Golden Bears' Avery Voss caps prep swimming career with first individual state title

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington's Avery Voss celebrates after winning the 100-yard freestyle in the Division I state meet Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Voss helped the Golden Bears finish second as a team.

Upper Arlington boys swimmer Avery Voss had a few tears in his eyes when he was announced as the Division I 100-yard freestyle state champion Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

“He wasn’t the only one,” coach Mike de Bear said.

Part of that was because Voss, a Stanford recruit, broke through to win his first individual title in 44.47 seconds less than an hour after finishing second (20.33) by 0.1 of a second in the 50 free to Mason’s Braden Osborn. 

Voss later added a relay championship, teaming with classmate Hayden Jay and sophomores Grant Gooding and Joe Miller to win the 200 free relay in 1:21.76.

Those victories and two top-three finishes from Gooding helped the Golden Bears to 162 points and their second consecutive state runner-up finish behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (227.5) as 51 teams scored.

That was an improvement of 32 places in the team standings through the careers of this year’s seniors.

“We had a veteran group up here with a lot of huge talent and huge shoes to fill,” de Bear said. “When Hayden and Avery were freshmen, we were 34th in the team standings. Then we moved up to 12th (in 2019) and to go back-to-back like this is a testament to the guys, the community and all the support we get. I like to think that’s what it’s all about.”

Voss’ championship was UA’s first since Thomas Trace won the 50 free in 2014. No Bears relay had finished first since they swept the 200 free, 200 medley and 400 free titles in 2005.

“One of my coaches told me to swim like an idiot,” Voss – who also helped the 400 free relay to fifth place (3:05.48) with Jay, classmate Thomas Ray and sophomore Grant Kennedy – said with a nod to his meticulous nature. “I’m very analytical with my races, but not thinking so much helps you forget everything else and just go out and race. It was a great last day (as a UA swimmer). This couldn’t have gone much better.”

Gooding finished second in the 100 breaststroke (54.62) and third in the 200 individual medley (1:50.04). Jay, a Virginia Tech recruit, was sixth in the 100 free (45.48) and seventh in the 200 free (1:39.64).

“Relays are always my favorite part of the meet for a number of reasons, but I was just really happy to get my individuals over with and have fun with the guys,” Jay said. “We felt really good coming into this meet. We knew what we had to do and executed to the best of our ability.”

The 200 medley relay of senior Jackson Gooding, Grant Gooding, Kennedy and sophomore Joe Miller finished eighth in 1:33.69.

Thomas Ray was 13th in the 500 free (4:40.54), Jackson Gooding finished 16th in the 100 backstroke (51.81), one spot ahead of Kennedy (51.98) and senior Jack Kerstetter was 25th in diving (112.3).

The Golden Bears' Emma Schueler, center right, and Caroline Porterfield, center left, celebrate with teammates Lizzie Oliphant and Avery Catalano after winning the 200 freestyle relay Feb. 26 at the Division I state meet.

Shared title paces 

girls team at state

In the Division I girls meet Feb. 26, juniors Riley Huddleston and Caroline Porterfield shared the 50 free championship (23.15) and Huddleston won the 100 free (50.23) to lead UA to 186 points and third place behind New Albany (246.5) and Mason (220.5) as 50 teams scored.

“I couldn’t find my time on the board and then (Porterfield) screamed, ‘Riley, we just tied for first,’ ” said Huddleston, a Northwestern commit. “I just started screaming, and I just ran over and hugged her. 

“We’re training partners and she always pushes me in practice. It’s really exciting to share this with her. Our goal has been to get first and second, and we don’t care who. The fact that we both got first is a dream for us.”

Huddleston also was on the third-place 400 free relay (3:27.96) with senior Caroline Colombo, junior Avery Catalano and freshman Lizzie Oliphant and fourth-place 200 medley relay (1:42.57) with seniors Lydia Muldoon and Emma Schueler and Porterfield.

Porterfield, Oliphant, Catalano and Schueler also teamed to win the 200 free relay (1:33.31).

“It’s the best feeling in the world to (share a championship) and to have your friends by your side,” said Porterfield, who was fifth in the 100 free (51.21). “My goggles were filled with water. That’s the first time that’s ever happened at a state meet for me. I hit my turn exactly and coming off the wall, I could see where I was. I knew Riley was right there with me and I just wanted us to finish strong. We told each other (before the meet), ‘Let’s go 1 and 1.’ It was awesome.”

Catalano was ninth in the 200 free (1:52.99) and 19th in the 100 free (52.74).

Schueler, a Miami University recruit, finished 13th in the 50 free (24.06), four spots ahead of Muldoon (24.16), and 17th in the 100 breast (1:05.55). 

Junior Caroline Ubert was 18th in the 100 butterfly (57.89) and Colombo, who will swim at Butler, finished 18th in the 100 back (57.39) and 21st in the 200 free (1:55.99).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave 

SWIMMING & DIVING

•Seniors lost: Boys – Blake Burkle, Jimmy Colombo, Jackson Gooding, Alex He, Hayden Jay, Keegan Jones, Jack Kerstetter, Michael Lee, Thomas Ray, Avery Voss and Ethan White; Girls – Lily Barker, Caroline Colombo, Sophia Elliott, Carley Hart, Addie Jay, Lydia Muldoon, Emma Schueler and Lilli Swanson

•Key returnees: Boys – Caden Colombo, Grant Gooding, Grant Kennedy, Joe Miller and Jared Rabadam; Girls – Avery Catalano, Riley Huddleston, Lizzie Oliphant, Caroline Porterfield and Caroline Ubert

•Postseason: Boys – First (503) at sectional ahead of runner-up Reynoldsburg (191), first (348.5) at district ahead of runner-up St. Charles (306), second (190) at state behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (261.5); Girls – First (497) at sectional ahead of runner-up Marysville (195), second (309) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), third (186) at state behind champion New Albany (246.5)