Notebook: Westerville Central Warhawks swimmers look to build on strong state showing

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Central's Kiah Smith finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle (23.11 seconds) and sixth in 100 free (51.25) during the Division I state meet Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Both times are program records for the Warhawks.

With a pair of state qualifiers set to return next season, the future looks bright for the Westerville Central swimming and diving program. 

Junior Kiah Smith and freshman Chase Swearingen led the Warhawks in the postseason, placing in the Division I state meet Feb. 26 and 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. 

“Kiah and Chase both had outstanding postseasons,” coach Ron Staab said. “You can’t beat that. Especially for Chase as a freshman, going and representing himself very well at the state meet. … Kiah and Chase handled themselves very well in a huge environment like that.” 

Smith finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle (23.11 seconds) and sixth in 100 free (51.25) during the girls state meet. Both times are program records. 

The Georgia Tech commit accounted for the Warhawks’ 28 points as they finished 22nd behind champion New Albany (246.5) as 50 teams scored. 

Last season at state, Smith finished seventh in the 50 free (23.65) and 14th in the 100 butterfly (56.92). 

“I did better than I did last year in terms of placing,” Smith said. “I dropped time in my 50 free, which is pretty hard since it’s only two laps, so that was exciting. Once you get fourth, it’s like you could get top three or I could win. You always have those thoughts, but I’m still really happy with my place. … I’m always striving to do better.” 

Swearingen, who was the lone state qualifier for the boys team, finished fourth in the 100 fly (49.46) and ninth in the 100 backstroke (50.38). He set the program record in the 100 back (50.09) while winning the event at district Feb. 21 at Bowling Green.

Swearingen joined Cincinnati St. Xavier’s Thackston McMullan as the highest-placing freshman boy in an individual event at state. McMullan was fourth in the 500 free (4:33.67). 

Swearingen scored 24 points, helping the Warhawks tie Olentangy Berlin for 24th behind champion St. Xavier (261.5) as 51 teams scored. 

Swearingen is the brother of former Central standout Macey Swearingen, who was a four-time state qualifier and is a freshman swimmer at Marshall. 

Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the OCC meets were not held this season. 

•The North boys and girls swimming teams made strides in their first season under coach Rob Dew.

The Warriors had one qualifier to the Division I girls state meet in freshman Madelyn Bosler, who finished 23rd in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.88).

In the district meet, Bosler placed seventh in 1:06.16.

“Madelyn did awesome for us,” Dew said. “She was the fastest freshman breaststroker in Division I (girls) swimming.”

Bosler also competed in the 200 IM at district, finishing 16th in 2:14.8. She was on the 200 medley relay (12th, 1:51.32) with freshmen Anila Palmer and Jayci Kacsandi and senior Allie Thompson and the 200 free relay (15th, 1:46.05) with Palmer, junior Abigail Bosler and senior Allison Bolen.

The 400 free relay was ninth (3:47.37) with Kacsandi, sophomore Kayla Simashkevich, freshman Annika Colvin and Thompson.

Senior Hayden Yeager led the boys at district by placing 11th in the 100 fly (52.13) and 16th in the 100 breast (1:00.83). He also was on a pair of 13th-place relays, joining senior Colin Hudnell, junior Gabe Charles and freshman Marco Archambault on the 200 medley relay (1:41.84) and Charles, Hudnell and senior Josh Dewey on the 400 free relay (3:23.88).

—Scott Hennen

South's Emily Ellsworth placed 15th in the 100 breaststroke and 17th in the 200 individual medley in the Division I state meet.

•Emily Ellsworth was the South swimming program’s lone Division I state qualifier, finishing 15th in the 100 breast (1:05.1) and 17th in the 200 individual medley (2:09.55).

Last season at state, she finished 19th in the 100 breast (1:06.42). 

Ellsworth advanced to state by finishing third in the 100 breast (1:05.21) and seventh in the 200 IM (2:08.32) at district. 

The boys team’s season concluded in a sectional Feb. 13 at Westerville Community Center. Sophomore Jack Secrest is expected to lead the returnees. 

—Frank DiRenna

•The fourth-seeded North girls basketball team lost 57-37 to seventh-seeded Pickerington Central on Feb. 24 in a Division I district semifinal, concluding a season in which the Warriors captured their first league championship since winning back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.

North finished 17-6 overall and 12-2 in the OCC-Capital.

“The last time we won the league was 2014, so the girls were pretty excited about that,” said seventh-year coach Lamont Tillman, who was the league’s Coach of the Year. “It was a tough year with everything going on with COVID, but our girls rose to the occasion.”

Senior guard Imari Martin led the team in scoring (13.0 points) and steals (3.0) and also averaged 3.0 assists.

Junior forwards Lauren Hilderbrand (3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, honorable mention all-league) and Charia Smith (11.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.5 steals, first-team all-league) are expected to return along with sophomore guards Kayla Curry-Brown (10.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals, second-team all-league) and Emoni Finch (9.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, special mention all-league).

“We have about everyone coming back, so we’re excited about taking another good run at it,” Tillman said. “Plus, we have a good freshman coming in, so we’ll be ready to go.” 

—Scott Hennen

•The Central girls basketball team finished 3-20 overall under coach Jermaine Hester, who completed his first full season after replacing Randy Patton during the 2019-20 season. 

Freshman guard Kate Yaussy averaged 11.9 points to lead the Warhawks and was second-team all-league. 

Junior guard/forward Taylor Hickman was honorable mention all-league. Others eligible to return are juniors Rugie Kabia (center), Ashley Kerscher (forward) and Madisyn Maxwell (forward), sophomores Alana Kreuser (guard) and Alexis Shea (guard) and freshmen Graysen Foust (forward), Sophia Roush (guard), Avery Sanislo (guard) and Avery Vukmanic (forward). 

The Warhawks went 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio to finish fifth behind champion Gahanna (10-0). 

“The OCC is unforgiving to young teams,” Hester said. “We might have been the youngest team in the OCC, starting three freshmen a night. That was pretty tough, especially during a pandemic year because everyone had setbacks. But as our season went on, not having a summer and not having a fall really hurt us more than other teams, but we competed well.” 

—Frank DiRenna 

•Haley Adams has stepped down as South girls volleyball coach after two seasons. 

Under Adams, the Wildcats went 13-30 overall and 6-18 in the OCC. 

“It was so hard to make the decision to (resign), but I was offered an opportunity to teach college courses at night and I took it, as my long-term goal is to be a college professor,” Adams said. 

—Frank DiRenna 

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CENTRAL GIRLS BASKETBALL 

Record: 3-20 overall 

OCC-Ohio standings: Gahanna (10-0), New Albany (8-2), Grove City and Pickerington North (5-5), Westerville Central (2-8), Westland (0-10) 

Seniors lost: None 

Key returnees: Taylor Hickman, Rugie Kabia and Kate Yaussy 

Postseason: Lost to Reynoldsburg 78-25 in first round of Division I district tournament 

CENTRAL SWIMMING & DIVING 

Seniors lost: Boys — Luke Burky, Kaden Jacob, Evan Radecki, Grant Radecki and Luke Radecki; Girls — Lauryn Chapman, Ashley Hockstok and Chloe Stefan-Adams 

Key returnees: Boys — Chase Swearingen and Nick Van Allen; Girls — Kiah Smith 

Postseason: Boys — Second (44) at sectional behind Westerville North (93), 16th (42) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (348.5), tied for 24th (24) at state behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (261.5); Girls — Third (34) at sectional behind champion North (84), 18th (31) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), 22nd (28) at state behind champion New Albany (246.5) 

NORTH GIRLS BASKETBALL

Record: 17-6 overall

OCC-Capital standings: North (12-2), Delaware and Westerville South (9-5), Dublin Scioto (7-6), Worthington Kilbourne (7-7), Big Walnut (6-8), Canal Winchester (5-8), Franklin Heights (0-14)

Seniors lost: Imari Martin and Candice Tallmadge

Key returnees: Kayla Curry-Brown, Emoni Finch, Lauren Hilderbrand and Charia Smith

Postseason: Lost to Pickerington Central 57-37 in Division I district semifinal

NORTH SWIMMING & DIVING

Seniors lost: Boys — Paul Buckley, Josh Dewey, Colin Hudnell, Malcolm McCown, Taylor Sanford, Sasha Stevens and Hayden Yeager; Girls — Allison Bolen, Allie Thompson and Emma Weisgerber

Key returnees: Boys — Marco Archambault and Gabe Charles; Girls — Abigail Bosler, Madelyn Bosler, Annika Colvin, Jayci Kacsandi, Anila Palmer and Kayla Simashkevich

Postseason: Boys — First (93) at sectional, 17th (27) at district behind champion UA (348.5); Girls — First (84) at sectional, 12th (57) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), did not score at state

SOUTH SWIMMING & DIVING 

Seniors lost: Boys — Riley Andrews, Jack Kielmeyer and Dominick Schoenherr; Girls — Kerrigan Morrison, Inioluwa Oyewusi, Carissa Schroeder, Sophia Shai, Meave Stacey and Abigail Williams 

Key returnees: Boys — Jack Secrest; Girls — Caroline Bowling, Emily Ellsworth, Melaina Randall and Gwen Stacey 

Postseason: Boys — Third (29) at sectional behind champion North (93); Girls — Second (51) at sectional behind North (84), 14th (51) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), tied for 48th (2) at state behind champion New Albany (246.5)