Swimming & Diving: Worthington Kilbourne girls aiming for return to state

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Kilbourne junior Nanami Campbell competed on the 17th-place 200 free relay and 18th-place 200 medley relay in the Division I state meet last season. Her three teammates on those relays also have returned for the Wolves.

In his second season as coach of both Worthington swimming and diving programs, Keeler Callahan has high hopes for the Kilbourne girls. 

The Wolves return several key athletes, including all four girls who swam on last year’s state-qualifying 200-yard medley relay and 200 freestyle relay. 

Those four swimmers — senior Lauren Richner, juniors Nanami Campbell and Evie DeCarlo and sophomore Paige Delma — placed 17th in the 200 free relay (1 minute, 38.65 seconds) and 18th in the 200 medley relay (1:49.39). 

“Having all four back with that experience is huge,” Callahan said. “There’s not many teams that return all four on a relay from year to year, so that’s exciting. Those four will be leading us in the pool.” 

Callahan also expects to receive significant individual contributions, including from senior Ella Brown in the 100 free and 100 backstroke. Sophomore Kennedy O’Brien also is expected to compete in those events and possibly the 50 free, Callahan said. 

Senior Phoebe Saunders is expected to compete in the 200 free and 500 free. 

“I could see them stepping up big time in their individual events and qualifying for districts and helping us out there,” Callahan said. 

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Evelyn Ambler, Grace Darner and Emma Hershey and freshmen Lily Banner, Hannah Lehr and Mihaela Milanova. 

“We’re definitely looking for those relays to get back to states and possibly the 400 free relay, depending on who can step up, and hopefully get some individual performances up to that state meet, too,” Callahan said. 

The boys team is younger this season following the graduation losses of Aaron Chen, John Cuozzo, Mitchell Fisher and Thomas Rzymek. 

The Wolves expect to be led by junior Connor O’Brien and sophomores Ben Ambler, Nathan Ambler and Christopher Richner. 

Nathan Ambler finished 24th in the 200 free (1:50.74) at last year’s district meet, while Richner finished 27th in the 100 back (58.1) and was part of the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free relays that finished 16th (1:46.33), 14th (1:33.35) and 11th (3.23.26), respectively. 

“Even on the boys side, even though it’s a little bit young ... they’re pretty talented, especially that sophomore class,” Callahan said. “I think in the second year I’m going to see some pretty big jumps from them in terms of time drops, which will get them a lot higher in their district meet.”

Freshmen Samuel Hertz, Dexter Jones, Mark McCloskey, George Minister and Grant Brown could also make an impact, Callahan said. 

The Wolves are scheduled to open Saturday, Dec. 19, against Gahanna and host Thomas.

Thomas features

talented boys team

Similar to the Kilbourne girls, the Thomas boys team features several of last season’s key contributors. 

Seniors Eli Short and Grant Simeone and sophomore Matt Fralic swam on last year’s state-qualifying 200 medley relay, which finished 14th (1:36.46). 

Callahan said it’s still an open competition for the final spot on that relay, which is vacant after the graduation of Sam Steele. 

“Having three of the four return is huge, but we’re definitely going to have to have someone step up in a big way to replace Sam,” Callahan said. 

Callahan said junior Blake Ament and sophomores Zack Barnes and Connor Florence could push for that final spot. 

“It’s going to be a friendly fight for who can make a push on that relay,” Callahan said. “I think we’re going to have some good competition in practice this year that really pushes the team forward.” 

Short also qualified for state in the 50 free and placed 22nd (21.76).

“I’d love to get him back there, and then also in the 100 free he has a shot of getting in there,” Callahan said. 

Rounding out the boys team are seniors Eddie Helm and Benjamin Greeson, juniors Josh Hickman, Aiden Midgley and Zane Ryan-Hart, sophomores Alex Cooper, Jonathan Diakogeorgiou, Ross Poppy and Jacob Taylor and freshmen Ishayu Chakroborty, Calvin Cooper, Nathan Edwards, Simon Finch and Chase Kucinski. 

“This year I’d love to get a second relay up to states for that team,” Callahan said. “They definitely have the talent, and we have some good depth this year. It’s our biggest team out of the four Worthingtons. If we play it right, they can also get the 400 free relay there on top of the two 200 relays.” 

Seniors Katie Bozoti, Nataliya Kallergis and Maia Lin project to be among the key contributors on the girls side. 

“I know they’re looking to finish out their senior year strong, especially this year,” Callahan said. “They’re excited at the opportunity to even have a season, so they’re taking full advantage of what we have this season.” 

Callahan also expects a strong season from sophomore Sloane Antonetz, who competed in the 100 butterfly and 100 back at district last season and finished 17th (58.45) and 12th (58.48), respectively. 

“She’s going to be one of our biggest performers in the pool,” Callahan said. 

Senior Nevin Woods and sophomores Katie Browning, Charlotte Holm and Natalie Smith also are expected to make key contributions. 

Rounding out the girls team are senior Lauren Justice, sophomores Lily Bower and Annalie Steele and freshmen Olivia Price and Molly Bower.

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@ThisWeekSteve

KILBOURNE

•Coach: Keeler Callahan, second season 

•Top athletes: Boys — Ben Ambler, Nathan Ambler, Connor O’Brien and Christopher Richner; Girls — Ella Brown, Nanami Campbell, Evie DeCarlo, Paige Delma, Kennedy O’Brien, Lauren Richner and Phoebe Saunders 

•Key losses: Boys — Aaron Chen, John Cuozzo, Mitchell Fisher and Thomas Rzymek; Girls — Melanie Fisher, Ellie Ishida and Katie Rzymek

•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Boys — Dublin Jerome (543.5), Hilliard Darby (328), Olentangy Berlin (257), Thomas (240), Delaware (180), Dublin Scioto (179.5), Kilbourne (168), Hilliard Bradley (69); Girls — Jerome (499), Berlin (361), Delaware (315), Kilbourne (273), Thomas (185), Bradley (157), Darby (145), Scioto (54)

•Postseason: Boys — Eighth at sectional, 19th at district; Girls — Third at sectional, ninth at district, did not score at state

THOMAS 

•Coach: Keeler Callahan, second season 

•Top athletes: Boys — Matt Fralic, Eli Short and Grant Simeone; Girls — Sloane Antonetz, Katie Bozoti, Katie Browning, Nataliya Kallergis, Maia Lin and Nevin Woods 

•Key losses: Boys — Jacob Carver, Sam Steele and Derek Taylor; Girls — Leah Lindemeyer and Audrey Taylor

•Postseason: Boys — Fifth at sectional, eighth at district, 43rd at state; Girls — Sixth at sectional, 19th at district