Central Ohio High School Sports Awards: Boys finalists announced for Super 12 swimming and diving

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Central Ohio High School Sports Awards

The winter sports season has ended and it’s time to dive into our honorees, beginning with the Super 12 team for boys swimming and diving.

All of the honorees are finalists to be named Captain – our boys swimming and diving Athlete of the Year. That honor will be announced during the Central Ohio High School Sports Awards online show at 7 p.m. July 8.

Finalists should register at sportsawards.usatoday.com/centralohio. Next week, we’ll announce the honorees for girls swimming and diving.

Below is the Super 12 for boys swimming and diving: 

Hayden Apel

Hayden Apel, Hilliard Darby 

This senior closed his prep career by competing in his fourth Division I state meet. He finished third (459.65) behind Solon’s Dominic Roberto (491.45) and Olentangy Liberty’s Kaden Springfield (485.4). 

A West Virginia commit, Apel eclipsed his program record by scoring 535.65 at district while placing second. 

“He had a great senior season,” said Darby diving coach Thad Apel, who also is Hayden’s father. “All four years were really good, and he just kept working hard and improving each year and just staying focused.”

Apel placed third (414.85) at state as a junior, ninth (412.8) as a sophomore and 19th (260.75) as a freshman, when he became the first Hilliard diver to qualify for state. 

Spencer Aurnou-Rhees

Spencer Aurnou-Rhees, St. Charles

Aurnou-Rhees was a standout in freestyle events, finishing second in the 100-yard free (44.92 seconds) and third in the 200 free (1:39.18) in the Division I state meet.

The junior also was a member of St. Charles’ third-place 400 free relay (3:04.33) and sixth-place 200 free relay (1:24.45). He has committed to Texas.

“I think it is Spencer’s tenacity that sets him apart,” coach Kyle Goodrich said. “He’s so far ahead of the average person in terms of goal-setting and confidence. Sometimes it works against him because he sets very high goals, but it also helps him because he believes in himself so much.”

Last season at state, Aurnou-Rhees finished fifth in the 200 IM and tied for 12th in the 500 free.

Nate Gaver

Nate Gaver, Reynoldsburg

After placing seventh in the Division I state meet in both the 50 free and 100 free as a junior, this Reynoldsburg senior expanded his repertoire in an attempt to impress college recruiters.

Gaver, who finished third in the 50 free (20.36) at state, competed in the 100 breaststroke as his second postseason individual event and qualified for state. He swam 56.32 to finish second at district in the 100 breast and followed with a 57.15 at state to place seventh.

Gaver has yet to announce his college choice.

“I’ve known him since he was 9 years old and to see him grow up and see him kind of finish it off, it’s kind of an amazing culmination,” coach Josh Dorsett said. “He went with the 100 breast because he’s looking for colleges to see he’s not just a freestyler.”

Grant Gooding

Grant Gooding, Upper Arlington

Gooding, a sophomore, finished second in the 100 breast (55.02) and third in the 200 individual medley (1:50.04) in the Division I state meet. He also was on the winning 200 free relay (1:21.76) and eighth-place 200 medley relay (1:33.69).

Gooding was district champion in the 100 breast, earning the top seed at state, and district runner-up in the 200 IM as UA won the district team title before finishing second at state for the second consecutive season.

“Grant is an ultra-competitive and ultra-talented young man who continues to get better every day. I haven’t coached anyone with the raw athleticism of Grant, but what makes him special is the ability to work and grind on a day-in and day-out basis,” coach Mike de Bear said. “For a sophomore to burst on the scene the last two years speaks volumes.”

Hayden Jay

Hayden Jay, Upper Arlington

Jay, a senior and Virginia Tech recruit, was on the Bears’ state championship 200 free relay and fifth-place 400 free relay (3:05.48). He also finished sixth in the 100 free (45.48) and seventh in the 200 free (1:39.64).

A three-time state qualifier, Jay was district runner-up in the 200 free and placed fifth in the 100 free. He was third and fourth in those events, respectively, at state as a junior.

“Hayden came into our program as a solid but not spectacular age group swimmer and has grinded and worked every day to get to where he is,” de Bear said. “Hayden loves to work, loves to compete and has responded to every challenge I have thrown his way the last four years. A multiple-time All-American, school record-holder and state champion, he is everything right about our program.”

Brady McInerney

Brady McInerney, DeSales

McInerney, a junior and Kentucky commit, captured his first state championship, winning the 100 free (45.96). He also finished fourth in the 200 free (1:40.55) in Division II after sweeping those district titles.

He was seventh in the 200 IM and 13th in the 100 backstroke at state as a sophomore and 10th and 20th in those events, respectively, as a freshman.

“He is always willing to do any event to not only push himself but also provide additional points for the team,” coach Ryan Buechner said. “He will continue to go on to do great things for two main reasons – he works hard in the pool, weight room and classroom and he loves the sport of swimming. (I’m) not just talking the ins and outs, but he's always looking for ways to improve his stroke as well as compare himself to the best.”

Carson Smith

Carson Smith, Dublin Jerome

This junior followed a 12th-place finish in the 500 free at last season’s Division I state meet by reaching the awards podium in two individual events.

In addition to swimming on the seventh-place 400 free relay (3:06.93) and 11th-place 200 medley relay (1:34.72), Smith was fourth in the 200 free (1:39.25) and seventh in the 100 free (45.58). 

He also made it to state in two relays as a sophomore.

“Carson is an extremely driven and focused athlete,” coach J.J. Spangler said. “Every day he comes in to work and get better. Carson’s teammates look up to him as a leader not because of how fast he is but because of how hard he works. Carson will be successful at anything he decides he wants to focus on. That’s just the type of athlete and person he is.”

Kaden Springfield

Kaden Springfield, Olentangy Liberty

This freshman diver competed like a veteran in the biggest meets of the season.

Springfield scored 563.65 to capture the Division I district championship and then battled throughout the state meet for the title, finishing with 485.4 to place behind Solon freshman Dominic Roberto (491.45).

“Kaden has a constant dedication to the sport and he does everything he’s supposed to do,” coach Ryan Ebie said. “With as off of a season this one presented, he refused to let the obstacles of COVID get in his way, finding every opportunity to practice even if it’s not in the water. Being a freshman, the progress that he’s made is a testament to his work ethic.”

Zac Stump

Zac Stump, Dublin Coffman

While becoming the first male swimmer from Coffman to win an individual state title, this junior took a big step forward compared to last season.

As a sophomore, Stump finished 17th in the 500 free and tied for 20th in the 100 back in Division I while also competing on two relays.

This year, Stump won the 500 free (4:28.06), tied for seventh in the 100 back (50.12) and again competed on two state relays.

“He’s one of the best trainers I have coached,” coach Steven VonSchriltz said. “He’s still maturing physically and as an athlete. He started training to try to win the 500 as soon as we were able to get back into the pool. His improvement is totally linked to his daily practice habits and determination to succeed.”

Chase Swearingen

Chase Swearingen, Westerville Central 

Swearingen capped his freshman season by finishing fourth in the 100 butterfly (49.46) and ninth in the 100 back (50.38) in the Division I state meet. 

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

Swearingen set the program record in the 100 back (50.09) while winning the event at district, where he also won the 100 fly. 

“As a freshman, Chase handled himself very well in an environment like (state),” coach Ron Staab said. “Chase is a versatile swimmer and a great young man. He swam the back and the fly this year, but he can almost swim any event and make an impact at the state meet.” 

Avery Voss

Avery Voss, Upper Arlington

Voss, a senior and Stanford recruit, won the Division I 100 free state championship (44.47), was second in the 50 free (20.33) and helped the 200 free relay to first place as UA finished as state runner-up for the second consecutive season.

Voss also was on the fifth-place 400 free relay. His individual title was the program’s first since 2014, and the relay win was UA’s first at state title since 2005.

“Avery has been an absolute pleasure to watch work and grow,” de Bear said. “He has bought into everything we have done and thrown his way, and has had a quiet leadership and confidence about him. His growth into a state champion, school record-holder, all-American and Olympic trial qualifier has been amazing but understandable when you see him work.”

Hudson Williams

Hudson Williams, Olentangy Liberty

After not competing as a freshman so that he could focus on junior meets, this sophomore burst onto the prep scene this season.

In the Division I state meet, Williams finished second in the 200 IM (1:49.63) and fourth in the 100 breast (56.82). He also helped the 200 free relay place seventh (1:25.13) and the 400 free relay finish 11th (3:08.63).

“Hudson’s determination and focus throughout the season was unmatched,” Ebie said. “He has great talent and natural abilities, but pair that with his work ethic and you have an athlete that is going to be a force for years to come. We can’t wait to see Hudson grow into a leadership role over the next two years for this program. Now as a veteran of the state meet, the goal is to not only exceed his individual expectations but bring teammates with him.”

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