KENWOOD – The longest-tenured swim coach in Moeller history is Bill Whatley, who is now in his 15th year. His Crusaders’ squad finished second at the district meet and third at the state meet. Moeller has now had five consecutive top-eight finishes in Canton.
The top chlorinated Crusaders are seniors Noah Worobetz and Kevin George and juniors Cooper Hodge and Jacob Peloquin.
Ohio State signee Worobetz was seventh in the 100 backstroke at the state meet last winter; George was third in the 500 free and seventh in the 200; Hodge took second in the 200 individual medley and third in the 100 breaststroke and Peloquin scored in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.
George and Hodge already hold school records and Worobetz and Peloquin could make individual and relay runs at top marks this season.
“We’re very excited for this season,” Moeller assistant Matthew Harrison said. “We’re coming off a third-place finish at the state meet, equaling our best finish in school history. We hope to improve on that this year. We’ve never been top two, so that’s what we have our sights set on this year.”
Whatley and Harrison are looking for Dan Nymberg, Austin Theobald, Sebastian Fabik and Will McCullough to step up and fill roles now open from graduation last year. They also welcome a freshman class with a lot of potential.
Moeller gets a preview of the state venue with the Big 8 Meet and Canton City Meet at C.T. Branin Natatorium Dec. 19-20.
Beginning his second season as coach at Madeira, Chip Dobson is pleased with the program and excited with where it’s headed.
Last season, the boys’ team finished 14th overall at the Division II state meet. Back for the Mustangs are three strong swimmers who all swam at state last season either part of a relay or individually.
Senior Jack Mantkowski finished in the top eight in two events at state a year ago. Senior Ryan Stevenson and junior Alex Fortman make up an experienced and fast group. Freshman Chet Dobson will step in and contribute on the relays to fill a void left by graduation.
“We think the relays could be pretty good again,” Dobson said.
The girls’ team finished 33rd at the state meet last season but the Amazons lost their top swimmer, Allison Dicke, to graduation. Senior Marissa Moore, a distance freestyler, will lead the girls this season. Dobson said Moore is a hard worker who’s put a lot of time in this offseason.
Dobson noted the girls are aiming to get back to the district meet.
Of the 15 Indian Hill High School swimmers who made the trip to the Division II state meet in Canton last February, eight return for coach Emily Hardy.
The Lady Braves will have the deeper team coming off a season that saw them claim nine top-eight finishes in the state pool for seventh-place.
Junior Elizabeth Drerup was the team’s top finisher taking fourth in the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay (along with senior Grace Stimson, junior Devin Landstra and recently graduated Delaney Smith). Landstra took sixth in the 50 free and 100 backstroke and Stimson was seventh in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
Junior Bridget Pavlick took 20th in the 500 freestyle and was also on the 400 freestyle relay along with junior Avery Pearson and the graduated Connie Yin and Sarah Vester.
Senior divers Kara Korengel (seventh at state) and Katherine Arnold are also back and sophomore swimmers Mary Kate Jutze and Hailey Mangenheim are expected to contribute.
The Indian Hill boys lost state competitors Noah Brackenbury, Will Dowling and Drew Rice to graduation, but return seniors Sam Vester and Jack Dowling. Vester was fourth in the 100 freestyle, 10th in the 50 free and was in the fourth-place 200 freestyle relay and sixth-place 200 medley relay.
Jack Dowling was 14th in the 500 freestyle and was also in the 200 medley relay. Younger swimmers that should factor in the scoring are sophomores Kyle Goold and Nick Saba.
“The Braves men’s swim team had their best year on record, finishing second at the CHL league meet and eighth at the State meet, the highest finish ever,” Hardy said. “We also have a large freshman class with many talented swimmers (both girls and boys).”
Indian Hill also features senior David Tripathy who qualified and competed in the Special Olympics Ohio State Championships Dec. 5-6 in the 50 butterfly and 100 freestyle.
“David is a very strong swimmer and a great kid,” Hardy said.
This is Hardy’s third season at Indian Hill and second as head coach. She will again be assisted by Holly Rice.
Winning in the water has always been the norm for St. Xavier. The Bombers have won 35 state team titles and this season they’ll be looking for their seventh Division I state title in a row.
St. X returns nine state-qualifying swimmers and one diver from last year’s championship team. The returning state qualifiers are seniors Joe Berno, Grant Carr, Mitchell Frey, Graham Lindquist, Liam Moran, James Wray; juniors Matt Slabe and Nathan Jonas, and sophomore Grant House, as well as junior diver Drew Fitzgerald.
“We’re optimistic that through the course of the season we can get better,” said St. Xavier coach Jim Brower. “You always like to have a good, strong senior class with some great leadership. We have those two things going for us.”
House is the defending state champion in the 100 and 200-meter freestyle. Slabe, House and Frey were three of the four legs in St. X’s 400-meter free relay team that took the title last season.
The Bombers don’t shy away from competition, they realize how important that is in order to get better.
“It’s fun to know that you’ve got some good competition to help motivate the day-to-day,” Brower said. “This is always a really strong district for swimming. We’ve had a nice little rivalry with Moeller, who again, has a very good team.”
Brower said that the Bombers have 94 swimmers in the program this year. St. X started its trek for another title on Dec. 4 at home against Elder.
Another team hoping to make waves at the state meet this season is Ursuline Academy. The Lions will be seeking their third straight Division I girls’ state title this season and their eighth overall.
“We’re looking for a good season,” Lions’ head coach Brad Isham said. “We lost a lot of strong seniors from last year’s squad, but we do have a strong freshmen class that could make an impact in the relays.”
Senior Sydney Lofquist, sophomores Julia Moran and Rollie Grinder, and junior Allie Wade return after making a splash in the state meet last year. Lofquist won state championships in two events. Moran, Grinder and Wade all were state qualifiers.
“We’re looking for them to kind of step up and step in for what we lost,” Isham told The Enquirer.
Isham also highlighted junior Christine Vankirk as another swimmer who could step in and contribute.
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy will have 38 swimmers split evenly across its boys’ and girls’ teams this year. Head coach Gary Toner said he is excited about the mix of his seniors and the younger group that has impressed so far this season.
Toner said the team dominated its first meet of the season against Norwood last week. The Eagles also competed in a meet with Clark Montessori, Summit Country Day and Seven Hills. CHCA’s next meet is 9 a.m. Saturday in the South Dearborn Invitational at South Dearborn High School.
The Eagles are off to a great start this season, which Toner thinks could have a good finish.
“I expect the boys’ team to make districts for the first time in eight years,” he said.
Helping the Eagles reach that goal will be brothers Joe and J.P. Pancioli, and freshman Ryan Hunt.
Other freshmen that could contribute right away are Anna Van Jura and Sydney Day.
“This is the best freshmen class we’ve ever had,” Toner said.
The Enquirer tabbed CHCA as one of the area’s teams to watch in Division II.
Another team selected by The Enquirer as a team to watch in D-II was Cincinnati Country Day.
Head coach Benson Spurling said he likes the balance he has seen from both his boys’ and girls’ squads. He said the girls consistently have a good showing in the sprint relays at the state meet and should do so again this season.
He added that the boys, who were on the cusp of qualifying last year, should be close to qualifying again this season.
“We should have about eight-10 swimmers at the state meet this year,” Spurling said.
The Indians’ girls’ team has four senior captains in Allie Wooden, Cilia Macrae, Isabelle Hudson and Kira Hughes returning this year. Wooden was second at state in the 200 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle last year. She also committed to swim at USC in November.
Other girls that Spurling expects to step up include freshman Jenna Macrae, Cilia’s sister, and sophomore Holly Jacobs.
Another pair of siblings, Alex and Taylor Maier should help carry the load for the Indians’ boys’ team. They both swim sprint freestyle distances.
Spurling said the team will also count on Malcolm Doepke in the 500 free. The team also includes Charles Sachs, Ben Chow and John Pettengill, all of whom could contribute this season.
“It would be an accomplishment if both our relay teams made it to Canton this season,” he said. “We also want to be competitive in the MVC again.”
The Indians’ girls team won the conference and the boys’ team was the runner-up last year.
Staying in the Miami Valley Conference, Seven Hills’ head coach Allie Henges said she is expecting a lot from her team that returns a handful of state participants.
“Most of my club swimmers haven’t switched over to swimming for us just yet, but they will soon,” she said. “When they do, I expect that they step up and work hard.”
The Stingers’ boys’ team returns Pearce Kieser, Sean Gray, Matthew Marquardt, Tigar Cyr, and adds Tindar, Tigar’s brother, and transfer Tim Hagemeister.
Kieser was fifth at state in the 100 freestyle, seventh in the 100 breaststroke and, according to Henges, just signed to swim at Columbia. Marquardt was second at state in the 100 backstroke and seventh in the 100 butterfly.
On the girls’ side, the Stingers return juniors Claire McDonald and Sydney Miccoli.
“Claire should advance to districts in anything from distance freestyles to sprints and I need to her be a leader for this team,” Henges said. “As for Sydney, she should win a lot of events this year.”
Henges added that she has talented freshman Lucy Callard.