Last year, head coach Gary Toner said he expected his Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy boys team to make districts for the first time in eight years.
J.P. Pancioli and Ryan Hunt helped deliver on that goal. This year, Toner and the Eagles are looking for repeat appearances at the district meet as well as adding some fresh faces to the mix, if not state qualification.
Hunt and Pancioli can return this season along with a host of other swimmers including Jake Koopman, Connor Sheehy and Dominic Rottman.
The Enquirer tabbed CHCA as one of the area’s teams to watch in Division II again this season.
The Sycamore Aviators boys will be led by seniors Eamonn Bell and Chris Seger. Sophomore Luke TenBarge and junior Matt Schuetz should have breakout seasons. Coach Dan Carl expects TenBarge to qualify individually for state this season in the breaststroke.
“The guys team is really young but there is more depth than we anticipated going into the season,” said Carl. “We need to be patient, train hard, and continue to get excellent upperclassmen leadership.”
Moeller finished second in the state last year, behind only Greater Catholic League rival St. Xavier.
The Crusaders return all but two members of that Division I state runner-up team. Jacob Peloquin placed fifth in the state in the 100-yard butterfly and seventh in the 100-yard backstroke.
Cooper Hodge finished fifth in the 200-yard individual medley. Both are back for their senior season. Senior Dan Nyberg and juniors Austin Theobald and Will McCullough also return.
Peloquin, a Miami University commit, and Hodge, a University of Wisconsin commit, will anchor the Crusaders’ relay teams. Expectations will be high for this team in 2015-2016.
A newish era begins for Cincinnati Country Day as Jana Westhoven takes over the program from former head coach Benson Spurling. She served as the top assistant last year.
According to her brief bio on the school’s athletic website, the coach is looking to ensure the transition is seamless and that a changing of the guard doesn’t signify a change in success.
It doesn’t appear that will be too much of an issue as the Enquirer tabbed Cincinnati Country Day as one of the teams to watch in Division II.
Senior Malcolm Doepke, fresh off committing to Ashland University, should return for another strong season.
He qualified for the state meet in the 200 and 500 freestyle races and as a member of the 400 freestyle relay.
John Pettengill, Charlie Sachs and George Crowley can return and make an impact as well. All three were district participants last year.
St. Xavier High School’s swim team has, for a long time, held the state podium in a stranglehold. The Bombers have cultivated and sustained one of the most impressive programs the area has ever seen.
Last season, St. Xavier won its seventh consecutive Division I state championship (36th all-time) and the Bombers return buses full of top-tier talent in the water.
The Bombers also rotated the coaching carousel this year. Longtime head coach Jim Brower moved from the head position to an assistant, to make way for former assistant Tim Beerman to take over as head coach. Beerman was previously a head coach at Ursuline Academy.
“It’s worth mentioning that this team is 100 members strong and while we certainly can point to some of our tops swimmers at the state level,” Beerman said, “the focus of the team is really about helping everyone discover and reach the potential they have.”
Junior Grant House is without question the fastest swimmer in state. House has already won four individual state championships (two as a freshman, two as a sophomore), and he’s helped on a number of state championship relay teams. Last year, he won the 100 and 200 freestyle races at state.
Senior Matt Slabe, also an individual state qualifier, swam on the 400 freestyle relay team that won a state title last year. Junior Luke Sobolewski’s another experienced swimmer who won a state title on the 200 medley relay last year. Junior Charles Leibson was an individual state qualifier in two races last year, and just finished helping the Bombers win a water polo state championship. Sophomore Justin Grender was another difference maker at state last year, as was sophomore Nicholas Perera.
Beerman has also been very impressed by freshman Jake Foster.
“They’re just now learning how good they can really be,” said Beerman. “Their effort level is off the charts in terms of what we’re asking of them. It is a talented team, but we’re excited to see how far that talent can take us as a team. We certainly hope with good health and good training that we can return to state and do well. There are any number of individuals (outside of the swimmers mentioned above) on this team who can contribute to our success.”