Wooster High swim teams aim to maintain grip on OCC

Wooster High swim teams aim to maintain grip on OCC

One thing is for certain when it comes to Wooster High’s swim program — it’s never in rebuilding mode.

The Generals simply reload.

Despite losing some talented swimmers from a season ago, Wooster is back with another strong lineup as both the boys and girls teams are eager to keep their stronghold on the Ohio Cardinal Conference.


Notably, the boys squad returns four seniors who all picked up valuable state experience, not to mention several district qualifiers, setting the stage for another strong winter.

“Losing seven outstanding seniors will be felt, but to say this team is ready for an incredible season is an understatement,” Wooster coach Chris Matthew said of the boys team, which finished 13-2 overall. “They are totally locked in and ready to break records and have a historic season. They were geared up last year, but this year it’s at a completely different level.”

Despite the graduation of a 2023 class that included freestyler Courson Kauffman and fellow state qualifier in diver Owen McConnell, the cupboard is far from bare for Wooster.

The entire 400-yard freestyle relay team from a year ago — senior Andrei Dordea, junior Michael Buchholz, senior Luke Boucher and sophomore Gabe Bosler-Kilmer — is back after its 11th-place finish at the Division I state meet.

Dordea, Boucher and Bosler-Kilmer also swam on a 200 free relay that was 15th in the state a year ago, and each are coming off impressive seasons in their individual events as Dordea was a state participant in the 100 and 200 free.

Buchholz (100 free, 200 individual medley), Boucher (50 free) and Bosler-Kilmer (200 IM, 100 butterfly) all were top 10 finishers at districts last winter, along with Cole Walenciak in the 500 free.

Combine that with six other individuals — senior Steven Fox (1-meter dive), junior Cole Kuzma (500 free), senior Caleb Kostohryz (200 free, 500 free), senior Cooper Udell (100 fly), junior Santi Salazar (100 backstroke) and junior Thomas Foster (1-meter dive) — and Wooster is loaded up and down the roster with battle-tested talent.

“We have so much depth this year, with every event covered,” said Matthew, who enters her 30th season guiding the Generals. “We have a group of four to five boys who have been training since last March for this season, and they are leading the team right now with their contagious enthusiasm.”

Udell also swam on a district-placing 200 medley relay with Buchholz and Boucher while a strong collection of newcomers also could make an impact. One of those, freshman Aidan McMillan, is a multi-time Zone qualifier for the Wooster Y team.


The girls team also has a strong group of returning talent across the lineup to help raise another OCC banner.

Junior Colleen Frantz is back after qualifying for state in the 1-meter dive after a seventh-place finish at the rugged Cleveland Div. I District, a year after coming up just short of advancing. Look for newcomers Lila Wright and Melia Brown also to have an impact on the diving board as both come in with strong gymnastics backgrounds.

In the swim events, the void left by the graduation of Gretchen Chelf will be a tough one to fill, but the Generals have a host of individuals eager for the challenge.

Sophomore Piper Udell proved herself to be a top short-sprint swimmer last winter, qualifying for districts in the 100 and 200 free, while juniors Lauren Hershberger and Margaret McBride both excelled in the 500 free.

Both junior Miley Green and Udell swam on a 200 free relay that was seventh at districts while Hershberger and Udell each helped the 400 free group to a 10th-place showing last season.

And with just one senior on the roster in Lizzy Altland, Wooster will look to a strong junior class and a loaded freshman group including talented YMCA swimmers in Ally Gerber, Ellie Hansen and Kenzie Grimwood.

“This freshman class is one of the strongest incoming classes in many years,” Matthew said. “We are looking for big things from them, as they are all great athletes and can swim all four strokes.

“We are a young team this year, but we expect huge improvements across the board.”

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