Junior Gracie Finnegan of the Watterson High School girls swimming and diving team has bad news for her opponents heading into the Division I state meet today through Saturday at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.

Junior Gracie Finnegan of the Watterson High School girls swimming and diving team has bad news for her opponents heading into the Division I state meet today through Saturday at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.

A year after she managed to win state championships in the 50-yard freestyle (23.35 seconds) and 100 free (50.72) with a torn muscle in her left forearm that caused her a considerable amount of pain, Finnegan is feeling stronger and healthier.

"I've never felt better than I feel right now," said Finnegan, whose team scored 68 points to finish 10th at state last year behind champion Upper Arlington (419). "I missed a lot of training because of my injury last season and I wasn't expecting to win. I was just shooting for third in both events. Obviously, my goal is to win both events again, but I know it's going to be harder to do it because I'm the person that a lot of people are looking to take down now. I'm definitely not feeling overconfident."

At the district meet last Friday and Saturday at Ohio State, Finnegan won the 100 free (state-record 49.67) ahead of UA's Kayla Hammerberg (51.47) and the 50 free (program-record 22.89) ahead of Dublin Scioto's Kate McNeilis (23.14).

"It's super-exciting to win two district titles because it's something I haven't done before and it's a good sign for how I could do at state," Finnegan said. "I was really surprised by both swims. I'm happy about getting the state record, but it won't seem like I've really got it unless I'm able to do it again at state. The central district is really tough, so if I can do well in this district, the state isn't going to be too much tougher."

Finnegan is seeded first in the 50 free for state ahead of McNeilis and Centerville's Molly Osterhage (23.14). She is seeded first in the 100 free ahead of Osterhage (50.72).

"My starts and turns have traditionally been my weaknesses, but I've been working hard on trying to improve in those areas, and that will be important in this meet," Finnegan said. "I'll need to have a good underwater wall, too."

Finnegan is gunning for state records in both events. Groveport's Jennifer Bradford set the state record in the 50 free (22.73) in 2004.

"Breaking both state records would be a huge deal because it's something that doesn't happen very often," Finnegan said. "If I can set new records at state, it would be the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me."

Watterson finished second (262) in the 20-team district meet behind UA (604) and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (259), ending Liberty's three-year streak of finishing second.

"Getting second in our district is like winning a championship because Upper Arlington always wins it," Finnegan said. "It's exciting to beat Liberty because they're a great team."

The 200 free relay of Finnegan, Aly Francis, Michele Riely and Camey Rabold was second (program-record 1:36.67) behind UA (1:35.0) and is seeded second for state behind UA.

The 400 free relay of Finnegan, Catie Clark, Emily Boone and Rabold finished second (program-record 3:31.45) behind UA (3:27.87) and is seeded third behind UA and Centerville (3:29.01).

Rabold won the 200 free (program-record 1:51.91) and is seeded sixth.

"These are the fastest times we've gone, by far," Finnegan said. "We're probably going to change the order we swim in for district, with me moving to anchor, and we think we're capable of dropping more time. We're hoping for top-three finishes in both relays. I'm so happy for Camey, too. That was the most amazing race I've ever seen a freshman swim at district."

•The ninth-seeded girls basketball team beat Westerville Central 58-30 on Feb. 19 in the first round of the Division I district tournament to improve to 19-2 overall.

The Eagles made 25 of 48 field goals and forced 24 turnovers. Daiva Gerbec had 17 points, six rebounds and three blocks and Courtney Haley scored 15 points. Melissa Gilliland scored all eight of her points in the second half.

"I was pleased with the way we used the short corner against their zone to give our post players some good looks," said coach Tom Woodford, whose team lost to Dublin Scioto 53-34 in a district semifinal a year ago. "Our post players made some nice passes to each other, and Melissa and Courtney hit enough 3-pointers and long 2-pointers to spread their defense out even more and give our post players more room to work with."

The Eagles will play Central Crossing in the second round today at Dublin Jerome. Watterson defeated Central Crossing 37-34 in the first round a year ago.

The Comets beat Zanesville 40-38 in the first round Feb. 19 to improve to 13-8.

The Comets, who lack size but thrive on playing pressure defense, are led by senior point guard Whitney Fullen, senior guard Taylor Trejo and junior guard Genea Pleasant. Pleasant scored 15 points in the first meeting.

Against Zanesville, Fullen scored 15 points, including the winning basket with five seconds left, and Pleasant had 10 points.

The winner will advance to a district semifinal Wednesday at Olentangy Orange against eighth-seeded Grove City or Independence. The winner of that will move to a district final March 7 at Orange against top-seeded Dublin Coffman, Gahanna, Newark or Olentangy.

Grove City beat Franklin Heights 62-21 on Feb. 18 to improve to 17-4 as senior guard Chelsea Damron scored 14 points, sophomore guard Ayrealle Beavers had 11 and senior center Courtney Swart and sophomore guard Shicole Watts had 10.

Independence lost to Grove City 75-42 on Feb. 10 to drop to 7-13.

"A lot of teams play a zone against us because of our size inside, so we're working on improving our zone attacks," Woodford said. "We're using the width of the floor to spread our post players out, and they're doing a good job of passing to the perimeter and to each other. We've got some kids who can score from the outside, so we want to make teams have to pick their poison."

•The wrestling team finished 11th (18) in the 13-team Division II sectional last Saturday at Licking Valley behind champion DeSales (259).

Mike McCarthy (130 pounds) finished fourth and was the only Eagle to advance to district, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Heath. The top four in each weight class there will advance to state March 5-7 at Ohio State.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Watterson boys basketball and boys and girls swimming and diving teams:


Feb. 17 -- Defeated Dublin Jerome 51-48. Chris Grabosky scored 17 points.

*Last Friday -- Lost to DeSales 60-49. Grabosky scored 13 points.

Last Wednesday -- Played Mifflin in first round of Division II district tournament. The winner will play third-seeded Lakewood in the second round Saturday at Centerburg. The winner of that will play fifth-seeded Olentangy Orange, Licking Valley or Utica in a district semifinal March 5 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. Watterson is seeded eighth.

Of note: The Eagles were 10-10 overall before last Wednesday and finished 3-7 in the CCL.


Last Friday -- Boys: Tied Hartley for 11th (74) in 21-team Division II district meet at Ohio State behind champion New Albany (353). Watterson's only state qualifier, with event, district time and state seed, was Mike Clark (200 IM, 2:02.38, 20th). Others who competed at district were Pat Donohoe (500 free, 5:02.51, eighth), Sam Besozzi (100 breast, 1:09.56, 21st; 100 fly, 1:05.61, 28th), Peter Clark (50 free, 23.96, 25th; 100 breast, 1:10.25, 22nd), Ryan Preston (200 free, 2:01.5, 20th; 100 back, 1:08.61, 29th), Mike Clark (500 free, 5:00.53, sixth), Neil Seguin (100 fly, 1:01.62, 18th), 200 free relay (1:41.68, 19th), 400 free relay (3:33.85, 10th) and 200 medley relay (1:46.29, eighth).

Last Saturday -- Girls: Finished second (262) in 20-team Division I district meet at Ohio State behind Upper Arlington (604). State qualifiers, with event, district time and state seed, were Gracie Finnegan (50 free, 22.89, first; 100 free, 49.67, first), Camey Rabold (200 free, 1:51.91, sixth; 500 free, 5:03.47, 12th), Emily Boone (100 fly, 57.09, 12th; 200 IM, 2:07.09, 12th), Michele Riely (50 free, 24.26, 20th), 200 free relay (1:36.67, second), 400 free relay (3:31.45, third) and 200 medley relay (1:50.09, 12th). Others who competed at district were Liz Boeckman (diving, 322.15, 12th), Aly Francis (50 free, 24.84, 10th; 100 back, 1:01.78, 13th), Michele Riely (100 free, 54.9, 10th), Mary Whittington (50 free, 25.79, 20th; 100 breast, 1:10.86, 19th), Kate Kozlowski (200 free, 2:05.01, 15th; 500 free, 5:35.22, 17th), Catie Clark (500 free, 5:32.76, 15th; 100 fly, 59.76, seventh) and Madison Bentley (100 back, 1:00.54, 10th).

Today-Saturday -- At state meet at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton

*CCL game