Seven members of the Big Walnut High School boys swimming and diving team and five members of the girls squad advanced to district competition.
The Golden Eagles were one of three Division II boys teams competing in the sectional Feb. 8 at Thomas Worthington and had seven swimmers earn at-large berths for the district meet held Feb. 14 at Ohio State.
Qualifying were Wesley Hammond in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 25.42 seconds and 500 freestyle (5:47.85), Carter Marsch in the 50 free (23.94), Jens Paglialunga in the 100 free (54.35), Bret Stacy in the 500 free (6:01.81), Joel Windle in the 50 free (25.01), the 200 medley relay of Jonathan Schnipke, Windle, Marsch and Paglialunga (1:55.66), the 200 free relay of Windle, Justin Beyer, Marsch and Paglialunga (1:40.81) and the 400 free relay of Windle, Beyer, Marsch and Paglialunga (3:46.09).
Big Walnut was one of 13 Division I girls teams that competed in the Thomas sectional, finishing 10th (28 points) behind champion Thomas (214).
Earning at-large berths for the district meet held Feb. 15 at Ohio State were the 200 medley relay of Josie Sweeney-Rogers, Jessica Osburn, Katie Von Hollen and Michelle Stefaniak (10th, 2:07.09) and the 200 free relay of Sweeney-Rogers, Alison Hager, Osburn and Stefaniak (10th, 1:52.13).
"The district qualifiers did exactly what they needed to do to get seeded for the district meet," coach Sarah Cline said.
"I think both teams stepped up their performances, showing a successful taper the last two weeks of the season. They put in the work all year long and reaped the rewards with personal bests in almost every race swam."
The girls team also was represented at district by divers Bethany Ranneberger and Ashley White. There was no diving competition at sectional.
The top two finishers in each swimming event at district in Division I and II and the top three girls divers in Division I automatically advanced to the state meet, which runs Wednesday, Feb. 19, through Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.
Boys basketball team seeded 18th in district
The boys basketball team is seeded 18th of 28 teams in the Division II district tournament.
Big Walnut was 9-11 overall and 4-9 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Franklin Heights on Feb. 14. The Golden Eagles concluded the regular season Feb. 15 against Licking Heights.
"Our record didn't get us the kind of seed we would like to have had," coach Eric Myers said. "We're not disappointed, but we're not thrilled."
Big Walnut opens the tournament Saturday, Feb. 22, at 12th-seeded Centennial, with the winner playing at third-seeded Granville in the second round Feb. 26.
"I just got back from watching (Centennial)," Myers said. "They're quick. They've got some nice guards.
"They have the ability to be pretty explosive offensively. I think it's going to be good matchup for us."
Myers thinks his players can benefit from having six days between the regular-season finale and the tournament opener.
"It works out great for us," he said. "They'll get some rest, then come in for practice. We'll start breaking things down and look at things we need to improve on. We should have some solid practices before game day."
The Golden Eagles beat Olentangy Orange 53-51 on Feb. 7 but lost to Worthington Kilbourne 54-39 on Feb. 11 in league games.
Logan Boyd had 21 points and Josh Seabrook scored 10 against the Pioneers and Zac Asher and Boyd scored 12 and 11, respectively, against the Wolves.
Girls basketball team prepping for tourney
The girls basketball team is getting set to open the postseason.
Big Walnut is seeded 21st of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye. It will face sixth-seeded Zanesville or 40th-seeded Franklin Heights in the second round Thursday, Feb. 20, at the home of the higher seed.
The Golden Eagles swept Franklin Heights in OCC-Capital play, winning 60-35 on Nov. 29 and 49-35 on Jan. 9, but have not played Zanesville this season.
The second-round winner likely will face ninth-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district semifinal Feb. 27 at Hamilton Township.
Big Walnut was 14-8 overall after beating Heath 48-37 in its regular-season finale Feb. 13. It concluded OCC-Capital play with a 31-24 win over Orange on Feb. 8 and beat Horizon Science Academy 58-15 on Feb. 11.
Skylar Fleak had 15 points against Orange and scored 13 against Horizon Science. Makenna Hammond added eight points against the Pioneers and Leah Shaw and Hannah Seawell both scored eight against the Hawks.
Big Walnut finished 6-8 in the OCC-Capital to tie Kilbourne for fifth, behind Mount Vernon (13-1), Olentangy (12-2), Delaware (9-5) and New Albany (8-6) and ahead of Orange (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
Gymnasts getting set for district meet
The gymnastics team is spending this week preparing for the district meet Saturday, Feb. 22, at Kilbourne.
The top three teams qualify for the team state meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley and the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advance to the individual state meet March 1 at Bradley.
Big Walnut, which did not have any state qualifiers last season, scored 125.325 points in the eight-team OCC-Capital meet Feb. 8 at Hilliard Darby to finish fifth behind Bradley (133.85), Dublin Jerome (131.65), Westerville Central (131.025) and Orange (125.325) and ahead of Marysville (121.4), Central Crossing (117.125) and Franklin Heights (99.025).
Grace Ditomassi led the Golden Eagles, placing fourth in all-around (33.85) and third on uneven bars (8.35), tying for third on balance beam (8.7), tying for fifth on vault (8.15) and finishing eighth on floor exercise (8.65).
Taylor Grieser was the team's second-highest finisher in all-around (13th, 32.425) and on bars (eighth, 8.0), beam (tied for ninth, 8.1) and floor (14th, 8.475), and Mariah Chattos was the team's second-highest finisher on vault (tied for 16th, 7.9).
Ditomassi, Grieser and Chattos are freshmen.
Big Walnut went 3-4 in OCC-Capital duals and finished fifth in the league standings with 16 points, behind Bradley (30, 6-1), Jerome (28, 6-1), Central (26, 6-1) and Orange (20, 4-3) and ahead of Central Crossing (10, 2-5), Marysville (10, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (4, 0-7).
Wrestling team places sixth in OCC-Capital
The wrestling team lost to Mount Vernon 66-18 on Feb. 6 to close out its OCC-Capital schedule.
Big Walnut finished 2-5 in league duals to place sixth, behind Delaware (7-0), Orange (6-1), Mount Vernon (5-2), Olentangy (4-3) and Kilbourne (3-4) and ahead of New Albany (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
The Golden Eagles, who defeated Northridge 54-27 and Springfield Shawnee 54-24 on Feb. 8 to close out the regular season, competed in the 14-team Division II sectional tournament Feb. 15 at Licking Valley.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the district tournament Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Uhrichsville Claymont. The top four finishers in each weight class at district qualify for state Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State.
The Golden Eagles have three wrestlers who were district qualifiers a year ago, including a state qualifier in Alec Eisnnicher (170). The other two are Austin Carr and R.J. Martin, who competed at 152 and 138, respectively, last year.
Eisnnicher and Martin are competing in the same weight class as they did last season, while Carr has moved up to 160.
Bowlers preparing for sectional tourney
The bowling teams will compete in the Division I sectional tournament Friday, Feb. 21, at Eastland Lanes.
The top 20 teams and the top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team in both the boys and girls sectionals advance to the district tournament March 1 at Eastland Lanes.