Gahanna Lincoln Roundup
Belli expects smoother ride
Morgan Belli knew something wasn't right.
After finishing fourth in the Division I state girls swimming and diving meet in both the 100-yard backstroke and 200 individual medley as a freshman in 2011, Belli advanced to state in both events last year but didn't get the results she wanted.
Shortly after placing 10th in the 200 IM (2 minutes, 6.06 seconds) and 11th in the 100 back (57.21), she found out she had been competing throughout the postseason with mononucleosis.
The Gahanna Lincoln High School junior expects things to go smoother throughout this year's postseason, which begins Saturday, Feb. 9, with a Division I sectional at Thomas Worthington.
"I've been taking care of myself because last year I got sick and my taper is coming soon," Belli said. "I swam at sectionals, district and state last year, but didn't perform as well as I had been and I felt horrible. It was pretty severe, but I didn't know I had it. I was just getting worse and worse every single meet."
In the seven-team OCC-Ohio Division meet Feb. 2 at New Albany, the girls placed second (297.5) behind Pickerington North (306) and the boys were fourth (186) behind champion Pickerington North (349).
Belli won the 200 IM (2:11.7) and was second in the 100 back (59.65). She also swam on the 400 free relay that was first (3:52.33) and the 200 medley relay that placed second (1:57.6). The others on the two relays were Annie Devaney, Regan Nolan and Kirstyn Thomas.
The girls were fifth (120) in an 11-team sectional last season behind champion and host Thomas (262), and the boys were ninth (100) in the 11-team Thomas sectional behind champion New Albany (254).
"We're a young program, so I think we have a pretty good idea of who will be making it out and who won't," coach Erin Darrah said. "We want them to get their best times."
The winner of each sectional event qualifies for the district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until district.
Drew McDougle reaches wrestling milestone
With two pins during the All-North Tournament on Feb. 2 at Dublin Jerome, senior Drew McDougle (138 pounds) reached 100 for his career.
He went 4-0 to win his weight class in the All-North and has 151 career victories.
McDougle's brother, senior Kasee McDougle, went 4-0 with four pins in the All-North and has 94 career pins, including 31 this season.
Gahanna was second (166.5) in the 14-team All-North behind Mount Vernon (244.5).
Also placing were Doland Martin (second at 170), Zach Holloway (third at 152), Jhoan Salazar (third at 132), Carl Turner (fourth at 126), Andy Chau (fourth at 195), Dakota Coates (fourth at 220), Nick Nader (fifth at heavyweight), Sheldon Rentmeester (fifth at 220), David Dembroski (sixth at 160) and Jordan Sprunger (sixth at 145).
That performance capped a busy week for the Lions, who lost to Pickerington Central 42-28 on Jan. 30 in the second round of the inaugural Division I state team tournament. Central was the second seed in Region 6-B and Gahanna was seeded sixth.
On Jan. 31, Gahanna defeated Pickerington North 36-33 to improve to 4-2 in OCC-Ohio duals.
It marked the first time the Lions had beaten North under seventh-year coach Kyle Bentley. "(We're) getting better," he said.
Gahanna closes the regular season Thursday, Feb. 7, with a league dual at Grove City and begins the individual postseason in the Marysville sectional Feb. 16.
Boys basketball team enduring 'crazy year'
The boys basketball team was on a seven-game winning streak and still alive in the OCC-Ohio title race before playing Grove City on Feb. 5.
Senior guard Aaron Jackson, a University of Akron recruit, was suspended for wins over Reynoldsburg (65-43 on Jan. 30), Lancaster (64-50 on Feb. 1) and Canal Winchester (65-56 on Feb. 2) and wasn't expected to play Feb. 5.
His status, according to coach Tony Staib, is uncertain for the Lions' game Friday, Feb. 8, against visiting Pickerington North.
Jackson also missed four games earlier this season for disciplinary reasons.
"(It's) been a crazy year," Staib said. "To be 13-4 (before the Grove City game) is a credit to our guys. (I'm) proud of them."
Gahanna was 6-4 in the league before Feb. 5 to trail Pickerington Central (9-2), Reynoldsburg (8-3), Newark (7-3) and Grove City (7-4). The Lions also have league games remaining against Newark on Tuesday, Feb. 12, and Pickerington Central on Feb. 15.
Junior guard Javon Bess scored 30 points against Canal Winchester. He also led Gahanna with 18 against Lancaster and 19 against Reynoldsburg. Junior guard Manny Powell added 18 against Reynoldsburg.
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 10. The first two rounds will be held at the site of the higher-seeded team.
"We need to be more consistent on the defensive end," Staib said. "We did a great job on defense (against Reynoldsburg) but we have to bring that every single game. For us, every win could be a higher seed. We've been under the radar this year with different circumstances and we feel like we can sneak up on some people. This year the higher seed can host games, so that's what we want to do."