CANTON - After failing to advance beyond the Feb. 24 preliminaries, Hilliard Darby High School sophomore Hunter Cook stayed at Branin Natatorium to watch the Feb. 25 finals of the Division I state swimming and diving meet.

CANTON - After failing to advance beyond the Feb. 24 preliminaries, Hilliard Darby High School sophomore Hunter Cook stayed at Branin Natatorium to watch the Feb. 25 finals of the Division I state swimming and diving meet.

Cook left more determined to return next year.

"It was my first time going and it was pretty exciting just to be there," said Cook, who placed 19th in the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 45.09 seconds) and 22nd in the 200 individual medley (1:59.86) as Darby's lone state competitor. "Everyone there was so fast. It was pretty exciting to watch. It's inspired me to work harder. This year was just about making it to state. Next year, I want to perform better there and make the podium."

Also at state, Hilliard Davidson junior Erin Brooks, sophomore Megan Schmalenberger and freshman Felicia Fantin joined senior Sarah Behrent in a 21st-place finish in the 200 medley relay (1:52.54), while Behrent placed 23rd in the 100 butterfly (59.34).

Neither the Panthers boys team nor the Wildcats girls team scored at state. Cincinnati St. Xavier scored 297.5 points to win the boys title ahead of Upper Arlington (198), while the UA girls scored 300.5 points to win their eighth consecutive state title.

"(Competing at state) changed my whole mindset towards the sport," Schmalenberger said. "It really motivated me a lot. As I was looking at the times people went to make it back for finals, it hit me. This is what I have to go. This is what I have to aim for in the future."

"(An underclassmen) going away from the state meet disappointed is not necessarily a bad thing," said Brian Dickmann, who coaches all the Hilliard high school swimming teams. "It makes them hungry for next year."

Behrent, who also finished 23rd in the 100 fly (59.69) last year, recently committed to compete for Ashland University.

"I wanted to do better than I ended up doing, but it was a great way to end my senior season by making it back to state," Behrent said. "Last year and this year were very, very different. Last year, I was there by myself. Having teammates there to cheer you on and pump you up makes a big difference."

For the first time in two years, Bradley did not have a state qualifier, as it moved up this season from Division II to Division I.

In the district meet Feb. 18 at Ohio State, senior Kaitlyn Goldsmith finished 11th in the 50 free (25.21) and 16th in 100 free (54.95), and sophomore John Satre was 11th in the 200 free (1:48.37), but neither advanced to state.

Dickmann said numerous program records were broken at district.

Cook was third in the 500 free in a Darby program-record 4:42.36.

Davidson's Megan Wittman set program records in the 500 free (10th, 5:24.79) and 200 free (14th, 2:00.15), and Fantin broke the 100 breaststroke record (19th, 1:12.8).

Also breaking records at district was Darby's Emily Zawadzki (10th in 50 free, 25.15; 15th in 100 backstroke, 59.97).

"The district meet was definitely the highlight of the season," Dickmann said. "I'm very excited about the future of Hilliard swimming."

All the Hilliard programs competed in sectionals Feb. 11 at the Union County YMCA. The Darby boys finished sixth (219) behind champion Dublin Jerome (343), while Bradley was ninth (16) and Davidson did not score. In the girls meet, Davidson was fifth (207) behind champion Dublin Coffman (333), while Darby was eighth (102) and Bradley was ninth (77).

In the boys district meet, Darby placed 11th (85) and Bradley was 21st (15) behind champion UA (435). For the girls, Davidson finished 15th (51), Darby was 21st (11) and Bradley was 24th (7) behind champion UA (522).

In the OCC-Central girls meet held Jan. 28 at Thomas Worthington, UA scored 467 points to finish ahead Thomas (245), Dublin Coffman (201), Davidson (150), Worthington Kilbourne (96), Darby (79) and Central Crossing (52). UA also won the boys meet, scoring 463 points to finish ahead of Thomas (209), Kilbourne (192), Coffman (169), Darby (127), Central Crossing (65) and Davidson (0).

In the OCC-Capital girls meet held Jan. 28 at New Albany, Bradley scored 92 points to finish seventh behind New Albany (326), Delaware (282), Watkins Memorial (170), Mount Vernon (155), Olentangy Orange (155) and Big Walnut (110). The boys finished seventh (25) behind New Albany (389), Delaware (221), Mount Vernon (201), Orange (130), Watkins Memorial (103) and Big Walnut (98).