The Watkins Memorial High School swimming and diving teams were unable to get in a final tune-up before the start of the postseason.
The Warriors were scheduled to compete in the Southeast Ohio Swim League meet Jan. 25 at Ohio University, but the event was canceled because of bad weather. As a result, coach Heidi Williams is counting on practice this week to help her teams prepare for the Division I sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 8, at Thomas Worthington.
"Since we didn't get one last meet (Jan. 25), we need to get in some good practices, but the weather hasn't cooperated for us to get pool time," Williams said. "It's always good to have that league meet and then a break heading into (the sectional). The good news is that we have been performing very well."
The winner of each sectional swimming event automatically qualifies for the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until the district meet.
"I think the girls have the ability to qualify for district in nine individual events and all three relays," Williams said. "I expect the girls to have an outstanding performance at sectionals."
Senior Rachel Baughn and juniors Kayla Fenimore, Jayna Hulse, Shelby Seas and Monica Tumblin have been leading the Warriors.
At sectional, Fenimore is expected to compete in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 breaststroke, Seas is expected to compete in the 100 breast and 100 freestyle, Baughn is expected to swim the 100 fly and 100 backstroke, Tumblin is expected to compete in the 100 breast and 50 free and Hulse is expected to swim the 500 free and 200 free.
Fenimore holds the program record in the 100 fly (1:02.41) and teamed with Seas, Baughn and 2013 graduate Miranda Gessner to set program records in the 200 medley relay (1:59.21) and 200 free relay (1:47.46) last season. Fenimore and Seas also were on the 400 free relay that set a program record (4:04.03) in the 2011-12 season.
"Our medley relay lineup will be Fenimore, Seas, Baughn and Tumblin, and those same four will be in the 200 free relay," Williams said. "The 400 free relay will be Abby Jarvis, Gracie Gessner, Chelsea List and Jayna Hulse. I think all three relays can get to district and Hulse is on the bubble in the 500 free."
The boys team has been led by brothers Alan and Skylar Chapman.
Alan Chapman, a junior, is expected to compete in the 100 fly and 100 breast, although his versatility would allow him to compete in any event. He holds six individual program records, setting the 100 fly (58.44), 100 breast (1:05.6) and 50 free (23.61) marks this season after setting records in the 200 individual medley (2:15.84), 100 back (1:03.51) and 500 free (5:55.21) last season.
Alan Chapman teamed with 2013 graduate Charlie Grady, Willy Burnett and Skylar Chapman to set the program record in the 200 free relay (1:49.63) two seasons ago.
Skylar Chapman is expected to compete at sectional in the 200 free and 500 free and team with his brother, Anthony Juarez and Marshall Grady on the 200 free relay. The lineup for the 200 medley relay is expected to be Jacob Sloan, the Chapman brothers and Juarez.
"Alan should make it (to district) in both of his individual events, Skylar has a shot in the 500 free and is on the bubble in the 200 free," Williams said. "The young guys have really improved and I expect the 200 free relay and medley relay to swim very well, too."
Boys basketball team seeking consistency
The boys basketball team is hoping to replicate its performance in a 63-52 win over Newark Catholic in an LCL game Jan. 22 for the remainder of the season.
Hunter Holton had 16 points and Clay Gray scored 14 to lead Watkins Memorial, which was 7-8 overall and 5-7 in the LCL before playing Licking Heights on Jan. 31.
"It was our biggest win of the season by far," Holton said. "It was the best game we played. We beat them in every quarter and that's been rare this year because we usually have a bad quarter here or there.
"We also played well in all phases and that hasn't happened much. But everyone shot it well that night. If we can win a game like that against (one of the LCL leaders), we can do it all the time."
Newark Catholic was 13-4 and 10-3 before playing Northridge on Jan. 31.
"Well, we proved to ourselves and to everyone that we're capable of games like that," coach Pat Dimmick said. "Now the trick is to do it consistently. That's been our problem all season. We haven't been consistent. Things change from quarter to quarter and we finally put four quarters together. The next step is to do that a few games in a row."
Watkins Memorial followed up its win over Newark Catholic with a 53-35 loss to Johnstown on Jan. 24. The Warriors have won consecutive games only once this season, when they beat Hilliard Bradley 74-66 on Dec. 23 and Fisher Catholic 49-30 on Dec. 28.
However, the Warriors also have avoided long losing streaks. They haven't lost more than two in a row and, entering play Jan. 31, had lost back-to-back games only twice, falling to Newark Catholic (55-47 on Dec. 10) and Johnstown (66-43 on Dec. 13) the first time and Northridge (70-67 on Jan. 3) and Granville (62-54 on Jan. 10) the second.
"I think we can win all of our remaining six (regular-season) games, or at least five," Holton said. "Most of our games have been close. We've only lost maybe three times when it wasn't close in the fourth quarter. We need to get over the top the rest of the way and get prepared for (the Division I district tournament) coming up in a few weeks."
Dimmick said consistency and self-confidence go hand in hand.
"Our focus isn't there if our shots aren't falling and that's what happened against Johnstown," he said. "If we come out shooting poorly, we need to be able to gut it out, stick with it and remain focused. We're close. We're improving quite a bit. For us to get on a season-ending winning streak, we have to come up with another good win and carry it over. Winning breeds winning."
Wrestlers tuning up for sectional tourney
The wrestling team will close the regular season Thursday, Feb. 6, when it competes against host Central Crossing and Thomas Worthington.
It will be the final event for the Warriors prior to the 11-team Division I sectional tournament Feb. 15 at home. Also competing at the site are Canal Winchester, Delaware, Dresden Tri-Valley, Dublin Scioto, Lancaster, Licking Heights, Pickerington North, Reynoldsburg, St. Charles and Zanesville.
The Warriors finished third in the Watkins Memorial Invitational on Jan. 25, scoring 174 points to finish behind Marysville (209) and Dublin Coffman (196.5) and ahead of Central Crossing (172.5), Big Walnut (150), Licking Valley (129.5), Reynoldsburg (115.5) and McConnelsville Morgan (109).
Two other teams had been scheduled to compete in the meet. Canal Winchester did not want to travel because of the bad weather and Steubenville backed out because its lineup was ravaged by injuries and illness. As a result of having two fewer teams, the event was switched to a round-robin format.
Andrew Lieb won the title at 132 pounds by going 5-0, recording two pins and winning a match by technical fall. He defeated Morgan's Kody Driggs 5-2 in the final.
Placing second for the Warriors were Alex Lieb (106), Dean Marek (120) and Adam Tompkins (170). Robert Speaks (152) placed third, and Dante Fair (145) and Max Boyd (160) both finished fourth.
"We wrestled well with a lot of young kids getting some good experience," coach Mark Kurth said.
The Warriors competed in the LCL meet Feb. 1.
Girls basketball team nearing postseason
The girls basketball team was 4-15 overall and 3-12 in the LCL before playing Northridge on Feb. 1.
Watkins Memorial has league games Thursday, Feb. 6, at home against Utica and Saturday, Feb. 8, at Granville before closing the regular season with another league contest Feb. 10 at Licking Valley.
The game against Licking Valley had been scheduled for Jan. 25 but was postponed.
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 2, with first-round games starting Feb. 15.
Watkins Memorial lost to Licking Heights 49-48 in an LCL game Jan. 30. Vicki Smith had 13 points to lead the Warriors and Lexi Denison scored 12.