Barely 15 minutes had passed since the New Albany High School swimming and diving teams accomplished their fifth consecutive sweep of the OCC-Capital Division championships Jan. 26 in their home pool, but no screams of joy marked the occasion and no coaches were thrown into the pool in celebration.
The Eagles went about their cool-down and left without fanfare, perhaps in a nod to the tasks ahead.
"We treated (the league meet) as a steppingstone for the whole team to the (Division I) sectional (meet Feb. 9)," coach Dave Wharton said. "We have no dual meets and nothing distracting us. ... It's all training and preparation for the (postseason)."
The boys team scored 335 points to win its seventh consecutive OCC-Capital title, well ahead of Olentangy (274), Delaware (264), Olentangy Orange (166), Mount Vernon (96), Watkins Memorial (77) and Big Walnut (74). Franklin Heights does not have a swimming program.
The girls team scored 312 points for its fifth OCC-Capital championship in a row, outdistancing Olentangy (274), Delaware (259), Orange (167), Watkins Memorial (114), Big Walnut (101) and Mount Vernon (63).
Senior Phillip Smoyer, junior Nick Noe and sophomore Blake Bergere paced the 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 32.95 seconds) and 400 free relay (3:24.06) to wins, junior Brendan Murphy was first in the 200 individual medley (2:08.15) and 100 butterfly (56.4), and Smoyer won the 100 free (50.44) and was second in the 50 free (22.86). The boys also got first-place finishes from sophomores David Dinsmore in diving (516.85 points) and Jordan Gundlach in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.33).
The girls 200 free relay won (1:42.84) and the 400 free relay was second (3:50.77) despite having to scramble to replace senior Elly Gleason, who won the 50 free (25.63) and was third in the 100 fly (1:07.01) before leaving the meet early because of strep throat. Freshman Olivia Neff replaced Gleason in the 200 free, and senior Mirra Galbreath took her place in the 400 free.
Sophomore diver Estee Pryor was first (432.7), and sophomore Taylor Berend was second in the 200 IM (2:18.44) and the 100 free (55.9).
"I think today went better than we hoped," said senior Haley McLellan, a University of Cincinnati signee who is on the 200 and 400 free relays, won the 100 backstroke (1:03.06) and was third in the 200 free (2:03.68). "We knew we'd have a lot of strong races, but the depth we had, it really helps us win."
New Albany will compete in an 11-team sectional at Thomas Worthington.
The winner of each 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 the district meet.
Murphy said keeping the postseason in mind put the league meet in perspective.
"It's a prep meet to see where we are and stay on track with our goals," he said. "Other than that, it's just like any other meet. I wouldn't say it's a steppingstone, but it's a meet to reflect and catch our bearings and see where we are."
Boys basketball team's Tolber regaining form
The boys basketball team eagerly welcomed back 6-foot-2 senior guard Jonathan Tolber earlier this month after a torn right meniscus caused him to miss the first nine games.
Coach Sam Davis said Tolber, an honorable mention all-league selection last year, is easing back into the flow.
"He's trying to play at the speed and pace everyone else is. He's just not there yet. But I have to applaud his effort," Davis said. "Right now, his passes are a bit late and he's getting frustrated. But he's a good player. Those plays he can make, he has to get back into game shape before that happens."
Tolber scored six points in his return, an 80-45 win at Watkins Memorial on Jan. 8. His only start entering this week was a 52-51 loss at Westerville South on Jan. 19. Davis said that was largely because South started a lineup against which he thought Tolber could play well, but added Tolber struggled some in the fast-paced but defense-oriented game.
"But we got him settled down and he contributed before the night was over," said Davis, whose team took records of 15-2 overall and 9-0 in the OCC-Capital into a Jan. 29 home league game against Delaware. "He's making strides, and hopefully by tournament time he'll be playing like the old Jonathan."
Wrestlers lose in first round
Senior Nic Fluty's win at 126 pounds provided the wrestling team its only points in a 76-3 loss to top-seeded Hilliard Darby in a Division I, Region 5-B first-round state dual tournament match Jan. 23.
Fluty also was second at 126 and senior Corey Mulvey was third at 152 in the Cruiser Invitational on Jan. 26 at Groveport.
The Eagles, who were seeded eighth in Region 5-B, resume their OCC-Capital schedule at home Thursday, Jan. 31, against Delaware.