New Albany High School diving coach Selene Kelley doesn't think the second- and fourth-place finishes in the Division I state meet by sophomores Estee Pryor and David Dinsmore will hurt their budding following.
"There's a lot of little kids coming up through the program (at New Albany Country Club)," said Kelley, who has coached Pryor since she was 5 and Dinsmore since he was 8. "David and Estee are huge role models for the kids. In the summer, they talk to the kids and get in and dive with them. Estee signs autographs for the kids and they made her videos going into this meet wishing her good luck."
They represented New Albany well.
Pryor scored 461.5 points to place second in the girls competition Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, .25 points behind champion Olivia Ball of Olentangy Liberty. On Feb. 23 in the boys final, Dinsmore was fourth (495.15) behind champion Stephen Romanik (557.15) of Macedonia Nordonia.
Pryor finished by scoring 39.1 on a reverse pike in the final round. She earned 50.4 points on her ninth dive and 53.2 on her 10th to stay in contention against Ball, an Ohio State Diving Club teammate who won her second consecutive state title.
"I had a lot of fun here," Pryor said. "I'm not upset at all. I just tried to do what I do in practice. This gives me motivation to work even harder. I just have to do some fine-tuning."
Dinsmore, who was eighth (441.85) at state last year, had the lead entering the final round before Romanik scored 72 points with a reverse one-and-a-half somersault that wowed the small, vocal crowd.
Dinsmore saved his best dives, a reverse two-and-a-half tuck and back one-and-a-half, for the end.
"Those dives were pretty solid for me," he said. "My reverse two-and-a-half was either a hit or a miss, so that was big when I hit that. It helped me feel a lot better and I started to dive really well."
On the strength of those performances, the New Albany girls finished 16th (39) behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (234) as 55 teams scored. The boys were 36th (15) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (270) as 57 teams scored.
The girls 200-yard freestyle relay placed eighth (1 minute, 37.84 seconds) with seniors Elly Gleason and Haley McLellan, junior Amanda Jenny and sophomore Taylor Berend.
Both Eagles teams entered the postseason on a high, sweeping the OCC-Capital Division championships Jan. 26 at home for the fifth consecutive year. The boys scored 335 points to win their 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).
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).
In a Division I sectional meet Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington, the boys were third (201.5) behind champion Westerville South (216) and the girls were second (239) behind the host Cardinals (311).
In the district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State, the boys were 14th (73) behind champion Upper Arlington (380) as 24 teams scored and the girls were ninth (116) behind champion UA (491) as 24 teams scored.
Girls basketball team falls in second round
Although the girls basketball team struggled against Olentangy Liberty's zone defense early in a Division I district tournament second-round game Feb. 20, the 13th-seeded Eagles took a second-half lead before falling to the 17th-seeded Patriots 31-30 at home.
Senior guard Hannah Scipio had 11 points and senior forward Kyasia Duling had nine for New Albany, which finished 15-9 overall. Liberty led 11-9 at halftime before the Eagles came back to take a 24-19 lead entering the fourth quarter.
"Liberty didn't get a lot of good shots and that enabled us to stay in the game, but we never got into the flow transition-wise," first-year coach Jeff Blunt said. "We wanted more out of this season. I wanted so much for this group and we just weren't able to get far enough."
New Albany defeated 31st-seeded Thomas 41-30 in the first round Feb. 16 at home.
The Eagles went 10-4 in the OCC-Capital to finish third behind Orange (14-0) and Olentangy (12-2) and ahead of Delaware (7-7), Big Walnut (6-8), Mount Vernon (4-10), Watkins Memorial (3-11) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
Duling and Scipio, who have signed with Duquesne and Akron, respectively, were both first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Freshman forward Meche'la Cobb and senior guard Chrissy Harris were special mention all-league, and senior guard Cheyenne Hartley-Carr was honorable mention all-league.
Duling averaged 8.8 points and eight rebounds. Scipio averaged 7.3 points.
"Some of these girls are already looking forward to next year," Blunt said. "A few of the (underclassmen) texted me after the (Liberty) game about how excited they are to play for us next year. That's very, very pleasing to a coach."
Boys basketball team escapes first round
Senior forward Devon Pitts' basket in the final two seconds enabled the fourth-seeded boys basketball team to defeat 34th-seeded Marysville 63-61 in a Division I district tournament first-round game Feb. 22 at home.
Senior guards Jalen Rhea and Jack Serbin had 19 and 12 points, respectively, and junior guard Avery Schneider added 11 for the Eagles, who improved to 21-2. New Albany will play host to Mount Vernon in a second-round game at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28.
The Eagles swept the Yellow Jackets in two OCC-Capital meetings, winning 37-29 on Jan. 11 and 50-31 on Feb. 15.
The winner will play sixth-seeded Zanesville or 18th-seeded Orange in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at Pickerington North. That winner will play fifth-seeded Dublin Scioto, seventh-seeded Dublin Coffman, 10th-seeded Pickerington Central or 16th-seeded Grove City in a district final March 9 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
New Albany swept Orange in two OCC-Capital games, winning 68-54 on Dec. 7 and 54-34 on Jan. 18. The Eagles did not play Zanesville during the regular season.
Wrestling season ends at district
Senior Nick Fluty went 1-2 at 120 pounds and freshman Matthew Jones was 0-2 at 195 in the Division I district wrestling tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby. The top four in each weight class advanced to state.
Fluty lost to Mount Vernon's Tyler Zeller 6-4 in the first round and rebounded to pin Westerville North's Tyler Cumer in 1:33 before falling 3-2 to Thomas' Kasey Ackley.
Jones was pinned by Orange's Lenn's Kamba (1:08) and Groveport's Malcolm Solack (2:58).
The Eagles (3) tied for 32nd behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 teams scored.