Anne Marie Cummins and her younger sister, Maureen, rarely have had direct impacts on each other's athletic fortunes.
Anne Marie, a junior on the DeSales High School girls swimming and diving team, has qualified for the Division II state meet twice in the 100-yard backstroke and 100 butterfly. Maureen, a freshman, has been competing in the 100 freestyle and 100 back this season.
As it turns out, the sisters might have a direct impact on how far they advance in this year's postseason. Anne Marie and Maureen each will swim the 100 back in an 11-team Division I sectional meet Feb. 8 at Thomas Worthington. It's a challenge that both welcome, at least to an extent.
"I would rather not be next to her, but I really don't mind racing my sister. Hopefully, it'll be a good race," Anne Marie said.
"She's usually a few lanes over at practice, so we don't really go right up against each other all the time," Maureen said. "It's like there are lanes for the older swimmers, then the freshman lane. We always try to keep up with them because they practice really hard. They're the leaders."
Both competed in the 100 back in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 7 at Ohio State and Maureen got the better of her older sister, finishing sixth (59.33 seconds), .37 of a second ahead of eighth-place Anne Marie.
Anne Marie finished 14th in the 100 fly (59.35) and 19th in the 100 back (59.95) in the state meet last year after placing 20th in the 100 back (1:01.76) and 23rd in the 100 fly (1:01.62) as a freshman.
"She's a fireball," Anne Marie said of Maureen. "She's never really a surprise when it comes to racing. She definitely has talent when it comes to performing. She's a great competitor. (You) can't ask for anything better than that, I guess."
Both performed well in the CCL meet that concluded Jan. 25 at St. Charles, as Anne Marie won the 100 back (1:01.47) and placed second in the 100 fly (1:01.91) and Maureen won the 100 free (56.16) and finished third in the 100 back (1:04.04).
DeSales finished fourth (170) in the CCL meet behind Columbus School for Girls (442), Watterson (319) and Hartley (193) and ahead of Ready (32).
"She's done well holding her own at meets," coach Mallory Hoffman said of Maureen. "She and Anne Marie are a pretty good support group for each other, and they push each other. Maureen was already a solid swimmer when she got here. She and Anne Marie both compete a lot in the summer, and that shows through this time of year."
With the girls team now competing in Division I, Anne Marie knows she will be facing a tougher road to state. Whereas she tapered for state last year, she will taper for the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State within the next few weeks.
"I'm definitely tapering for districts being in Division I," Anne Marie said. "It's definitely good for me because it pushes my limits a little bit, but I try to not look at (other times) too much. I just try to focus on myself, I guess. It's good to look at times from last year to see where things were, and hopefully they'll be similar this year."
Coleman McKinney won both the 50 free (22.93) and 100 free (51.35) to pace the boys team in the CCL meet, as the Stallions finished third (120) behind St. Charles (481) and Hartley (249) and ahead of Watterson (54).
Lineup changes spark boys basketball team
According to boys basketball coach Joe Bills, a few tweaks and increased patience on the floor recently produced what just might be his team's two best wins of the season.
Trying to find itself before competing in the Route 40 Classic at Zanesville West Muskingum, the Stallions opened the three-day event by edging Dover 55-50 on Jan. 18 and ended their stay with a come-from-behind 46-45 win over New Concord John Glenn on Jan. 20.
Miles McNeal, a junior guard who hadn't played much varsity in recent weeks, hit the winning 3-pointer against John Glenn with 3 seconds left to cap a possession in which all five players on the floor touched the ball.
"How we approached that possession shows how much we've grown," Bills said. "We've had struggles against strong defenses when we have to make decisions on the floor. (Against John Glenn,) we waited for a great shot and that paid off. The guys knew they didn't have to force a bad shot."
DeSales is 6-9 overall and 0-5 in the CCL entering its game Friday, Jan. 31, at Hartley.
Bills lauded McNeal's efforts in ball-handling and help-side defense as well as those of forward Reed Norris, a junior who had to sit out the season's first 11 games after transferring from Heath.
"(Norris) hit two 3(-pointers) in his first game for us," Bills said, referring to a 54-49 loss to Watterson on Jan. 10. "He'll log some good minutes as a big guy, and we can never have too many of those. He's a heck of a baseball player and, when he came to DeSales, we weren't even sure he'd play (basketball)."
Another of the Stallions' inside presences, 6-foot-7 freshman Caden Sanchez, had a career-high 20 points against Dover.
Wrestlers prepare for CCL tourney
The wrestling team took this past weekend off to rest up and refocus for the postseason, which begins with the CCL tournament Saturday, Feb. 1, at St. Charles.
"We've been going hard the last couple weekends, and I thought it was time to give the guys a breather," coach Nick Preston said. "Right now, our focus is on performing well at the league meet, but we have to train for the postseason and get those individual guys as far as we can. If we can get a few through (to the Division II district tournament), I'll be very pleased."
According to Preston, among the Stallions' best wrestlers have been four freshmen -- Domenic Carfagna (106 pounds), Codi Littler (113), Collin Golden (120) and Cameron Cua (126). Preston called Connor Cua (132) the team's best wrestler even though the sophomore has been hampered by an elbow injury in recent weeks.
Preston said Hartley and St. Charles are the favorites to win the CCL title. Last season, DeSales scored 137 points to finish fourth behind St. Charles (263), Hartley (238) and Ready (149) and ahead of Watterson (79).
The league championship was St. Charles' first since 2010.
"Ready is a tough team, too, and they might have a say (about who wins the CCL title)," Preston said. "I think it's going to be a good battle, and I think some of our guys have the chance to have really good days."