Olentangy Liberty High School girls swimming and diving coach Laurie Karr made her team train so hard during the three weeks leading up to the OCC-Cardinal Division meet that she wondered if her athletes would have the energy to challenge for the title.

Olentangy Liberty High School girls swimming and diving coach Laurie Karr made her team train so hard during the three weeks leading up to the OCC-Cardinal Division meet that she wondered if her athletes would have the energy to challenge for the title.

The Patriots proved to be up for that challenge.

In the meet held Jan. 27 and 28 at the Union County YMCA, Liberty scored 281 points to win its second league title in three years, placing ahead of Westerville Central (245), Dublin Jerome (226), Olentangy (156.5), Westerville South (147.5), Marysville (114), Westerville North (94) and Dublin Scioto (92).

Central had edged Liberty for the OCC-Cardinal title 274-268 last year, snapping the Patriots' streak of four consecutive league championships.

"I told our kids that everyone needed to be on for us to win this meet, and they said, 'But we're so tired and sore,' and my response was that everyone is tired and sore this time of year because everyone's training hard to get ready for the postseason," Karr said. "But I could see that they were really tired (on Jan. 28) and I wondered if I should have crushed them that way before the meet. Fortunately, the kids dug deep and everything turned out fine."

The Patriots entered the swimming portion of the meet with a 41-10 lead over Central after Liberty's divers placed first through third.

"Our divers gave us a nice lead to start with and that fired everyone up to race fast," Karr said.

Olivia Ball scored 477.9 points to win diving, ahead of Brittany Menninger (440.3) and Alex Clay (430.25).

"I've been resting my back to try to get it healthy, and then I missed three days of school last week because I was sick," Clay said. "I watered down my list (of dives) to take care of my back, but not so much where I couldn't be competitive. I'm just glad I was able to score and help my team win."

Ashleigh Rissmeyer, Olivia Bently, Caroline Racke and Cameron Hiltner won the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 56.91 seconds ahead of runner-up Olentangy (1:58.5) to get Liberty off to a strong start Jan. 28.

"Marysville, South and Olentangy had already beat us in the 200 medley this season, so it was a surprise that we were able to pull that off," Karr said. "Ashleigh's a senior and she had never won a (first-place) medal in the OCC before, and I think that motivated her teammates to swim hard for her."

Liberty outscored Central 31-4 in the 100 backstroke, as Rissmeyer (1:06.86), Audrey Penza (1:07.36), Madelyn Miller (1:07.99) and Makenzie Kerr (1:08.46) finished fifth through eighth.

The Patriots outscored Central 20-7 in the 100 breaststroke, as Bently (first, 1:08.19) and Bailee Braun (ninth, 1:14.72) scored.

And Liberty outscored Central 28-16 in the 200 individual medley, as Hiltner (third, 2:18.7), Braun (sixth, 2:25.41) and Penza (seventh, 2:26.22) scored.

"Westerville Central won all the freestyle events and they killed us in the 50 free and 100 free, but we were even with them in the 200 free and 500 free, and we crushed them in the 100 back, the 100 breast, diving and the medley," Karr said. "This was a really good team effort, because everyone on our team did something to improve and score for us. Westerville Central was strong in the sprint freestyle races, but we're a little more well-rounded than them."

•The Liberty boys team scored 135 to finish sixth in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind Jerome (253), Central (215), Olentangy (190), Scioto (163) and North (141) and ahead of South (132) and Marysville (96).

Joseph McConaghy finished third (1:07.19) in the 100 breast.

Tommy Dawson placed fourth in the 100 back (59.29) and 200 free (1:54.64).

And Matthew Lennon finished fifth in the 100 free (51.47) and sixth in the 50 free (23.39).

"Tom Dawson had a nice meet, and Joseph swam really well in the 100 breast," Karr said. "We just didn't have the depth or speed to compete with a lot of those teams."

The Patriots have turned their attention to preparing for the Division I sectional Feb. 11 at the Union County YMCA.

The winner of each sectional swimming event qualifies for the district meet Feb. 18 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.

Last year, the Patriots' girls team scored 173 points to place second in the 14-team Division I sectional at Thomas Worthington behind Thomas (194), while their boys squad scored 163 points to finish third in the 12-team Division I sectional at Thomas behind New Albany (238) and Thomas (195).

"We don't think about the team points too much at sectional, because our focus is to get as many kids through to district as possible," Karr said. "We should be able to get our relays and a lot of girls through in individual events. For our boys team, Matt (Lennon), Tom (Dawson) and Nate (Blaine) have the best chance of making it through as individuals"