The last thing Upper Arlington High School boys swimming and diving coach Mike de Bear was worried about during the OCC-Central Division meet that concluded Jan. 26 at Thomas Worthington was fast times.
Because the Golden Bears expect a fruitful postseason and hope to improve on their second-place finish in the Division I state meet last year, they planned to start tapering gradually this week. So while de Bear was pleased his team scored 428 points to win its 13th consecutive league championship, his goals remain unachieved.
"We went hard (Jan. 25) in practice. We're not worried about crazy-fast times yet," de Bear said. "This is kind of an end-of-the-regular-season meet for us. Our goals will hopefully be met at the sectional, district and state meets."
UA won 10 of 12 events in the league meet and had at least one top-three finish in each event to finish well ahead of Olentangy Liberty (229), Thomas (214), Dublin Coffman (200), Hilliard Davidson (96), Marysville (72) and Central Crossing (51). Westland does not have a swimming and diving program.
Finishing first were senior and Ohio State-signee Joey Long in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 44.74 seconds) and 500 free (4:45.72), senior Ian Reardon in the 200 individual medley (1:57.29) and 100 breaststroke (1:00.06), junior Thomas Trace in the 50 free (21.96) and 100 backstroke (53.1) and senior Max Jelen in the 100 butterfly (53.28).
UA, which had the top three placers in the 500 free, also won the 200 medley (1:38.91), 200 free (1:29.8) and 400 free (3:20.35) relays.
"If anything, we got some strong feedback on exactly where we are right now," de Bear said. "Not all the guys had their legs under them. It's been a lot of heavier weights with less reps lately in our dry-land (training). In the next few weeks, they're really going to see the results of their work."
The girls team won seven events in the OCC-Central meet and scored 452 points to win its 14th consecutive league title. Thomas (240) was second, followed by Liberty (185), Coffman (182), Davidson (115), Central Crossing (52) and Marysville (48).
Finishing first were sophomore Gracie Long in the 100 (52.24) and 200 free (1:53.87), junior Jenny Smith in the 200 IM (2:08.57) and 500 free (5:05.58) and sophomore Emma Lammers in the 100 fly (59.98).
UA, which had the top three finishers in both the 100 free and 500 free races, also won the 200 free (1:39.7) and 400 free (3:36.02) relays.
"We're starting to see some real strong swims here and there," girls coach Dan Peterkoski said. "This is the beginning of the postseason for us. We're thinking a lot about fine-tuning and seeing a few places we're questioning just to make sure we'll make the right moves for the sectional."
Both the boys and girls teams will compete in a 12-team Division I sectional meet Feb. 9 at their home pool.
The winner of each sectional 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.
"For the most part, we know what we're doing," Peterkoski said. "But we don't want to make the decisions too quickly. We want to give our swimmers every chance we can."
Reid expected back for wrestling team
Wrestling coach Matt Stout expected junior Blake Reid (170 pounds) to return this week after missing six weeks with a small crack in a vertebra.
Reid, who is 9-0, originally was thought to be out until mid-February with what initially was diagnosed as a stress fracture. He was projected to compete Jan. 30 against Central Crossing in the second round of the Division I state team tournament.
The Bears beat the Comets 41-34 in an OCC-Central dual Jan. 24.
UA, which defeated seventh-seeded Franklin Heights 64-18 in the first round Jan. 23, was the second seed in Region 6-A of the dual-format tournament. Central Crossing was sixth.
"Blake gives us a lot of flexibility," Stout said. "(Freshman) Izak Wunderlich (who took Reid's place at 170) has been wrestling up a weight (class) against older guys. We could see Blake at 182 and bump (sophomore) Nick Pavoni up to 195. We have options, and that's never a bad thing."
The UA-Central Crossing winner competed against OCC-Central rival and top-seeded Hilliard Davidson or fourth-seeded Grove City in a regional semifinal Jan. 30. The winner of that match advanced to a regional final against Mount Vernon, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North or Teays Valley on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at a site to be determined.
Final weekend big for hockey team
The hockey team ends its Capital Hockey Conference schedule this weekend with three games in as many days, needing three wins to secure a spot in the championship bracket of the Blue Jackets Cup.
A 2-1 overtime loss to DeSales on Jan. 26 left the Bears 12-9-1-1 overall and 5-7-1-1 (12 points) in the CHC-Red Division, four points behind fourth-place Coffman (8-7, 16). The top four teams in the Red Division, the top three teams in the White Division and the champion of the Blue Division will compete in the championship bracket Feb. 7-10 at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The remaining teams in the three divisions will compete in the consolation bracket Feb. 8-10 at the Ice Haus.
UA plays Watterson on Friday, Feb. 1, at Chiller Easton before back-to-back games at the Ice Haus against Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday, Feb. 2, and Olentangy Orange on Sunday, Feb. 3. Orange leads the CHC-White at 12-0 (24), Moeller is third in the CHC-Red (10-4-0-1, 21) and Watterson is third in the CHC-Blue (4-10-0-1, 9).