Having grown up a swimmer in the community, Upper Arlington High School sophomore Kortney Eisenman admitted leaving that sport for basketball is a path rarely taken.
After all, the Golden Bears' swimming program is among the state's best, with the girls having won eight consecutive Division I state championships from 2005-12. Many of those swimmers began as youths in the Upper Arlington Swim Club, as did Eisenman.
But by age 13, Eisenman decided she needed a new athletic challenge.
"Swimming is really, really repetitive, back and forth with laps. Basketball is much more exciting, I think," said Eisenman, a 6-foot-3 center on the UA girls basketball team. "I enjoy it a lot."
Her teammates likely feel the same way, as the Bears were 16-1 overall and 9-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Central Crossing on Jan. 28.
Through 17 games, Eisenman was averaging 10.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and two blocks and was team's second-leading scorer, behind Andi Norman (13.6). As a freshman, Eisenman started 24 of 26 games, averaging 5.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
"Her growth from her freshman to sophomore year has been exponential," coach Chris Savage said. "It's an increased focus for us, obviously, to get the ball (inside) to her and take advantage of matchups (in the post). If we can get her more shots, it means our (perimeter) shooters are more wide-open."
Eisenman said she can tell how much she has progressed.
"I've looked back on my freshman year and said, 'Wow, that's not great,'" she said. "I worked really hard through the summer on pretty much everything. Probably my rebounding is where I've come the farthest. I'm a little bit more comfortable handling the ball in the post, shooting more and being more active."
Eisenman is just as comfortable shooting jump shots as she is playing under the basket. All of her 14 points in a 42-32 loss to Dublin Coffman on Nov. 29 came on jump shots.
"I'd love to say my coaching staff and I deserve a lot of credit, but that's all her," Savage said. "The bottom line is you have to get in the gym in the summer and work hard and she has."
Eisenman has her sights set on being one of the program's best players and helping to lead the Bears to heights not achieved since well before any of the current players were born.
UA, which lost to Reynoldsburg 62-19 in a Division I district final last year, has not won a district championship since 1989.
The Bears entered the week with a one-game lead over Coffman (8-2) and a two-game lead over Olentangy Liberty (7-3) and Westland (7-3) in the OCC-Central.
Eisenman and her family are not unfamiliar with high-level achievements. Her older sister, Kyley, was an All-American swimmer at UA who was on the first three state title teams and went on to compete for the University of Hawaii.
"I want to be one of the best to come through Upper Arlington," Eisenman said. "I want to do my part on this team and help us dominate. We've really clicked. We've always been really good together, but we've finally figured out we can be a pretty good team."
Swim teams sweep league championships
Thomas Trace of the boys swimming and diving team set both an OCC-Central record and a Thomas Worthington pool record in the 100-yard backstroke during the league meet that concluded Jan. 25.
Trace, a senior and Ohio State signee, won the 100 back in 50.98 seconds, breaking the pool record that had been set by 1996 Thomas graduate Rory McVay, and won the 50 freestyle (21.37).
McVay, who went on to swim for Arizona State, was a high school teammate of boys coach Mike de Bear.
The boys team won five events in the OCC-Central meet and scored 372 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Olentangy Liberty (260) as well as Coffman (206), Hilliard Davidson (151), Marysville (145), Thomas Worthington (126) and Central Crossing (28) for its 17th league championship in 18 years.
The eighth member of the OCC-Central, Westland, does not have a swimming program.
Also finishing first for the boys team were the 200 medley relay (1:40.64), Colin Reardon in the 200 individual medley (21.37) and Zach Newcome in the 500 free (4:53.7).
The girls team won nine events and scored 470 points in the OCC-Central meet to finish well ahead of runner-up Liberty (229) as it captured its 18th consecutive league title. Thomas (205) placed third, followed by Coffman (131.5), Davidson (119), Marysville (64.5) and Central Crossing (48).
Finishing first for the Bears were Gracie Long in the 50 free (24.49) and 100 free (52.32), Grace Van Fossen in the 200 free (1:57.85), Jenny Smith in the 200 IM (2:09.83), Erin Sheehan in the 100 butterfly (58.81), Julie Dierker in the 500 free (5:11.11), Jamie Krupp in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.57) and the 200 medley (1:48.78) and 200 free (1:42.02) relays.
After playing host to the Upper Arlington Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 1, the Bears will prepare for the 13-team Division I sectional meet Feb. 8 at home.
The winner of each sectional swimming event automatically qualifies for the district meet Feb. 15 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.
Wrestlers fall in first round of state tourney
Seeded fifth of eight teams in Region 5-B, the wrestling team lost to fourth-seeded Olentangy 46-25 in the first round of the Division I state team tournament Jan. 22.
UA won only five of 14 matches against Olentangy, with Harper Nelson (106 pounds), Collin Burt (113), Bobby Gardikes (126), Keith Neely (152) and Slade Morley (170) earning those victories.
Burt, Neely and Morley all won by pin.
The Bears, who are 1-4 in the OCC-Central, travel to Thomas Worthington on Thursday, Jan. 30, for a league dual. Their final league dual is Feb. 6 at home against Westland.
"I hope those are winnable duals for us," coach Matt Stout said. "We'll have a hard time against Thomas Worthington."