Worthington Kilbourne High School senior Hunter Atha said he no longer is apprehensive about diving in Canton's Branin Natatorium.

Worthington Kilbourne High School senior Hunter Atha said he no longer is apprehensive about diving in Canton's Branin Natatorium.

Now that he has control of his nerves, he hopes to reach the state awards podium for the first time.

Atha advanced to the Division I state swimming and diving meet by scoring 502.55 points to win a district diving title Feb. 17 at Ohio State.

"Last year, I went in there very nervous because I had never (dived) well in Canton," said Atha, who finished ninth (417.15) at state, missing the awards podium by 13.5 points. "I was doing well until my last dive and over-rotated it, and that dropped me down to ninth.

"Even though I didn't make the podium I was still really happy, because that was the first time I had (dived) well in Canton. This year, I placed second (there on Jan. 14) in the Northeast Invitational (with 453.35 points, behind Hudson sophomore Alex Obendorf's 496.45). So I'm going back to Canton feeling even more confident."

Atha and senior Keeler Callahan were Kilbourne's only qualifiers for the state meet, which runs Thursday, Feb. 23, through Saturday, Feb. 25. The boys diving competition will be held the first day.

At district, Kilbourne placed eighth (114 points) behind champion Upper Arlington (435) as 26 teams scored. The Kilbourne girls tied Big Walnut for 22nd (9) behind champion UA (522) as 27 teams scored.

The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state along with the top three boys divers and the top four girls divers. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times from district meets statewide.

Callahan placed second in 100-yard freestyle (46.91 seconds) and is seeded ninth at state. He was second in the 200 free (1:42.27) and seeded 10th at state. His time in the 100 free broke the school record of 47.72 that had stood since 1997.

"I swam exactly the way I wanted to," Callahan said. "Making it to states is the main thing. As long as you have a spot up there, you can do great things.

"You have to get yourself prepared. You can't think too much about the competition. If you think too much about that, you might psych yourself out."

•The Thomas girls qualified all three relays and three individuals to state while tying Watterson for second (213).

The boys finished 10th (110) as junior Trenton Harper won the 100 breaststroke in a school-record 58.36.

"I really wanted this," said Harper, who is seeded 11th at state. "It feels great to come out of the taper season and do well. I feel like it's a big team success. We've all been working really hard."

Sophomore Matt Reed received an at-large bid in the 100 breast after placing sixth (59.32) at district. He is seeded 20th at state.

For the girls, junior Maren Reeder won the 100 breast and reset her school record (1:05.54), and sophomore Julia Valentine finished sixth (1:06.46) in the event and advanced to state. Reeder is seeded 11th and Valentine is 19th. Freshman Kaylee Witkiewicz made it to state in all four of her events. Individually, she placed sixth in the 100 backstroke (57.48, 12th seed at state) and third in the 50 free (24.29, 17th seed). She also joined Reeder, Valentine and senior Katie Allison on the second-place 200 medley relay (1:46.11, fourth seed) and anchored sophomore Cassandra Laios, junior Abby Jank and Reeder on the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:35.67, 17th seed).

Jank, Valentine, freshman Abby Wiet and Allison advanced in the 200 free relay after placing sixth (1:40.16, 17th seed).

The 200 medley relay broke the 10-year-old school record of 1:46.46.

"We just kicked butt," Valentine said. "We tapered for this meet, so the challenge is to keep our intensity up for the state meet. We have to make sure we go out there and give it our all."