The word "taper" is not welcome around the New Albany High School swimming and diving program.
"It's a forbidden word," senior Isabel Jenny said.
Instead, the Eagles prefer to say "peaking" when it comes to dropping time and achieving their best performances in the postseason. New Albany's regular season ended Jan. 27 when it swept the OCC-Capital Division meet for the third consecutive year at its home pool, with the boys and girls teams winning by a combined 344 points.
"(Assistant) coach John (Coffman) and coach (Dave) Wharton don't like that word because 'taper' implies going down to a point," senior Gage Ford said. "Just the association we have with the word has a negative connotation. They prefer 'peak' because it has a more positive connotation. Our volume drops off so we swim fewer yards but our intensity increases, so that's why they prefer 'peak.' We swim faster and hit a higher level of performance."
The boys won seven events and the girls won nine in the league meet, including five of the six relays.
Ford won the boys 50-yard freestyle in 22.83 seconds. He also was on the winning 200 free relay (1:33.98) with Nick Carlson, Tommy Morris and Pearson Spychalski and the first-place 400 free relay (3:25.15) with Andrew Levine, Morris and Spychalski.
Spychalski won the 100 backstroke (55.64) and 100 butterfly (54.28), Morris won the 200 free (1:51.16) and the 200 medley relay won in 1:45.55 with Alex Arlin, Carlson, Cade Helms and James Lapsley as the Eagles amassed 458.8 points to finish ahead of Big Walnut (278.5), Canal Winchester (206), Groveport (74) and Newark (55).
Seven girls won individual titles for New Albany, which scored 459 points to win its fourth league title in a row ahead of Canal Winchester (295), Big Walnut (139), Newark (126) and Groveport (116).
Lexi Elkovitch won the 200 free (1:58.67), Jenny won the 100 back (1:00.25), Mia Lachey was 200 individual medley champion (2:11.45), Lauren Lapsley won the 100 breaststroke (1:12.58), McKayla Moffat won the 50 free (24.79), Stacy Saribalas was first in the 500 free (5:26.41) and Emili Toppari was 100 butterfly champ in 58.84.
Jenny, Lauren Sadler, Kelly Shur and Toppari were on the first-place 200 medley relay (1:54.73). The winning 400 free relay (3:38.71) was comprised of Elkovitch, Lachey, Saribalas and Toppari.
By design, all of them were swimming tired.
"We focus more on sectional, district and state," Jenny said. "We don't drop our yardage for (league). We wait to do that so we can move on to the next step."
Ford emphasized, however, that New Albany takes its dominance of the OCC-Capital seriously.
"To be honest, we take sectional and district more seriously, but we (faced) a lot of tough teams. It means a lot to us to win the league," he said. "We don't rest for it at all, so it's an opportunity to put up the best times we can just to see where we'll be once we've rested."
Wharton formed his lineup for the league meet by working backward from a Division I sectional meet Feb. 10 at Thomas Worthington.
"My end game is the state meet," Wharton said. "Some of our swimmers finished (last) weekend, but we still have some depth so we can mix things up a little bit. (The lineup) is a case-by-case basis. That's how I plan my season; I work backwards from the end. But now that we're closer to knowing what everybody has time-wise in each event, it helps us plan for the sectional."
Surging wrestling team taking break
The wrestling team's two duals last week were decided by a total of four points, and the Eagles enter a late-season break featuring three competitors with at least 20 wins.
New Albany is 2-1 in the OCC-Capital after a 37-36 win at Canal Winchester on Jan. 25, in which it won the top five weight classes and seven matches overall. The previous night, the Eagles lost to fourth-seeded Gahanna 36-33 in a second-round Region 5-A match of the Division I team dual tournament at Watkins Memorial.
Peter Ackley was a team-best 21-4 between 170 and 182 pounds through Jan. 25. Heavyweight David Rodriguez was 20-6 and Colin Swincicki was 20-8 at 113.
Four of New Albany's seven wins against Canal Winchester came by pin.
"(The match against Canal Winchester) fell the way we thought it would," coach Larry Reichard said. "We finally have everybody down to their weight class. Peter Ackley wasn't sure if he wanted to drop to 170, but now we have Daniel Rodriguez (at 182) and he's been a backup behind Ackley and Jack Wilson the last two years and now he has a shot to start. Getting to 20 wins is a big deal. ... Our top five is pretty strong, but we're young in other areas and trying to work on that."
The fifth-seeded Eagles split their 14 matches against Gahanna, winning every match from 170 up as well as getting victories from Storm Smitherman at 132 and Michael Zusman at 138. Two wins came in overtime, as Ackley beat Brian Walthaw 7-5 and Wilson edged Nate Garbark 5-4 at 195.
New Albany had to forfeit its match at 145 because of an injury.
The Eagles return to action Feb. 8 at home against defending league champion Groveport. That is the first of four competitions in a seven-day span to end the regular season, including two quad meets.
Boys basketball team breaks losing streak
The boys basketball team tried to start a new streak when it played Logan on Jan. 30, as it ended a four-game skid with a 55-46 win over visiting Big Walnut in OCC-Capital play Jan. 26.
Brennan Wood scored 12 points and Jalin Jackson had nine to lead New Albany, which was 5-10 overall before playing Logan and 3-3 in the OCC-Capital before a Jan. 31 game against Franklin Heights.
That was the makeup of a game postponed Jan. 12 because of bad weather.
New Albany's losses in the streak came against Reynoldsburg (53-45 on Jan. 9), Olentangy Liberty (63-38 on Jan. 16), Newark (60-51 on Jan. 19) and Gahanna (70-45 on Jan. 23).
Jackson led the team in scoring in each of those games and was averaging a team-high 12.9 points before Jan. 30.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and hockey teams:
*Feb. 2 -- At Groveport. The Eagles lost to the Cruisers 51-49 in overtime Dec. 22.
*Feb. 2 -- Home vs. Groveport. The Eagles defeated the Cruisers 51-36 on Dec. 22.
Feb. 6 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*Feb. 2 -- London at Gahanna Lanes
Feb. 7 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 2 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin
*Feb. 3 -- Upper Arlington at Chiller Easton. The Eagles lost to the Golden Bears 5-3 on Jan. 20.
*Feb. 4 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The Eagles lost to the Cardinals 4-1 on Dec. 8.