Dani Ward led the Delaware Hayes High School girls swimming and diving team in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet and is looking to have a strong postseason.

Ward won the 100-yard backstroke (1 minute, 3.65 seconds) and was runner-up in the 100 butterfly (1:01.54) in the league meet held Jan. 26 and 27 at Thomas Worthington, helping the Pacers finish second (244 points) behind Dublin Jerome (251.5) and ahead of Thomas (205), Hilliard Darby (172.5), Worthington Kilbourne (156), Dublin Scioto (154) and Hilliard Bradley (79).

"I was super happy with my swim, although I was tired going into it," said Ward, who won the 100 fly and finished third in the 100 back in last year's OCC-Cardinal meet as Delaware won its first league title since 2004. "We worked extremely hard over the winter break and this was our last event before tapering. I'm hoping to come out of my taper super fast."

The Pacers will compete in a Division I sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 10, at Thomas. The winner of each swimming event automatically advances to the district meet Feb. 16 and 17 at Ohio University. In addition, 27 at-large qualifiers will advance, based on times from the sectional sites in the Central District, East District and Southeast District.

There is no diving at sectional.

"Dani is strong, versatile and determined in the pool," coach Jordan Nicol said. "I'm looking forward to seeing her times at sectional and district and I think she has our best chance to qualify to state in individual events. She's been to state as part of relays in the past."

Elizabeth Abahazi placed second in the 500 freestyle (5:43.13) in the league meet and placing third were Katie Amrine in the 100 back (1:04.86), the 200 medley relay of Ward, Lauren Ertz, Rena Ouyang and Valerie Keller (1:55.99), the 200 free relay of Ward, Keller, Emily Abahazi and Ouyang (1:43.54) and the 400 free relay of Kelly Godfrey, Emily Abahazi, Ertz and Elizabeth Abahazi (3:59.83).

Ouyang placed fourth in the 100 fly (1:03.22), Keller was fifth in the 50 free (25.95) and Emily Abahazi was fifth in the 200 free (2:10.1).

"I think the medley and 200 free relays have a chance to qualify to state on the girls and boys sides," Nicol said. "I think we should have at least eight swimmers qualify in at least one event for district and we could have a few more on a good day."

The boys team finished second (218) in the league meet behind Jerome (435) and ahead of Thomas (150), Scioto (145), Kilbourne (144), Darby (131) and Bradley (60).

Paul Carter was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.99) and joined Zach Ward, Kael Gannon and Andrew Parker on the second-place 200 medley relay (1:43.97). The 200 free relay of Gannon, Lucas Pape, Ward and Parker also was second (1:31.58).

Gannon was third in both the 50 free (23.01) and 100 fly (55.62) and placing fourth were Ward in both the 100 fly (57.03) and 200 individual medley (2:05.37), the 400 free relay of Ethan Hall, Aidan Stojkov, Caleb Bucher and Pape (3:32.74), Parker in the 50 free (23.33) and Sam Sulek in diving (269.5 points).

Parker was fifth in the 100 free (50.7) and Pape was fifth in the 100 breast (1:07.1).

"The core group -- Gannon, Parker, Carter and Pape -- is tapering for district and should be ready to post some strong times and see where that leads them," Nicol said.

Bowling teams win OCC-Cardinal titles

The girls and boys bowling teams clinched OCC-Cardinal titles with victories over Groveport on Jan. 24.

The girls team beat the Cruisers 1,903-1,806 to finish 6-0 in the league, ahead of runner-up Darby (5-1).

The Pacers were 15-3 overall and 8-3 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division entering the league finale Feb. 1 against Olentangy Orange. The Pacers were fourth in that league behind Gahanna (11-0), Olentangy (10-1) and Westerville Central (9-2).

Through 18 matches, Emma Wasielewski had a team-best 189.7 game average, followed by Alyssa Williams (163.8), Reagan Olson (162.8) and Jenna VanGundy (158.5).

The boys team finished 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal after beating Groveport 2,460-2,361. Darby finished second at 4-2 and Kilbourne was 3-2 with one match remaining.

The Pacers were 11-7 overall and 5-6 in the COHSBC-A entering the Feb. 1 match against Orange.

Through 18 matches, Dillon Murfield had a team-best 200.4 average, followed by D.J. Cocherl (194.2), Dylan Jebode (176.9) and Shaun Bendele (171.6).

Boys basketball team seeks late-season run

The boys basketball team is hoping to make a late-season push to get above .500 for the first time this season.

The Pacers opened the season 0-3 but were 4-4 before a four-game losing streak.

Delaware was 7-9 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing league-leading Bradley on Feb. 2. The Pacers entered the contest having won three of their previous four games.

Entering play Feb. 2, Bradley was 7-0 in the league, followed by Darby (6-2), Delaware, Jerome (4-4), Kilbourne (4-5), Scioto (3-5) and Thomas (0-9).

"Learning how to win with young guys takes more of a crockpot mentality than a microwave," coach Jordan Blackburn said. "We've had to stay together and keep doing the right things to give ourselves chances to win. If we can win two or three more conference games out of our last three, we will finish second in our conference and have a team featuring seven returnees for next year.

"We are getting tougher. We love coaching this group."

Delaware plays host to Kilbourne on Tuesday, Feb. 6, before visiting Jerome on Friday, Feb. 9.

The Pacers defeated the Wolves 52-48 on Dec. 22 behind 26 points and 17 rebounds from Terin Kinsway, but fell to the Celtics 56-53 on Jan. 9 in a game in which Delaware was outscored 32-23 in the second half.

Entering play Feb. 2, the Pacers' only setback in their previous four games was a 36-35 loss to Darby on Jan. 19 when the Panthers scored in the final seconds.

Delaware beat Thomas 37-20 on Jan. 23 and defeated Scioto 50-41 on Jan. 26 behind 20 points and 11 rebounds from Kinsway. Nate Griggs also scored 20 points against the Irish, who led 25-20 at halftime.

The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 11. First-round games are Feb. 24.

Girls basketball team looked to end skid

The girls basketball team had lost five games in a row and was 7-11 overall and 1-8 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a game against Bradley on Feb. 2.

Despite 11 points from Jessica Walker, 10 from Piper Adkins and nine from Alexis Amabile, the Pacers lost to Walnut Ridge 58-53 on Jan. 29. Entering the contest, they had won four of the six games in which they scored 50 points or more.

Delaware, which lost to Scioto 61-44 on Jan. 26, will play at Kilbourne on Tuesday, Feb. 6, before playing host to Jerome in its league finale Friday, Feb. 9. The Pacers will close out the regular season Saturday, Feb. 10, at home against Mount Gilead.

The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 4. First-round games are Feb. 17.

Gymnastics team preps for OCC meet

The gymnastics team finished second (122.8) behind Marysville (126.45) and ahead of Buckeye Valley (99.15) in a tri-meet Jan. 31 at Union County YMCA.

Elise Mays led the Pacers, winning the vault (8.25) and balance beam (8.5).

Delaware will compete in the OCC-Cardinal meet Saturday, Feb. 10, at Hilliard Davidson.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Feb. 6 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne. The Pacers beat the Wolves 52-48 on Dec. 22.

*Feb. 9 -- At Dublin Jerome. The Pacers lost to the Celtics 56-53 on Jan. 9.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Feb. 6 -- At Kilbourne. The Pacers lost to the Wolves 61-46 on Dec. 22.

*Feb. 9 -- Home vs. Jerome. The Pacers beat the Celtics 54-46 on Jan. 9.

Feb. 10 -- Home vs. Mount Gilead

BOWLING

Feb. 9 -- Buckeye Valley at Colony Lanes

WRESTLING

*Feb. 8 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley

*League contest