Westerville Central High School gymnast Gianna Brooks stood atop the makeshift awards podium Feb. 10 at Hilliard Davidson, proudly displaying the medals she accumulated during the OCC-Buckeye Division meet.
Brooks hopes her success in the league meet carries over to the postseason, which begins with district Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne.
At district, the top three teams advance to state March 2 and the top nine individuals in each event and the all-around compete at state March 3. Both state meets are at Hilliard Bradley.
"There are a lot of good girls even from teams that aren't in the OCC, so it will definitely be a fight, but I think I definitely have a chance," Brooks said. "I have to hit all my routines. I'm going to upgrade my vault so I can get my vault score up and then stay on the beam, staying on the bars and hitting four-for-four (in the events)."
Brooks, a junior, is seeking her third consecutive state appearance. Last season, she tied for 18th in the all-around with a score of 35.325 that included a 13th-place finish on vault (9.225).
She'll enter district having earned the Warhawks' first all-around title at the OCC level, as she finished first (35.5) of 43 gymnasts, ahead of runner-up Mary Dimitroff of Big Walnut (35.15).
"I knew there was definitely a chance (to win all-around)," Brooks said. "It's been a long month with injuries and being tired and worn out, but coming into today I knew anything was possible. ... This is my first one, so that's exciting."
Brooks was second on uneven bars (8.85), fourth on vault (8.8) and balance beam (8.925) and tied for fourth on floor exercise (8.925).
She's hoping for a strong postseason after battling a left hip flexor injury for part of the season.
"Gianna has worked hard. She's been battling back from injury," coach Shea Stammen said. "She's still not 100 percent healthy, so to come out and do what she did (Feb. 10) in the pain that she's in is an accomplishment. She's determined and she wasn't going to not to compete all-around."
Also in the all-around for Central, Torie Cochran was ninth (29.325), Kylie Nelson was 13th (27.05) and Abigail Ring was 15th (25.8).
Central finished fifth (118.325) behind Olentangy (140.5), Olentangy Liberty (128.15), Olentangy Orange (124.75) and Big Walnut (118.75).
"We've battled through some injuries being banged up at the end of the season," Stammen said. "We're just struggling with staying on the beam, so we're trying to focus on that. We did better, so by district if we can stay on the beam our team score will be back in the 120s where we need to be."
Stammen, who helped form the program five years ago, shared Coach of the Year honors in the league with Olentangy's Misty Lloyd-Matthews. It's the third time Stammen has received the award.
"I'm not here trying to win awards for myself," Stammen said. "It's about the girls and not me."
Boys basketball team to battle South
The boys basketball team will close the regular season Friday, Feb. 16, at Westerville South.
The Warhawks lost to the Wildcats 59-45 on Jan. 13.
Central, which was 13-7 overall before playing Licking Heights on Feb. 13, is 5-4 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Warhawks defeated Liberty 67-51 on Feb. 9 as Thomas Hickman scored 24 points and Cam Schroeder added 13.
Hickman scored 34 points in a 69-67 loss to Gahanna on Feb. 6. Schroeder scored 13 points and Chaz Dixon added 11.
Central is seeded 11th for the Division I district tournament and will play host to 32nd-seeded Delaware in the first round Feb. 24.
Girls basketball team prepares for tourney
The girls basketball team was 14-6 overall before playing Licking Heights on Feb. 13 and is 6-3 in the OCC-Buckeye as it prepares to visit South on Friday, Feb. 16.
The Wildcats, who beat the Warhawks 55-44 on Jan. 13, have clinched the outright league title at 9-0.
Central lost to Liberty 44-37 on Feb. 9 as Michayla Brenning scored 11 points and Mabinty Kebe added 10.
The 11th-seeded Warhawks will play host to 23rd-seeded Liberty in the first round of the Division I district tournament Tuesday, Feb. 20. The winner plays 15th-seeded New Albany in the second round Feb. 23 at the home of the better seed.
Swimmers to compete in district meet
The boys and girls swimming teams will be well represented in the Division I district meet Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ohio University.
In a sectional Feb. 10 at Thomas Worthington, Annie McNenny won the 500-yard freestyle in a meet-record 5 minutes, 19.9 seconds and placed second in the 100 butterfly (58.07) to lead the girls.
Macey Swearingen won the 100 backstroke (58.17) and was fifth in the 100 free (53.85). D'Nisa Oocumma was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.63) and ninth in the 200 free (2:02.4), and Kaila Aaron was sixth in the 50 free (24.9) and eighth in the 100 free (54.75).
Swearingen, McNenny, Oocumma and Aaron finished second in the 200 medley relay (1:49.3) and 400 free relay (3:39.2).
The girls finished third (158) of 15 teams behind champion New Albany (401).
Adam Aziz led the boys team, finishing eighth in the 100 fly (57.32) to earn a district berth. The boys finished 12th (36) of 16 teams behind champion DeSales (349).
The winner of each event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advanced to district.
At district, the top two placers in each event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 23 and 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each event based on district times statewide.
In district diving, Chloe Minton finished 11th (350.6) of 33 competitors in the girls meet Feb. 12 and Kaden Jacob and Riley Jacob competed in the boys meet Feb. 13 at Dublin Recreation Center. The top four girls advanced to state Feb. 22 and the top five boys advanced to state Feb. 24.
Boys bowling team wins COHSBC title
The boys bowling team finished first in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division at 12-0.
It is the fourth consecutive COHSBC title for the Warhawks, who also finished 7-0 in the OCC-Buckeye for their fourth consecutive OCC title.
The Warhawks are 12-0 overall as they prepare to close the regular season Friday, Feb. 16, against Whitehall at Holiday Lanes.
Devon Richardson leads Central with a 215.6 average, followed by Cameron Gonce (214.4), Ryan O'Connor (210.8) and Zach Gonzalez (210).
The girls team went 10-2 in the COHSBC-A to finish third behind champion Gahanna (12-0) and 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish second behind Olentangy (7-0).
The Warhawks are 10-2 overall as they prepare to face Whitehall.
Kirsten Miller leads Central with a 190.1 average.
Wrestlers compete at Jerome tourney
The wrestling team competed in the All-North Tournament on Feb. 10 at Dublin Jerome, with Cody Mayes (152 pounds) and Nick DeRose (220) leading the Warhawks with fourth-place finishes.
Central finished 16th (38) of 16 teams behind champion Upper Arlington (237).
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
Below are the district qualifiers with sectional time and district seeds for the Central boys and girls swimming teams:
BOYS -- Adam Aziz: 100 fly (57.32, 29th); 200 free relay (1:38.75, 26th); 200 medley relay (1:51.65, 29th); 400 free relay (3:52.29, 30th)
GIRLS -- Kaila Aaron: 50 free (24.9, 16th), 100 free (54.75, 24th); Sophie Antonetz: 50 free (25.24, 22nd), 100 fly (1:00.6, 21st); D'Nisa Oocumma: 200 free (2:02.4, 25th), 100 breast (1:11.63, 23rd); Annie McNenny: 100 fly (58.07, fifth), 500 free (5:09.68, fourth); Macey Swearingen: 100 free (53.85, 14th), 100 back (58.17, second); 200 free relay (1:53.3, 27th); 200 medley relay (1:49.3, third); 400 free relay (3:39.2, sixth)