Spencer Keane hopes the experience he gained in his first appearance in the Division I state meet will propel him to greater heights next season with the Groveport Madison High School boys swimming and diving team.
The junior finished 22nd in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.97 seconds) on Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"This definitely was an experience I can use next year, and hopefully it will be in two events," Keane said. "I know I can do better, and I'm a little disappointed. But I dropped a lot of time in the breaststroke and 50 free(style) this season. I will come back stronger and faster next year. My next goal is to compete in the YMCA nationals this (summer)."
Keane was Groveport's lone representative at state after placing fourth in the 100 breast (school-record 58.05) in the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University. He also finished 13th in the 50 free (22.22), as the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically qualified for state. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each event based on times statewide.
Keane was the only district qualifier for the boys team, which totaled 17.5 points at district to finish 24th behind champion Dublin Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored. He finished third in the 100 breast (59.79) and eighth in the 50 free (22.88) at sectional Feb. 10 at Upper Arlington to earn an at-large district berth in both events.
Also at sectional, the 200 medley relay of freshmen Justin Malinowski, Carl Giddens and Jaydan Henderson and senior Miles Mason placed 12th (2:29.68) and the 200 free relay of sophomore Jordan Murphy, Mason, Giddens and Keane finished 13th (1:50.31), as the Cruisers placed 12th (19) of 13 teams behind champion UA (327).
Mason was the only senior on the seven-member roster for Groveport, which placed fourth (74) in the OCC-Capital Division meet Jan. 27 behind host New Albany (458.5), Big Walnut (278.5) and Canal Winchester (206) and ahead of Newark (55)
Sophomore Madison Newsom is expected to return to lead the girls team after placing 21st in the 500 free (5:34.83) at district as her team's only district competitor.
Newsom finished eighth in the 500 free (5:39.8) at sectional, where the Cruisers placed 13th (9) of 15 teams, behind champion UA (328).
Also at sectional, the 400 free relay of Newsom, junior Sarah Wagner, sophomore Katelyn Kirk and freshman Jazlyn Winski finished 13th (4:43.89), the 200 medley relay of seniors Allie Chandler, Hannah Campbell, Alexa Carnuche and Aleah Brown was 16th (2:50.11) and Winski finished 23rd in the 100 breast (1:22.64).
The Cruisers, who are losing nine seniors, placed fifth (116) in the league meet behind New Albany (459), Canal Winchester (295), Big Walnut (139) and Newark (126).
Three wrestlers advance to district
Senior Clayton Saunders of the wrestling team will be making his third consecutive appearance in the Division I district tournament that will be held Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby.
Saunders (113 pounds) will be joined at district by freshman Jake Nelson (170) and sophomore A.J. Joyce (220). The top four finishers in each weight class at district qualify for the state tournament March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Saunders went 2-2 and placed fourth in a 10-team sectional Feb. 24 at Marysville and is 27-10 on the season.
Nelson, who competed mostly at 160 during the regular season, placed second at sectional, losing to Marysville's Nathan Dewitt 10-2 in the final. He went 3-1 at sectional and is 36-6 on the season.
Joyce went 1-2 and placed fourth at sectional and is 15-2 entering district.
"Clayton has been consistent and maybe this will be the year he breaks through," coach Brian Brison said. "Jake continues to impress as a freshman.
"A.J. is constantly improving by adding moves and eliminating mistakes. Making it to district as a sophomore at 220 is impressive by itself, but doing it in his first year of wrestling is especially impressive. I think he is just scratching the surface on what he is going to be able to do in this sport."
The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advanced to district.
Skyler Mouser (195) finished fifth to move to 13-15 and is a district alternate. Placing sixth were juniors Ethan Schleret (182, 12-18 on the season) and Ashton Reese (126, 7-21) and sophomore Muhamad Conteh (120, 22-17).
Boys bowlers, Deaner qualify for district
The boys bowling team held on to the final district-qualifying spot by 27 pins and junior Leah Deaner will represent the girls team in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 3, at HP Lanes.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team at district advance to the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, where the boys compete on March 9 and the girls compete on March 10.
In the boys sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, the Cruisers finished 16th (3,208) of 38 teams, behind champion Westerville Central (3,836). Pickerington North (3,181) finished 17th, as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district.
Competing in three games for Groveport were Lonnie Stuckey (484), Tyler Miracle (473), Chaz Wilson (455), Corey Claprood (440) and Stephen Snyder (408).
"I don't know how the boys qualified," coach Christi Middendorf said. "None of them bowled well at all, but they made it out and we're looking forward to shooting better at district. It'll depend on how well they adjust to the lanes and if they can make it through the day without getting down on themselves for a few bad frames."
In the girls sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes, the Cruisers finished 21st (2,651) of 37 teams, behind champion Gahanna (3,642). Pickerington North (2,875) was 16th.
Deaner finished eighth overall with a 539 to earn the third individual-qualifying spot.
Also competing were Shayana Carter (382), Abby Quinn (317), Mackenzie Daniel (316) and Makayla Harold (282).
"Leah has a chance to make it to state, but she's going to have to bowl well and stop putting so much pressure on herself," Middendorf said. "She needs to relax and let her game take over."
Boys basketball team ousted by Warriors
The boys basketball team lost to fourth-seeded Westerville North 67-56 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 24 to finish 8-15.
The 35th-seeded Cruisers led 38-35 with 2:28 left in the third quarter but trailed 44-40 at the end of the quarter and were outscored 23-16 in the fourth. The Warriors had a 6-0 run to open the final quarter.
"We had too many turnovers and some long rebounds off quick shots led to some breakouts for (North)," coach Ryan Grashel said. "We had a rough stretch to end the third quarter and to begin the fourth quarter and couldn't overcome that."
Tyreese Cherry had 15 points to lead the Cruisers. Nahki Taylor and Antwon Hampton both scored 12 and Curtis Jacobs scored nine.
Girls basketball coach
First-year girls basketball coach Eugene Love said some players showed improvement over the course of the season in terms of work ethic and commitment, but he wants more.
"We need to have all of them buy in or it will be difficult to turn the corner," Love said after the 46th-seeded Cruisers lost to second-seeded Dublin Coffman 90-11 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 17 to finish 4-19 overall. "Certain kids haven't crossed the threshold yet and that's something they will have to do."
The Cruisers are losing two seniors in forward Melia Walder and guard Breauna Lagore. Walder averaged 7.1 points and 10.6 rebounds and recorded seven double-doubles and was named second-team all-OCC-Capital as Groveport went 2-8 in the league to finish fifth, behind Newark (10-0) and Big Walnut, Canal Winchester and New Albany (all 6-4) and ahead of Franklin Heights (0-10).
Lagore was honorable mention all-league.
"Melia was so coachable and was a great leader and Brea gave everything she had," Love said. "I can't say enough about those two."
Among the expected return-ees are junior starting guards Brooke Reese, Reina Rhone and Lanie White. Also expected back are junior DeeDee Seck (forward), sophomore Nadia Seidu (guard) and freshman Danasha Winfield (forward).
Reese and White both averaged 9.8 points.
@Brad_ThisWeekAt a glance
*Record: 4-19 overall, 2-8 (fifth) in OCC-Capital
*Seniors lost: Breauna Lagore and Melia Walder
*Key returnees: Brooke Reese, Reina Rhone and Lanie White
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: Boys -- Fourth in OCC-Capital, 12th at sectional, 24th at district, did not score at state; Girls -- Fifth in OCC-Capital, 13th at sectional, did not score at district
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Miles Mason; Girls -- Aleah Brown, Hannah Campbell, Alexa Carnuche, Allie Chandler, Sydney Crabtree, Mia Lesko, Kenadee Morgan, Haley Ottman and Adjah Yade
*Key returnees: Boys -- Carl Giddens, Jaydan Henderson, Spencer Keane, Justin Malinowski and Jordan Murphy; Girls -- Katelyn Kirk, Madison Newsom, Sarah Wagner and Jazlyn Winski