Patrick Pema has been a quick study in an event that takes many athletes years to master.
The senior for the St. Charles Preparatory School swimming and diving team finished seventh in the 500-yard freestyle in the Division I state meet, which concluded Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
After his preliminary time of 4 minutes, 33.73 seconds set a program record, Pema finished the final in 4:35.25 to reach the awards podium by placing in the top eight.
"We had a lot of good, young 200 freestylers at the start of the season, so I gave the 500 (free) a try and did really well," said Pema, who finished 15th in the 200 free (1:44.3) at state last year.
"I kept getting better each week, and I decided to do it in the postseason and taper for state. It's something most people build on for four years, so I was pretty much a novice at the event."
Pema, who will swim at Emory University in Atlanta, also placed seventh in the 100 backstroke (50.29) as the Cardinals finished 13th (60 points) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (413) as 51 teams scored.
The 200 medley relay of Pema, freshman Mitchell List, senior Michael Gutman and junior Jonathan Sugar finished fifth (1:34.47), and Gutman, Sugar, sophomore Alex Nash and junior Griffin Beam were 13th in the 200 free relay (1:27.18).
Gutman was 20th in the 100 butterfly (51.62), and Sugar was 23rd in the 50 free (22.01). The two also joined Pema and Beam on the 400 free relay that was disqualified in the preliminaries.
"We had a little bit of a rough day (in the preliminaries) ... but got some good spots (in the finals) and overall it was a solid day," assistant coach Alex Schaffer said. "(Pema) was top eight (and) had a lifetime best in the 100 back. He went up a little bit in the 500 (free), but overall he was pretty solid."
The Cardinals finished second (285) in the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University behind Dublin Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored. They had won the previous four district championships.
St. Charles won its 20th consecutive CCL title Jan. 27 at home and at Columbus School for Girls. The Cardinals scored 464 points, finishing ahead of Watterson (225), DeSales (179), Hartley (161) and Ready (14).
"We have got a good freshman class and a really good class coming in so definitely the best talent we have is coming through the pipeline," Schaffer said.
Four wrestlers reach district
Senior Ian Noonan finished second at 126 pounds in a Division I sectional Feb. 24 at Newark to lead four members of the wrestling team to the district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby.
The top four sectional finishers in each weight class advanced to district, where the top four qualify for the state tournament March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Noonan enters district at 30-4 overall after losing to Big Walnut's Cole Foster 3-2 in the sectional championship match.
Junior Sean Grim (23-7) placed third at 160, defeating Big Walnut's Josh Halbakkan 4-2 in the consolation final. Placing fourth were senior Kenton Colvin (31-10) at 126 and junior Steve Metzger (26-18) at 145.
The Cardinals finished eighth (72) of 10 teams at sectional behind champion Lancaster (223).
Etheredge, Flory to bowl at district
Junior Grant Flory and freshman Alex Etheredge of the bowling team will compete in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 3, at HP Lanes.
The top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
At sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, Etheredge finished 31st of 220 participants with a three-game series of 521 and Flory tied for 39th with a 509. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.
St. Charles finished 22nd (3,118) of 38 teams behind champion Westerville Central (3,836). Groveport (3,208) was 16th.
Hockey team ousted by UA in district tourney
The hockey team lost to fifth-seeded Upper Arlington 1-0 in a district quarterfinal Feb. 24 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Senior goaltender Jacob Badger had 16 saves for the third-seeded Cardinals, who finished 20-12-1-1 and went 2-3 against the Golden Bears this season.
Basketball team falls to top seed
The basketball team lost at top-seeded Pickerington North 59-32 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Junior guard Jack Dawson scored 10 points and hit three 3-pointers for the 44th-seeded Cardinals, who finished 5-15.
@ThisWeekHennenAt a glance
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: First in CCL, third at sectional, second at district, 13th at state
*Seniors lost: Michael Gutman, Stephen Julian, Ben Mooney, Patrick Pema and Andrew Shyu
*Key returnees: Griffin Beam, Mitchell List, Alex Nash and Jonathan Sugar