Seniors Lexie McDonald and Taylor Leone capped their careers with the Hilliard Darby High School girls swimming and diving team by competing in the Division I state meet that concluded Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
McDonald reached the podium in the 100-yard freestyle, placing seventh in 51.81 seconds. She also placed 12th in the 50 free (23.89).
"In the 50 free, I was .1 (of a second) faster than in prelims (Feb. 23)," McDonald said. "I'm really happy that I just made it (to the consolation final). I find it incredible that I was able to swim (in the championship final) of the 100 freestyle. It was awesome. ... I think I placed well in both (events)."
Last year at state, McDonald finished 18th in the 100 breaststroke and was on the 200 medley relay that finished 23rd.
Leone finished 23rd in the 100 free (53.5) in her second state appearance after competing on the 200 medley relay last season.
The Panthers scored 17 points to tie for 28th behind champion Mason (236) as 55 teams scored.
In the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University, McDonald set school records in both events, placing second in the 100 free (51.55) and third in the 50 (23.77), while Leone finished 11th in the 100 free (52.75).
Also competing at district were the 200 free relay of McDonald, Leone, sophomore Isabel Quimba and freshman Madyson Leone (10th, 1:39.56), the 400 free relay of Isabel, freshman Natalie Wood, Taylor Leone and McDonald (10th, 3:38.64) and the 200 medley relay of Madyson Leone, senior Halli Reinhard, Wood and junior Mackensie Stellrecht (25th, 2:05.9).
Freshman Hayden Apel represented the boys team at state, finishing 19th in diving (260.75 points) on Feb. 24.
Apel placed fifth (468.7) in the district diving meet Feb. 13 to earn the final state berth.
Also at district, senior Riley Brokaw finished 13th in the 100 free (48.59) and 15th in the 200 free (1:48.26), senior Kendall Jones was 23rd in the 200 individual medley (2:05) and 25th in the 100 backstroke (57.35), freshman Braden Bower placed 15th in the 200 free (1:48.26) and 23rd in the 500 free (5:01.81), the 200 free relay of Brokaw, Bower, junior Maaz Baig and freshman Malik Tarazi finished 18th (1:34.64), the 400 free relay of Bower, Jones, Baig and Brokaw was 18th (3:28.11) and the 200 medley relay of Jones, Baig, Tarazi and junior Luke Snider finished 24th (1:49.4).
Shook to compete at state on floor
Although senior gymnast Chloe Shook did not have the results she was looking for in the district meet, she did advance to the individual state meet Saturday, March 3, at Bradley in one event.
Shook placed third of 138 competitors on floor exercise at district Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne with a 9.25, as the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around qualified for state.
"This is one of the toughest meets I have had to witness because Chloe is good enough to compete in all of the events and the all-around at state," coach Carol Eskay said. "She just didn't have the typical Chloe type of day."
Shook, who will make her third state appearance, scored 34.575 in the all-around to place 11th. Last year, she finished 23rd (34.95) at state.
Shook finished 12th on vault (8.65), 21st on uneven bars (8.275) and 32nd on beam (8.4).
The Panthers placed fifth (133.775) of 24 teams, as Thornville Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Bradley (135.425) advanced to the team state meet Friday, March 2, at Bradley.
Jenna Hartwell finished 22nd in the all-around (33.225) and 20th on beam (8.625) and Laurel Bonn was 44th in the all-around (31.275) and 23rd on beam (8.55).
Bailey Miller had team-best scores on beam (8.85, 14th) and bars (8.3, 18th), and Scarlett Evans was 31st on vault (8.175).
Six wrestlers reach district
Six members of the wrestling team will compete in the home Division I district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3.
In a 10-team sectional Feb. 24 at Watkins Memorial, seniors Jared Ball (195 pounds) and Jacob Cover (heavyweight), junior Rodney Beneker (182) and sophomore Ryan Blackerby (120) all won titles.
Also advancing were juniors Ben Brown (132, third) and Isaac Richards (126, fourth).
Ball (25-1) pinned New Albany's Jack Wilson in 36 seconds in his final and will face Chillicothe's Collin Lindsey (21-18) in the first round at district, and Cover (41-5) pinned New Albany's David Rodriguez in 1:40 in his final and will open district against Dublin Coffman's Eric Feng (19-7).
Beneker (31-9) beat Olentangy's Colton Doup 6-4 in overtime to win his title and will face Delaware's Jacob McCloskey (20-15) in the first round at district, and Blackerby (20-16) beat Gahanna's Juan Porras 8-5 in his final and will open district against Mount Vernon's Jacob Dehart (28-17).
Brown (26-16) will face Mount Vernon's Bailey Munday (36-2) in the first round at district, and Richards (22-10) will open district against Olentangy Orange's Rocco Torio (25-10).
Freshman Isaiah Beneker (160, 13-18) is a district alternate after placing fifth at sectional.
The Panthers scored 131 points to finish fourth behind champion Olentangy (259.5).
"I thought that we may get a couple more kids to qualify, but it was not in the cards," coach Brendan Moody said. "We appeared to show our age a little bit, meaning that the young kids that have never participated in the postseason before looked a little bewildered and nervous. ... The environment got to them."
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the state tournament March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Four bowlers headed to district
The girls bowling team just missed advancing as a team to the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 3, at HP Lanes.
But three members -- junior Zoe Paxhia-Poppaw, senior Gillian Tinney and junior Emily Betteridge -- advanced as individuals from the 37-team sectional Feb. 24, at HP Lanes.
Paxhia-Poppaw rolled a 493 three-game series to place 21st of 208 competitors, Tinney (446) tied for 43rd and Betteridge (415) tied for 63rd.
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district.
Senior Ash Roberts also rolled a 415, but lost the highest-game tiebreaker for the final district-qualifying berth. Betteridge's highest game was 153, while Roberts' was 144.
Also competing was Lyndsey Seagraves (98th, 369).
The Panthers finished 18th (2,783) behind champion Gahanna (3,642) while Pickerington North (2,875) earned the final district berth.
The boys team placed 25th (3,041) of 38 teams at sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (3,836).
Sophomore Josh Larsen qualified for district individually, tying for 39th of 220 competitors with a 509.
Jalen Clisby (47th, 488) just missed advancing as Whetstone's Nathan Vokac (493) earned the final individual berth. Also competing in three games were Alex Meister (71st, 463) and Nick Carter (123rd, 384).
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team at district advance to state March 9 (boys) and March 10 (girls) at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Season ends for boys basketball team
The boys basketball team's second-half rally against 19th-seeded Olentangy in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 24 fell short.
The 18th-seeded Panthers trailed the visiting Braves 30-15 at halftime and by 18 points in the third quarter before rallying, only to lose 58-55 to finish 13-11. Olentangy made 15 of 18 free-throw attempts in the final quarter.
Josh Govine led Darby with 17 points.
Girls basketball team losing two seniors
The girls basketball team lost at ninth-seeded Gahanna 79-61 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23 to finish 11-12 overall.
Junior forward Annie Rauch had 19 points, junior point guard Sydney Wyngarden scored 18 and senior guard Bri Pizzurro added 14 for the 26th-seeded Panthers, who had a first-round bye.
Darby went 5-7 in the OCC-Cardinal to place fifth, behind Thomas Worthington and Dublin Scioto (9-3) and Bradley and Dublin Jerome (7-5) and ahead of Kilbourne (4-8) and Delaware (1-11).
The Panthers, who opened the season 7-1, are losing just two seniors in Pizzurro and guard Alexa Dixon.
"We hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, but I like the way we closed the regular season," coach Tay Tufts said. "Beating (co-champion) Thomas 74-73 in three overtimes (Feb. 9) and getting strong contributions from everyone who played validated how well we can play. We need to do that on a more consistent basis next season."
Rauch averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds and was named first-team all-league. Wyngarden averaged 13.8 points and 5.3 assists and was second-team all-league, and Pizzurro averaged 6.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Dixon averaged 3.7 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Other expected returnees include sophomores Teddie Co (guard/forward), Brooklynn Fowler (forward/center), Jenna Rasul (guard) and Briana Turner (forward) and freshmen Sofia Gentile (center), Sophia Iosue (guard) and Sophie Williams (point guard).
@Brad_ThisWeekAt a glance
*Record: 11-12 overall, 5-7 (fifth) in OCC-Cardinal
*Seniors lost: Alexa Dixon and Bri Pizzurro
*Key returnees: Teddie Coe, Sofia Gentile, Sophia Iosue, Annie Rauch, Jenna Rasul and Syd Wyngarden
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: Boys -- Sixth in OCC-Cardinal, ninth at sectional, 22nd at district, did not score at state; Girls -- Fourth in OCC-Cardinal, tied for seventh at sectional, 12th at district, tied for 28th at state
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Riley Brokaw, Kendall Jones and Matthew Logan; Girls -- Lexie McDonald, Halli Reinhard and Taylor Leone
*Key returnees: Boys -- Hayden Apel, Maaz Baig, Braden Bower, Luke Snider and Malik Tarazi; Girls -- Madyson Leone, Isabel Quimba, Mackensie Stellrecht and Natalie Wood