Jason Mathews knew he had to put everything on the line if he was going to stand atop the podium again in the Division I state swimming and diving meet.
The Westerville North High School senior used every ounce of energy to repeat as champion in the 100-yard breaststroke in 54.76 seconds on Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Last season, the Ohio State signee won the event in 54.91 while competing for Pickerington North.
"I knew (I had) to dig deep and go out strong," Mathews said. "I might have messed up my stroke count, but I dug deep and had enough. It was my last (high school) race. I had to give everything I had."
The last North swimmer to win a state title was 2015 graduate Mason Miller, who now competes at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Miller won the 50 freestyle in 2013 and the 100 butterfly in 2014 and 2015.
Mathews also placed third in the 200 individual medley in a program-record 1:50.43.
"At state, the most important thing is winning the race and Jason was able to do that (in the 100 breast)," said coach Rich Morris, who completed his third season. "He also had a program-record (while) finishing third in the 200 IM. He had a great meet and we had a great meet all-around."
Junior Andrew Bernsdorf finished fifth in the 500 free (4:33.8) as the boys team placed 14th (50 points) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (413) as 51 teams scored.
"I was seeded third going into the meet and I knew seeding wasn't going to matter because I knew it was going to be a tight race," Bernsdorf said. "I set a goal that I wanted to be top five in the state and I got fifth so I accomplished my goal.
"This is my third trip (to state). Every time it gets a little bit more familiar. Freshman year I was terrified, last year I was more calm and this year I was ready to go. I never made the finals before so that's new for me."
The girls team had one competitor at state and she reached the awards podium, as Janessa Mathews was third in the 100 breast in a program-record 1:01.6. The sophomore sister of Jason Mathews, she finished third in the 100 breast (1:02.33) last season at state and also was 21st in the 200 IM (2:08.39) while at Pickerington North.
"I went into prelims very excited for the race but I didn't go my best time, which wasn't a big deal," she said. "I wanted to do well for finals and I did. I knew these girls were all very fast. I knew it would be tight and I am so thankful for this opportunity."
Her effort was good for 16 points as the Warriors tied Olentangy Orange, Rocky River Magnificat and Springboro for 30th behind champion Mason (236) as 55 teams scored.
North expects to return several other swimmers with district experience. For the boys, they are junior Chris Lake and freshmen Paul Buckley, Josh Dewey, Taylor Sanford and Hayden Yeager.
Junior Maggie Bolen, sophomores Emma Bolen, Christy Harper and Ariana Sanabria and freshman Ally Thompson helped lead the way for the girls.
In the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Jan. 26 and 27 at Thomas Worthington, the boys finished fourth behind Olentangy Liberty (400.5), Orange (259) and Olentangy (210.5) and ahead of Westerville South (142) and Westerville Central (73). The girls were fifth (161) behind Liberty (279), Olentangy (273.5), Orange (186) and Central (182.5) and ahead of South (145).
Girls bowling team qualifies for district
The girls bowling team advanced to the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 3, at HP Lanes. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 10 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
In the sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes, the Warriors placed 12th (2,942) of 37 teams behind champion Gahanna (3,642) as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.
Sophia Soisson (520, tied for 12th overall) led North. Danielle Pratt (399, tied for 80th) and Olivia Stanton (395, tied for 82nd) also rolled three games.
The boys finished 29th (2,999) of 38 teams behind champion Central (3,836) in the sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes.
Jason Sturgell (482, tied for 51st) led North. Will Mueller (447, tied for 86th), Drew Wright (431, 100th) and Austin Hagemann (396, 117th) also rolled three games.
Ten wrestlers advance to district
The wrestling team has 10 competitors in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Senior 120-pounder Lucas Seibert (17-2 overall) was the lone champion for the Warriors in a sectional Feb. 24 at Newark, where the top four at each qualified for district.
Freshmen Jake Gooding (113, 15-8) and Gabe Ohle (106, 22-9) were runners-up, and the Warriors had seven third-place finishers in seniors Body Bien (195, 21-10), Davis Gaylord (heavyweight, 22-8) and Andrew Scherer (126, 20-10), juniors Caden Crist (152, 21-9), Jacob Goldsmith (182, 22-8) and Mitch Potterf (170, 22-6) and sophomore Blake Wright (132, 28-4).
Seniors Trevor Long (145, 21-9), Nathan Scott (220, 8-8) and Brice Wilson (138, 13-13) finished fifth and are district alternates.
North finished second (214.5) of 10 teams at sectional behind Lancaster (223).
Boys basketball team to face New Albany
The boys basketball team plays host to 39th-seeded New Albany on Friday, March 2, in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The fourth-seeded Warriors are 19-4. They defeated the Eagles 76-57 on Dec. 19.
The winner advances to a district semifinal Wednesday, March 7, at a site to be determined against 29th-seeded Mifflin or 30th-seeded Canal Winchester. North has not played either team this season.
The district final is March 10 at Ohio Dominican.
Jeremiah Keene scored 20 points as the host Warriors defeated 35th-seeded Groveport 67-56 on Feb. 24 in the first round. Julius Brown had 15 points and Philip Alston added 10.
Girls basketball team ousted by Golden Bears
The girls basketball team lost at seventh-seeded Upper Arlington 54-34 on Feb. 22 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The 31st-seeded Warriors finished 7-16 overall. They were fifth (3-7) in the OCC-Buckeye behind South (10-0), Central (6-4), Liberty (6-4) and Olentangy (5-5) and ahead of Orange (0-10).
Against UA, sophomore guard Alyssa Wright (second-team all-league) led with 13 points and freshman guard Imari Martin (honorable mention all-league) had nine points.
Senior forward Bethany Worm (second-team all-league) led a six-player senior class and will play at Indiana Tech. She missed the final three games after suffering a knee injury Feb. 2 in a 48-41 loss to Liberty.
"It was a learning experience," said coach Lamont Tillman, who completed his fourth season. "All the bad luck that could happen in a season happened this year for us. But at the end of the day, our younger players learned a lot from the season. They can take a lot from it and we'll be better for it."
@ThisWeekHennenAt a glance
*Record: 7-16 overall, 3-7 (fifth) in OCC-Buckeye
*Seniors lost: Amanda Bentivegna, McKenna Jackson, Phylan Perkins, Lila Rajkoummale, Alison Reynolds and Bethany Worm
*Key returnees: Imari Martin and Alyssa Wright
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: Boys -- Fourth in OCC-Buckeye, third at sectional, 11th at district, 14th at state; Girls -- Fifth in OCC-Buckeye, sixth at sectional, 16th at district, tied for 30th at state
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Jason Mathews; Girls -- Cheyney Carr, Tatiana Slesnick and Mia Stefanelli
*Key returnees: Boys -- Andrew Bernsdorf, Chris Lake, Taylor Sanford and Hayden Yeager; Girls -- Emma Bolen, Maggy Bolen, Christy Harper, Janessa Mathews and Allie Thompson