It was a family affair for the Olentangy Orange High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams in the Division I state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Junior twins Lauren and Luke Cheetham reached the awards podium by finishing in the top eight in their respective diving competitions.
Lauren was third on Feb. 22 with 462.45 points, behind Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame's Teagan Moravek (479.85) and Gahanna's Maycey Vieta (466.3).
Luke competed on the final day of state, Feb. 24, and finished eighth (453.1) behind champion Lyle Yost (602.4) of Shaker Heights.
"It was great to be able to be up here with (Luke) and great to see him reach the podium and put up great performances," Lauren said. "There's such a difference between the boys and girls competition. The boys are much more relaxed, especially in warm-ups. The girls just go work on their dives in warm-ups, but the boys take their time and have fun with it."
Lauren was pleased with her performance in her second trip to state. She missed the postseason last year because of a broken right wrist and finished third (481.8) at state as a freshman.
"Overall, out of my 11 dives, I hit the majority of them," she said. "I put a new dive in my list -- a reverse 1 1/2 pike. I had been practicing it, but I was a little short on it.
"I think this experience will help me to see what I need to work on for next year. I have another year of experience under my belt."
Luke made his third appearance at state after placing ninth (427.6) last season and 12th (412.8) as a freshman.
"I was very happy with my inner-double and front 2 1/2 pike," he said. "I was just really happy to perform my best and represent my school well. This is an amazing atmosphere, an amazing experience.
"Definitely over time, you get more confident coming back here. From sophomore to junior year, I feel older and have gotten better."
The Pioneers also competed in the boys 200-yard freestyle relay. Seniors Ronak Tripathy, Cullen Dickson, Patrick Mahoney and Mason Reid finished 23rd in 1 minute, 28.75 seconds.
"I thought we had a great season," said coach J.R. Fourqurean, who completed his third season. "I thought it was a great experience and a great way for the senior boys to go out by making it to state on the (200 free) relay."
The girls tied Rocky River Magnificat, Springboro and Westerville North for 30th (16) behind champion Mason (236) as 55 teams scored. The boys tied Akron Firestone for 36th (11) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (413) as 51 teams scored.
The girls expect to return several underclassmen with district experience in juniors Casarina Coniglio, Alice Crowe, Marcy Parades and Sydney Robare, sophomores Kali Butler, Erin Kim and Erika Knodel and freshmen Brooke Farren and Emma Logan. Freshman Graham Weidenhamer competed at district for the boys.
In the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Jan. 26 and 27 at Thomas Worthington, the boys finished second (259) behind Liberty (400.5) and ahead of Olentangy (210.5), North (163), Westerville South (142) and Westerville Central (73). The girls were third (186) behind Liberty (279) and Olentangy (273.5) and ahead of Central (182.5), North (161) and South (145).
"Overall, we took a lot of big steps this year," Fourqurean said. "Seeing so many kids buy into what we are trying to do this season is really big. Now the kids get back in the weight room next week to get ready for next season."
Season concludes for gymnasts at district
The gymnastics team finished 10th (127.25) of 24 teams in the district meet Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne and did not advance anyone to state.
Thornville Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Hilliard Bradley (135.425) advanced to the state team meet Friday, March 2, at Bradley.
The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around qualified for the state individual meet Saturday, March 3, at Bradley.
Celia Ritchie led the Pioneers, finishing 33rd in the all-around (31.9). The junior had the top scores for Orange on balance beam (8.05, tied for 52nd) and vault (8.15, tied for 33rd). She also tied for 49th on uneven bars (7.65) and tied for 69th on floor exercise (8.05).
Junior Nicole Carifa was 35th in the all-round (31.775) and led Orange on floor (8.6, tied for 31st). She also competed in bars (7.325, tied for 63rd), beam (7.75, tied for 75th) and vault (8.1, tied for 39th).
Freshman Grace Ritterspach was 42nd in the all-around (25.85) and led the Pioneers on bars (8.025, 33rd). She also was 42nd on vault (7.95), tied for 69th on floor (8.05) and placed 99th on beam (7.25).
In the OCC-Buckeye, Orange was second (14, 3-1) behind Olentangy (20, 4-0) and ahead of Liberty (14, 2-2), Westerville Central (6, 1-3) and Big Walnut (6, 0-4).
Other district performers expected to return are juniors Savannah Byas and Alice Cooke, sophomore Olivia Dieckmann and freshman Emma Wood.
Boys, girls bowling teams reach district
The boys and girls bowling teams 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 at district qualify for state at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The boys compete March 9 and the girls compete March 10.
The boys finished eighth (3,384) of 38 teams behind champion Westerville Central (3,836) in the sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams advanced to district.
Tommy Ciaciura led the Pioneers with a 530 three-game series to finish 30th overall. Andrew Kicas (513, 38th) was the only other Orange bowler to roll three games.
The girls placed 13th (2,918) of 37 teams behind champion Gahanna (3,642) in the sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes. Emma Storrer (478, tied for 27th) led the Pioneers while Raymie Shields and Hayley Wemple both rolled 439 to tie for 46th. Remy Gray (372, 95th) and McKenzie Peterson (370, 97th) also bowled three games.
Five wrestlers advance to district
The wrestling team has five competitors in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby, with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Sophomore 126-pounder Rocco Torio (25-10 overall) was the lone champion for the Pioneers in a sectional Feb. 24 at Upper Arlington, where the top four at each weight qualified for district.
Senior Connor Evans (30-11) was runner-up at 145. Junior Cole Jackson (113, 28-10) and sophomore Alex Lopez (195, 19-16) were third and freshman Zach Miller (120, 17-15) placed fourth.
Seniors Dominic Torio (132, 9-14) and Mike Monago (138, 24-11) finished fifth and are district alternates.
Orange finished sixth (121.5) of 10 teams behind champion Dublin Coffman (212).
Boys basketball team to begin district play
The boys basketball team opens the Division I district tournament with a second-round game Friday, March 2, at 12th-seeded Logan.
The 13th-seeded Pioneers are 13-9 and have not played the Chieftains this season.
The winner plays in a district semifinal against eighth-seeded Westerville South or 28th-seeded Kilbourne on Wednesday, March 7, at a site to be determined.
South is coached by Ed Calo, the father of Pioneers coach Anthony Calo. The teams split in OCC-Buckeye play this season, with Orange winning 57-54 on Dec. 22 and South winning 53-45 on Feb 2.
The Pioneers have not played Kilbourne this season.
The district final is March 10 at Ohio Dominican.
Girls basketball team plagued by injuries
The girls basketball team had injuries throughout the season that limited its production.
The Pioneers played numerous games in December without senior post player Alyssa Feeley, and just when she returned, junior post player Aurelia Johnson was lost for the season with a left knee injury suffered over winter break.
Also in late December, junior guard Taylor Myers moved from the district, making things more difficult for fourth-year coach Bob Scott.
"We lost our post player and Alyssa was in and out and then one kid left, so we essentially lost 20 points per game," said Scott, whose 38th-seeded team finished 5-18 overall, losing at eighth-seeded Hartley 43-31 on Feb. 17 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Pioneers finished sixth (0-10) in the OCC-Buckeye behind South (10-0), Liberty (6-4), Central (6-4), Olentangy (5-5) and North (3-7).
Senior guard McKenna Ford (first-team all-league) averaged a team-best 11.0 points. Feeley (honorable mention all-league) averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Anna Grabau averaged 6.7 points, and Johnson averaged 5.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. Sophomore forward Riley Duffy also excelled late in the season.
"We got some younger kids seeing more time than they probably would have," Scott said. "We had a couple sophomores (Duffy and Grabau) start and that should pay off next year."
@ThisWeekHennenAt a glance
*Record: 5-18 overall, 0-10 (sixth) in OCC-Buckeye
*Seniors lost: Alyssa Feeley, McKenna Ford, Alex Ronk and Natalie Simpson
*Key returnees: Riley Duffy, Anna Grabau and Aurelia Johnson
*Finishes: Third in OCC-Buckeye, 10th at district
*Seniors lost: Kenzie Blankenship, Brenna Clifford, Molly Cooke, Alissa Green and Emma Shrivers
*Key returnees: Savannah Byas, Nicole Carifa, Alice Cooke, Olivia Dieckmann, Celia Ritchie, Grace Ritterspach and Emma Wood
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: Boys -- Second in OCC-Buckeye, seventh at sectional, eighth at district, tied for 36th at state; Girls -- Third in OCC-Buckeye, fifth at sectional, 15th at district, tied for 30th at state
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Nicholas Chugh, Evin Cogan, Cullen Dickson, Everett Halverson, Patrick Mahoney, Mason Reid and Ronak Tripathy; Girls -- Marthelisa Gutierrez, Natalie Hu and Natalie Johnson
*Key returnees: Boys -- Luke Cheetham and Graham Weidenhamer; Girls -- Kali Butler, Lauren Cheetham, Alice Crowe, Brooke Farren, Erika Knodel, Emma Logan and Sydney Robare