While Olentangy High School gymnasts rushed off the floor after their final event in the state team meet March 2 at Hilliard Bradley, assistant coach Ashley Small was busy doing math.
When she showed her calculations to coach Misty Lloyd-Matthews, both of them were beaming.
The Braves set a program record for points with 140.825, roughly the same range in which they have scored all season, and climbed up the standings at state for the third consecutive year. Olentangy finished fifth of 12 teams behind champion Brecks-ville-Broadview Heights (146.7).
The Braves were ninth in their first state appearance in 2016 and seventh last year.
"It's bittersweet," senior Stephanie Miller said. "This run has been awesome. To have done this three years in a row and be this high in the state means a ton to all of us."
Lloyd-Matthews was especially proud considering that none of her gymnasts competed in all four events, and only four of the Braves' 13 athletes competed in three. Strong efforts from sophomore Olivia Boone on floor exercise (9.2) and balance beam (9.1), junior Wen Holmes on beam (9.2) and junior Madeline Vouis on floor (9.1) boosted Olentangy's point total.
"For this caliber of a team to not have any all-arounders just shows (our) depth," Lloyd-Matthews said. "On beam ... we had very few falls. They just went after it. They had such composure. Beam can be the event that makes or breaks you and rattles you, and they went out there as a whole and didn't let anything scare them."
Boone said she put in a new skill on beam, executing a split jump three-quarters in place of a switch leap split three-quarters.
"I was feeling shaky on that and wanted to do the best I could do, so I added a new skill I've actually never done but it goes in with my other skills," Boone said. "It was stressful, but I was happy I completed my routine almost to the best of my ability."
The Braves were only the second area team in the past decade to place in the top five at the meet. Dublin Coffman was fourth in 2015.
The Bees won their 15th consecutive state title and 19th overall.
In the state individual meet March 3 at Bradley, senior Lexi Jesenovec finished 18th (8.925) on beam to lead the Braves. Miller tied for 23rd on floor (8.875) and Boone was 32nd (8.675), and Morgan tied for 30th on uneven bars (8.25). There were 36 competitors in each event.
Olentangy went 4-0 with 20 points in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish first ahead of Orange (14, 3-1), Liberty (14, 2-2), Westerville Central (6, 1-3) and Big Walnut (6, 0-4). In the league meet Feb. 10 at Hilliard Davidson, the Braves scored a then-program-record 140.5 points to win ahead of Liberty (128.15), Orange (124.75), Big Walnut (118.75) and Central (118.325).
Boone won league titles on floor (9.5) and beam (9.1), and Holmes was first on bars (9.175).
At district Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne, Olentangy finished second (139.5) behind Thornville Sheridan (145.425) as 24 teams scored.
Several gymnasts cried after the state team meet, partly because of the graduation of five seniors but also because at least three teammates in Boone and freshmen Kennedy Jesenovec and Madeline Nietfeld are heading to Olentangy Berlin, which opens this fall.
"These girls have been focusing on not looking at what will happen after this year up until now," Lloyd-Matthews said. "We were just loving this. They wanted this day to come, but not for it to end."
Gore leads wrestlers back to state tourney
Three wrestlers are assured of competing in the Division I state tournament Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State, including Xander Gore, who is the second four-time state qualifier in program history.
Gore went 4-0 at 145 pounds in the district tournament that concluded March 3 at Hilliard Darby, defeating Coffman's Ben Yost 4-0 in the final. Trevor Fiorucci advanced to state each year from 2009-12, finishing second at 103 as a sophomore and 126 as a senior before competing at Ohio State.
Gore will be joined this weekend by Jacob Sherman (113) and James White IV (138).
Sherman went 4-0 at district at 113, defeating Lancaster's Jacob Reed 5-1 in the championship match. White was second at 138, going 3-1 and losing by pin to Dublin Scioto's Daniel Segura in the final.
Olentangy finished fourth (111) behind champion Lancaster (170) as 38 teams scored. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Sherman earned his 100th career win March 2 when he pinned Liberty's Josh Sutton in 1 minute, 47 seconds in a quarterfinal.
Also competing but failing to advance were Colton Doup (182, fifth, 4-2), Nick Varanelli (126, fifth, 4-2), Brice Kade (160, 2-2), Corey Hill (170, 2-2), Avery Flanagan (152, 1-2), Ben Hall (120, 0-2), Ethan Hand (220, 0-2), Jackson Moses (106, 0-2) and Brady Pethtel (132, 0-2).
Doup and Varanelli are state alternates by virtue of their fifth-place finishes.
Bowling season ends at district
The boys and girls bowling teams ended their seasons March 3 in Division I district tournaments at HP Lanes.
The girls finished sixth (3,000) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (3,596). Addison Starr was 11th (506) to lead Olentangy, followed by Olivia Hupp (32nd, 457), Erika Brehm (tied for 33rd, 453), Anna Reardon (63rd, 397) and Ariana Oliverio (87th, 257, two games).
Led by Tyler McMaster's 14th-place finish (563), the boys placed 11th (3,331) of 16 teams behind champion Westerville Central (3,907). Also competing were Garret Ross (25th, 527), Michael Lamar (27th, 519), Nick Madaris (tied for 76th, 324, two games) and Eli Cumbo (tied for 94th, 168, one game).
The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams in both tournaments advanced to state.
Boys basketball team falls in tournament
Despite a game-high 31 points from Sean Marks and a 35-point fourth quarter, the boys basketball team lost at 17th-seeded Chillicothe 86-77 in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 2.
Jerred Kinnaird had 14 points, Alex Sieve scored 12 and Austin Brown added 10 for 19th-seeded Olentangy, which finished 14-10.
Hockey team sees growth
The hockey team played its best in the second half of the season, including a district tournament win and its first sweep of Orange, to finish 18-11-2-1 overall and 10-6 with 20 points in the Capital Hockey Conference.
Seeded sixth for the 24-team district tournament, Olentangy defeated ninth-seeded New Albany 4-1 in a second-round game Feb. 18 at OhioHealth Ice Haus before losing to fourth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 6-2 in a quarterfinal Feb. 24 at the Ice Haus.
The Braves went 9-1-2 between Jan. 6 and Feb. 4, helping them finish second in the CHC-White behind Moeller (25, 12-3-0-1) and ahead of Springboro (16, 7-7-1-1), Orange (13, 6-9-1) and Coffman (8, 3-11-0-2).
"The biggest takeaway from this year will be that we learned what it takes to win and win consistently," coach Mike Ross said. "It takes a total team effort, competing every night for 45 minutes. We did not lean on one or two players to win games. We were very well balanced and it showed statistically. We now have the confidence to compete with anyone we line up against and that is not something we have had in past years."
Junior forward Gabe Zipser led the Braves in goals (17), assists (18) and points (35) and was named first-team all-CHC-White. Sophomore forward Andrew Rogers had 16 goals and 14 assists, freshman forward Landon Johnson added 14 goals and the Braves got 12 each from junior defenseman Dakota Falk and junior forward Kyle Gavin.
Sophomore goaltender Ryan Fletcher made 360 saves on 412 shots (87.4 percent).
Seeded sixth in the Blue Jackets Cup, Olentangy lost to third-seeded St. Charles 1-0 in the first round Feb. 8 at Chiller Ice Works.
State swim qualifiers expected to return
The girls swimming and diving team expects to return four Division I state qualifiers, led by junior Bridget Parker, while the boys team graduates its only state qualifier in Ben Kuriger.
Parker placed eighth in both the 200-yard individual medley (2:05.04) and 500 freestyle (5:02.83) on Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, leading Olentangy to 29 points and 18th behind champion Mason (236) as 55 teams scored. Kuriger's third-place efforts in the 100 butterfly (47.93) and 200 free (1:37.9) scored 32 points and the Braves finished 22nd behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (413) as 51 teams scored.
Kuriger is an Ohio State recruit.
Other returning state qualifiers in addition to Parker, who competed in her third state meet, are junior Grace Horstman (200 medley relay, 400 free relay) and sophomores Grace Butcher (100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay) and Emily Espy (400 free relay).
"We're really excited for the state (qualifiers) to return," girls coach Nick Ljubi said, noting that only one such girls swimmer graduates in Olivia Gollmar. "The incoming freshman class looks strong and should give us a chance to repeat and improve our performance."
The girls finished second (273.5) in the OCC-Buckeye meet Jan. 27 at Thomas Worthington behind Liberty (279) and ahead of Orange (186), Westerville Central (182.5), Westerville North (161) and Westerville South (145). The boys were third (210.5) behind Liberty (400.5) and Orange (259) and ahead of North (163), South (142) and Central (73).
In a sectional Feb. 10 at Kenyon College, Kuriger's wins in the 100 fly (50.51) and 200 free (1:42.8) led the boys to 86 points and sixth place behind champion Dublin Jerome (270) as 11 teams scored. The girls were third (146.5) behind champion Coffman (274) as 10 teams scored.
At district Feb. 17 at Ohio University, the girls tied Thomas for eighth (111) behind champion Upper Arlington (274) as 30 teams scored. The boys were ninth (96) behind champion Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored.
Among the district qualifiers expected to return are boys sophomores Garrett Graybill, Preston Kuriger, Jack Nebraska, Ben Paull and Chris Sabharwal and junior Liz Passias of the girls team.
@ThisWeekDaveAt a glance
•Finishes: First in OCC-Buckeye, second at district, fifth at state
•Seniors lost: Megan Baldwin, Lauren Farver, Claire Harrington, Lexi Jesenovec, Stephanie Miller and Ellie Morgan
•Key returnees: Wen Holmes and Megan Morgan
•Record: 18-11-2-1 overall, 10-6 (second) in CHC-White
•Seniors lost: Jared Dhuyvetter, Zach Shockcor, Nate Snopik and Alex Vandenbusche
•Key returnees: Dakota Falk, Ryan Fletcher, Landon Johnson, Andrew Rogers and Gabe Zipser
SWIMMING & DIVING
•Finishes: Boys – Third in OCC-Buckeye, sixth at sectional, ninth at district, 22nd at state; Girls – Second in OCC-Buckeye, third at sectional, tied for eighth at district, 18th at state
•Seniors lost: Boys – Ben Kuriger and Matt Settipani; Girls – Kellsey Distler, Olivia Gollmar, Lauren Householder and Emily Suchan
•Key returnees: Boys – Preston Kuriger, Jack Nebraska, Ben Paull and Chris Sabharwal; Girls – Grace Butcher, Grace Horstman, Bridget Parker and Liz Passias