A difficult beginning brought everything into focus for the Columbus School for Girls swimming and diving team in the Division II district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio State.
The Unicorns were disqualified in the meet's opening event -- the 200-yard medley relay -- but rebounded to win their fourth consecutive district championship.
CSG totaled 343 points to finish ahead of runner-up Columbus Academy (253) as 33 teams scored.
"It could happen to anyone at anytime and it wasn't anyone's fault," coach Stephanie Donley said of the medley relay's disqualification. "It was the first event and it was extremely loud and there was a lot of adrenaline flowing.
"The girls stayed focused. We came out and had some great performances and dropped a lot of time. Almost all of our girls had their best times and they stepped up when we needed them to."
The top two finishers in each swimming event and the top two divers advanced to the state meet Feb. 22 through Friday, Feb. 24, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
Senior Miranda Donley and freshman Jordan Aurnou-Rhees both won two individual events to lead the Unicorns.
Donley won both the 50 freestyle (22.74 seconds) and 100 free (50.94) and is seeded first in the 50 free and second in the 100 free at state, while Aurnou-Rhees won both the 100 butterfly (56.17) and 200 individual medley (2:06.92) and is seeded first in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 fly at state.
"I think this sets me up well going into state," Aurnou-Rhees said. "We want to continue at state what we did at district. We love racing against that kind of competition, and we get to see how we can do."
The Unicorns had the top three placers in the 50 free at district. Sophomore Alicia Donley was runner-up (24.39; eighth seed at state) to Miranda Donley and senior Maggie Wagenbrenner placed third (24.5; 14th seed).
Wagenbrenner also finished third in the 100 free (53.11; 15th seed).
CSG had two relays win district titles. Wagenbrenner, Alicia Donley, Natalie Merryman and Miranda Donley were on the first-place 400 free relay (3:34.04; top seed), and Aurnou-Rhees, Alicia Donley, Emily Dewolf and Miranda Donley were on the champion 200 free relay (1:36.7; second seed).
Last season at state, CSG finished third (180) behind Gates Mills Hawken (318.5) and Cincinnati Mariemont (194.5).
Miranda Donley, the two-time defending state champion in the 50 free, won the event in 23.12 and placed third in the 100 fly (55.87). She also was on the winning 200 free relay (1:35.7) with Alicia Donley and 2016 graduates Anna Moosavian and Eleanor Smith.
Basketball team wins
four of five contests
The basketball team finished the regular season by winning its final two games and four of its last five.
The 21st-seeded Unicorns were 12-9 before opening the Division III district tournament Feb. 21 against second-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in a first-round game.
The winner plays 18th-seeded Fairbanks in the second round Thursday, Feb. 23, at the home of the higher seed. CSG has not played the Panthers this season.
The second-round winner faces fifth-seeded Marion Pleasant, 17th-seeded Sparta Highland or 19th-seeded Heath in a semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 28, at a site to be determined. The Unicorns did not play any of those teams during the regular season.
The district final is March 3 at Ohio Dominican University.
The Unicorns defeated Liberty Christian 49-7 on Feb. 14 behind 17 points from Skylar King and 14 from Tyler Wallace.
Brinley Zieg and Imani Babatunde both had 13 points as 10 players scored in CSG's 57-22 win over Northside Christian on Feb. 16.