Maureen Cummins didn't have a Michael Phelps-type scowl on her face, but the DeSales High School senior still said she was "pretty upset" after her first individual event in the Division I district swimming and diving meet Feb. 18 at Ohio State.

Seeded second in the 100-yard freestyle, Cummins finished ninth in 53.13 seconds even though she dropped .54 of a second from her sectional time.

"The girls I was swimming against were really, really fast and I knew I had to come out and just go fast," Cummins said. "I just couldn't hang on."

The Xavier University recruit spent the time before her 100 backstroke listening to music through headphones and taking in the atmosphere, and that relaxed approach paid off in the form of a two-second drop that ultimately was not enough to catapult Cummins into her third state meet.

Cummins placed fifth in the 100 back in 58.42, .15 of a second shy of the 24th and final at-large berth to the state meet Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

"I am really pleased," Cummins said. "I wanted to see low 58s, so 58.4 wasn't too bad. Looking at last year, 58.5 was the last (time) to get in (to state), but this year was much faster."

The top two placers in each swimming event at district advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.

DeSales finished 23rd (23 points) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (433.5) as 25 teams scored. No Stallions advanced to state.

Cummins also was on the 400 free relay that dropped 12.9 seconds from sectional and placed 25th (3:56.38) with Mary Ruff, Anna Sears and Julia Wilkes, and the 23rd-place 200 medley relay (1:59.05) with Sara Deakin, Ruff and Wilkes.

Cummins' time in the 100 free was .09 of a second shy of an at-large berth.

"She didn't have her best time in the 100 free, maybe by a tenth, but she still (had) a shot," coach Ryan Buechner said. "It's the small things that make such a huge difference in these events. I am so proud of how she came back. It was huge. After you go through so many of these meets for so long, you get that kind of attitude where you are able to forget about the bad things pretty quickly."

In the Division II boys district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio State, DeSales tied Heath for 33rd (3) behind champion Columbus Academy (353) as 35 teams scored.

Ian McCandlish finished 14th in the 100 back (1:03.84) and 24th in the 100 butterfly (1:02.93), and the 200 medley relay of Zane Marmie, McCandlish, Tim Pham and Aaron Spittell was 22nd (2:01.5).

"He is nine seconds faster in the backstroke than he was last year," Buechner said of McCandlish, a sophomore. "You don't normally see that kind of improvement."

Boys basketball team
hopes for tourney run

Boys basketball coach Joe Bills figures his team will be tested often during the postseason, so he had few qualms about putting the second-seeded Stallions into the same bracket as top-seeded Columbus South and third-seeded Eastmoor Academy in the Division II district tournament.

DeSales, which was 16-5 overall and 5-2 in the CCL before its regular-season finale against St. Charles on Feb. 22, will play host to 23rd-seeded Lakewood in a first-round game Monday, Feb. 27. The winner will play 19th-seeded Centennial in a second-round game March 2 at the home of the higher seed.

DeSales potentially could play Eastmoor in a district semifinal and South in a district final. The district champion would advance to the Ohio University regional, which historically has been friendly to area teams. The Stallions were regional runners-up there last year and in 2010, and Hartley (2011), Watterson (2014) and Walnut Ridge (2015) have advanced to state through Athens in recent years.

"Our season hasn't been perfect ... but we have an excellent record by any means," Bills said. "When it comes down to it, if you are going to win the district around here, you had better be really good and play very well in those games. Good teams can lose if they don't bring it on the right night."

The game against St. Charles, which was postponed from Dec. 9 because both teams figured they would be in the hunt for the CCL championship, was the last of five games in 13 days for DeSales. The Stallions, who defeated Ready 49-39 on Feb. 17, were eliminated from title contention that same night when St. Charles edged Hartley 49-46.

Girls basketball team
wins tourney opener

Even without two players who have served prominent roles much of this season, the girls basketball team found a way to upset 16th-seeded and host Upper Arlington 39-34 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 16.

Emma Burns had a game-high 20 points and Bella Shivley scored 10 for the 25th-seeded Stallions, who broke a four-game losing streak. The game was tied at 19 at halftime, but DeSales began the second half on an 8-0 run and never trailed thereafter.

The Stallions played without forward Jaclyn Gilmore and guard Sarah Zaino, both of whom suffered season-ending knee injuries last week.

"This team has battled all year, and they knew they could compete with anybody," coach Brian Cromwell said. "We made a few buckets in the third quarter to get us the lead and then we played some great defense. Jaclyn and Sarah have been big for us all year and we will miss them. We switched up our defenses to keep (UA) off balance."

DeSales improved to 10-13 and will play host to 36th-seeded Dublin Jerome in a second-round game Friday, Feb. 24.

The winner will play top-seeded Newark or 47th-seeded Hamilton Township in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 1, at a neutral site to be determined, and that winner will advance to a district final March 4.

The Stallions defeated Jerome 44-34 on Dec. 10 and routed Hamilton Township 65-15 on Jan. 3.

Wrestlers rack up
wins before sectional

Despite his team having won its last four regular-season duals, wrestling coach Nick Preston is ready for his team to be tested in a Division II sectional Saturday, Feb. 25, at Whitehall.

"Overall, I like where our team is, but we have some guys who have gone a month and a half without really tough matches," Preston said. "It's been awhile since our team was really tested, but they have done well. We've been able to get some young guys some good experience, and for the most part, we are healthy. You can't ask for a lot more than that at this point of the year."

Among the younger competitors who have seen time in the lineup are junior Hayden Riedmeyer (120 pounds), sophomore Shawn Corkrean (113) and freshmen Josh Morse (126), Cole Potts (220) and Geoffrey Stewart (152/160).

At sectional, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 3 and 4 at Heath.

"It's tough to say (how sectional will go)," Preston said. "Some of your guys get good draws, and others will be tough. You're going to see the better kids at some point, whether it's at sectional or district or maybe both. But from what I've seen, I'm confident we can get nine guys to district."

Bowlers prepare
for sectionals

The boys and girls bowling teams will have their first competition since Feb. 14 when they participate in Division I sectionals this weekend.

The 41-team girls sectional is Friday, Feb. 24, at Sawmill Lanes, while the 45-team boys sectional is the next day at the same facility.

The top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on qualifying teams from both sectionals advance to the district tournament March 3 at Sawmill Lanes.

DeSales ended its regular season Feb. 14 with losses to Watterson at Capri Lanes, as the boys fell 1,885-1,791 and the girls lost 1,600-1,212.

Gymnasts look to
district tournament

The gymnastics team is preparing to compete in the 33-team district meet Saturday, Feb. 25, at Thomas Worthington, where the top three teams and top nine finishers in each event and the all-around advance to state.

The team state meet is March 3 at Hilliard Bradley and the individual state meet is March 4 at the same venue.

Hockey team loses
tourney opener

The hockey team's season came to an end Feb. 17 with a 7-3 loss to Oxford Tala-wanda in the first round of the district tournament at Chiller North.

Chris Stoll had two goals and Dimitri Bergados scored one for the 20th-seeded Stallions, who trailed 22nd-seeded Tala-wanda 4-3 after two periods.

DeSales finished 5-20-1-1.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave