Cristian Salazar has done everything in his power this winter to continue his development for the Gahanna Lincoln High School wrestling team.
Shortly after the Lions opened their season, the junior endured a bout of pneumonia.
Then when he returned, an ankle injury slowed him down.
From a mental standpoint, though, the wheels never stopped turning.
"The whole time (I was out) I was working on my technique, things that I could do," said Salazar, who has competed at 113 and 120 pounds. "I came back and the coaches changed my style of wrestling. I'm beating kids I couldn't beat last year."
A two-time Division I district qualifier who was the Lions' only competitor to advance to that level a season ago, Salazar again is aiming big.
He and the Lions take a 2-1 record in the OCC-Ohio Division into their matches Thursday, Feb. 8, against Grove City and Lancaster at Reynoldsburg.
According to first-year coach Steve Sommer, Salazar is among those who have been moving forward with the postseason approaching.
The Lions compete in a sectional Feb. 24 at Watkins Memorial.
"(Salazar) had some gaps at the beginning, but we're starting to hit a stride with him and a couple of them," Sommer said. "We're getting in the swing of things in getting them to develop. I didn't have any expectations other than to get kids better at wrestling and buy into the process."
Salazar is a believer in "leading by example" and tries to make a habit of encouraging his teammates.
From a personal standpoint, Salazar, who was born in Colombia and also lived in Ecuador before moving to the United States when he was 5 years old, tries to be as teachable as possible and vows "I'm going to state for sure" this season.
"(I've worked on) my stance and my motion," said Salazar, whose older brother, 2016 graduate Jhoan Salazar, also competed for the wrestling program. "I used to be stagnant on my feet and now I'm constantly moving, constantly shooting. I did small stuff like that last year, but not as consistently last year. They got my mentality right, and I really appreciate that.
"As a team, it's going pretty well. Coach Sommer pushes us and helps us exceed what our own expectations are. The coaches never doubt us and they push us and make us work hard. I tell them I want an early morning practice and they'll do anything for us."
Girls squad hitting peak for postseason
Winners of four games in a row heading into the Division I district tournament drawing Feb. 4, the girls basketball team received a higher seed than a season ago when it ended up as a district runner-up.
Gahanna, which was seeded 11th last season, received the ninth seed and will open Feb. 17 at home against 41st-seeded Central Crossing.
After being in the same bracket as eventual regional champion Newark last season, the top-seeded team in the Lions' bracket is fourth-seeded Reynoldsburg. They lost to Raiders 61-52 on Dec. 8 and 60-57 on Jan. 19 in OCC-Ohio play.
Before playing Westerville Central on Feb. 6, Gahanna was 13-7 overall, with its last loss coming in the second matchup with the Raiders.
The Lions followed with blowout wins over New Albany (68-41 on Jan. 23), Pickerington North (74-42 on Jan. 26) and Grove City (86-27 on Feb. 1) and then edged Watterson (43-39 on Feb. 3).
They are 4-5 in the OCC-Ohio heading into their league finale Friday, Feb. 9, at home against Lancaster.
"I felt like we had just a really good January," coach Betsy Baker said. "Our only losses were to (Pickerington) Central and Reynoldsburg, which are top-four teams in the Central District, and we really just feel like after our Westerville South loss (65-43 on Dec. 19), we really just turned the corner and have not looked back."
Against Watterson, Gahanna trailed 25-13 at halftime but outscored the Eagles 18-8 in the third quarter as Anisja Harris scored 11 of her 15 points.
That followed her 25-point performance against Grove City two days earlier.
"It's been about constantly growing and not being satisfied," Baker said. "(We want to be) making it known that we're a top-tier team."
Bowling teams wrap up league championships
The boys and girls bowling teams each captured at least a share of a league championship last week.
The boys team was 14-2 overall and had earned a runner-up finish in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division at 10-2, but it was 5-0 in the OCC-Central before facing Hilliard Davidson on Feb. 7. The Lions had a chance to win the OCC-Central outright with a victory over the Wildcats, or they would share the title if they lost and Pickerington North beats Marysville on Thursday, Feb. 8.
In a 2,334-1,924 victory over Reynoldsburg on Feb. 2, Nathan Minzler averaged 224.5 to lead the way.
"Our best season since I've been here has been this year and we have a chance to have our best season ever," senior Sal Ferrante said. "We've got some great freshmen, and our seniors are locking down their game. We're jelling really well."
The girls won the COHSBC-A at 12-0, and they were 16-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central before facing Davidson.
In a 2,247-1,251 win over Reynoldsburg, Briann McKnight averaged 216, followed by Lilu Smith (189.5), Shannon Gonzales (189.0), Taylor Burns (186.0) and Delaney Ferguson (174.0).
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 9 -- At Lancaster. The Lions beat the Golden Gales 87-55 on Jan. 5.
*Feb. 9 -- Home vs. Lancaster. The Lions beat the Golden Gales 75-38 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 10 -- COHSBC Roll-Off tournament at Game of Western Columbus
Feb. 9 -- 15th-seeded Dublin Scioto in first round of Blue Jackets Cup consolation tournament. Winner plays ninth-seeded New Albany at 6:20 p.m. Feb. 10 at OhioHealth Ice Haus. Winner plays in consolation final at 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Ice Haus. Gahanna is the 14th seed.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division I sectional swimming meet at Thomas Worthington. The winner of each event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Feb. 17 at Ohio University.
Feb. 12 -- Division I district girls diving meet at Dublin Community Recreation Center. The top four finishers advance to state Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Feb. 13 -- Division I district boys diving meet at Dublin Community Recreation Center. The top five finishers advance to state Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
*Feb. 8 -- Grove City and Lancaster at Reynoldsburg
Feb. 10 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome