Knowing what it takes to qualify for the Division I state meet, Blake Fry of the Canal Winchester High School boys swimming team entered the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University with a survive-and-advance mindset.

As a result, the sophomore will compete this weekend at Branin Natatorium in Canton, knowing he has more time to drop if he hopes to make the championship final.

Fry finished fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.38 seconds) and seventh in the 500 freestyle (4:43.91), earning at-large berths to state.

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

Fry is seeded 20th of 24 swimmers in the 50 free and 23rd in the 100 breast. In the latter event, his seeding time is .02 of a second ahead of Jack Van Cott of Toledo St. John's.

"I just wanted to drop time," said Fry, who finished 22nd at state in the 100 breast and 23rd in the 500 free as a freshman. "This (district) meet just seems like it's a lot faster this year. I don't know that I was concerned about a particular time. I was just thinking, 'Get in there and swim.' It's very exciting to get back to state another year. I remember the atmosphere last year was amazing. It's something to make it back again."

Fry dropped 2.98 seconds in the 100 breast from his sectional time Feb. 10 at Upper Arlington, and 11.26 seconds in the 500 free.

At state, the top eight swimmers in each event after preliminaries Friday, Feb. 23, will make the championship final Saturday, Feb. 24. The ninth- through 16th-place swimmers will compete in the consolation final that same day.

Fry's performances at district earned Canal Winchester 26 points and a tie for 19th place with Pickerington Central behind champion Dublin Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored.

The girls 200 free relay earned a return to state after a one-year absence, finishing eighth in 1:38.86. Hannah Olger led off, followed by Leah Bates, Kassidy Pastor and Grace Riddle.

"We were really confident. We knew we had to go a 1:39 or 1:38 to get in and we did that," Pastor said. "We felt great after last weekend. 1:40 was good and we knew we had to drop another one or two seconds. We were pretty confident that we could do it.

"Last year was very tough not making it. Making it back now is amazing. If we get to the finals, we will just go all in."

The girls team finished 14th (63) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (274) as 30 teams scored.

"They (the 200 free relay) went their best time all season," coach Julie Pastor said. "Grace (Riddle) did well in her events and Blake had a great time in his 500. He gave himself a shot and that's all you can ask for. The times were good, but this meet is fast. It gets faster every year. Everybody dropped times and that's something we had to do.

"We're ecstatic that (the 200 free relay) made it back."

Wrestlers taking different path

Based on seeds alone, the Division I sectional wrestling tournament Saturday, Feb. 24, at Whitehall figures to be competitive.

That is the main reason why coach Harrison Rosch decided to slot his team at that site, even though unlike in past years, the Indians will have a road trip in store for the district tournament.

No seed higher than 31st in the 44-team district picked Whitehall, possibly because it feeds into a combined Central/Northeast/Northwest district tournament March 2 and 3 at Perrysburg. The Marysville, Newark, UA and Watkins Memorial sectionals will, as usual, feed into the district tournament at Hilliard Darby.

Canal Winchester is seeded 38th.

"It's a great draw for us. It's somewhere we can have success," Rosch said. "If you weigh in and show up, you have a shot. It fits well for us. We are young and I think it gives us a decent shot to get a number of guys into the district tournament. The experience they will gain at the sectional tournament will be huge.

"It's a good opportunity for us to grow and build for the future. We were ranked low anyway, we might get bumped there. Why not choose that? Maybe we can get eight or nine guys through (to district)."

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district.

Canal Winchester concluded the regular season with a 69-6 win over visiting Franklin Heights on Feb. 15 to finish 2-3 in the OCC-Capital Division.

Girls basketball team routs Monarchs

Until last year, the girls basketball team had not played host to a postseason game.

This season, the Indians will play the first and second rounds of the Division I district tournament on their home court.

Shalea Byrd had 14 points to lead four scorers in double figures Feb. 17 as 17th-seeded Canal Winchester cruised past 30th-seeded Marysville 74-39 in a first-round game. Braelyn Buchler added 13 points and Markyia McCormick and Amanda Rarick each scored 12 as the Indians improved to 17-6.

Canal Winchester will play host to 19th-seeded Logan in the second round Friday, Feb. 23.

"My goal in taking over four years ago was to make us one of those teams that when (opponents) see us on their schedule, they think, 'Uh oh, we have to play them,'" coach Willie Jordan said. "I think we're at that point. Teams come ready to play us. That's a sign of respect. Three years ago, that wasn't the case."

The Canal Winchester-Logan winner will play fifth-seeded Westerville South or 28th-seeded Mount Vernon in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 28, at a neutral site to be determined. That winner advances to a district final March 3 at Ohio Dominican University.

Boys basketball team falls to Wildcats

Despite 15 points from Brady Snyder and 10 from Bilal Sow, the boys basketball team lost to visiting Newark 61-49 in its regular season finale Feb. 16.

The Indians, who were as close as 52-48 halfway through the fourth quarter, are 12-10 overall and finished 5-5 in the OCC-Capital. Canal Winchester had won four of its previous five games before losing to Newark.

The Indians are off until March 2, when they will take on 15th-seeded Grove City or 29th-seeded Mifflin in the second round of the Division I district tournament. Canal Winchester is seeded 30th of 48 teams.

The tournament game will be played at the home of the higher seed.

Snyder named girls volleyball coach

Kellina Snyder couldn't picture a better opportunity for her first head coaching job.

Snyder has been named girls volleyball team coach. She replaces Dana Stearns, who left after three seasons to become the first coach at Olentangy Berlin.

Snyder, who played volleyball and ran track and field at the University of Rio Grande, has been Canal Winchester's junior varsity coach for the past three seasons. She also has coached club volleyball and previously was an assistant coach at Capital University.

"This was an absolute no-brainer for me," Snyder said. "I have always said that I'll be a head coach one day, when the time is right, in the right system (and) with the right program."

Stearns was 39-30 the past three seasons with the Indians, including 15-8 overall and 8-2 in the OCC-Capital last fall. It was the team's best league record since going 11-3 in the MSL-Buckeye in 2011.

Although the team is losing eight seniors, Snyder still sees this as perfect timing.

"Most people wouldn't even interview for a coaching job knowing that you are losing eight amazing players, but that's exactly what motivated me to apply for this job," Snyder said. "We have some really good, athletic volleyball players in our system. ... I am excited to continue to mold young ladies in becoming a better student-athlete today than they were yesterday."

Snyder's husband is boys basketball coach Lyndell Snyder.

Their sons, 2015 graduate Brendan and junior Brady, both have played for their father. Brendan now plays basketball at Rio Grande.

Welsh headed to Muskingum

Sara Welsh committed Feb. 12 to play women's tennis at Muskingum University.

According to her mother, coach Jill Welsh, Sara Welsh will be the first tennis player in school history to play at the collegiate level.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

At a glance

Below are the members of the Canal Winchester boys and girls swimming teams who competed at district but did not qualify for state:

BOYS -- Korbin Martino: 50 free (22.82, tied for 27th), 100 back (58.81, 30th), 200 medley relay (1:47.09, 21st); 400 free relay (3:38.94, 24th); GIRLS -- Hannah Olger: 50 free (24.58, 14th), 100 free (54.33, 23rd); Kassidy Pastor: 200 IM (2:15.49, 14th); Karenna Reed: 500 free (5:34.29, 20th); Grace Riddle: 100 back (58.22, seventh), 200 free (1:56.02, eighth); 200 medley relay (2:05.32, 24th); 400 free relay (3:40.2, 11th)