After qualifying for the Division I state meet as a sophomore, Westerville South High School swimmer Nate Stadler missed the postseason a year ago after developing an illness.

Stadler was relegated to supporting his teammates during the sectional and district meets as the Wildcats came up short of advancing to state.

A healthy Stadler returned for his senior season and has led the Wildcats, highlighted by earning a pair of berths to the state meet Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

At district Feb. 17 at Ohio University, Stadler qualified for state in the 100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke while setting program records in both. He finished third in the 100 free (46.31 seconds) and is seeded 11th at state, and took third in the 100 back (51.51) and is seeded 12th.

"It's going to be a lot of fun (at state), especially since two years ago was the last time I was there," Stadler said. "I'm super excited, hoping to drop some more time going into (this) week."

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

Stadler missed the latter part of last season with histoplasmosis, a fungal lung infection.

"It's really great and it's even better to not only be back, but be back as strong as I've been," he said. "Obviously, we saw that (at district). It was hard to watch last year, but I felt the joy for my teammates getting to watch them, getting to be around them in the best of times. It was still a pretty good experience."

As a sophomore at state, Stadler finished 18th in the 100 free (47.7). He also was part of the 23rd-place 400 free relay (3:17.87) and 200 free relay (1:29.64).

"Nate is really excited and it's great for our program to have a kid face adversity and then come through the adversity like that and have the day he had," coach Shane Davis said. "We want more school records for him and he wants to be in the finals and swim on Saturday at the state meet, and that's what we're looking for as a program to be able to compete on the last day of the state meet."

At district, the boys finished 16th (39.5 points) behind champion Dublin Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored.

Senior Abigail Ellsworth led the girls team, finishing eighth in the 100 back (program-record 58.55) and 16th in the 100 free (program-record 53.22).

"I'm really happy with how I did," she said. "I'm happy with my season. I'm happy with all four years and how I progressed."

The girls finished 23rd (20) behind champion Upper Arlington (274) as 30 teams scored.

Pitzer named league Player of the Year

As she prepares to lead the girls basketball team into the postseason, junior point guard Sommer Pitzer was named OCC-Buckeye Division Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The fifth-seeded Wildcats took a first-round bye and play host to 28th-seeded Mount Vernon in the second round Friday, Feb. 23.

The winner plays 17th-seeded Canal Winchester or 19th-seeded Logan in a semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 28, at a neutral site to be determined. The district final is March 3 at Ohio Dominican.

South capped an undefeated run through the OCC-Buckeye with a 63-51 win over Westerville Central on Feb. 16. The Wildcats won the league title at 10-0, as Central and Olentangy Liberty tied for second at 6-4.

Boys basketball team readies for postseason

The boys basketball team is seeded eighth for the Division I district tournament and will play host to 36th-seeded Marysville in the first round Saturday, Feb. 24.

The winner plays 28th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the second round March 2 at the home of the better seed.

The Wildcats are 12-8 overall and looking to snap a three-game losing streak.

South lost to Central 49-45 on Feb. 16 to finish 5-5 in the OCC-Buckeye. Elton Sunnyway scored 13 points and Emmanuel Sunnyway added 12.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

At a glance

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

Boys -- Caleb Baker: 50 free (22.55, 24th), 100 free (49.53, 17th); 200 free relay (1:41.91, 30th); 200 medley relay (1:40.42, 13th); 400 free relay (disqualified)

Girls -- Allie Diller: diving (144.75, 21st); Abigail Ellsworth: 100 free (53.22, 16th), 100 back (58.55, eighth); Cara Jennings: diving (120.6, 31st); Maeve Stacey: 100 breast (1:11.54, 23rd); 200 free relay (1:50.02, 24th); 200 medley relay (1:55.29, 13th); 400 free relay (3:50.44, 18th)

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the South bowling and wrestling teams:

BOWLING

Feb. 23 -- Division I boys sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 3 at HP Lanes.

Feb. 24 -- Division I girls sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 3 at HP Lanes.

WRESTLING

Feb. 24 -- Division I sectional at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby.