Branin Natatorium has felt like "home" for senior Eddie Michael of the Dublin Coffman High School boys swimming and diving team for a while considering how many times he's competed there the last few years.
Ellie Andrews could be on a similar path as a freshman for the girls team considering what she's already accomplished.
In the Division I state meet Feb. 23 and 24 in Canton, both Michael and Andrews left with runner-up finishes to help their teams put together the best overall performance of any program from central Ohio.
In the boys meet, Coffman scored 91 points to place an area-best eighth behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (413) as 51 teams scored. In the girls meet, the Shamrocks scored 145 points to finish an area-best sixth behind champion Mason (236) as 55 teams scored.
The boys and girls teams both had placed third in the district meet that concluded Feb. 17 at Ohio University.
Coffman advanced to the finals Feb. 24 in all but two events from the preliminaries the day before.
"We swam great (in the preliminaries) to put us in a great position, and it went really well," coach Steve VonSchriltz said. "We've got a lot of young girls here, and Eddie has had a great career. I wish he'd have been able to win, but he was right there and he had a great season."
A four-time state qualifier who reached the podium eight times during his prep career, Michael will compete at Arizona State next season after placing second in the 100-yard freestyle (44.92 seconds) and sixth in the 50 free (20.84).
"I was just trying to take it all in," Michael said. "This is wild. We've been swimming here for years."
Michael also swam the free on the 200 medley relay that placed fourth (1:34.32). He was joined by senior Owen McQuaid (backstroke), junior Ted Stevens (breaststroke) and junior Zak Birnbrich (butterfly).
In addition, Michael swam anchor leg on the 400 free relay that also included Birnbrich, McQuaid and junior Andy Shepard and finished ninth (3:09.83).
"We feel great (about getting fourth in the 200 medley relay)," Stevens said. "Coming (into state), we were (seeded) 13th, and we wanted to make the top eight, but fourth is incredible for us."
Also for the boys, Birnbrich was ninth in the 100 fly (50.64), sophomore Ethan Shaw finished 13th in the 500 free (4:41.83), sophomore Brendan Oshida took 17th in the 500 free (4:43.32) and the 200 free relay of Birnbrich, McQuaid, sophomore Will Randall and junior Cole Northup was disqualified in the consolation final.
Andrews reached the podium three times in her first state meet.
She placed second in the 100 breast (1:01.09) and was on the 200 medley relay that was fourth (1:43.59) and the 200 free relay that also finished fourth (1:34.9). Andrews added a ninth-place finish in the 200 individual medley (2:03.46).
"Going into it, I just wanted to go as far as I could and just wanted to have a good time (in the 100 breast)," Andrews said. "I felt really good. I'm pretty proud of myself. It's a great environment here and this is the biggest team Coffman has brought to state, so it's really fun overall."
Andrews swam the back on the 200 medley relay, which also consisted of freshman Cameron Das (back), sophomore Hannah Bailey (fly) and sophomore Kristyn Sabol (free).
Also on the 200 free relay were Sabol, senior Marissa Kruse and Bailey.
Bailey, who won the state title in the 100 breast last season, finished third in the 100 fly (55.2) and seventh in the 100 breast (1:03.76), and Sabol took third in the 200 free (1:49.72) and fourth in the 100 fly (55.29).
"It was really a great moment (to get fourth in the 200 medley relay)," Das said. "This team is crazy fast and we always have something to give to our team every week. We have the best attitude."
Also competing for the girls was the 400 free relay of freshman Ava Warren, Kruse, senior Grace O'Banion and junior Eeshaa Mehta that placed 23rd (3:42.93).
"It's exciting for the coming years," Kruse said. "We haven't had a girls relay place in the top eight for several years."
Other key returnees for the girls should include junior Linda Lu and freshman Ellie O'Banion in swimming and freshman Sidney Boroff in diving.
Also eligible to return for the boys is junior diver Trinity Williams.
Hurt wins district title in all-around
Senior Bethany Hurt of the gymnastics team is now a two-time district champion in the all-around.
After sharing the title a year ago with 2017 Worthington Kilbourne graduate Bethany Lange when both scored 35.925, Hurt scored 37.0 to edge Thornville Sheridan's Sydney Bradley (36.6) for this year's championship Feb. 24 at Kilbourne.
Hurt also shared the balance beam title with Sheridan's Madison Snider (9.35), won floor exercise (9.45), tied Sheridan's Brooklyn Heller for second on uneven bars (9.05) and tied Snider for second on vault (9.15).
Hurt competes in the individual state meet Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Bradley.
She finished 13th (35.975) in the all-around at state last year.
"I was most pleased with how I did on beam and floor," Hurt said. "I don't have any expectations (for state), but I'm hoping to be named all-state again."
Coffman scored 97.7 to finish 21st of 24 teams at district, as Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Bradley (135.425) advanced to the team state meet Friday, March 2, at Bradley.
Sophomore Claire Connelly was the only other Coffman gymnast to record an all-around score at district. Junior Lauren Delfunt and sophomore Allexia Dempsey also competed at district.
Girls basketball team makes district semi
With a 110-37 victory over 47th-seeded Centennial on Feb. 23, the second-seeded girls basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal Feb. 28 against 20th-seeded Lancaster.
The semifinal winner plays fifth-seeded Westerville South or 17th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district final at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Ohio Dominican.
The Shamrocks defeated South 82-80 in overtime Jan. 3 at home. Jacy Sheldon had 24 points, Dana Axner scored 22 and Lilly Edwards and Riley Wagoner each added 17 as Coffman overcame a 28-point performance from the Wildcats' Anyssa Jones.
South has added 6-foot-2 sophomore Gabby Hutcherson to its lineup. The honorable mention all-OCC-Buckeye Division honoree didn't play on Jan. 3 because she had to sit out the first 11 games because of the OHSAA transfer rule.
Against Centennial, Sheldon had 30 points, Edwards scored 18 and Axner scored 14 as Coffman led 41-7 after the first quarter.
The Shamrocks had won 19 consecutive games before playing Lancaster.
"Our kids have been playing hard and playing well," coach Bryan Patton said. "You kind of get into that tournament mindset, where you're preparing for a one-game situation. Our kids are excited to get going, so preparation and practice has been important. You can talk with a little bit more clarity. The big thing with the first couple weeks (of the tournament) is that you're working on the things that will allow you to extend your season later."
The district champion plays Newark, Watterson, Northland or Upper Arlington in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at Otterbein. The regional final is March 9 at Otterbein.
Wrestlers capture sectional title
With eight Division I district qualifiers, the wrestling team scored 212 points to win the 10-team sectional Feb. 24 at Upper Arlington, edging the runner-up and host Golden Bears (205).
Jimmy Baumann (106 pounds), Antonio Gonzalez (138), Ben Yost (145) and Lennox Wolak (182) won sectional championships, Kyle Murray (113) and R.J. Carpenter (195) were runners-up, Nick Copley (160) placed third and Eric Feng (heavyweight) was fourth as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby.
Finishing fifth were Davante Cooper (120), Leo Alvarez (152) and Parker Bauman (170), while Morgan Adams (126) was sixth.
Patrick Kennedy (132) and Nick Hoskinson (220) also competed.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Boys basketball team preps for Celtics
The sixth-seeded boys basketball team will play host to 25th-seeded Jerome on Friday, March 2, in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The game represents a rematch of the second round last season, when the Shamrocks were the 18th seed and beat the 11th-seeded Celtics 59-54.
Coffman is 17-6 after opening the postseason with an 85-47 victory over 33rd-seeded Hamilton Township on Feb. 24. Jerome is 13-9.
Against the Rangers, the Shamrocks led 44-24 at halftime and extended their lead to 66-39 through three quarters. Dominiq Penn had 16 points, Will Hunter scored 14 and Derek Van Vlerah and Trevor Grady both scored 12.
The second-round winner will play fifth-seeded Newark or 43rd-seeded Lancaster in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 7, at a neutral site to be announced.
That winner faces second-seeded Upper Arlington, 14th-seeded Olentangy Liberty, 23rd-seeded Northland or 47th-seeded Whetstone in a district final March 10 at Ohio Dominican.
@UlreyThisWeekAt a glance
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: Boys -- Second in OCC-Central, second at sectional, third at district, eighth at state; Girls -- Second in OCC-Central, first at sectional, third at district, sixth at state
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Owen McQuaid and Eddie Michael; Girls -- Sydney Griggs, Marissa Kruse and Grace O'Banion
*Key returnees: Boys -- Zak Birnbrich, Cole Northup, Brendan Oshida, Will Randall, Ethan Shaw, Andy Shepard and Ted Stevens; Girls -- Ellie Andrews, Hannah Bailey, Cameron Das, Eeshaa Mehta, Ellie O'Banion, Kristyn Sabol and Ava Warren