The march toward the top of the Central District appears likely to continue for the Dublin Jerome High School gymnastics team this season.
The Celtics scored consistently in the low 120s early last season before rising to post a 131.85 to place seventh at the district meet as Thornville Sheridan, Olentangy and Hilliard Bradley advanced to state.
Jerome opened Dec. 11 by scoring a 131.5 to edge host Worthington Kilbourne (129.9) for first place in a five-team meet.
Then on Dec. 15, the Celtics scored a program-record 136.05 to capture the title in the 14-team Hilliard Invitational at Davidson.
"They're looking pretty good," ninth-year coach Kristen Willms said. "I'm super excited about our prospects. We've added four new freshmen to our team and we now have a team of 12. I feel like we're in a better spot this year going into (the season)."
All but two of Jerome's key competitors from last season, when it finished third in the OCC-Cardinal Division and Willms was league named Coach of the Year, have returned, and the Celtics also have an impact freshman in Raegan Ernst.
On Dec. 11, Ernst won the all-around with a 35.65 and finished first on floor exercise (9.2), uneven bars (9.1) and vault (8.85). Junior Grace Krouse, who was 14th (33.95) in the all-around at district last year, won balance beam (8.6).
Then in the Hilliard Invitational, Krouse finished first on vault (8.9) and Ernst won bars (9.025), floor (9.3) and the all-around (36.225).
"This year we have new freshmen, but we've also gotten cleaner and upgraded from last year," Krouse said. "I got a few more skills from last year and worked over the summer to get better. We're all really excited because we want to go to states this year, so it's a good indication that we can."
Also on the team after competing in the all-around at district last year are senior Melissa Radey and junior Sydney White.
Senior Parker Sickels, who was 16th in the all-around at district last season, moved out of state during the offseason.
The other returnees are junior Rachel Radey and sophomores Sammie Fowler, Grace Galli, Maddy Lucas and Izzy Willms.
The other freshmen are Sydney Campbell, Laney Mlicki and Sami Stutz.
The Celtics have eight meets in January, including Jan. 2 at Coffman for a meet that also features Scioto, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty and Dresden Tri-Valley. In addition to Olentangy being a state qualifier last season, Tri-Valley and Liberty finished fourth and eighth, respectively, at district.
"January is a long month for us," Willms said. "After (the December meets) we kind of tone it down a little because the kids have got exams. I've been super lucky because in the offseason, several of our kids practiced and a lot practiced with me over the summer."
League challenges continue for boys
The boys basketball team will play host to two-time defending OCC-Cardinal champion Bradley on Friday, Dec. 21.
The Celtics dropped to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the league Dec. 14 with a 69-61 overtime loss to Thomas Worthington.
Jerome trailed by as many as 11 points during the second half but took a 51-50 lead on a pair of free throws by Dan Lee before the Cardinals tied it at 51.
After a turnover by Thomas with 2.5 seconds left in regulation gave the ball back to the Celtics, Joseph Gatien took an off-balanced shot that didn't fall and the game went to overtime.
Thomas scored the first nine points in the extra session before Jerome got back to within 63-61 with 10.9 seconds left when Joseph Gatien made the second of two free throws, but that was as close as the Celtics got.
Trey Ballangee had 13 points, Lee scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and Joey Pickering and Gatien both had 10 points.
Wrestlers prep for busy January
The wrestling team returns to action Jan. 5 in the Indian Invitational at Logan Elm and will take a 1-1 record in the OCC-Cardinal into a home match Jan. 10 against Kilbourne.
The Celtics opened league action with a 50-19 win over Thomas on Dec. 6 before losing to Delaware 47-20 on Dec. 13.
Against Delaware, Jack Viola (106 pounds), Austin Wagner (113), Salim Haqq (120), Ezra Strickland (152) and Zach McMinn (heavyweight) all were victorious.
On Dec. 8, the Celtics finished sixth (123) of 17 teams in the Big Walnut Classic behind champion Coffman (288) as Lane Williams (138) placed first, Viola was runner-up and McMinn and Luke Milanovich (126) were fourth.
Dec. 11 -- at *Worthington Kilbourne with Coffman, Scioto and Olentangy Liberty
Dec. 15 -- Hilliard Invitational at Hilliard Davidson
Jan. 2 -- at Coffman with Scioto, Dresden Tri-Valley, Liberty and Olentangy
Jan. 5 -- Wolfpack Invitational at Kilbourne
Jan. 12 -- McGee Invitational at Coffman
Jan. 15 -- at Upper Arlington with Coffman, Scioto, Grove City and Olentangy Berlin
Jan. 19 -- Scioto, *Berlin and Kilbourne at Central Ohio Gymnastics
Jan. 21 -- at Coffman with *Scioto, Central Crossing, Franklin Heights and Westland
Jan. 29 -- at Coffman with Scioto, *Delaware, Grove City, Marysville and Westerville Central
Jan. 31 -- at Davidson with Coffman, Scioto, *Hilliard Bradley and *Hilliard Darby
Feb. 5 -- at *Thomas Worthington with, Coffman, Scioto and Westerville Central
Feb. 9 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Thomas
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Dec. 21 -- At Hilliard Bradley
*Dec. 22 -- Springboro at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 26-28 -- Sylvania Northview, Springboro and Rocky River in Warrior Shootout at Kent State
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 22 -- Delaware at Dublin Recreation Center