With her career as a competitive swimmer possibly coming to a close a few weeks from now, Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Lydia Gilger is feeling a sense of urgency.
She appears to be on track to end her prep career at the Division I state swimming and diving meet, where she competed as both a freshman and sophomore.
But as Gilger learned last season when she fell short of reaching state, achieving that goal isn't guaranteed.
"Last year, I didn't have a very good year," Gilger said. "I was sick (during) my district meet and my taper didn't work out too well. Taper-wise, I needed more rest, and things just didn't pan out the way I would have liked. Hopefully, (getting back to state is) the goal."
Given the addition of a strong freshman class, Gilger's hopes of making it to state on a relay this winter look promising, but she isn't sure whether she'll continue competing beyond this season because of another path she's planning to pursue.
In the fall, Gilger is considering traveling overseas to do missionary work such as serving at an orphanage or school.
Coach Jeff Riegler understands that life is "more than just being about swimming for her."
"I actually think I'm going to take at least a semester off my freshman year and do overseas missions and then come back and pursue a four-year degree," Gilger said. "I want to go and basically love on the people and tell them about the Lord through whatever work they need. I'm looking for something that's about three to four months and then I'll come back."
Gilger, like her older sister, 2016 graduate Abigail Gilger, is home-schooled but competes athletically for Gahanna.
Both of the Gilger sisters were key contributors during the 2015-16 season when the Lions placed 14th at the state meet, with Abigail competing on the 16th-place 200-yard freestyle relay and Lydia swimming on the 12th-place 200 medley relay.
Ally Wharton, who is now competing for the University of Akron, was the team's top swimmer that season.
Lydia Gilger also made it to state as a freshman on the 200 medley relay that finished 22nd.
This winter, she has added the 100 breaststroke -- which was Wharton's best event when she was at Gahanna -- to a repertoire that also includes the 100 butterfly as well as freestyle events.
Gilger won the 100 fly (1 minute, .36 seconds) on Dec. 22 in a dual against Upper Arlington and improved on that time while placing 23rd (1:00.13) at the Northeast Classic on Jan. 12 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Gahanna tied for 11th (72 points) in the Northeast Classic behind champion North Canton Hoover (243) as 48 teams scored, with senior diver Maycey Vieta finishing first (467.7 points) and the 200 free relay of Gilger and freshmen Kendall Hitler, Sami Kiss and Reagan Reetz placing seventh (1:41.97).
Gahanna next competes in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Saturday, Jan. 26, at Upper Arlington after both its boys and girls teams were league runners-up a season ago.
"We have a young team with a lot of freshmen, so we're getting them used to each other and the atmosphere," Gilger said. "We're doing really well. We're doing a lot better than last year, and I think that's evident in the results at meets."
Bowling teams keep rolling
Both the boys and girls bowling teams are in the thick of title hunts in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division as well as in the OCC-Central.
Both teams were 7-0 overall and in the COHSBC-B after beating Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 18 at Gahanna Lanes. The boys defeated the Wolves 2,106-1,992 and the girls won 1,987-1,577.
Both teams were 3-0 in the OCC-Central before a match against Marysville on Jan. 23.
Through 15 games for the boys team, Nathan Minzler was among the top 10 in the COHSBC with a 203.9 average, followed by Jaylen Clark (194.8), Hunter McKnight (185.2), DeAndre Quiero (184.5) and Spencer Watson (175.1).
"We're a small team with only 11 total boys (between the junior varsity and varsity)," boys coach Cris Ferrante said. "Because of that, we're a very tight-knit group. They all get along but are also very focused on competition and winning."
Through 17 games for the girls, Lilu Smith had a team-high 183.6 average, followed by Taylor Burns (175.9), Aubree Packer (156.6), Victoria Richardson (153.5) and Lindzi Oakman (137.1).
"(It's been) going great," girls coach Yvonne Quiero said. "The girls have come together as a team, and we hope to continue to improve upon our scores (with) teamwork and support of one another.
"Lilu Smith and Taylor Burns have led the team in most matches. (We've seen) vast improvement from Tori Richardson, who is a freshman and has made great strides since tryouts."
Girls team looks to avenge loss to North
The girls basketball team will play host to Pickerington North on Friday, Jan. 25, in an OCC-Ohio contest.
The Lions lost to the Panthers 63-59 on Dec. 14 in the first round of league play.
Gahanna trailed 32-18 at halftime before rallying to make it close behind junior guard Edyn Battle, who had 20 points.
The Lions were 9-6 overall before playing host Berlin Hiland on Jan. 21 in the Classic in the Country and New Albany on Jan. 22. They fell to 3-4 in the OCC-Ohio with a 73-67 loss to Reynoldsburg on Jan. 17.
Two of Gahanna's losses came against defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central, which was ranked first in last week's state poll. The Lions also lost to Westerville South, which was tied for third in last week's area coaches poll.
Through 14 games, Battle was averaging a team-high 13 points and senior guard Madison Hensley and junior guard Morgan Darnell both were averaging seven.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- At Pickerington North. The Lions lost to the Panthers 85-77 on Dec. 14.
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Pickerington North. The Lions lost to the Panthers 63-59 on Dec. 14.
*Jan. 25 -- Reynoldsburg at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 30 -- Hilliard Darby at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 25 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Upper Arlington
*Jan. 24 -- At Reynoldsburg