When Harvey Culbert begins attending West Virginia University next fall, he plans to start on an educational track that could set him up to eventually become a park ranger.
First things first, though, for the Reynoldsburg High School senior who is a two-time qualifier to the Division I state swimming and diving meet. He's savoring his last chance to impact a boys team that includes a pair of talented young competitors in sophomore Nate Gaver and freshman Max Hutson-Comeaux.
The Raiders will compete in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Saturday, Jan. 26, at Upper Arlington before the postseason begins with a sectional Feb. 9 at UA.
"(West Virginia has) a fantastic swim program," said Culbert, who earned an athletic scholarship.
"I was looking at some of their past swimmers, and one came in with breaststroke times close to mine and (did well) in the NCAA championships.
"I'm really enjoying this high school season. We've got almost double the amount of swimmers we've had in past years. I only go (to practice with the team on) Sundays because of my (club team) practices, but when I'm there, I'm engaging with the team and interacting with the team. It's a great team."
On Jan. 12 in the Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton, which is the site of the state meet, Culbert placed third in the 100-yard breast (58.58 seconds) and Gaver was eighth in the 50 freestyle (21.74) and 12th in the 100 free (48.49). The Raiders tied Akron Firestone for 20th (32) behind champion Dublin Jerome (232) as 42 teams scored.
Culbert, who also competed in the 200 free but didn't make the final, believes he could excel in college events such as the 200 breast and 400 individual medley.
In last year's league meet, the Raiders finished third (200.5) behind Gahanna (297) and Lancaster (238) as Culbert won the 100 breast and 200 IM. He and Gaver also were among those who swam on the first-place 200 free relay.
"I really want to swim as fast as possible and see where I am," Culbert said.
Hutson-Comeaux and senior Justin Barnhart also competed in the Northeast Classic and likely will join Culbert and Gaver on relays.
"We've had a lot of great swims and a lot of really good improvements from our swimmers," coach Josh Dorsett said. "Max does the 500 (free) but he's very versatile. It was crazy because he did the 200 free one day and wasn't racing against anybody and still dropped three seconds racing against himself. He's one of the more motivated swimmers I've seen."
Sophomore Kasey Lichtner of the girls team also competed in the Northeast Classic. Her specialties are the 100 butterfly and 100 breast in addition to competing on relays.
Dorsett also has been pleased with the contributions of freshman Anna Haines and senior Anise Hodge.
"Our girls are very up and coming, with a lot of freshmen and sophomores," Dorsett said. "It's been really exciting seeing them grow."
Bowlers set for important stretch
The boys bowling team's hopes of winning the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division as well as the OCC-Central will be on the line over the next eight days.
Before facing Groveport on Jan. 23, the Raiders were 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the COHSBC-B, and they are 1-0 in the OCC-Central as they prepare to face Gahanna on Friday, Jan. 25, at Gahanna Lanes, Lancaster on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Tiki Lanes and Pickerington North on Jan. 31 at Rule 3. All three opponents figure to contend with the Raiders for titles in both leagues.
"To me, those will be the three toughest matches they'll face this season," coach Jamie Gapen said. "Depending on how they push through that will tell the tale."
Through 16 games, Reynoldsburg was among the leaders in the COHSBC in team average at 947.3. Gahanna and North also average better than 900.
Logan Gapen was leading the Raiders in average at 203.6, followed by Owen Chisley (194.5), Cris Weatherly (193.9), Cameron Brosius (187.4), Tyler Robinson (180) and Logan Jeffers (174.1).
The girls team was 1-7 overall and 0-6 in the COHSBC-B before facing Groveport and is 0-1 in the OCC-Central.
Halle Pennycuff was averaging a team-best 126.4. Kimmee Shook was averaging 119.3 and rolled a 184 during a 1,455-1,423 loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 11. Kay Hetterscheidt, Katie Morgan, Toniya Seymour Williams and Kaitlynn Stiers also have been key contributors.
"They've shown a lot of improvement," coach Jeff Morgan said. "Kaitlynn Stiers is new and she's totally improved. I think the (holiday) break helped. They're all getting better."
Girls basketball team starts to turn it on
The girls basketball team has enjoyed one of its most consistent stretches since getting drilled 71-47 on Dec. 21 at Pickerington Central, which is the No. 1-ranked team in the Division I state poll.
After beating Gahanna 73-67 on Jan. 17 to improve to 5-2 in the OCC-Ohio, the Raiders were 10-5 overall before playing Westerville South on Jan. 22. Reynoldsburg's game against Solon on Jan. 19 in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland was canceled because of bad weather.
Reynoldsburg had won six in a row before playing South, including earning blowout league wins over Pickerington North (56-28 on Jan. 4) and Lancaster (77-37 on Jan. 11).
Through 15 games, Uju Ezeudu was averaging 20.2 points and had scored 20 or more eight times.
Kyria Walker was averaging 17.4 points over the five games prior to the contest against South, including scoring 18 on six 3-pointers against Lancaster and scoring 23 against Gahanna.
Alexia Mobley had 17 points in a 79-55 win over New Albany on Jan. 8 and scored in double figures in eight of Reynoldsburg's first 15 games.
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Grove City. The Raiders beat the Greyhounds 68-53 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Whitehall
*Jan. 25 -- At Grove City. The Raiders beat the Greyhounds 59-17 on Dec. 14.
*Jan. 25 -- Gahanna at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 29 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Upper Arlington
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Gahanna
Jan. 26 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational
Jan. 30 -- Home vs. Granville