Although the Thomas Worthington High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams will be looking to improve on their respective third-place finishes in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet last season, coach Jim Callahan isn't putting much emphasis on team placement in the home meet Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26.

"Obviously, the better you do as a team is based on how well you do individually and in the relays, but the key is acquiring a good gauge as to where you are as you prepare for tapering in the postseason," Callahan said. "Sometimes, the amount of participants you have can determine just how well you finish as a team."

With deep and talented rosters, Dublin Jerome appears poised to sweep the team titles as it did last season.

"The key is just to focus on what we can control," Callahan said. "We want to see clean, fundamental swims and post some season-best times even before tapering."

The girls team has been led by seniors Maddie Holub and Rachel Rinaldi, junior Audrey Taylor and sophomore Maia Lin.

"Maddie has had a real nice senior season and she's been knocking on the door of reaching state for the past three years in the (200-yard individual medley)," Callahan said. "We're not sure what her other individual event will be yet, whether it's the 100 breaststroke, 500 freestyle, 100 freestyle or 100 backstroke.

"Rachel also has had a great senior season and has joined Maddie in providing great leadership. She also will be in the 200 IM, as well as the 100 breast. Rachel is such a versatile athlete who has had tremendous success in field hockey and lacrosse."

Taylor and Lin are expected to join Holub and Rinaldi on the 200 medley relay, which Callahan said is the Cardinals' top relay.

The boys team has been led by juniors Sam Steele and Derek Taylor. Callahan said he also has been impressed by the growth of junior Jacob Carver, sophomores Eli Short and Grant Simeone and freshman Blake Ament.

"This has been a steppingstone year for the boys because they're so young," Callahan said. "The exciting part is that everybody who scores in the postseason will be coming back next season and we're expecting some incoming freshmen to make an immediate impact."

The Cardinals will open the postseason Feb. 9 in a Division I sectional at home.

Winning streak ends for boys squad

The boys basketball team had its seven-game winning streak snapped Jan. 18 with a 47-31 loss to Hilliard Bradley.

The Cardinals were 10-3 overall and 5-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Delaware on Jan. 22. Entering play Jan. 22, they were fourth in the league behind Bradley (8-0), Delaware (6-2) and Jerome (6-2).

Thomas led Bradley 26-25 early in the third quarter but was outscored 22-8 in the second half and had a scoreless stretch of 9 minutes, 4 seconds.

Ben Wight had 11 points to lead the Cardinals and Isaac Settles scored 10.

Wrestling team has 'strong' foundation

With holes throughout its lineup, the wrestling team is more concerned with individual improvement than individual and team records this season.

Thomas is 0-4 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a match at Hilliard Darby on Thursday, Jan. 24. The Cardinals had to forfeit eight weight classes in a 73-6 league loss to Delaware on Jan. 17.

"We have been able to fill more dual weight classes than we have in years past and we hope to continue building the program," coach Brad Todd said. "The foundation is strong with this contingent of underclassman and the middle schoolers we have coming up. Our youth program continues to grow as well.

"We have had our share of ups and downs, but I am pleased with the work ethic. We have had a handful of placers at every tournament and our guys keep progressing in the right direction with the right attitude."

Thomas has been led by sophomore Mason Gates. A Division I district qualifier last season, he is 14-7 at 220 pounds and placed fourth in the Marion Harding Classic held Dec. 28 and 29.

Also placing in the Marion Harding Classic were sophomore Majed Ahmad (sixth at 182) and freshman Michael Blain (sixth at 120).

"Majed Ahmad has really been coming along," said Todd, whose team's next tournament is the Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 16 at St. Charles. "He missed most of his freshman season due to injury, but has been working hard. He currently is 9-11, but is now wrestling 170 instead of 182.

"We have many freshmen -- Channing Thornton (113), Xavier Braden (132), Chris Earliwine (145) and Brayden Jamison (152/160) -- who have been coming along and competing well. They have been impressive and big things await. I also think junior Nick Harris (138) has been improving and is ready to turn the corner, as well as sophomore Ajae Sullivan (126) and senior Adam Craft (182)."

Gymnastics team showing progress

The gymnastics team posted its top score of the season Jan. 17 when it finished first (127.05) ahead of Upper Arlington (126.45), Westerville Central (112.85) and DeSales (81.05) in a home meet.

The Cardinals' previous best was 123.05 in the Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 15.

"We've only had a handful of meets, but I think we're getting better every meet," coach Marci Skeen said. "It's a real young team with eight underclassmen who are learning. Every day, we're doing one more little thing and getting closer. It's nice to see their hard work starting to show up in the meets."

Senior Audrey Maxwell finished 10th in the all-around (32.45) in the Hilliard Invitational, and junior Regan Macerollo placed second on the floor exercise (8.65) in a home meet Jan. 10 when Thomas (121) finished third behind Kilbourne (130.2) and Delaware (125.55) and ahead of Buckeye Valley (107.45).

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 25 -- At Dublin Jerome. The Cardinals beat the Celtics 69-61 on Dec. 14.

Jan. 26 -- Home vs. Northland at Pickerington Central

Jan. 29 -- Home vs. New Albany

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome. The Cardinals beat the Celtics 46-41 on Dec. 14.

Jan. 30 -- Home vs. New Albany

BOWLING

*Jan. 25 -- Groveport at Capri Lanes

Jan. 26 -- Jaguar Baker Marathon at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl

*Jan. 28 -- Hilliard Bradley at Capri Lanes

*Jan. 30 -- Whitehall at Holiday Lanes

GYMNASTICS

Jan. 29 -- Home vs. *Hilliard Bradley, *Hilliard Darby and Hilliard Davidson

HOCKEY

*Jan. 25 -- Olentangy at Chiller North

*Jan. 26 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 25 -- OCC-Cardinal diving meet at home

Jan. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal swimming meet at home

WRESTLING

*Jan. 24 -- At Hilliard Darby

*League contest