Middle school can be a tough transition for an adolescent, even more so when adding a move to a new country to the equation.
Ailbhe McCann had to make that transition entering the seventh grade after her family moved to Bexley from County Cavan, Ireland. Now a senior on the Bexley High School girls swimming and diving team, she expects to continue her journey by attending college in the United States.
"School is a lot different here because I would have gone to an all-girls school over there," she said. "Starting in seventh grade, it was a good time to move because everyone was starting middle school together. It wasn't that difficult. I have enjoyed sports a lot more here and the attitude of people."
Cormac McCann brought his wife, Jennifer, and his children -- daughters Ailbhe and Eimear and son James -- to Bexley when he took a position at Abbott Nutrition. Eimear is a sophomore at Bexley and James is in the eighth grade.
"I would say it wasn't a difficult change because I'm adaptable," said Ailbhe McCann, whose first name is pronounced Alva. "The hardest thing was people understanding my accent at first because it was a lot thicker when I moved here.
"School here is different. We didn't do a lot of science in elementary school and that's my favorite subject. My school in Ireland had 15 people in my grade, but here we have around 200. There were five boys and 10 girls there. It was exciting to come here, but it was definitely different."
McCann started swimming competitively in the eighth grade and quickly picked up field hockey, which she also played for Bexley and was close to a game she grew up with in Ireland.
"There are so many opportunities over here, especially in sports," she said. "I just swam for fun (in Ireland) and I also played camogie (pronounced kuh-mow-gee), which is an ancient Irish sport. Camogie is a sport played with a wooden stick and a leather ball and you hit it in the air. It's a combination of field hockey and baseball."
As a member of the swimming program all four seasons at Bexley, McCann is an invaluable asset to the Lions, coach Sandy Sliwowski said.
"Ailbhe is a versatile swimmer and will swim in anything we put her in," Sliwowski said. "She likes the (100-yard) breaststroke the most, but we plug her into the events to help us get the most points in meets."
The Lions finished third (200 points) in the MSL meet Jan. 26 behind host Columbus Academy (353) and Grandview (218) as 13 teams scored. McCann finished seventh in the 100 breast (1 minute, 18.75 seconds) and eighth in the 200 freestyle (2:23.07).
Ally Grieshop placed second in the 500 free (5:33.32) and third in the 200 free (2:04.63) to lead Bexley, and Leah Stamm was runner-up in the 100 butterfly (1:04.24) and fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:22.11).
The 200 medley relay of Natalie Madison, Eimear McCann, Stamm and Ilsa Evans was second (2:08.55), and the 400 free relay of Stamm, Sophie Jones, Olivia Mitchell and Grieshop placed third (4:07.69).
McCann also loves the camaraderie of participating in relays.
"I think the relay events are more fun as a team," she said. "It's more rewarding to do well in a relay."
McCann has a 4.45 GPA and plans to attend a large university, which limits her ability to compete in swimming or field hockey at the next level.
"I would like to go to a big state school and I have applied to several schools in a six-hour radius (from central Ohio)," she said. "I would like to major in pharmacy because I really enjoy science, especially chemistry, and I think it's a great way to help people.
"I may play club or intramural sports in college. I will miss the team spirit and practicing every single day. It's something that I look forward to doing every day."
Boys swimmers take second in league meet
The boys swimming team finished second in the MSL meet, led by the second-place 200 medley relay (1:53.86) of Eli Dresbach, Quinn Hall, John Niermeyer and Danner Rogers.
The Lions (189) finished behind Academy (313) as 12 teams scored.
Hall, Dresbach, Hunter Johnson and Niermeyer comprised the third-place 400 free relay (3:47.76). Hall placed third in the 100 breast (1:09.22), and Niermeyer was third in the 50 free (24.12).
Placing fourth were Dresbach in the 500 free (5:47.23) and Ryan Kemp in the 100 breast (1:12.19).
Vincent eclipses 1,000 points for girls team
Maddy Vincent surpassed 1,000 career points for the girls basketball team in a 52-45 overtime loss to visiting Licking Heights on Jan. 23.
The senior guard needed 11 points to reach the milestone and finished with 21. She also had nine rebounds.
"This is kind of a culmination of all the hard work she had put in over the years," said coach Joshua Price, whose team is 9-7 overall.
"I told her afterward that it was the result of a lot of shots. It wasn't just the shots she made for points in games, but all of the shots she has taken over the years in practice and in the offseason. That's what accounted for those points and helped her to reach that milestone."
The Lions took a one-half game lead in the MSL-Ohio Division at 5-1 after defeating Academy 48-33 on Jan. 25. Worthington Christian is second at 4-1.
Vincent had 17 points and Maddy Young added nine against the Vikings.
Boys team drops 2nd league game in a row
The boys basketball team is 10-6 overall and 2-4 in the MSL-Ohio after losing to visiting Grandview 58-45 on Jan. 26.
The Lions also lost to Whitehall 44-42 on Jan. 18. They play at Academy on Friday, Feb. 1, looking to avoid a three-game league losing streak.
Bexley fell behind Grandview 15-5 and never came closer than six points.
"We were just so uncharacteristically bad guarding the ball," coach Todd Phillips said. "Everything we do is built around defense and tonight we stunk."
Anthony Welsh scored 16 points. Ryan Callahan and Nasir Tucker both added nine.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys basketball, girls basketball, boys bowling and swimming & diving teams:
*Feb. 1 -- At Columbus Academy. The Lions lost to the Vikings 51-39 on Dec. 22.
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. KIPP Columbus
Feb. 2 -- At Watterson
Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Liberty Union
*Feb. 1 -- Whetstone at Holiday Lanes
Feb. 2 -- MSL tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Feb. 4 -- Northland at Sequoia Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 1 -- At St. Charles with Columbus School for Girls and Village Academy