Lauren and Luke Cheetham were laughing together on the deck of the Thomas Worthington pool following the OCC-Buckeye Division diving competition Jan. 25.
Often inseparable as competitors for Olentangy Orange High School, the senior twins will go their separate ways in a few months, as Lauren will dive for Michigan and Luke will compete for Cincinnati.
The Cheethams aren't quite sure what will come from the impending separation, but they want to make the most of the coming months together.
"It will be strange that's for sure," Lauren said. "We're going to grow in many areas because we have always been together. We have that bond that we have shared. It will be different, a little weird, but we'll make the most of it."
Luke is looking to earn his fourth berth to the Division I state meet. He placed eighth (453.1 points) last year after finishing ninth (427.6) as a sophomore and 12th (412.8) as a freshman.
Lauren placed third (462.45) last year, the same finish she had as a freshman with 481.8 points. She missed the postseason as a sophomore because of a broken right wrist and has yet to compete this season following left rotator cuff surgery in July.
"In April, I was doing a full-out (dive) on the 3-meter (board)," Lauren said. "When I came out of it, I knew something had happened. I felt a pop and I couldn't control my arm. I felt like I tweaked it, but I had a meet the next day at Eastern Michigan and so I thought I would see how it would go.
"At that meet, I had a purple left arm because my triceps took a beating, too. I was being recruited and didn't want to miss time, but I found out I needed surgery. I didn't have the power anymore and was in so much pain."
Lauren had the surgery performed in Orange, California, by Dr. Benjamin Rubin, who has done the procedure on numerous divers. She recently was cleared to resume practicing but has to cope with not being able to compete, for the moment, in the sport she loves.
"It's been hard, but I have been trying to keep myself going by visualizing," she said. "I have been able to condition my abs and my lower body and try to stay in the mental side of that.
"I had the opportunity to help coach the Orange (diving) team and build relationships in the pool. It's awesome to be able to take a step back out of the water and be able to share advice or give an opinion on something. It's nice to build those relationships in a different way and still feel connected to the sport."
Luke placed second in the OCC-Buckeye meet with 502.45 points, behind Liberty's Jack Matthews (565.95).
"It's my last OCC and I have just come so far with so many good people and good experiences," he said. "I was 6 when I started diving. This has been an amazing four years at Orange and I don't want it to end."
The twins started diving at the urging of a coach at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club.
"One of the coaches at Kinsale saw us diving off the block a little differently than the other swimmers and he said we should start diving," Luke said. "We have been doing it nonstop since."
There is no diving at sectional, so area competitors now are preparing for district at Ohio State. The boys compete Feb. 14 and the girls dive the next day.
"I have been working with the high school team and getting as many dives in as I can every day," Luke said. "I'm working on bigger dives for the future leading up to district."
Lauren still is trying to figure out whether she will be able to compete. It's a matter of her progress in the coming weeks.
"I'm back in the pool and doing some dives," she said. "I'm doing front dives and back dives and taking it day by day to see what I can do and see how I feel. My today will be different than three weeks (from now), so we're not putting a definitive answer on that right away.
"Ultimately, I want to be there and represent my team at Orange, but I also have to remember my Michigan team and I want to contribute there. I have to factor all of those things."
No matter how the postseason plays out, the inevitable outcome will have Lauren heading about three hours north to college and Luke heading about two hours south. That's not simple for siblings who speak in tandem when asked questions.
"I think it will be weird because we're either really extroverted or introverted depending on where we are. I think we work well together," Lauren said. "If there is an environment that I'm not comfortable, then Luke will step up. One of us always steps up. You know you're never alone. When you walk into a room, at least you know one person.
"When we started the recruiting process, we decided to do our own thing. If we ended up at the same place it would be fine, but we didn't want to be a package deal."
"We wanted the best for each other, because what is four years anyway," Luke said. "We both need to be happy at the end of the day."
Weidenhamer leads swimmers in league
Graham Weidenhamer led the boys swimming team by winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, 2.67 seconds in the OCC-Buckeye meet Jan. 26 at Thomas.
The 200 freestyle relay of Andrew Sutley, Samuel Evers, Ben Reusser and Connor Huckeby was third in 1:44.17, and the boys finished fourth (140) behind champion Liberty (506.5).
Alex Knodel was third in the 500 free (5:33.95) to lead the girls team, which finished third (217) behind Olentangy (276) and Westerville North (259.5).
The Pioneers next compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Kenyon College.
Wrestling team earns first league victory
The wrestling team improved to 1-2 in the OCC-Buckeye by defeating Westerville Central 49-18 on Jan. 24.
Dylan Dempsey (182 pounds), Matt Hipsher (145), Cole Jackson (126), Cardan Mutai (220), William Ramey (120) and Connor Svanter (152) all won by pin. Mitchell Broskie (160) won by major decision, and Keegan Knapp (132), Alex Lopez (195) and Zack Miller (138) all won by decision.
The Pioneers next compete Feb. 7 at Westerville South in a league dual.
Boys basketball team wins three of four
The boys basketball team has won three of its last four contests to improve to 10-5 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Pioneers defeated Central 65-59 on Jan. 25 for their second consecutive league victory. Bryson Lane had 21 points, Nik Brannon scored 13 and Darius Butler and Ryan Cutler both added 12.
Orange lost to Dublin Coffman 67-59 on Jan. 22 as Luke Ballinger had 16 points and Andre Irvin added 13.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and hockey teams:
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Westerville South. The Pioneers defeated the Wildcats 80-73 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
*Feb. 1 -- At South. The Pioneers lost to the Wildcats 84-38 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- At Franklin Heights
*Jan. 31 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 1 -- South at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 4 -- Westerville Central at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Feb. 5 -- New Albany at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 1 -- Gahanna at Chiller North
*Feb. 2 -- DeSales at Chiller North
*Feb. 3 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin