As the postseason approaches, Westerville Central High School gymnastics coach Shea Stammen is looking for small victories for her team.
Junior Kylie Nelson has helped the Warhawks earn those moments, including delivering a personal-best score of 30.2 in the all-around Jan. 17 at Thomas Worthington. She also helped the Warhawks record a season-best effort of 30.2 on balance beam, turning in an 8.3 on Jan. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Nelson then reset her personal-best all-around score with a 30.3 in the Warhawk Invitational on Jan. 25 at Worthington Youth Boosters Gymnastics. Central finished fifth (117) of six teams behind champion Thornville Sheridan (142.15).
At Kilbourne, Central finished fifth (111.5) of seven teams behind the first-place and host Wolves (135.15). Nelson led the way by finishing 15th in the all-around (28.2), highlighted by eighth-place finishes on beam and vault (7.9).
"Kylie has been pretty consistent, definitely our top all-arounder," Stammen said. "She works really hard and is real motivated and wants to get better."
Junior Abigail Ring, another key returnee, was 16th in the all-around at Kilbourne with a personal-best 28.05.
At Thomas, Central was third (112.85) behind the first-place and host Cardinals (128.05).
Nelson said she "freaked out" after setting her then-personal best in the all-around at Thomas.
"It's been my goal to try to break 8.0 on floor (exercise) and I was definitely (excited) breaking it (with an 8.05)."
Junior Katlyn Alexander, who joins Nelson and Ring as returning district qualifiers, and classmate Maggie Davis also have contributed this season.
Seniors Kalia Brown and Sofia Draginsky, juniors Keely Leach and Carley Springer and sophomore Marissa Bagley are in their first season. Freshman Mal Lewis is another competitor.
Central will compete in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Feb. 9 at Thomas in preparation of the district meet Feb. 23 at Kilbourne.
"I'm excited to see what they can do (in the league meet)," Stammen said. "We're in a tough division with Olentangy looking great. (Olentangy) Orange is good. We're not going in trying to win. We're just going in trying to get our highest team score and get girls experience. They're all young, so by getting them experience in these big meets they're getting more confident and comfortable in the sport."
For the second consecutive season, the Warhawks went 1-3 in league duals.
"(The league) meet is very stressful, but it pays off in the end just to see how we compete," Nelson said.
The Warhawks have competed this season without Gianna Brooks, who opted not to participate as a senior because of lingering injuries. Brooks competed at state her first three seasons.
With Brooks out of the lineup, Nelson has emerged as a leader.
"Leading the team is super fun and just watching all these girls grow in their gymnastics career is absolutely incredible," she said.
Swim teams compete in OCC-Buckeye meet
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams prepared for the postseason by competing in the OCC-Buckeye meet Jan. 26 at Thomas.
For the girls, Kiah Smith, Kaila Aaron, Sophie Antonetz and Macey Swearingen won the 200 freestyle relay (1 minute, 43.22 seconds) and finished second in the 400 free relay (3:43.35).
Smith was second in the 100 butterfly (1:00.02) and 200 individual medley (2:16.37), Swearingen was second in the 100 backstroke (1:00.41) and third in the 200 free (1:59.36) and Aaron was second in the 100 free (56.77) and third in the 50 free (25.65).
Central finished fifth (165) behind Olentangy (276), Westerville North (259.5), Orange (217) and Olentangy Liberty (204) and ahead of Westerville South (141.5).
For the boys, Luke Radecki, Adam Aziz, Aiden Fay and Grant Radecki were second in the 200 free relay (1:40.05).
The Warhawks finished fifth (134) behind Liberty (506.5), North (180), Olentangy (170.5) and Orange (140) and ahead of South (126).
"We're happy with getting better swims," coach Ron Staab said. "We had kids knock off time. We trained as hard this week as we've trained any week, so I'm very happy with the kids. I'm very happy with the results."
Boys basketball team drops two contests
The boys basketball team was 6-10 overall before playing Upper Arlington on Jan. 29.
Central lost to visiting Orange 65-59 on Jan. 25 as Chaz Dixon had 20 points. Simon Bouscher-Helbig scored 12 and Tyler Combest added 11.
Dixon scored 19 points, Tyler Beckel had 13 and Ben Wilhelm added 10 in a 72-65 loss at Pickerington Central on Jan. 22.
The Warhawks are 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Girls basketball team ends losing streak
The girls basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak with a 46-40 win at Orange on Jan. 25.
Mabinty Kebe scored 15 points and Karmen Long added 10 to lead the Warhawks, who are 3-4 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Kebe scored 11 points in a 77-26 loss to visiting Pickerington Central on Jan. 22.
Central was 8-8 overall before playing UA on Jan. 29.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Olentangy. The Warhawks lost to the Braves 71-47 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 2 -- At Dresden Tri-Valley
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. Gahanna
*Feb. 1 -- At Olentangy. The Warhawks defeated the Braves 47-31 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- At Gahanna
*Feb. 4 -- Olentangy Orange at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Feb. 5 -- At Thomas Worthington with Dublin Coffman, Dublin Jerome and Dublin Scioto
Feb. 2 -- Licking Heights Invitational