It has been a guessing game for Jonathan Randel the past few years as to which events his DeSales High School swimming coach, Ryan Buechner, will slot him for a given meet.
That will not be the case Thursday, Feb. 14, when Randel competes in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200 medley relay in the Division II district meet at Ohio State. But Randel, a senior, is confident that that variety has helped him thrive as his prep career winds down.
"I like to say I am Buechner's 'whatever man' because I dabble in everything," Randel said. "I think I have done every event but one this season. The 100 back and 200 (individual medley) are pretty consistent for me. My favorite is probably the 500 (freestyle) because you get into the event as you go. A lot of people might not admit they like the 500 because it's so grinding.
"Once you're in a role for so long, you learn to love it. I love seeing what will happen next."
Randel is one of four boys who will represent the Stallions at district.
Brady McInerney won both the 100 back (57.18) and 200 IM (2:03.43) in a sectional Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington and helped the 200 medley relay (1:52.82) and 400 free relay (3:40.83) to victories with Ian McCandlish, Randel and Aaron Spittell, leading the Stallions to 307 points and first place ahead of runner-up Eastmoor Academy (165) as three teams scored.
McCandlish won the 100 fly (58.97) and was runner-up in the 100 back (58.64). Spittell was second in both the 100 free (55.38) and 200 IM (2:22.29) and earned district berths in both events.
McInerney, a freshman, called the 200 IM his favorite event because of the variety.
"It's probably the 200 IM over the 100 back because I like doing all the strokes and the transitions between the strokes. It just varies things up," McInerney said.
The girls team will be represented in the Division I district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State by Libby Ruff in the 200 free and 500 free and the 200 free relay of Ruff, Annamarie DeGuzman, Anna Sears and Julia Wilkes.
Ruff, a freshman, finished third in the 500 free (5:28) and eighth in the 200 free (2:03.4) and helped the 200 free relay place eighth (1:53.64) in the Thomas sectional. The Stallions finished eighth (41) behind champion New Albany (363) as 13 teams scored.
"Libby is probably about five seconds beyond what we expected in the 500 free and two seconds or so in the 200 and she hasn't even tapered yet," Buechner said. "I am a little surprised how good (the freshmen) have become. I think they've even shocked themselves. They've told me they had to set new goal times halfway through the season because they'd already beaten their goals."
At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 21-23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
"Our hopes are pretty high," Randel said. "Our relays have stepped it up a notch. There is a great energy on the team right now."
Girls basketball team preps for Golden Bears
The girls basketball team and Upper Arlington are no strangers, both on the floor and on the sideline, and the two teams will meet with the season on the line when the 33rd-seeded Stallions visit the seventh-seeded Golden Bears in the first round of the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 16.
DeSales began the season with a 51-39 loss at UA on Nov. 26 but upset the Bears 39-34 in a first-round game two years ago.
The Bears are coached by Chris Savage, a 1995 DeSales graduate who coached the Stallions from 2004-07 - winning CCL titles each season - and has been at UA ever since.
DeSales was 6-15 overall before playing Thomas Worthington on Feb. 12 and finished 1-6 in the CCL with a 43-35 loss Hartley on Feb. 7. Gabby Elliott had a game-high 13 points against the Hawks.
Despite the Stallions' struggles, coach Brian Cromwell said his players' approach has been consistently strong.
"They have stayed disciplined in our approach every day at practice. You just have to grind through it," Cromwell said. "We have talked about how basketball is a process and it's a long process because it's a long season. You have to enjoy the process and I think they have. They've been a fun group to coach in the gym. Even though we're not winning as many games as we've wanted to, they come with a great approach every day."
UA is led by senior guard Macy Spielman, a Bowling Green recruit who has a program-record 1,548 career points. Her father is former Ohio State and NFL linebacker Chris Spielman.
The winner faces 25th-seeded Licking Heights in the second round Feb. 22.
Boys bowlers win two league titles
The boys bowling team had to overcome some adversity along the way, but it clinched the outright Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division championship Feb. 8 with a 2,110-1,531 win over Walnut Ridge at Eastland Lanes and entered the week with at least a share of the CCL title.
It was the team's fourth win in five days to finish the regular season. Earlier last week, the Stallions defeated Linden-McKinley 1,882-1,373 on Feb. 4 at HP Lanes, beat Ready 1,899-1,651 on Feb. 6 at Game of Western Columbus and eased past Columbus East 1,782-1,272 on Feb. 7 at Eastland Lanes.
Will McAfee-Weatherspoon had a 462 two-game series and Isaiah Thomas added a 447 series against Walnut Ridge as DeSales finished the regular season at 14-2 overall, 11-0 in the COHSBC-D and 7-1 in the CCL, a half-game ahead of St. Charles (6-1) entering the week. The Cardinals finished their regular season Feb. 13 against Ready.
"It's been very exciting," coach Miranda Singer said. "We've had grades issues, so we've had a few (junior varsity) kids step into the lineup and we've still done well. Everybody knows there isn't just one strong bowler. They all feed off each other."
The girls team defeated East 1,475-1,157 on Feb. 7 and finished the regular season at 6-8 overall, 6-3 in the COHSBC-D and 1-5 in the CCL.
Skyla Blumenscheid has been the Stallions' top scorer in all but one match and has a team-leading 156.5 average.
Andrew Swift leads the boys team with a 195.1 average, ahead of Bryan Ritzler (191.2).
The boys team will compete in the Division II sectional tournament Saturday, Feb. 16, at HP Lanes, with the top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to district Feb. 21 at the same facility.
The girls team is off until the Division I sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
Hockey team preps for rematch
The hockey team lost to Springboro 3-2 in a first-round consolation game of the Blue Jackets Cup on Feb. 8 at Chiller North, but the Stallions will get a chance to avenge that setback when they take on the Panthers on Friday, Feb. 15, in the same facility in the first round of the district tournament.
Chris Yarger had both goals for the 15th-seeded Stallions, who are 9-13-1-1, against the 10th-seeded Panthers.
In the district tournament, DeSales is seeded 20th of 26 teams and Springboro, which also defeated the Stallions 13-2 on Nov. 30, is 13th.
The winner plays fourth-seeded New Albany in a second-round game Sunday, Feb. 17, at Chiller North. That winner will play fifth-seeded St. Charles, 15th-seeded Columbus Academy or 16th-seeded Centerville in a district quarterfinal Feb. 23 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
CCL title on line for boys basketball team
At least a share of the CCL championship will be on the line for the boys basketball team when it visits St. Charles on Friday, Feb. 15, and the Stallions could win their first league title since 2010 outright with some help.
DeSales was 12-8 overall before playing Grove City on Feb. 12 and is 5-2 in the league, tied for first with Watterson and a game ahead of St. Charles (4-3). Watterson plays host to Ready on Feb. 15.
The Stallions pulled into a first-place tie with the Eagles with a 67-59 win over Ready on Feb. 8. Kobe Righter led a balanced effort with 20 points, Desmond Watson added 14 points, Anthony Sciarroni scored 12 and Kayin Derden scored 11.
Righter had 10 points Feb. 5 in a 44-41 loss at Jonathan Alder in which the Pioneers' Jackson Izzard banked in a 3-pointer as time expired, and 16 points in a 73-60 loss to Walnut Ridge on Feb. 9.
DeSales earned the third seed for the 23-team Division II district tournament, behind Columbus South and Jonathan Alder. The Stallions will play host to 18th-seeded Independence in the first round Feb. 25.
Athletes announce college decisions
Three football players announced their college destinations Feb. 6.
Bo Hobgood will play at Newberry, Chris Karras will play at Bowling Green and Sciarroni will play at Alderson Broaddus.