When Spencer Tussing returned to the Grove City High School boys swimming and diving team this season, his ultimate goal was to earn his second trip to the Division I state meet.
The senior achieved that goal by turning in a strong performance at district Feb. 15 at Ohio State.
Tussing, who advanced to state in two events, used a strong finishing kick to win the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 32.33 seconds), edging runner-up Andrew Bernsdorf (4:33.17) of Westerville North.
"(Andrew and I) have been friends since we were little," said Tussing, who also won the 200 free (1:40.07). "We both knew we were going to be close to each other, so we just paced with each other the whole time and saw who won it at the end."
Tussing is seeded fourth in the 200 free and fifth in the 500 free. He will compete in the state preliminaries Friday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton, with the finals scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23.
"I just want to go in there and do the best that I can," Tussing said. "I'm really happy with where my times are going to place me, so I'll just go in and do the best I can in prelims and hope to finish well in the finals."
Tussing, a University of Tennessee recruit, opted to focus solely on his Ohio State Swim Club team the past two seasons.
"It's been a long two years being away, and I'm super glad I came back," he said.
Tussing swam for the Greyhounds as a freshman, qualifying for state in the 500 free (15th, 4:39.59) and 200 free (22nd, 1:44.95).
"I'm not too surprised," coach Amy Miller said of Tussing's latest performance. "He swam really well. ... He's ready."
Tussing also joined Justin Christensen, Gregory Kingsbury and Jaron Routh on the ninth-place 400 free relay (3:19.44) and swam with Christensen, Kingsbury and Raul DeMesa on the 14th-place 200 free relay (1:31.68). Neither advanced to state.
The Greyhounds finished 11th (71) behind champion Dublin Jerome (301) as 27 teams scored.
For the girls team, freshman Hannah Routh earned an at-large state berth after finishing fifth in the 100 backstroke (57.27). She also was 10th in the 100 butterfly (57.63).
Grove City finished 15th (38) behind champion Upper Arlington (306) as 27 teams scored.
The top two placers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each event based on district times statewide.
"I can't be upset with anybody," Miller said. "All my swimmers swam well today. Most of them had (their) best times."
Boys basketball team to visit Logan
The boys basketball team visits 11th-seeded Logan in the first round of the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 23.
The Greyhounds are 9-13 and seeded 28th.
The winner plays 22nd-seeded Westerville North in the second round March 1.
Grove City closed the regular season with a 61-54 loss at Pickerington North on Feb. 15. Brock Waits had 19 points and Cole Crager added 12 for the Greyhounds, who finished 1-9 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
Crager scored 10 points in a 60-45 loss to visiting DeSales on Feb. 12.
Girls basketball team concludes season
Girls basketball coach Joel Taylor said he saw improvement from his team throughout his first season.
The Greyhounds finished 3-20 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio to place sixth behind champion Pickerington Central (10-0).
"It was a good year because the girls did all I asked them to do," Taylor said. "They had good attitudes. They were always resilient. ... In terms of wins and losses, wins weren't as many as we would have liked, but we grew. We improved and got better individually and collectively and ultimately that's our goal."
Seeded 39th for the Division I district tournament, Grove City lost at third-seeded Dublin Coffman 73-15 in the first round Feb. 16. Freshman guard Ellie Pollock-Ballard led the Greyhounds with six points.
Taylor said seniors Grace Fisher, Alyssa Fuchs and Lauren Walls played a major role in the team's development.
"They provided great leadership," Taylor said. "They included everyone. They were a tight-knit group. They hang out a lot together, they spend time together. At the end of the day, 10 years from now, they're not going to remember the record. They're going to remember the memories they had with their teammates. I'm proud they gave us that leadership."
Other players eligible to return are juniors Madison Grube (forward), Alexandria Jones (guard), Lexi Tatum (forward) and Jada VanHouten (guard), sophomores Becca Conrad (post player), Laney Hoyt (guard) and Riley Waugh (forward) and freshman Alissa Schiff (guard/forward).
Athletes announce college commitments
Ten student-athletes announced their college commitments Feb. 6.
Luke Barnhart will play baseball at Otterbein, Mckenna Buckley and Sofia Galiffo will play women's soccer at Ohio Christian, Kylie Chaney will play women's volleyball at Tiffin, Nathan Eberle will play men's golf at Bluffton, Mya Linder will play women's volleyball at Ohio Dominican, Kevin McIntire will play football at Muskingum, Libby Siegwardt will compete in women's swimming and diving at Tiffin, Thane Wilson will play baseball at Ohio Christian and Madeline Zezuto will compete in women's cross country at Capital.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City gymnastics and wrestling teams:
Feb. 23 -- District meet at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to state March 1 at Hilliard Bradley. The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to state March 2 at Bradley.
Feb. 23 -- Division I sectional at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.