Of the five members of the Watterson High School swimming and diving program who are competing in the state meet this week at Branin Natatorium in Canton, three are making return trips.
The boys are competing in the Division II swimming preliminaries Thursday, Feb. 21, with finals set for Friday, Feb. 22, and the girls will compete in the Division I preliminaries Feb. 22, with the swimming finals slated for Saturday, Feb. 23.
"We're overall pretty happy with it," said Elizabeth Intihar, who will be the only senior in the program competing at state. "It was a good district."
At the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, the girls team scored 116 points to place ninth behind champion Upper Arlington (306) as 27 teams scored, while the boys finished 14th (64) behind champion Columbus Academy (251) in the Division II district meet Feb. 14 at Ohio State as 37 teams scored.
Intihar is heading to state as the ninth seed in the 500-yard freestyle after placing third (5 minutes, .29 seconds) at district and also is part of the state-qualifying 400 free relay along with junior Mia Brown and freshmen Lucia Cherok and Olivia Oyster that placed fifth at district (3:34.5).
Brown and Oyster also qualified for state in individual events. Brown battled illness in the days before district but managed a fifth-place finish in the 50 free (24.15) and Oyster placed sixth in the 100 free (52.6).
Brown tied Haley Banner and Lauren Richner of Worthington Kilbourne during heat competition in the 50 free and then swam 24.09 to win a swim-off between the three.
The top eight finishers at district in the 50 free advanced to state.
"I've had the flu all week so it's very unfortunate, but I'm trying to stay positive and hopefully this week I can get back to tip-top shape and get ready for state," Brown said.
Junior Michael Vondran will represent the boys team at state after finishing third in the 50 free (22.1) to earn the 19th seed.
"It wasn't what I was expecting, but for the situation I was put in, I felt it was the hardest swim I could put in," Vondran said. "From the goals I set earlier in the season, it wasn't quite what I wanted. Overall, I was happy with the race because it was a new best."
Brown, Intihar and Vondran all competed at state last season.
Tourney win boosts hockey program
A trio of early second-period goals propelled the hockey team to a 9-1 victory over 24th-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 16 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
For the 17th-seeded Eagles, it was an encouraging moment during a season of growth that ended Feb. 17 with an 11-0 second-round loss to second-seeded Upper Arlington at the Ice Haus.
Watterson, which began the season with limited varsity experience, finished 9-22 overall.
"It was a tough first (period) for us (against Sycamore)," said junior Max Graham, who had a hat trick against Sycamore. "We didn't find our stride until we got into the second. We really thought we were only going to win about four games (this season) and we won nine, so it's kind of nice that we're stepping it up and exceeding expectations and living up to what people thought we would. It's great to get another win under our belts."
Graham is one of the program's goaltenders but spent most of this season at forward and had team-leading totals of 14 goals and 10 assists.
He could move back into goal next season with Ryan Roark, who earned all nine of the team's wins, being among a six-member senior class.
Other key seniors included forwards Dominic Giacomin (10 goals) and Jack Kish (5 goals) and defenseman Danny Kraft (4 goals, 10 assists).
Junior defenseman Mason Jolly (8 goals, 3 assists) and sophomore defenseman Adam Pavliga (10 goals, 10 assists) should join Graham as key returnees next season.
Others eligible to return include juniors Zach Kubatko (defenseman) and Ian Simone (forward), sophomores Nick Columbo (defenseman), Colin Meyer (forward) and Hayden Storts (forward) and freshman Luke Simone (defenseman).
Watterson went 5-10-0-1 (11 points) in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division to place behind Olentangy (20, 10-6), Olentangy Orange (18, 9-7), Dublin Coffman (16, 8-8) and Springboro (11, 5-10-1). The Eagles were the 11th seed for the Blue Jackets Cup tournament but lost to 14th-seeded Columbus Academy 4-2 on Feb. 8 in a second-round game at the Ice Haus.
"We're real pleased with our underclassmen and the guys that are in our leadership roles," coach Jay Graham said. "We've got quite a few juniors and sophomores and guys that are filling in, and next year we've got a good-looking freshman class coming in, so we're excited.
"I'm real pleased with where the team is at. For us to get nine wins where basically our first line was two defenseman and a goaltender, we're doing real well."
Boys team earns share of CCL title
With a 48-26 victory Feb. 15 at home over Ready, the boys basketball team secured a share of the CCL championship with DeSales.
The Eagles and Stallions both went 6-2 in the league.
Chris Crane had 13 points and Mike Bruzzese scored 11 for the Eagles, who outscored the Silver Knights 29-13 during the middle quarters.
Watterson lost to Perry 51-49 on Feb. 16 as Jimmy Patton had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Stephen Garrett and Zach Sawyer both had 10 points.
The Eagles were 12-9 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 19 at Jonathan Alder.
Watterson is the seventh seed for the Division II district tournament and opens March 2 at home against 24th-seeded Lakewood in a second-round game.
Girls basketball team to face Panthers
The fourth-seeded girls basketball team continues its postseason with a second-round Division I district tournament game Friday, Feb. 22, at home against 20th-seeded Pickerington North.
The winner will play 13th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 16th-seeded Hartley in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a site to be announced. The district final is March 2 at Ohio Dominican.
On Feb. 16, the Eagles beat 36th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 34-25 in a first-round game.
Watterson, which held the Jaguars to two third-quarter points, got 14 points from Paige Woodford and six apiece from Grace Jenkins and Kilyn McGuff while improving to 21-2.
North is 8-14 and has lost five games in a row.
Watterson and Hartley split their regular-season games and shared the CCL title. The Eagles beat Darby 42-36 on Dec. 23 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson bowling and wrestling teams:
Feb. 22-23 -- Division I sectional at HP Lanes. The girls compete Feb. 22 and the boys compete Feb. 23, with the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 23 -- Division II sectional at Licking Valley. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 1 and 2 at Heath.