The Columbus School for Girls swimming and diving team captured its sixth consecutive Division II district championship Feb. 14 at Ohio State while qualifying a large contingent for the state meet.
"It was a total team effort," said first-year coach Brian Botzman, who was voted girls district Coach of the Year. "We had time drops across the board and nearly all of the girls moved up from their (district) seeds. It was a great environment and great competition and that motivated our girls."
The motivation began in the first event, as the Unicorns had to watch the 200-yard medley relay after being disqualified at a sectional Feb. 9 at Columbus Academy.
"We had a sour taste in our mouths because our 200 medley relay was very strong and it was tough to sit there and watch it," Botzman said. "The disqualification kept us from winning the sectional title, so winning the district title was important for us."
CSG scored 355 points at district to finish well ahead of runner-up Academy (300) as 24 teams scored.
The Unicorns had seven automatic qualifiers for state, which is being held Thursday, Feb. 21, and Friday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically qualified for state. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded for each swimming event based on statewide times.
Junior Jordan Aurnou-Rhees won the 100 butterfly (55.78 seconds) and 200 individual medley (2:05), sophomore Nyah Funderburke won the 50 freestyle (23.55) and placed second in the 100 fly (56.46) and senior AnnaRay Ziegler was runner-up in the 100 backstroke (58.37).
Aurnou-Rhees will be making her third appearance at state. Last season, she won the 100 fly and finished third in the 200 IM.
"I was so excited going into (district) and we came to (district) just to race," said Aurnou-Rhees, who is seeded second at state in the 100 fly and fourth in the 200 IM. "(This is) the best time of the year. It's so fun. It's when you see everything pay off. I'm so excited (for state). It's a little different every year."
Funderburke placed fourth at state in the 100 fly last season and fifth in the 50 free.
"I had a home pool advantage (at district) because I swim with OSU and I knew what I needed to do in the 50 free," said Funderburke, who is seeded second at state in the 50 free and seventh in the 100 fly. "My goal this year is to finish in the top three in both events at state. I also felt pretty good because I don't normally get to sleep in on the day of regular meets, but because it was in the afternoon, I got a little extra rest beforehand."
The one-two finish in the 100 fly was special for Aurnou-Rhees and Funderburke.
"It's amazing, especially because I get to practice with (Funderburke) pretty much every day," Aurnou-Rhees said. "Everything that we've both done is paying off together. It's like the best feeling."
"We went one-two at district last year and I knew before the meet we could do it again," Funderburke said. "I knew I could get second. I think I can beat (Aurnou-Rhees) eventually if I work on my turns and my stamina in the second 50."
Aurnou-Rhees and Funderburke also combined with junior Cosette Persall and senior Emily Dewolf to win the 200 free relay (1:38.63) and finish second in the 400 free relay (3:40.62).
At state, the 200 free relay is seeded seventh, the 400 free relay is seeded eighth and Ziegler is seeded 11th in the 100 back.
Last year at state, the Unicorns finished fifth behind champion Gates Mills Hawken, which won its 20th consecutive state title.
Basketball team begins postseason
The basketball team sought to return to its early season form when it played at 15th-seeded Columbus Academy in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 19.
The Unicorns, who are seeded 17th of 24 teams, opened the season 4-4 but finished the regular season at 6-15 after losing their final eight contests.
The first-round winner plays at second-seeded Worthington Christian in the second round Saturday, Feb. 23. That winner will face third-seeded Cardington, eighth-seeded Ready or 20th-seeded Richwood North Union in a district semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 26, at site to be determined.
CSG fell to Cristo Rey 33-27 in its home finale Feb. 12 and lost at Berne Union 34-24 in its regular-season finale Feb. 14.
Emma Spangler had six points and Eva Nicolosi, Hattie Person and Veronica Ross each scored five against Cristo Rey. Against Berne Union, Nicolosi had nine points and Person scored six.