Luke Cheetham expects an emotional experience in his final trip to the Division I state boys swimming and diving meet.
The Olentangy Orange High School senior will dive Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. He earned his fourth state berth by finishing third (519.95 points) at district Feb. 14 at Ohio State and is seeded fourth at state.
"I really want to do well because it's my last meet diving for my school," Cheetham said. "Orange has meant so much to me over the last four years. I've been (to state) enough that it's like a normal meet, but it really isn't. It means a lot to be diving one last time for Orange."
Cheetham placed eighth (453.1) at state last year after finishing ninth (427.6) as a sophomore and 12th (412.8) as a freshman.
His twin sister, Lauren Cheetham, did not dive at district for the second time in four seasons. Surgery to her left rotator cuff in July kept her from competing this winter, and she missed her sophomore postseason with a broken wrist.
Luke Cheetham will be the lone competitor for Orange at state as no boys or girls swimmers advanced from district Feb. 15 at Ohio State.
The boys tied for 22nd (16) behind champion Dublin Jerome (301) and the girls were 16th (34) behind champion Upper Arlington (306) as 27 teams scored in each meet.
The best swimming performance came from the eighth-place girls 400-yard freestyle relay, which earned the final spot on the podium. Alex Knodel, Brooke Farren, Emma Logan and Kayla Fisher teamed to break their own program record in 3 minutes, 42.29 seconds.
"I think we were tapered and suited up and ready to race," Logan said. "We were all in a good mood and pumped up. We really wanted to get on the podium."
Boys basketball team awaits district foe
The boys basketball team has a 13-day layoff between games as it prepares for the Division I district tournament.
The Pioneers finished the regular season 15-7 overall by defeating Massillon Perry 66-53 on Feb. 16 at North Canton Hoover. Bryson Lane had 25 points with three 3-pointers, and Andre Irvin added 16 points.
Orange, which is seeded 13th, begins district play March 1 at home against 20th-seeded Delaware or 24th-seeded Westerville Central in the second round.
The Pioneers defeated Westerville North 69-64 on Feb. 15 to finish 7-3 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. Lane led with 24 points, Ryan Cutler had 13 points with three 3s and Nik Brannon added 11 points.
Girls basketball team loses district opener
The 34th-seeded girls basketball team lost at 11th-seeded Teays Valley 71-29 on Feb. 16 in the first round of the Division I district tournament to finish 5-18 overall.
Junior forward Madi Riley led with 12 points, and junior guard Riley Duffy added 10.
"Our biggest thing all year (was) not putting the ball in the basket," fifth-year coach Bob Scott said. "Scoring (was) an issue all year."
Orange finished sixth (1-9) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Westerville South (10-0).
Also expected back are junior guards Camille Barron, Joy Gimei and Anna Grabau and sophomore guards Reese Miller and Brooke Thompson.
"We're still not going to be tall (next year), and we have to get better skill-wise," Scott said. "They have to play more and all that good stuff."
Hockey team falls to Braves
The hockey team opened the postseason with a 4-0 loss to seventh-seeded Olentangy on Feb. 16 in the first round of the district tournament.
The ninth-seeded Pioneers finished 13-14-0-2 overall.
Orange also lost to Liberty 7-2 on Feb. 7 in the opening round of the Blue Jackets Cup.
The Pioneers finished second in the Capital Hockey Conference-White at 9-7 with 18 points, behind Olentangy (20, 10-6).
Senior forward Zach Miller had 12 goals and 11 assists in league play, and senior forward Aaron Mosher had 11 goals and nine assists. Senior goaltender Nathan Thompson had an .855 save percentage in the CHC.
Key players expected back include juniors Carter Goodknight (goalie; .829 save percentage), Nathan Hazel (forward), Aaron Johnson (defenseman), Jake Morrone (defenseman) and Cam Miller (forward; 9 goals) and freshmen Kyle Diehr (goalie; .875 save percentage) and Grant Hendrickson (defenseman).
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange bowling, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
Feb. 22 -- Division I girls sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 23 -- Division I boys sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
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 Upper Arlington. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.