Rylee Kreinbrink of the Pickerington High School North girls swimming team admitted that the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State was "something to get used to," considering that last year's meet was held in a considerably smaller facility at Ohio University.

But knowing what it took to qualify for her second consecutive state meet, Kreinbrink was not fazed.

Kreinbrink finished fifth in the 100-yard butterfly (56.6 seconds) to earn an at-large berth to state Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton, and also helped the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay earn top-five finishes and at-large berths.

"Being (at district) for the first time last year was really exciting, but this year I feel not necessarily more used to it, but I know what to expect," said Kreinbrink, who swam her fastest time in the 100 fly this season and is seeded 20th at state. "The atmosphere is definitely different at OSU than at OU. It's something to get used to."

Lindsey Keaton placed fifth at district in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.41) and is seeded 22nd at state. She also was on both qualifying relays and was eighth in the 100 fly (57.18), missing a state berth by .03 of a second.

The 200 medley relay that was rounded out by Grace Cherryhomes and Regan Turnbull finished fourth (1:38.35) and the 200 free relay, which also included Cherryhomes and Lilian Muszynski, placed fifth (1:38.35). They are seeded 17th and 15th at state, respectively.

North finished eighth (129 points) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (306) as 27 teams scored.

"We only had one swimmer add time the whole day. Everybody was terrific," coach Justin Dortch said. "The relays were tremendous. Everybody was on point from start to finish. They handled themselves about as well as they could."

The top two placers in each swimming event and the top five boys divers automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.

Kreinbrink finished 13th in the 100 fly at state last year. Keaton was 23rd in the same event.

The boys team did not have any state qualifiers.

Led by a 10th-place finish from diver Nicholas Clemons (347.7) and a 12th-place finish from the 200 medley relay (1:42.1) of Connor Daniel, Jon Mason, Gavin Mumma and Wyatt Ross, the Panthers finished 20th (27) behind champion Dublin Jerome (301) as 27 teams scored.

Boys basketball team shares league title

The boys basketball team enters the Division I district tournament on a six-game winning streak and having secured its second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship.

Seeded fifth of 47 teams in the district, North will play host to 42nd-seeded Watkins Memorial in a first-round game Saturday, Feb. 23. The winner plays 41st-seeded Briggs in the second round March 1 at the home of the higher seed.

The Panthers improved to 18-4 overall with a 64-51 win over visiting Grove City on Feb. 15, finishing 9-1 in the OCC-Ohio to share first place with Pickerington Central. Jack Sawyer had a game-high 28 points for North, three nights after scoring 20 points in a 53-44 win at Jerome.

Wrestling coach chooses different path

The wrestling team will participate in a 10-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Marysville, a site coach Derek Oney chose for several reasons.

The top four finishers in each weight class advance into the Central/Northeast/Northwest district tournament March 1 and 2 at Mentor. This is the second consecutive year that Marysville has played host to a sectional that feeds into a district tournament outside the area.

"It isn't the strongest sectional, but I am looking at the kids we can possibly get out to the state tournament and two of my tougher kids are at 170 (pounds in Elliot Mahaffey) and 182 (Josiah George) and the Central District at those weights is stacked," said Oney, a native of Alliance in northeast Ohio who admitted to some excitement at exposing his wrestlers to competition in that area. "It's tough at Mentor, too, but not quite as tough. We'll see (Lakewood) St. Edward and Brecksville(-Broadview Heights) and Wadsworth. It's going to be fun."

Girls basketball team returns to court

A 13-day break between games for the girls basketball team will end Friday, Feb. 22, when the Panthers visit fourth-seeded Watterson in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

North, which is 8-14 and has lost five consecutive games, has not played since finishing the regular season with a 45-42 loss at Logan on Feb. 9. The Panthers are seeded 20th of 45 teams.

"We should be better record-wise, but for where we were, we had a pretty good draw," coach Silas Williams said.

"If I could have played in the first round, I would, but I like to get at least one home game. If not, I'll look at the best route for us to go as far as we can."

Led by point guard Paige Woodford's 14 points, Watterson defeated 34th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 34-25 in a first-round home game Feb. 16 to improve to 21-2. Woodford's father, Tom, is the Eagles' coach.

"They've very disciplined," Williams said. "They hustle and are always in a good spot. They play hard. That in itself will keep them in a lot of games. Tom's daughter is a really good point guard and (Ohio State women's coach Kevin) McGuff's daughter (Kilyn) is a decent shooter with some length. They will pose some problems, but we can match up with them."

The winner will play 13th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 16th-seeded Hartley in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a neutral site. That winner advances to a district final March 2.

North defeated Hartley 56-52 on Jan. 26 in the Nubian Classic at Africentric.

Bowling teams head to sectional

The bowling teams will participate in Division I sectional tournaments this week at HP Lanes.

The girls sectional is Friday, Feb. 22, followed by the boys sectional the next day. From both tournaments, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave