As Westerville Central High School senior wrestler Nick DeRose prepares for the postseason, he doesn't seem concerned with an apparent disadvantage he faces entering most matches.
Competing at heavyweight, a weight class in which athletes can weigh up to 285 pounds, DeRose has averaged around 230 this season. He still has managed to compile a 28-6 record.
"I don't really care about it that much," he said. "If I did, I'd be weighing 260. I could be a lot heavier, but I like being where I am. I feel comfortable. I like the weight class. I like 220 too, but at heavyweight I feel like I can do some damage."
DeRose helped lead the Warhawks to a 33-30 win over visiting Westerville South on Feb. 14 as he won by technical fall (18-3) over Brendan Cleaver to seal the comeback victory. Central finished fifth in the OCC-Buckeye Division at 1-4, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (5-0) and ahead of South (0-5).
"(DeRose's weight disadvantage) doesn't seem to bother him," coach Jerry McSwords said. "He's wrestling kids that are 275. When they see him I think they are deceived because they don't think he's strong and they probably don't think he's as savvy as he is with wrestling, but the great thing is he surprises everyone."
Winners by pin against South were Parker Wilson at 152 (2 minutes, 35 seconds) and Logan Moore at 160 (1:17).
The match, along with senior night festivities, was held in the commons at Central. DeRose is the lone senior on the team.
"I'm not going to be here next year, so I want to make sure there are some juniors who know how to take control of the team," DeRose said. "If I can make at least one junior ready for next year to take over the team, I feel like I've done my job as a senior captain."
The Warhawks will compete in a 10-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Marysville, along with South. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
DeRose is seeking his third district berth. He went 1-2 at 220 last year to finish the season 31-10 and 1-2 at 220 as a sophomore to finish 24-27.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
"I've wanted to go to state since I was a freshman," DeRose said. "That's the goal and if I make it there, the next goal is to win the whole thing. If I could get to state that's crossing something off my bucket list of something I've always wanted to do."
DeRose won titles in the Big Walnut Classic on Dec. 8 and the All-North Tournament on Feb. 9 at Dublin Jerome.
"I wanted to win the All-North Tournament since I was a freshman because that's a long day of wrestling," DeRose said. "When I was a freshman I remember going 0-2 and I had to sit through the whole tournament. ... It's tough sitting there the whole day (after) taking a shower at 11 (a.m.). I told myself freshman year I have to win this one time."
Also for the Warhawks, Gary Steele is 21-12 at 132 and Zeke Healy is 19-10 at 170. Both were district qualifiers last season.
Moore is 18-7 and Tate Sterling is 16-14 at 145.
"This team has grown," McSwords said. "This team has to have a goal of someone down at the Schottenstein Center (in the state tournament) every single year without exception for the next four years."
Swearingen leads swimmers at district
Junior Macey Swearingen turned in a solid performance in the Division I district girls swimming and diving meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, earning a return trip to state.
Competing in lane 9, Swearingen won the 100-yard backstroke (56.67) and is seeded 11th at state Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"I had to pull out some outside smoke, so that was super fun to know that I could have that lead on the outside and they didn't know that I was there," Swearingen said.
In the 100 freestyle, Swear-ingen finished fourth (51.84) and is seeded 12th at state.
Swearingen, Kaila Aaron, Sophie Antonetz and Kiah Smith finished fourth in the 200 free relay (1:37.83) and are seeded 10th at state. They also placed sixth in the 400 free relay (3:34.58) and are seeded 24th at state.
"I'm really excited," said Swearingen, who finished 14th in the 100 back (57.64) last season at state. "This year has been by far my best district, so I'm super excited to see how that translates to state."
Smith finished third in the 50 free (23.66) and is seeded 10th at state and seventh in the 100 butterfly (57.15) and is seeded 24th.
Aaron finished eighth in the 50 free (24.17) and is seeded 24th at state.
Central placed seventh (131) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (306) as 27 teams scored.
Kaden Jacob led the boys, finishing 16th in diving (281.4).
The Warhawks finished 27th (1) behind champion Dublin Jerome (301) as 27 teams scored.
Boys basketball team preps for tournament
The boys basketball team improved to 10-12 overall and finished 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye with a 52-45 win over visiting South on Feb. 15.
Chaz Dixon scored 18 points and Tasos Cook had 11 to lead Central.
The Warhawks are seeded 24th in the Division I district tournament and visit 20th-seeded Delaware in the first round Saturday, Feb. 23. The winner plays at 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange on March 1.
Girls squad to play Jerome
The girls basketball team fell to 9-13 overall with a 51-47 loss to visiting South on Feb. 15.
Karmen Long scored a career-high 30 points and had 12 rebounds to lead the Warhawks, who finished 3-7 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Central is seeded 27th in the Division I district tournament and visits 26th-seeded Jerome in the second round Friday, Feb. 22. The winner likely plays second-seeded Newark in a semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a neutral site to be determined.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central bowling and gymnastics 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 Worth-ington 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.