Sam Sulek has put his gymnastics background to good use after stepping away from the sport.

The Delaware Hayes High School junior began focusing on diving last summer and competed in the Division I state swimming and diving meet that concluded Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

"I actually began diving for (the Delaware Aquatics Racing Team Stingrays) when I was 8 years old, but that's just a summer program," Sulek said. "Last summer, I started practicing at Ohio State and started to really focus on diving. I'm excited to make it to state and I'm looking forward to next year already. I've seen a lot of improvement."

Sulek was joined at state by the boys 200-yard medley relay of Aidan Stojkov, Paul Carter, Kael Gannon and Lucas Pape and the girls 200 freestyle relay of Kailyn Smith, Valerie Keller, Elizabeth Abahazi and Rena Ouyang.

All qualified from the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, where the top five boys divers, top four girls divers and the top two finishers in each swimming event earned automatic state berths. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.

Sulek placed fourth at district with a school-record 496.25 points, which was the fifth-best total of all district competitors in the state.

"My highest score going into districts was a 462 in (the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Jan. 25) when I was runner-up to (Hilliard Darby's) Hayden Apel," Sulek said. "Halfway through the district meet, I was thinking I could reach 500. My goal going in was to finish ahead of (Apel) and Luke Cheetham (of Olentangy Orange) to make sure I got to state. I mean, the top two guys are in a league of their own."

Olentangy Liberty's Jack Matthews finished first (600.65), with New Albany's Jordan Rzepka (571.9), Cheetham (519.95), Sulek and Apel (482.6) rounding out the top five.

The 200 medley relay placed eighth in a school-record 1 minute, 37.76 seconds and was seeded 22nd at state.

"The boys team set three school records and they were really excited to be able to represent us in Canton," coach Jordan Nicol said. "The hard work by those guys really paid off."

Gannon set a school record in the 100 butterfly while placing sixth (51.65). The boys 200 free relay of Gannon, Caleb Bucher, Stojkov and Pape finished eighth (1:28.84) and Mark Sulek placed eighth in diving (374.1).

The Pacers totaled 90 points at district to finish ninth behind champion Dublin Jerome (301) as 27 teams scored.

Keller made her fourth trip to state for the girls team.

"I thought our performance was great, better than expected," Keller said. "It's really exciting. Rena made it last year and (Elizabeth) was an alternate. Kailyn is a freshman, so we're pretty mixed in terms of ages. I feel pretty fortunate to end my career in Canton. There's not a better way to finish.

"It will be a business trip, but like our former coach Bill Rietz told us, we still have to have fun and enjoy it."

Nicol said the girls 200 free relay came real close to breaking to the school record at district and hoped to set a new mark at state. The relay placed eighth (1:38.94) at district and was seeded 21st at state.

"The girls posted great times across the board, a lot of personal-best times overall," Nicol said. "But this group is looking to make a great season more memorable with a school record."

The Pacers finished 13th (57) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (306) as 27 teams scored.

Wrestlers finish second in league

The wrestling team defeated visiting Olentangy Berlin 46-19 on Feb. 14 to finish second in the OCC-Cardinal at 6-1, behind Darby (7-0).

Tamas Eder (106 pounds) and Mason Sutandar (170) won by pin and Isaac Robinson (120), Paulo Sferella (132), Zach Williams (138) and Jacob McCloskey (195) each won by decision against the Bears. The Pacers also won three matches by forfeit.

Delaware competed in a 10-team Division I sectional Feb. 23 at Watkins Memorial, where the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Darby.

At district, the top four placers in each weight class advance to the state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State's Schottenstein Center.

Boys basketball team begins postseason

The boys basketball team played host to 24th-seeded Westerville Central in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23, with the winner advancing to play at 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the second round Friday, March 1.

That winner likely faces top-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district semifinal March 6.

Delaware, which is seeded 20th, won its final three regular-season games and four of its last five to enter the postseason 16-6 overall.

The Pacers defeated host Berlin 57-29 on Feb. 15 to finish 9-5 in the OCC-Cardinal and beat Marion Harding 65-35 on Feb. 16 in its regular-season finale.

Terin Kinsway had 14 points, Addison Harvey scored 12 and Ryan Smudtz added 11 against Berlin. Against Marion Harding, Kinsway had a career-high 31 points and 13 rebounds, Nate Griggs scored 10 points and J'wan Lyles added eight points and seven rebounds.

Girls basketball team opens district tourney

The girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 22 with a second-round game at 10th-seeded Olentangy Liberty.

The 29th-seeded Pacers, who had a first-round bye, had not played since beating Licking Heights 62-53 in the regular-season finale Feb. 13 to improve to 11-11.

The second-round winner faces ninth-seeded Hilliard Davidson or 21st-seeded New Albany in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27. That winner likely faces top-seeded and defending state champion Pickerington Central in a district final Saturday, March 2, at Ohio Dominican.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 5 at Otterbein.

Postseason underway for bowling teams

The boys and girls bowling teams competed in the Division I sectional Feb. 22 and 23, respectively, at HP Lanes.

The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the district tournament Saturday, March 2. At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament March 8 and 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Gymnasts compete at district meet

The gymnastics team competed in the district meet Feb 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.

The top three teams advanced to the state team meet Friday, March 1, at Hilliard Bradley, and top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to state individual meet Saturday, March 2, at Bradley.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek