Her younger sister had just wrapped up the New Albany High School girls swimming team's first Division I state event championship, and Mia Lachey was so overwhelmed with emotion that she could barely move.
Using a 50.2-second split that left her and her teammates in awe, Ava Lachey anchored the Eagles' 400-yard freestyle relay that won in 3:25.62 on Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, edging runner-up Dublin Coffman by .45 of a second.
Lexi Elkovitch led off the relay, followed by Olivia Hovorka and Mia Lachey. Elkovitch and Mia Lachey are juniors, and Hovorka and Ava Lachey are freshmen.
"My sister swam her heart out at the end," Mia Lachey said. "I can't even say how good it feels to win this."
The Eagles took the lead on the second leg and hung on as Ava Lachey gradually pulled away from Coffman anchor Hannah Bailey.
"This is extremely special," Ava Lachey said. "The last 25 (yards), I was fighting as hard as I could so we could win. It was very exciting. I knew it was close but in the last 25, I felt like I started to pull away and get ahead a little bit."
Ava Lachey also was third in the 100 free (50.54) and ninth in the 200 free (1:51.09), and the 200 free relay was fourth (1:34.87) with Elkovitch, the Lachey sisters and Stacy Saribalas to lead New Albany to 129 points and seventh place behind champion Mason (204) as 55 teams scored.
Elkovitch placed sixth in the 100 free (51.24) and 10th in the 50 free (23.81). Mia Lachey was 11th in the 200 individual medley (2:06.21) and 13th in the 100 free (52.21).
"My goal at the beginning of the season was to be on the podium at district. I had no idea I'd be on the podium at state. This is so exciting to me," Elkovitch said. "I try not to think about time. I just wanted to race well. This meet has beaten me before. I just knew coming into the season that I'd be back here and I had to find a way to deal with it."
The 200 medley relay of Kiara Crumbley, Hovorka, Saribalas and Kelly Shur was 15th (1:48.26).
Boys diver Jordan Rzepka finished third (505.45) in his first state appearance earlier Feb. 23, 28.55 points behind runner-up and longtime friend Jack Matthews of Olentangy Liberty. Shaker Heights' Lyle Yost earned his third consecutive title (571.2).
Rzepka considered an inward 2 1/2 in the fifth round that scored him 62 points and briefly gave him the lead the highlight of his day. Rzepka and Matthews went back and forth for second and third place the rest of the meet, and Rzepka scored 55.9 points on his ninth dive, a forward 1 1/2 somersault with twists, and 52.5 on a back 1 1/2 somersault, 1 1/2 twist free in the 11th and final round.
"It was my first time using (the inward 2 1/2) in a high school meet so I was pretty happy that it went well," said Rzepka, who qualified for state last year as a freshman but missed the meet because of a broken thumb suffered at district. "I was very happy to be out there competing this year. I'm definitely satisfied with how this went."
Rzepka competed in only three high school meets this season: the OCC-Capital Division meet Jan. 26 at home, district Feb. 14 at Ohio State and state. With Yost graduating, he and Matthews hope to move up on the podium.
"I want to up my (degree of difficulty) a little bit more and sharpen up some dives and see how next year goes," Rzepka said. "I think I can do even better here."
The boys 200 medley relay of Patrick Daly, Jimmy Lapsley, Tommy Morris and Pearson Spychalski finished 10th (1:35.16), and Lapsley was 12th in the 100 backstroke (51.67).
Also competing at state were the 400 free relay (18th, 3:11.72) of Daly, Morris, Darden Spychalski and Pearson Spychalski, Pearson Spychalski in the 100 free (20th, 47.61), Daly in the 200 IM (21st, 1:56.34) and Morris in the 50 free (22nd, 21.98).
The boys tied for 20th behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 49 teams scored. The Bombers won their 10th consecutive title and 40th overall.
Lee leads wrestling team to district
Heavyweight Billy Lee won a Division I sectional championship Feb. 23 at Watkins Memorial, going 3-0 and pinning Big Walnut's Noah Hines in 1:04 in the final to lead five Eagles wrestlers to district Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.
Colin Swincicki placed second at 120, Michael Zusman was runner-up at 145 and Peter Ackley (170) and Jack Wilson (195) were third in their respective weight classes.
The top four finishers in each weight class qualified for district.
Also competing were Zach Rutledge (220, fifth, 2-2), Owen Perry (126, sixth, 1-3), Gianna Nocera (152, 1-2), Alex Chattos (106, 0-2), Brady Conley (132, 0-2), Jack Sauter (138, 0-2), Maverick Spellman (182, 0-2) and Brandon Thompson (106, 0-2)
At district, the top four in each weight class qualify for state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
Girls bowlers, Conn head to district
The girls bowling team and freshman Noble Conn of the boys team will compete in their respective Division I district tournaments Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.
The girls finished 14th (2,988) at sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. Adriane Hammond bowled a 585 series to place sixth out of 222 individuals, followed by Jada Biller (tied for ninth, 559), Codey Mockler (100th, 384), Riley Langdale (141st, 323) and Abby Phelps (tied for 150th, 295).
In the boys sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, Conn tied for 36th (589) out of 242 individuals to earn an individual berth to district. New Albany finished 28th (3,281) behind champion Marion Harding (4,336).
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.
The other top competitors for the Eagles were Elliot Greer (tied for 87th, 507), Grant Kresina (tied for 93rd, 499) and Ryan Ho (136th, 433).
At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance. The girls state tournament is March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, followed by the boys the next day at the same site.
Hockey team falls in semifinal
Two Dublin Jerome goals in a 31-second span early in the second period of a district semifinal Feb. 24 helped send the fourth-seeded hockey team to a 6-2 loss to the top-seeded Celtics at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Jordan Campbell scored both goals for New Albany, which finished 18-11-2-5. Goaltender Max Dupler made 35 saves in a game that included 14 penalties, eight for the Eagles and six for the Celtics.
The Eagles advanced to the semifinal with a 5-1 win over fifth-seeded St. Charles in a district quarterfinal Feb. 23 at the Ice Haus. Jackson Buss scored twice and Carson Johnston, Matthew Moellering and Michael Siebenaler each added a goal.
Boys basketball team loses tourney opener
Led by 12 points from Dillon Masters and 10 from Udai Singh, the boys basketball team fell at sixth-seeded Hilliard Davidson 46-38 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23.
After the game was tied at 12 at halftime, the Wildcats outscored the Eagles 17-7 in the third quarter to take control.
New Albany, which was seeded 34th of 47 teams, finished 8-15.
Girls basketball team falls to Wildcats
A 16-0 run by Davidson to end the first quarter ultimately proved too much for the girls basketball team to overcome in a 59-52 loss to the host and ninth-seeded Wildcats in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 22.
Senior forward Josie Smith had 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals to lead the 21st-seeded Eagles, who led 6-3 midway through the first quarter but trailed 19-6 at the end and were held without a field goal for more than five minutes. Freshman guard Katie Kaucheck added 11 points and four rebounds.
New Albany finished 11-12.
"We had a rough time getting into an offense because (Davidson's) pressure was so hard on our point guards. We could never really get inside that umbrella they put out there, but once we were able to do that we were successful," coach Jeff Blunt said. "We just gave them the ball a few too many times in the first quarter and sometimes 16-0 happens."
Smith, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania recruit, averaged 11.0 points and 6.9 rebounds, both team highs, and was named first-team all-OCC-Capital. Kaucheck averaged 7.5 points, shot 38-of-84 on 3-pointers (45.2 percent) and was second-team all-league.
Sophomore guard Brooklyn Gammon was honorable mention all-league.
Sophomore guard Olivia Gittins averaged 6.0 points.
"This was an amazing group," Blunt said. "These kids were so selfless all the time."