Harvey Culbert got a taste of the future while competing the last two weeks for the Reynoldsburg High School boys swimming and diving team.
In the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, the senior earned his third consecutive berth to state and also caught up with some of his future teammates.
Among those whom the West Virginia recruit enjoyed getting to see was Dover's Hunter Armstrong, another future Mountaineer who went on to earn state runner-up finishes in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100 free.
"I'm going to miss Reynoldsburg, but I'm super excited about West Virginia," Culbert said. "I can't wait for what's next for me."
In the state meet Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, Culbert made it to the B final in the 100 breaststroke and tied for 11th in 57.88 seconds.
That followed him swimming 57.9 at district and 57.68 during the preliminary heat at state.
Last season at state, Culbert swam 57.9 while finishing 14th.
With the performances of Culbert and sophomore Nate Gaver, who was the boys team's other state qualifier, the Raiders finished 40th (8.5) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 49 teams scored.
Gaver followed a fifth-place district finish in the 50 free in 21.29 by swimming 21.55 in the state preliminaries.
He was disappointed with his performance during the preliminary but rebounded by swimming 21.38 to place 14th in the B final. He said he was "using it as a learning experience for junior and senior year."
"He's ahead of where I projected him for sure," coach Josh Dorsett said. "He's not quite where he projected himself to be because he's gone 21 (seconds) very low so he kind of expected to be here, but it's a really big learning experience to swim against these seniors that are breaking records.
"Seeing these seniors and being able to be here and have that mentorship from Harvey, they've been good friends for a long time. It's been a really fun experience."
Culbert led a senior class that also included Justin Barnhart, who joined Culbert on both the 200 medley relay that was 11th (1:42.06) and the 400 free relay that placed 10th (3:20.43) at district.
The others on those relays were Gaver and freshman Max Hutson-Comeaux.
Other boys eligible to return include sophomores Jonathan Begeny, Austin Harter and Malachi Nichols.
The girls team's top returnee is expected to be sophomore Kasey Lichtner, who was 23rd in the 50 free (25.18) and 24th in the 100 breast (1:09.95) at district.
Others eligible to return include junior Bella Hutson-Comeaux, sophomore Hanna Mielcarek and freshmen Olivia Dulay, Brynn Dwenger, Anna Haines and Brooklynn Webb.
"We had a lot of very new girls," Dorsett said. "I've been seeing a lot of improvement out of Kasey Lichtner, who's a sophomore. We're hoping we'll get her (to state) very soon.
"We had a lot of new swimmers finding their niche on the team. We have a lot of sophomores, so we'll have a lot of juniors next year. A lot of them are really just finding their niche on the team and doing really well."
Boys basketball team moves into 2nd round
With an 85-43 victory over 38th-seeded Mifflin on Feb. 23, the seventh-seeded boys basketball team moved into a second-round Division I district tournament matchup Friday, March 1, at home against 27th-seeded Westerville South.
The winner will play eighth-seeded Upper Arlington or 35th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at a neutral site.
The winner of that contest will play third-seeded Pickerington Central, 15th-seeded Gahanna, 26th-seeded Big Walnut or 44th-seeded Columbus West in a district final March 9 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The Raiders improved to 18-5 with the win over Mifflin as Ben Fort finished with 20 points. Sahmi Willoughby and Xavier Prince each scored 12 and Nick Wallace had 11.
South is just 6-16 but has one of the area's more talented guards in senior Jordan McMillan, who averages 20 points.
Upper Arlington is led by Pennsylvania recruit Max Martz. who also averages 20 points.
"I know (South doesn't) have a great win-loss record, but they've still got a great coach (in Ed Calo) and play a style that is very challenging," coach Scott Davis said. "Then if we win that we'd have a potential (district semifinal) matchup against Upper Arlington, so it's never easy."
Eight wrestlers advance to district
The wrestling team will have eight competitors in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Mentor, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
The Raiders were third (149.5) in a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville behind Ashland (315) and Pickerington North (161.5) as Kyle Copas (145 pounds) and Noah Ratliff (152) captured titles.
Earning third-place finishes were Isaiah Boateng (126), Aaron Reynolds (132) and Zach Frye (195), with Gracie Straughter (113), Gary McCreary (138) and Colin Harvey (220) each finishing fourth. The top four in each weight class advanced.
Also placing were Peighton Irish-Arnett (fifth at 106), Romeo White (sixth at 160), Jonathan Axel Balmeo (fifth at 182) and Dalton Hall (fifth at heavyweight).
Gaven Miller (170) went 0-2.
Boys bowlers qualify for district
On Feb. 23 in the Division I sectional at HP Lanes, the boys bowling team finished eighth (3,862) of 42 teams behind champion Marion Harding (4,336) as the top 16 teams advanced to the district tournament March 2 at the same site.
At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
At sectional, Logan Gapen led the Raiders with a sixth-place finish (665), followed by David Robinson (29th, 596), Logan Jeffers (tied for 46th, 567) and Cameron Brosious (66th, 535). Owen Chisley and Cris Weatherly also competed.
The girls finished 32nd (2,464) in the 37-team Division I sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes behind champion Westerville Central (3,777) as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.
Kay Hetterscheidt finished 103rd (380), Halle Pennycuff was 107th (376), Kimmee Shook was 128th (349) and Katie Morgan was 136th (330). Kaitlyn Stiers and Toniya Seymour Williams also competed.
Girls basketball team makes district semi
The fifth-seeded girls basketball team easily moved on to a Division I district semifinal Feb. 27 against 11th-seeded Teays Valley.
If Reynoldsburg won that game, it will face seventh-seeded UA or 12th-seeded Northland in a district final at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion will play in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Otterbein against Watterson, Hilliard Darby, Newark or Westerville Central. The regional final is March 8 at Otterbein.
The Raiders were 18-6 after beating 43rd-seeded Mifflin 72-9 on Feb. 22 in a second-round game. Destiny Fields had 15 points, Alexia Mobley scored 13 and Uju Ezeudu added 10.