The Dublin Jerome High School swimming and diving program refused to let one moment create a lingering cloud of disappointment during the Division I state meet last week at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The boys 200-yard freestyle relay earned a share of the state title last season, but its hopes of adding another ended during the preliminary heat Feb. 22 when one of its swimmers left the board early.
During finals Feb. 23, though, Jerome ended up with a state runner-up finish from junior Maya Geringer in the girls 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 51.74 seconds) as she dropped more than five seconds off her preliminary time and senior Max Scott led a strong performance by the boys team.
Scott placed third in the 50 free (20.42) and was on the third-place 400 free relay with juniors Austin Davis, Reno James and Ian Smith (3:05.34) as the boys team finished seventh (95 points) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 49 teams scored.
It marked the second consecutive season that the Celtics led all central Ohio boys teams in points at the Division I state meet.
"One of our swimmers took off too early (in the 200 free relay), so that's a heartbreaker because that was an easy in to the (championship final), but we had to move past it and refocus our energy and just redeem ourselves somewhere else," coach Patrick Johnston said.
After having placed ninth in the 200 free and 13th in the 500 free last season, Geringer finished 12th in the 200 free (1:52.16) this year. However, she took a big step up in the 500 free to help the girls team finish 22nd (29) behind champion Mason (204) as 55 teams scored.
"I had no idea what was going to happen because my prelim wasn't my best (in the 500 free) and my 200 free (in the final) was OK but not the best," Geringer said. "When you have such great competitors who are just going to give it their all, it brings out the best in me."
Scott added a seventh-place finish in the 100 free (46.26) in addition to his pair of third-place finishes.
"We unfortunately did get disqualified in the 200 free relay, so we wanted to channel what we maybe lost in that relay and put everything we could into (the 400 free relay)," Scott said. "We wanted to cap off the season on the highest note that we all possibly could."
Also reaching consolation finals for the boys were the 200 medley relay of seniors Reid Newman and Matt Shepard and juniors Ronith Doddi and Davis (11th, 1:35.78), James in the 200 individual medley (11th, 1:52.89) and 100 breaststroke (16th, 58.87), Newman in the 100 butterfly (13th, 51.16), Smith in the 100 free (12th, 46.58) and 100 breast (14th, 58.35) and freshman Carson Smith in the 500 free (13th, 4:39.02).
Also at state for the boys, Davis finished 22nd in the 200 IM (1:56.54).
Freshman Kelsey Cooper was the other girl to make it to the second day of state, placing 10th in the 100 backstroke (57.05).
Geringer and Cooper joined senior Brenna Cooper and junior Macy Weeks on the 200 medley relay that placed 17th (1:47.96), and the same four girls finished 17th in the 200 free relay (1:38.93).
Gymnasts move on to state competition
For the second time in program history, the gymnastics team will be competing in the state team meet, which will be held Friday, March 1, at Hilliard Bradley.
In addition, Raegan Ernst, Grace Krouse and Izzy Willms will participate in the state individual meet Saturday, March 2, at the same site.
Jerome, which finished 10th in its previous state team appearance in 2016, enters this year's team event after finishing second in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The Celtics scored a program-record 139.8 points to finish behind Thornville Sheridan (145.205) and just ahead of Olentangy (139.65), which earned the third and final state berth of 24 teams that scored.
"To have some mistakes and still make it (to state) as the second team is pretty impressive," coach Kristen Willms said. "I just can't tell you how excited I am about that and how proud I am of all of the girls to keep pushing forward. It's an incredible feeling right now."
Ernst won floor exercise (9.45), was second on uneven bars (9.35) and captured the all-around title (36.65), Krouse was first on vault (9.275), tied for seventh on floor (9.025) and tied for fifth in the all-around (35.7) and Izzy Willms was eighth on bars (8.825) as the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to state.
Also competing in the all-around were Sydney White (tied for 31st, 32.6), Laney Mlicki (39th, 32.025) and Willms (63rd, 30.312), while Maddy Lucas competed on bars and balance beam and Melissa Radey competed on floor.
Krouse suffered a knee injury on her second attempt on vault and was on crutches after the meet, but is expected to compete at state.
"I'm still happy and excited about making it to states, "Krouse said. "I had so much fun with my teammates and we all did so well."
Hockey team to play for district title
The hockey team will look to capture a second consecutive district championship when it faces third-seeded Olentangy Liberty at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The top-seeded Celtics, who also won a district title in 2015, beat 10th-seeded Coffman 9-0 in a quarterfinal Feb. 23 and fourth-seeded New Albany 6-2 in a semifinal Feb. 24 at the Ice Haus to set up the latest matchup with the Patriots.
After beating Liberty 4-1 in last year's district final, Jerome defeated the Patriots 3-1 on Feb. 10 to capture the Blue Jackets Cup title. The Celtics also defeated Liberty 5-1 on Jan. 2 and 7-4 on Jan. 12.
Jerome is 33-2-0-1 heading into the district final, where the winner advances to face Gates Mills Gilmour Academy or Hunting Valley University School in a state semifinal March 8 at Nationwide Arena.
"It's always good getting back to a district final," senior forward J.P. Weaver said. "All of the boys are looking forward to it. We knew (the district semifinal) was a big game so we tried to jump on them early."
Jerome got two goals apiece from Nick Augenstein and Weaver and one each from Ryan Jenkins and Avery Mlicki against New Albany, which the Celtics went 4-1-0-1 against this season.
"We played a pretty complete game (against the Eagles)," coach Pat Murphy said. "It's our second year in a row in the district championship and we're excited. Our kids are pumped. We're happy with the results tonight, for sure."
Against Coffman, Dalton Miller and Joel Kunzelman scored first-period goals and Jerome led 5-0 heading into the final period. Goaltender Mark Bishopp made 11 saves.
Boys basketball team falls in overtime
The 18th-seeded boys basketball team had its season end Feb. 23 with a 60-59 overtime loss at 10th-seeded Canal Winchester in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Celtics, who finished 14-9, forced overtime when Dan Lee made a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end regulation. The Indians' Brady Snyder scored the winning basket with 20 seconds remaining in overtime.
Matthew Montgomery had 19 points and Lee scored 18 to lead Jerome.
Six wrestlers advance to district tourney
The wrestling team will have six competitors at the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State.
On Feb. 23 in a 10-team sectional at Upper Arlington, Jerome scored 119.5 points to place fifth behind the champion and host Golden Bears (237).
Jack Viola (106 pounds) was runner-up, Lane Williams (138), John Huber (170) and Zach McMinn (220) all placed third and Austin Wagner (113) and Drew Kavinsky (182) both placed fourth.
Girls basketball team falls to Warhawks
After building a 16-6 lead over 27th-seeded Westerville Central, the 26th-seeded girls basketball team endured one stretch in which it was outscored 17-0 and ended up losing 48-28 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 22 at home.
The Celtics finished 10-13 overall and placed fourth in the OCC-Cardinal at 7-7.
"We started giving up offensive rebounds, especially in the second quarter, which allowed them to come back, and in the second half we just didn't communicate well enough defensively," coach Natalie Herring said.
The Celtics are losing two seniors in guard Demi Brewer, who was the team's second-leading scorer at 9.0 points per game, and post player Nicole Greiwe.
Junior guard Jamie Cline averaged 10.5 points and joined Brewer on second-team all-OCC-Cardinal. Sophomore forward Amaris Lowery, who averaged 7.8 points, was honorable mention all-league.
Also eligible to return are juniors Alie Intihar (post player) and Brittany Sanders (forward) and Kendall Sestili (forward) and sophomore Darby Adams (post player).
Intihar and Sanders both averaged four points and Sestili averaged three.
Freshman guard Cari Dupote-Fosnot is among the younger players in the program who Herring is high on.
"We're really excited," Herring said. "We'll have four juniors coming back, and Amaris is a sophomore. We have a really strong incoming freshman class and we had a really strong freshman class this year. Our sophomores have been solid the last two years. We had a successful j.v. season this year."