The Westerville Central High School bowling teams are looking to carry momentum from strong showings at sectional into the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.

The girls finished first (3,177) in the 37-team sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, ahead of second-place Big Walnut (3,762), and the boys finished second (4,327) in the 42-team sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes behind Marion Harding (4,336).

The top 16 teams advanced to district, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams will move on to the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The girls compete March 8 and the boys compete March 9.

"That was definitely a goal at the beginning of the year to advance all the way to state," coach Tony Gonzalez said. "This is step one of meeting that goal. The problem is we're both here together (at HP Lanes), so I don't get to enjoy watching both (teams), but having them both here will be a lot of fun."

Jenna Owsiak led the girls at sectional, finishing third of 222 bowlers with a 601 series. Jocelyn Grimsley (586), Reace Gonzalez (522), Sammy McLaughlin (503) and MacKenzie Halloy (195, one game) also competed.

"We're very excited about how things went (at sectional)," said Grimsley, a senior who has competed at district all four years. "We're using our energy from (sectional) to build on that for district and to qualify to get to state."

Malik Curry-Brown led the boys, finishing third of 242 bowlers with a 673 series. Wesley Minke (632), Zach Gonzalez (618), Nick Owsiak (615) and Devon Richardson (613) also contributed.

After winning the program's first state title in 2017, the boys finished third (3,594) of 16 teams in the qualifying round last season behind first-place Cincinnati Oak Hills (3,737). Then against Stow-Munroe Falls in a quarterfinal, the Warhawks lost 3-1 in the best-of-five Baker series to end their season.

Also last year, the girls competed at state for the first time since the 2013-14 season and finished 13th (3,080) of 16 teams behind first-place Gahanna (3,389).

Both teams are looking for return trips to state.

"It's been our main goal since the beginning of the season," Grimsley said. "We just built on that from last year. Being able to make it there last year gave us more potential to get there this year and hopefully be able to take home the championship."

Swearingen leads swimmers at state

Junior Macey Swearingen led the girls swimming and diving team in the Division I state meet Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

Swearingen finished ninth in the 100-yard backstroke (57.03 seconds) and 15th in the 100 freestyle (52.69). She also teamed with senior Kaila Aaron, junior Sophia Antonetz and freshman Kiah Smith to finish 10th in the 200 free relay (1:36.92) and 20th in the 400 free relay (3:36.94).

"To swim (my second event) and feel good and strong, I was very happy with that," Swearingen said. "Meets like this build your mental strength. Being a junior and having it be my third time here, I have really grown and I believe in myself to overcome the amount of people looking at me in the pool. It's just taken a long time to get used to this.

"Last season was a struggle at the end of the year and this year, I mentally got over being scared at the end of the season. I've gotten better in believing in myself at the end of the year."

Smith was ninth in the 50 free (23.76) and 23rd in the 100 butterfly (58.09), and Aaron was 24th in the 50 free (24.6).

The Warhawks finished 19th (34) behind champion Mason (204) as 55 teams scored.

Three wrestlers qualify for district

The wrestling team will have three competitors in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.

Nick DeRose led the Warhawks in a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville, finishing third at heavyweight as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced.

Gary Steele (132 pounds) and Zeke Healy (170) each finished fourth.

DeRose is 30-7, Steele is 23-14 and Healy is 21-12.

"I'm happy that I made it to district," said Healy, a sophomore who was 0-2 at 160 at district last season. "I want to improve every year. I have to get better."

Central finished ninth (53.5) at sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (291.5).

At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 7-9 at Ohio State.

Girls basketball team earns tournament win

The girls basketball team was 10-13 before playing second-seeded Newark in a Division I district semifinal Feb. 27.

The winner plays fourth-seeded Watterson or 13th-seeded Darby in a final Saturday, March 2, at Ohio Dominican, and the district champion faces Northland, Reynoldsburg, Teays Valley or Upper Arlington in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 5, at Otterbein.

The regional final is March 8 at Otterbein.

After a first-round bye, the 27th-seeded Warhawks defeated 26th-seeded Dublin Jerome 48-28 on Feb. 22. Najayah Shepherd led Central with 16 points and Karmen Long scored 15.

Boys basketball team drops heartbreaker

The 24th-seeded boys basketball team saw its season end with a 56-55 loss at 20th-seeded Delaware in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23.

Trailing 56-55 in the closing seconds, Chaz Dixon took an inbounds pass and drove the lane for a basket that was waved off because he released the shot after the buzzer.

Dixon, a guard who was one of five seniors in the program, finished with 25 points. Junior forward Tyler Beckel scored 15.

"The heart that these kids have shown, the buy-in they have given this program, it's not easy for the seniors and we had three seniors who played a ton of minutes for us this year," said coach Kevin Martin, who completed his first season. "They're the reason we're in that position.

"It took a lot of energy to get back in the game. I knew they wouldn't quit and we had a chance to win."

Dixon was second-team all-league and Beckel was honorable mention all-league.

Others eligible to return are juniors Will LeMaire (forward), Jack Newman (post player), Ben Wilhelm (wing player), Josh Wilhelm (guard) and Lance Wyatt (guard) and sophomores Tasos Cook (guard) and Quincy Clark (guard).

Central finished 10-13 overall and went 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to tie Olentangy for third behind champion Olentangy Liberty (9-1).

"Some would say we overachieved a little bit this year," Martin said. "I never look at it that way. I look at the way we finish. We won four out of five coming into the (Delaware) game and we were guarding at a high level. It takes a while."

Gymnasts compete at district meet

The gymnastics team closed its season by finishing 18th (115.25) in the 24-team district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne behind champion Thornville Sheridan (145.205).

Junior Kyle Nelson led the Warhawks, finishing 69th in the all-around (29.5). Sophomore Marissa Bagley was 76th (28.85) and junior Abigail Ring tied for 87th (27.5).

The top three teams and the top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advanced to state.

Others eligible to return are juniors Katlyn Alexander, Keely Leach and Carley Springer, sophomore Maggie Davis and freshman Mal Lewis.

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