The Delaware Hayes High School boys swimming and diving team finished on a high note at the Division I state meet held Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Junior Sam Sulek finished 14th in diving with 384.85 points to score three points for the Pacers, who tied for 47th behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 49 teams scored.
In addition, the 200-yard medley relay of junior Aidan Stojkov and seniors Paul Carter, Kael Gannon and Lucas Pape finished 18th in a school-record 1 minute, 37.46 seconds.
"I was very happy for the boys because Sam did so well and was able to score in diving and the medley relay put up a school-record time, even though it wasn't good enough to get into the finals or score," coach Jordan Nicol said. "That medley relay team has three seniors and those guys really wanted to be strong in their final meet and they were. All of that hard work paid off in terms of putting their names in the record books."
The medley relay was seeded 22nd at state after placing eighth in the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State in a then-school-record 1:37.76. Sulek was seeded fifth at state after placing fourth at district with a school-record 496.25.
Also in the senior class was Luke McCarthy.
"It's going to be difficult to replace the seniors because they've been in this program for a long time and meant so much," Nicol said. "They tried to pass the torch down and teach the younger guys, but we're also going to be slim in numbers next year. We had no sophomores in the program and just two freshmen. So without a lot coming in next year, it'll be tough. All of our A relays will be gutted."
Gannon also leaves with the school record in the 100 butterfly (51.65), which he set at district.
Other expected returnees include junior Caleb Bucher and freshmen Max Etheridge, Ryan Gray, Jake Stein and Mark Sulek.
The girls team was represented at state by the 200 freestyle relay of senior Valerie Keller, junior Elizabeth Abahazi, sophomore Rena Ouyang and freshman Kailyn Smith. The relay was seeded 21st and finished 23rd (1:39.38) after placing eighth (1:38.94) at district.
"I think the girls were just happy to be there and they may not have all had the same urgency the boys medley (relay) did because only Val is a senior," Nicol said. "They know they have more chances to get back to state."
Keller, a four-time state qualifier, was joined in the senior class by Natalie Johnson and Hannah Kelly.
"They may not have been contending for first place often, but those three will leave some holes in the middle of the lineup," Nicol said. "They scored a lot of points for us."
Other expected returnees include juniors Emily Abahazi, Katie Amrine, Payton Day, Lauren Ertz, Evelyn Fowler, Olivia Reed and Marci Wheeler, sophomores Kelsie Keeder, Carmen Pape, Abby Richardson, Maddie Richardson and Elizabeth Uniss and freshmen Isabel Crissinger, Arianna Denney, Hannah Sturman and Ana Williams.
White advances to state gymnastics meet
Freshman Rachel White represented the gymnastics team in the state individual meet March 2 at Hilliard Bradley.
White competed at state on balance beam after placing third (9.1) of 149 competitors in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne, where the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around qualified for state.
White finished 12th (34.5) of 92 competitors in the all-around and also led the Pacers on uneven bars (26th of 143, 8.15) and vault (tied for 18th of 144, 8.5).
Senior Elise Mays was 11th of 147 competitors on floor exercise with a team-high 8.975, tied for 22nd (8.3) on vault and was 40th (3.1775) in the all-around. Also competing in the all-around were Elizabeth White (42nd, 31.7) and Caitie Lipps (50th, 31.175).
Also on floor, Rachel White tied for 20th (8.75) and Elizabeth White tied for 50th (8.425), while Lipps and Elizabeth White tied for 38th (8.3) on beam.
The Pacers finished 12th (129.425) of 24 teams, as Thornville Sheridan (145.205), Dublin Jerome (139.8) and Olentangy (139.65) advanced to the state team meet March 1 at Bradley.
Nine wrestlers qualify for district
Nine members of the wrestling team looked to extend their seasons when they competed in the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
Advancing to district from a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Watkins Memorial were seniors Zach Williams (138 pounds) and Jacob McCloskey (195), juniors Emmett Cain (160), Mason Sutandar (170), Corbin May (182), Nathan Robinson (220) and Zach Pokorny (heavyweight) and sophomores Tamas Eder (106) and Ryan Chupko (132).
"Many of these athletes have goals of making it to the state tournament, so it was exciting to see their hard work and dedication pay off (at sectional)," said co-coach Kevin Rieman, whose team finished second (204 points) at sectional behind Westerville North (240). "Hopefully, we'll see that again (at district) and some of their goals will be achieved."
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to the state tournament Thursday, March 7, through Saturday, March 9, at Ohio State.
Williams, McCloskey and Cain each won a sectional title. Williams was 34-3 entering district, McCloskey was 34-10 and Cain was 38-12.
Placing second were Sutandar (18-5), May (31-6), Robinson (31-14) and Pokorny (14-10).
"Getting seven guys into the championship finals was a lot of fun," Rieman said. "The team really got into it and built off the momentum from one another and, obviously, finishing with three champions was great."
Eder (25-17) finished third and Chupko (9-17) placed fourth. Freshman Paolo Sferrella (11-11) placed fifth at 126 and was a district alternate.
Boys basketball team wins tourney opener
The boys basketball team was 17-6 before playing at 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 1.
The winner faces top-seeded Dublin Coffman or 47th-seeded Franklin Heights in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at a site to be determined. That winner plays ninth-seeded Newark, 12th-seeded Walnut Ridge, 14th-seeded Chillicothe and 31st-seeded Whitehall in a district final Saturday, March 9, at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 13 at Ohio Dominican.
The 20th-seeded Pacers hung on to beat 24th-seeded Westerville Central 56-55 in the first round Feb. 23.
Terin Kinsway made the second of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left for what proved to be the winning point and finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Nate Griggs added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
After Kinsway gave the Pacers the lead, Central nearly pulled out the win, as it made a basket just after the final buzzer sounded.
Girls team, Murfield bowl way to district
The girls bowling team competed in the Division I district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes.
The Pacers finished third (3,506) in the 37-team sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes behind Westerville Central (3,777) and Big Walnut (3,762) as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district.
Freshman Hannah Halstead led the Pacers, rolling a 607 three-game series to finish second of 222 competitors. Senior McKenzie Knodell (564) finished seventh and junior McKenzie Cooke (505) was 33rd.
Seniors Kelsie Rohrer (356) and Alyssa Williams (304) both competed in two games.
The boys team finished 19th (3,564) of 42 teams at sectional Feb. 23, 80 pins behind 16th-place Orange (3,664). Marion Harding (4,336) finished first.
Senior Dillon Murfield qualified for district by finishing 11th (635) of 242 competitors. Gabe Cochran (323) and Heath Tucker (312) both bowled two games and three other Pacers bowled one.
At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, where the girls compete Friday, March 8, and the boys compete Saturday, March 9.
Girls basketball team showed improvement
The girls basketball team improved by three wins in coach Lou Tiberi's second season.
The Pacers lost at 10th-seeded Olentangy Liberty 72-36 in the second round of Division I district tournament Feb. 22 to finish 11-12 overall after going 8-15 last season.
Freshman guard Chloe Jeffers had 10 points and junior guard Katie Smith scored seven for Delaware, which was seeded 29th and had a first-round bye.
The Pacers, who went 3-11 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place eighth behind champion Darby (12-2), are losing one senior in guard Piper Adkins.
Other expected returnees include sophomores Alexis Amabile (guard), Alyssa Griner (forward), Jordan Lantz (post player) and Karli Theis (guard).
Jeffers was named special mention all-league and Amabile, who missed several games with an injury, was honorable mention all-league and all-district.