Olentangy Berlin High School junior Olivia Boone was proud that her third appearance in the state individual gymnastics meet came as part of a successful inaugural season for the Bears.

Boone finished 27th in the all-around (34.9) on March 2 at Hilliard Bradley. She is pleased to have the chance to compete for Berlin for another season.

"It's been awesome because we all encourage each other," Boone said. "Half of us had to separate from Olentangy, and we all just have been coming together and supporting each other. It's been an awesome journey the entire season."

Boone was joined at state by sophomore Abby Marks, who finished 19th on uneven bars (8.8).

"I think we all obviously are super-excited to be here," Marks said. "I didn't (make it to state) last year, so I'm really excited to do it this year. I just went out there and did what I could."

Boone's all-around performance was led by scoring 9.275 on both balance beam (seventh) and floor exercise (tied for eighth). She also had an 8.7 on vault (30th) and a 7.65 on bars.

"This is my first year competing all-around (at state)," Boone said. "I'm actually very happy with the 9.275s I got in floor and beam. I could have done better, but for state, I couldn't ask for more."

In the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne, Boone won beam (9.25), tied for fifth on floor (9.1), tied for seventh on vault (8.95) and placed seventh in the all-around (35.65). The top eight in each individual event and the all-around advanced to state.

Marks also placed fourth on bars (9.1) to help the Bears finish fourth, one spot from advancing to the state team meet March 1 at Bradley. Olentangy edged Berlin 139.65-138.6 for third behind Thornville Sheridan (145.205) and Dublin Jerome (139.8).

"Obviously it was kind of stressful with all of us wanting to do well because we had high expectations for ourselves and our team," Marks said. "We pulled it together really nicely and finished fourth in the district, which was pretty good. We're all pretty happy with how our season went."

Coach Jen Hedrick believed her team would be successful and the Bears didn't disappoint. They finished third (25 points, 5-2) in the OCC- Cardinal Division behind Jerome (31, 6-1) and Hilliard Darby (27, 6-1).

"I'm so excited about the team's potential for next year," Hedrick said. "It's exciting when you see them go out and compete with confidence and aggressiveness."

Weight room key for boys basketball team

The boys basketball team suffered growing pains during its inaugural season, finishing 3-20 overall.

However, coach Donovon Barrett believes the Bears need to improve as much physically as in their skill set.

"I think the big thing for us is the weight room," said Barrett, whose 23rd-seeded team lost to top-seeded Columbus South 70-21 on Feb. 25 in the first round of the Division II district tournament. "A lot of people don't talk about that first and foremost, but I will. We don't have the personnel to neglect the weight room. These guys have to make that a priority."

The Bears finished last (0-14) in the OCC-Cardinal behind champion Bradley (14-0) and were the only Division II team in the league. They played 17 of 23 games against Division I opponents.

"(The loss to South) demonstrates things we need to do and what we need to work on against a different type of good team," Barrett said. "We played 17 Division I teams and they were very good, and (South) was as good as any of them with a little bit different style.

"They really overwhelmed us with athleticism and talent. When you throw the ball to the other team or in the stands as much as we did, or you don't make shots, which has been our Achilles heel all year, it's not a good equation."

Every player is eligible to return since Berlin does not have a senior class. Juniors Grant Schrieber (guard) and Zak Stevens (post player) and sophomores Austin Corley (guard; honorable mention all-league), Jake Moeller (forward) and Bryce Reed (guard) started against South.

Wrestlers end first season at district

The wrestling team had two competitors in the Division II district tournament March 1 and 2 at Heath, but neither advanced to state.

Freshman Ian Stokell went 1-2 at 145 pounds to finish 19-15, and junior Corey Hill was 0-2 at 160 to end the season 31-10.

"As a first-year program, we wanted to build culture and we knew wins would come in the future," coach Josh Heffernan said. "But our guys kept getting better and by the end of the season we were expecting to win duals and do well in tournaments. That's a testament to our guys' improvement."

The Bears placed sixth (2-5) in the OCC-Cardinal behind champion Darby (7-0).

They finished fifth (111.5) in a sectional Feb. 22 and 23 at Licking Valley behind champion London (235.5) as 22 teams scored.

Hill and Stokell both placed third to advance to district. Junior Israel Foston (152) and freshmen Caiden Hooks (138) and Matt Kirsop (195) all placed fifth and were district alternates.

"We had a terrific sectional in what was a meat-grinder with a lot of tough teams and wrestlers," Heffernan said. "We had great buy-in by the kids. They gave 100 percent and did a good job of building a foundation for the program. Experience equals confidence, and confidence is everything in our sport."

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