Mason Peck was competing in the 200-yard individual medley for the Ohio State Swim Club in a meet last July at Ohio University when he felt a sharp pain in his right shoulder.
"On my back-to-breast turn, I felt this little pop, and my shoulder had locked when I was doing my pull out," said Peck, a sophomore on the Hilliard Darby boys swimming and diving team. "I couldn't move my arm (at first), but it popped back into place."
However, the pain worsened over the next few days to the point where Peck was unable to practice.
"I told (OSSC coach Kyle Goodrich) I was in so much pain that I couldn't do anything else," he said. "My dad had come to practice to pick me up, and he had scheduled an MRI."
The MRI revealed that Peck had torn the glenoid labrum in his right shoulder by about 30 percent. He underwent surgery to repair the tear on Aug. 1 and spent the next two months going through physical therapy. He started off slowly with maneuverability exercises featuring light weights and bands, trying to recover some of the mobility in his shoulder.
Peck said he found himself recovering faster than expected and was motivated to get back in the pool.
"Maybe a week and a half after (I started physical therapy), I was already trying to get my shoulder up as high as I could and test the limits and boundaries of where I could be at," he said.
Peck said he found inspiration and support from his teammate and friend, junior Mason Irwin, as well as from his trainers and coaches, Goodrich and Darby coach Brian Dickmann.
"(Irwin) really stepped up in the emotional part," Peck said. "He gave me pep talks coming back from the injury."
Peck was medically cleared to swim with both arms on Oct. 5, giving him time to prepare for Darby's swimming season. Despite the injury, he has picked up where he left off last season when he finished 21st in the Division I state meet in the 100 butterfly.
As of last week, Peck, who also competes in the 200 free and on relays, was ranked in the top 20 in the state in the 100 fly.
Dickmann said Peck and junior diver Hayden Apel, a two-time state qualifier, both have a good shot at qualifying for state again this year, as they were ranked in the top five in the district in the 100 fly and diving, respectively, last week.
"I think the season's going pretty well so far," Apel said. "Some of the things I have to do (the rest of the season) are keep working on 1-meter dives and perfecting them."
Peck also competes on the 200 medley relay with Irwin and sophomores Jared Hopkins and Chase Ellis. Last week, the relay was ranked seventh in the district and 15th in the state.
Hopkins and sophomore Casey Maruniak were ranked 12th and 15th, respectively, in the district in the 100 breaststroke last week.
"The kids are working very hard in the water and are looking forward to the rest they will get when we begin to taper off the extensive yardage we are handling now," Dickmann said.
Peck said there are still some things he would like to work on going forward this season, particularly improving his starts, working on his stroke techniques and generating more power and quickness between the buzzer and his reaction time.
But he said he likes where he's at right now, especially considering the injury he came back from and the physical and mental fortitude it took to do so.
"The hardest part of recovery was my mindset and (getting back) to where I was when I was healthy," Peck said. "My family and my team, with key teammates, helped me become where I am today."
Peck said he's actually grateful for the injury because it improved his relationship with the sport.
"Currently, I'm happy with where I am and I'm beyond blessed for that injury," he said. "It made me a better and more passionate person toward the sport of swimming."
Two wrestlers place at Porter Memorial
Two members of the wrestling team placed highly in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Jan. 11 at Bradley.
Junior Blaine Barnes took home the championship at 220 pounds while freshman Colt Ryan placed second at 106.
"They both had pretty good performances," coach Brendan Moody said.
The Porter Memorial Tournament featured wrestlers from Bradley, Darby, Davidson, Gahanna, Lancaster, Mount Vernon, Pickerington Central and Teays Valley.
The Panthers entered the season looking to replace the leadership they lost with the graduation of eight seniors from a year ago. Moody said he has seen more intensity and energy from his wrestlers over the last several weeks.
"The kids have kind of upped their intensity in the room and in their matches," said Moody, whose team defeated Dublin Scioto 35-33 in an OCC-Cardinal match Jan. 16. "Kind of a big goal for us is to kind of up our intensity, up our effort level a little bit, and they're doing that."
Through the match against Scioto, the Panthers had five wrestlers with double-digit wins in Barnes (16-6), Ryan (14-5), juniors Isaiah Beneker (11-9 at 170/182) and Sam Pennington (10-9 at 120) and sophomore Nate Morris (14-5 at 138).
Gymnasts place 10th at McGee Invite
The gymnastics team placed 10th (126.45 points) in the 16-team McGee Invitational on Jan. 11 at Dublin Jerome, behind champion Thornville Sheridan (140.775).
Junior Lauren Bonn led Darby, tying Dresden Tri-Valley's Keria Lacy and Upper Arlington's Mia Tzagournis for 30th in the all-around with a 31.375. Bonn's best placement came on vault (20th, 7.9).
No Panthers placed in the top 10 in any event.
"It wasn't our strongest performance. It was one of our lowest scores of the season," coach Carol Eskay said. "We had kind of an off day on (balance) beam. We just didn't kind of hit as well as we could've. We're hoping to improve upon that performance going into the next couple of weeks."
The Panthers have three meets remaining before the OCC-Cardinal meet on Feb. 8, including a home meet Thursday, Jan. 23, against Bradley, Davidson, Big Walnut, Olentangy Liberty and Worthington Kilbourne.
Eskay said she's pleased with the season so far but feels the team needs to focus on being more consistent and fine-tuning their routines.
"I think we're off to a strong start. We're at the point in the season where we have to really clean things up and put that polish on things," she said. "That's been kind of our recent focus. I think we've had a solid start, but we definitely have room for improvement."
According to Eskay, the top performers for the Panthers have included Bonn, senior Scarlett Evans, juniors Kate Kline and Bailey Miller and sophomore Annamarie Bayer.
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 24 -- At Worthington Kilbourne. The Panthers defeated the Wolves 43-41 on Dec. 10.
Jan 28 -- Home vs. Watterson
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Kilbourne. The Panthers lost to the Wolves 64-31 on Dec. 10.
*Jan. 24 -- Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Bradley, Davidson, Big Walnut, Olentangy Liberty and *Worthington Kilbourne
Jan. 29 -- At Marysville with Bradley, Davidson and Upper Arlington
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Jan. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Kenyon College
*Jan. 23 -- At Thomas Worthington