Embracing what he calls "the grind" has never been a struggle for Wellington senior boys basketball player Elijah Meredith.
That's what made his situation last season such an emotional battle.
After spending his first two prep seasons at Olentangy Orange, Meredith spent the offseason after his sophomore year figuring out what school and basketball program might be a better fit.
He chose Wellington knowing that he'd only be eligible for the season's first half but also with the understanding that good could come from the experience.
A 6-foot-5 forward, Meredith averaged 13.4 points and 10.5 rebounds through the first 11 games last season and then tried to take advantage of getting a front-row seat as 2019 graduate Dallas Patrick closed out one of the best careers in program history.
Patrick scored 38 points in the Jaguars' 77-73 loss to Columbus Academy in the second round of the Division III district tournament to finish with more than 1,300 career points. Patrick now plays at Otterbein.
"It was hard," Meredith said. "I got to watch some really good players last year like Dallas in their last season at Wellington. My teammates made it enjoyable. (I got to learn) definitely about the game, for sure, just how things go in certain situations and how you have to respect the game, because I've seen some things unfold that you just never want to live through on the court as a player and how I can contribute to the team."
Meredith had 33 points, including six 3-pointers, in Wellington's opening 64-62 loss to Buckeye Valley on Dec. 3 and was averaging 20.3 points before the Jaguars played Buckeye Valley on Jan. 21.
On Jan. 15, he went 12-for-12 from the floor and totaled 25 points in a 65-57 win at Hamilton Township in which Wellington held a double-digit lead for most of the second half.
Senior guard Marcus Stewart had 12 points and freshman wing player/forward Brandon Ivory scored 11 for the Jaguars, who then beat Bexley 56-39 on Jan. 17 and were 7-5 overall and 3-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Buckeye Valley.
"(Meredith's) doing a phenomenal job," coach Artie Taylor said. "He is one of the prime examples of when we had a really bad stretch shooting the basketball and we were challenging him to be more physical around the basket. Some elements he brings to the game (are) to bring bigger guys out on the perimeter so that they've got to guard him, too."
Meredith, whose father, Maury Meredith, played football for Langston University in Oklahoma, was born in Baltimore before moving to Ohio.
He has begun to draw interest from a group of Division III college programs, including Capital, Heidelberg, Otterbein and Wooster.
The Jaguars were ranked second in last week's Division IV area coaches poll behind Grandview and had won four games in a row before playing Buckeye Valley, including a 51-47 victory over Grandview on Jan. 11 in which Meredith had 19 points and sophomore guard/wing player Chase Ouellette scored 15.
"We started off this year 3-1, but then we went through a stretch where we learned a lot about ourselves and the last week and a half we got back on track with some really good wins," Meredith said. "It's just been really good to see my teammates play really well and to see us play together.
"I have a few schools looking at me. Before the season started, I didn't have any schools looking at me, so I was just kind of settled on going to college and being a student, but now that some schools have started looking at me, I've started exploring the possibility. (Transferring to Wellington has) become a good move."
Swimmers prep for league meet
The swimming and diving teams are preparing to compete in the MSL meet Saturday, Jan. 25, at Columbus Academy.
Last season, the boys team finished fourth of 12 teams in the league meet and the girls squad was seventh of 13 teams as Academy swept the titles.
On Jan. 11, the boys team was represented at the Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton by both the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay, but neither relay reached the finals and the Jaguars did not score.
The 200 free relay, which consisted of Eric Albers, Alex Lott, Avery Rennick and Heath Thomas, dropped more than three seconds off its season-best time.
The boys team also has been getting contributions from Will Miller, who won the 100 free (1:00.42) in the Wellington Holiday Classic on Dec. 27.
Thomas finished first in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.19) in the meet as the Jaguars placed second (116 points) behind Marion Harding (123) and ahead of Centennial (84).
On Jan. 9, the boys team finished second (105) behind Academy (179) and ahead of Hartley (76) as Thomas won the 200 free (1:57.15) and 500 free (5:19.39).
The girls team finished second (87) behind Harding (120) and ahead of Centennial (62) in the Wellington Holiday Classic, as Taylor Vargo finished first in diving (182), Kath Olson won the 100 free (36.15), Drew Ober won the 100 backstroke (1:23.91) and Christine Cooke finished first in the 100 breast (1:28.35).
On Jan. 9, the Jaguars finished third (46) behind Academy (214) and Hartley (201) as Sarah Anderson won the 100 back (1:09.81).
Fraser resigns as boys lacrosse coach
Eric Fraser has stepped down after three seasons as boys lacrosse coach.
The Jaguars went 9-29 under Fraser, including 5-8 last spring after posting consecutive two-win seasons.
Below are the coming schedules for the Wellington boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming & diving teams:
Jan. 25 -- At Hartley
*Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Whitehall. The Jaguars lost to the Rams 57-55 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian. The Jaguars lost to the Warriors 90-7 on Dec. 10.
*Jan. 28 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls. The Jaguars lost to the Unicorns 48-13 on Dec. 13.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 25 -- MSL meet at Columbus Academy