Lexi Elkovitch and Mia Lachey find the time on the wall hard to ignore.

A massive board to the right of the entrance to the New Albany natatorium displays all program records, and one of them is the girls 400-yard freestyle relay's time of 3 minutes, 25.62 seconds that clinched the program's first Division I state championship in any swimming event last February.

"I see it all the time," Elkovitch said. "I can envision that race in my head with a girl next to me so when I'm in practice, I use that and go faster. That's my training technique."

Elkovitch, a Villanova recruit, and Lachey, who has signed with Ohio State, both were on the relay with now-sophomores Olivia Hovorka and Ava Lachey and are seeking to cap their prep careers by making state for the fourth year in a row.

The championship season for New Albany began Jan. 25 at Kenyon College as the Eagles swept the OCC-Capital Division meet for the fifth consecutive year and the girls team won its sixth title in a row.

Lachey has competed in four events at state -- two individual swims and two relays -- each of the past three years. Her best individual finish came two years ago, when she was 10th in both the 100 free and 200 free.

Lachey was 11th in the 200 individual medley and 13th in the 100 free at state last year and also was on the fourth-place 200 free relay with Elkovitch, Ava Lachey and Stacy Saribalas.

"I'm really proud of what I've done. My junior and senior year, our team has come out on top in some big events. We're scoring and people are noticing us," Lachey said. "Every year, I've done different combinations of events at state. I like to train all different strokes and (do) whatever will help the team. Especially training for the IM, you get to do all the strokes so I am able to perform in different events."

Elkovitch was part of the 18th-place 200 medley relay as a freshman, less than a year after breaking her right leg in a boating accident. Shortly after competing in that relay and while still at the meet, Elkovitch tore the meniscus between her left knee joints.

"I've had to come back from a lot," said Elkovitch, who has reached state in the 50 free and 100 free each of the past two years and placed 10th and sixth, respectively, in those events last year. "I've honed in on freestyle the past five years, anyway. I'd rather be really, really good at one thing than average at a whole bunch of things. I think it's my best just because I do it the most."

In the league meet, Mia Lachey won the 50 free (24.62) and Elkovitch was first in the 500 free (5:31.43) to lead New Albany to 616 points, well ahead of Big Walnut (363.5), Canal Winchester (317), Groveport (253.5) and Newark (218).

Other winners were Sydney Boals in the 100 free (54.55), Kiara Crumbley in the 100 butterfly (59.16), Marisa Downs in the 200 free (1:58.4), Ava Lachey in the 200 IM (2:10.49), Carly Meeting in the 100 backstroke (58.7), diver Emma Skinner (446.4), the 200 free relay (1:40.65) and the 400 free relay (3:45.28).

The boys team scored 596.5 points to finish ahead of Big Walnut (496.5), Canal Winchester (295), Newark (142) and Groveport (77).

Its first-place finishers were Alex Arlin in the 50 free (22.5), Patrick Daly in the 100 free (48.23), diver Noah Duperre (pool-record 637.5), Cade Helms in the 200 IM (2:06.27), Tommy Morris in the 100 fly (54.05) and 200 free (1:47.59), Caleb Schimming in the 100 back (58.56) and the 200 free relay (1:33.41), 200 medley relay (1:38.44) and 400 free relay (3:28.89).

Coach Dave Wharton thinks Elkovitch and Lachey have yet to reach their full potential.

"Lexi has her specific event she's very strong in. Mia's spectrum is a little wider. They're both at a high level," Wharton said. "They're both going to be successful wherever they go as long as they continue to grow."

While Villanova always was Elkovitch's top choice, partly because her mother works in Philadelphia, Lachey said attending Ohio State was not a given even though she long has been a Buckeyes fan and her uncle, Jim, played football at OSU in the 1980s and currently is the team's radio analyst.

"I never really wanted to stay close to home but as I was looking through my choices, I was always trying to find somewhere like Ohio State," Lachey said. "Toward the end of the recruiting process, I just figured out that would be the best place for me. It's a great place to be."

Perry stands out for boys basketball team

Sophomore forward Justin Perry continues to be an impact player for the boys basketball team, although scoring is not the first thing he expects from himself.

The 6-foot-5 Perry averaged 13.7 points through 16 games, and New Albany was 10-6 overall before playing Olentangy Orange on Jan. 28. The Eagles improved to 4-3 in the OCC-Capital with a 64-46 win at Big Walnut on Jan. 24 as Jayden Lewis and Perry both had 17 points and Keegan Schaub added 13.

"What I expect myself to do is always play great defense," Perry said. "I want to be communicating with my team constantly and tell people what they need to do and what I need to do. I want to get all the rebounds I can, too. That helps us control our possessions and helps us win.

"I am excited how we're playing together. We're really jelling together."

Perry's career-best performance entering the week was a 28-point effort in a 62-50 win at Mount Vernon on Dec. 14.

According to coach Sam Davis, part of Perry's success comes from the matchup problems he presents to opponents.

"Justin Perry is just a really hard match. He's a kid that can go inside and out," Davis said.

Chris Benseler's eight points led the Eagles in a 47-28 home loss to second-ranked Gahanna on Jan. 21.

Hockey team ranked in district

Despite an up-and-down January, the hockey team was ranked fifth in last week's district poll and is 15-12-1 overall and 7-4 in the Capital Hockey Conference.

New Albany has won its past three games after a four-game losing streak earlier this month. Two of those losses were to undefeated Upper Arlington, 7-2 on Jan. 10 and 5-1 two days later.

UA is 30-0 and was ranked second in the state last week.

New Albany broke its losing streak with a 4-2 win over McMurray (Pennsylvania) Peters Township in the final game of the Meadville (Pennsylvania) Bulldog Invitational Tournament on Jan. 19. Last weekend, the Eagles defeated St. Charles 2-0 on Jan. 24 and the next day erased a 3-1 deficit to edge Cincinnati St. Xavier 4-3 as Aidan Doyle scored on a power play with 9 seconds left.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 31 -- At Groveport. The Eagles defeated the Cruisers 65-57 in overtime Dec. 20.

Feb. 4 -- At Pickerington Central

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 31 -- Home vs. Groveport. The Eagles defeated the Cruisers 40-23 on Dec. 20.

Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central

BOWLING

*Jan. 30 -- Olentangy Berlin at Gahanna Lanes

*Feb. 5 -- Westerville South at Columbus Square Bowling Palace

HOCKEY

*Jan. 31 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller Easton

*Feb. 1 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller Dublin

WRESTLING

*Jan. 30 -- Home vs. Groveport

*League contest