Grace Butcher didn't really plan on being a breaststroker. It just turned out that way.
The senior was the first competitor for the Olentangy Berlin girls swimming and diving team to earn a state medal, placing sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 3.8 seconds) in the Division II meet last year.
She said competing in the event was a matter of circumstance rather than a deliberate choice.
"When you are a swimmer, you don't get to choose what stroke you're best at," Butcher said. "It kind of just comes to you. It just so happened to click with me since I was like 10 years old. My coaches were telling me this was my stroke, and I just kept getting better at it."
A University of Houston commit, Butcher holds the program record in the 100 breast (1:02.55) as well as in the 100 butterfly (57.73) and 200 individual medley (2:11.44). She also teamed with Callista Rousher, Lauren Delligatti and Staci Nation to set program records in the 200 freestyle (1:45.23) and 200 medley (1:51.75) relays.
"You don't get to where Grace is at by not working hard," coach Glenn First said. "She has a great work ethic, and she is very goal-driven.
"She has such great perspective. Sometimes when athletes get to that level, they lose that perspective as to what it's all about. She has been able to keep things in perspective. If she has a bad swim, it's not the end of the world. She knows she can get them next time."
In addition to Berlin, Butcher works out with the Ohio State Swim Club. She said that affords her the best of both worlds.
"I practice with my club team because I have been with the coaches for five years and they know how to train me," she said. "We have three-hour practices for five or six days a week.
"I practice with the high school team on Sunday afternoons. I like the balance of both high school and club. High school swimming shows me how much fun swimming can be, and I have so much fun. Club swimming keeps me in the serious mode of training."
Butcher helped the Bears finish second (361 points) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Jan. 26 at Kenyon College, behind Dublin Jerome (499) and ahead of Delaware (315), Worthington Kilbourne (273), Thomas Worthington (185), Hilliard Bradley (157), Hilliard Darby (145) and Dublin Scioto (54).
She won the 100 breast (1:05.89), was runner-up in the 100 fly (59.67) and was on the first-place 200 medley relay (1:51.89) with Rousher, Nation and her sister, freshman Audrey Butcher.
"The most difficult thing is staying focused when things get hard or things don't go your way," Grace Butcher said. "If you have a bad swim, you can't let it get to you and have an effect on your next race. If I have a bad swim, it's not because I haven't been working hard. Sometimes you get tired from all of the hard work, but you know if you keep working, it will all come in the end. You have to let yourself realize that."
Also in the league meet, Nation placed third in both the 200 IM (2:13.88) and 100 free (55.2) and joined Grace Butcher, Audrey Butcher and Rousher on the third-place 200 free relay (1:44.38). Also placing third were Rousher in the 50 free (25.76) and Grace Zercher in the 500 free (5:45.47).
The Bears will compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Kenyon College.
Robinson leads boys in league meet
Brogan Robinson led the boys swimming and diving team in the OCC-Cardinal meet.
Robinson placed third in the 200 IM (2:00.81) and fourth in the 100 breast (1:01.03) and joined Garrett Graybill, Zach Lambert and Ben Paull on both the fourth-place 200 medley relay (1:45.56) and the fourth-place 200 free relay (1:35.39).
Also placing fourth was Nathan Reynolds in the 100 backstroke (1:01.04), as the Bears finished third (257) behind Jerome (543.5) and Darby (328) and ahead of Thomas (240), Delaware (180), Scioto (179.5), Kilbourne (168) and Bradley (69).
Boys basketball team earns two more wins
Austin Corley scored 17 points to lead the boys basketball team past Northside Christian 68-24 on Jan. 27 to improve to 3-13 overall.
The Bears defeated International 65-25 on Jan. 22 behind 18 points from Corley and 13 from Jason Harris.
"We had a tough game (Jan. 21, losing to Jerome 73-27 in OCC-Cardinal play), but we were able to bounce back," coach Donovon Barrett said. "We were fortunate to have a game the day after a bad outing, because we always have a good effort in the next game.
"This was a night that we got a lot of different combinations on the floor. We were able to get some guys on the floor and give us a chance to see what can work for us."
Berlin has been playing without one of its top players in the paint in Jason Inbody. The freshman forward suffered injuries to his right foot and left wrist on the same play during a 60-45 loss to St. Charles on Jan. 11. Barrett said Inbody "has a chance to return" this season.
The Bears are 0-10 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Bradley 43-14 on Jan. 24.
Cera, Suchan leading girls basketball team
The girls basketball team was 7-10 overall before playing Horizon Science on Jan. 28.
The Bears dropped to 5-6 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Bradley 44-29 on Jan. 24. Haley Cera had a team-high nine points.
Courtney Suchan had 14 points and Cera scored 10 as Berlin defeated Jerome 41-37 on Jan. 21 in league play.
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 31 -- At Thomas Worthington. The Bears lost to the Cardinals 67-29 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby. The Bears lost to the Panthers 56-44 on Dec. 20.
*Jan. 31 -- Home vs. Thomas. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 46-37 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 4 -- At Darby. The Bears defeated the Panthers 54-43 on Dec. 20.
*Jan. 30 -- New Albany at Gahanna Lanes
Jan. 30 -- At Orange with Liberty in Beauty and the Beast
Feb. 4 -- At Dublin Coffman with *Dublin Jerome, *Dublin Scioto, Marysville and *Thomas
*Jan. 31 -- DeSales at Chiller North
*Feb. 2 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 31 -- Liberty, Olentangy and Orange at Ohio Wesleyan
*Jan. 30 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
Feb. 1 -- Rieman Invitational at Delaware