Competing for a program that is in its fifth season, senior Rachael Binion has helped set the standard for the Westland girls swimming and diving team.
Binion is part of 10 program-record events, and she hopes to better as many marks as possible as her prep career winds down.
Another goal for Binion and her teammates is to earn the program's first Division I district berth.
"We want to see our relays qualify (for district) and we're trying to get Rachael to qualify in the 100(-yard) butterfly," coach Robert Boggs said. "Her times are really close. We haven't been able to (qualify for district) yet, so we've really been working hard with it and getting the right four girls (on our relays) at the right time to do it."
The Cougars will compete in a sectional Saturday, Feb. 8, at Upper Arlington. The winner of each swimming event, along with 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites, advances to district Feb. 13 at Ohio State.
Binion is hoping to qualify in an individual event while also earning a district berth in a relay. She holds individual program records in the 50 freestyle (27.89 seconds), 100 free (1:01.49), 200 free (2:16.93), 500 free (6:26.28), 100 backstroke (1:14.32), 100 fly (1:07.34) and 200 individual medley (2:40.23).
Binion, junior Peyton Madden and 2019 graduates Porter Madden and Makaili Long hold the 200 medley relay (2:16.07) record, while Binion, Peyton Madden, junior Brenna Gilliam and freshman Joy Puhlman have the top times in the 200 free relay (2:00.16) and 400 free relay (4:40).
"It's nice (to have the program records)," Binion said. "I was really working towards the final two (the 100 back and 200 IM) last year. I worked really hard to get those."
Porter Madden has the top mark in the 100 breaststroke (1:23.47).
Boggs realizes it will be difficult to replace Binion, a four-year member of the program, next season.
"She's always been a strong swimmer and every year she just gets faster and faster," Boggs said. "I've probably never met an athlete with the dedication and the work ethic that Rachael has. You can always count on her to be at each and every practice and is always going to be there 10 minutes early."
The Cougars prepared for the postseason by competing in the OCC-Central Division meet Jan. 25 at Kenyon College. Binion led the way by finishing seventh in the 100 fly (1:07.59) and 12th in the 50 free (27.89).
Binion, Madden, Gilliam and Puhlman were sixth in the 400 free relay (4:40.24), and Puhlman, Gilliam, Madden and Kaylee Mullins were sixth in the 200 medley relay (2:10.35).
The Cougars finished sixth (70), behind UA (573), Dublin Coffman (456), Marysville (288), Hilliard Davidson (241) and Central Crossing (163).
"We've grown a lot," Binion said. "My freshman year we had five of us and this year we have at least 10. We've grown so much and we're working really hard. It's been nice to see it. It's been fun."
Westland has just one boy in the program in freshman Zach Iles. In the league meet, he was 18th in the 50 free (32.2) and 19th in the 100 free (1:17.5).
"He's made significant gains in both his freestyle and his backstroke," Boggs said. "He's a great all-around kid and he has a strong work ethic. ... It's tough when you only have one boy because that excludes him from any relays, so every time we go to a meet, he's only getting to swim half the events that everybody else is usually getting."
Iles is in his first season swimming competitively.
"Swimming is something I've always enjoyed, and I really didn't know Westland had a swim team until I went to its open house for ninth-grade orientation," he said. "Now I'm part of the swim team. Coach Boggs has been incredible. He's really guided me on refining the technique and improving my overall swimming capabilities. ... I'm trying to get some of my friends into it for next season. I'm trying to grow the team."
Boys basketball team ends losing streak
The boys basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak with a 47-42 win over Groveport on Jan. 28 at home.
Kalil Camara led Westland with 17 points and Drew Panning scored 13.
"It's the first time we played with a full roster since Dec. 13," coach Rob Hayes said. "As a team, the defensive and glass work was strong and consistent for most of the game and we took and made good shots. Sometimes it's as simple as that, but what looks simple requires a lot of work and sacrifice and I was very proud of the effort of everyone."
Camara scored 13 points and Sohn McGee added 11 in a 66-41 loss to Coffman on Jan. 24 at home.
The Cougars were 3-14 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Central before playing UA on Jan. 31.
"The goal is to be playing our best basketball each night, focusing on improvement and belief in each other," Hayes said. "If we play our absolute best basketball and focus on winning only, we could surprise some people over the next few weeks because we haven't been who we thought we were going to be up until now."
Wrestling team takes second at New Albany
The wrestling team finished second behind Westerville South in the New Albany Invitational on Jan. 25.
Bryson Palmer (126 pounds), Jakob Hurley (145) and Jacob Mullins (182) won titles. Tyler Jude (113), Trent Jude (120), Dominic Fogt (138) and Johnny Douglas (170) finished second and Darius Lightfoot (160) was third.
The Cougars were 1-2 in the OCC-Central before competing against Central Crossing on Jan. 30.
Westland lost to visiting Coffman 64-9 on Jan. 23. Winners for the Cougars were Trent Jude at 120, Palmer at 126 and Hurley at 145.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Feb. 4 -- Home vs Grove City. The Cougars lost to the Greyhounds 56-41 in the first round of the Best of the South-Western tournament Dec. 27.
*Feb. 7 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson. The Cougars lost to the Wildcats 39-28 on Jan. 3.
Feb. 4 -- At Grove City
*Feb. 7 -- At Davidson. The Cougars lost to the Wildcats 69-33 on Jan. 16.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 8 -- Division I sectional at Upper Arlington. Winner of each swimming event, along with 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites, advances to district Feb. 13 at Ohio State. There is no diving at sectional.
Feb. 8 -- Division I team dual tournament at Hilliard Darby