The Olentangy swimming team's lineup for a Division I sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 8, at Kenyon College does not necessarily resemble how the Braves looked in the regular season, especially when it comes to standout sophomore Martina Peroni.
That's exactly how coach Calvin Higdon planned it, both for Peroni's own experience and the good of the team.
After placing fifth in both the 200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle at the Division I state meet last year and helping the 400 free relay to 16th place, Peroni was expected to swim those events again. But she set the program record in the 200 free (1 minute, 51.01 seconds) at the Northeast Classic on Jan. 11 at Branin Natatorium in Canton and won the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM and was on the third-place 200 free relay at the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Jan. 25 at Kenyon.
"Every time she swims, she performs very well, whether it's a close race or whether it's a swim where she's far enough ahead that she can coast to the end," Higdon said. "She has a tendency to pull ahead in the last 25 yards. She is extremely ready to build on what she did last year. With her input, we held off on doing the 500 free (during the regular season) and put her in different events so we could open things up for other swimmers and see where they are best. We can throw her in anything and she'll perform well."
Peroni was one of six district qualifiers for the girls team last year and one of five girls to advance in two individual events.
Three boys and all six relays from both teams got to district.
At sectional, the winner of each event automatically qualifies for the district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
Not only will sectional be in the same pool as the OCC-Buckeye meet, but the entire league will compete there this weekend with the exception of Westerville Central, which is at the Thomas Worthington sectional.
"I enjoy going up against these teams and I know the kids do, too," Higdon said. "It's good competition and always a very fast sectional. It's great for giving us momentum into district. You look at pools like Kenyon and OSU, we're lucky to compete at that level and the kids love it."
Girls basketball team seeking consistency
The girls basketball team sought a three-game winning streak for the first time since early December when it played Hilliard Davidson on Feb. 4, and despite her team being 8-11 overall, coach Kate Cummings hoped the pieces were in place for a late-season surge.
Olentangy defeated host Westerville Central 32-18 on Jan. 31 in OCC-Buckeye play behind 13 points from Bridget Stafford. The Braves made 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, when they outscored the Warhawks 13-3.
"We have so many young players with three freshmen, a lot of sophomores with not much varsity experience and then some injuries on top of that that have thrown some things out of alignment," Cummings said. "We've had times where we've looked great and times where we've looked awful, but the girls are growing and understanding."
Olentangy is 4-5 in the OCC-Buckeye entering its league finale Friday, Feb. 7, at Orange. The Braves finish the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Licking Valley.
Olentangy earned the 28th seed in the 48-team Division I district tournament. The Braves took a first-round bye and will visit 17th-seeded Dublin Scioto or 25th-seeded Upper Arlington in the second round Feb. 21.
Hand leads wrestlers at Rieman Invitational
Ethan Hand placed fifth at heavyweight to lead the wrestling team in the Rieman Invitational on Feb. 1 at Delaware, the Braves' last competition for 12 days.
Hand went 4-1, defeating Cincinnati Elder's Rowan Tolbert 5-3 in the fifth-place match.
Vaughn Fowler (120 pounds) and Ben Hall (138) earned sixth-place finishes, Cameron Everson (145) and Adam Orndorf (160) placed seventh and Zach Neville (106) was eighth.
Olentangy is off this weekend because it is skipping the Division I team dual tournament, which begins Saturday, Feb. 8, with regional action and concludes with the state tournament Feb. 16 at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
The Braves fell to 0-4 in the OCC-Buckeye with a 58-18 loss at Westerville North on Jan. 30.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy boys basketball, bowling, gymnastics and hockey teams:
*Feb. 7 -- At Orange. The Braves lost to the Pioneers 61-59 on
Feb. 8 -- OCC Coaches Challenge at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Feb. 10 -- Teays Valley at Delaware Lanes
Feb. 12 -- Berlin, Liberty and Orange at Delaware Lanes
Feb. 11 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Darby
*Feb. 8 -- DeSales at Chiller North
*Feb. 9 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin