The Olentangy Berlin gymnastics team made history Feb. 6, winning the school's first league championship in any sport since opening in August 2018.
The Bears managed to earn a share of the OCC-Cardinal Division championship without the services of two injured gymnasts in junior Megan McGuire and sophomore Paige Dargatz. Finishing first in the league meet Feb. 6 at Worthington Kilbourne despite being shorthanded made the title even more satisfying for coach Jen Hedrick.
"It's great to win this, but it was even better because everyone played their part in this," Hedrick said. "It was a total team effort.
"We knew we had a chance to win (the) OCC (title), but we were missing Megan and Paige. Despite that, everyone went out and performed the best that they could, and we were able to put up our second-best score of the season."
The Bears and Dublin Jerome tied for the OCC-Cardinal title as both totaled 30 points in league competition.
Berlin won the league meet with 139.725 points to account for 16 points in the league standings. However, the Bears had the second-best record in the league dual meets, going 6-1 for 14 points while the Celtics went 7-0 for 16 points.
Jerome was runner-up in the league meet with a 139.575 to earn 14 points.
"(Our gymnasts) needed a meet where nearly everyone hit, and they knew everyone went out and gave all that they could," Hedrick said. "We got that.
"We had some falls last meet and some not-so-great routines. They needed this to pump themselves up and know this was possible."
Olivia Boone led the Bears by finishing third in the all-around (35.625) behind Jerome's Raegan Ernst (37.35) and Kilbourne's Hannah Hale (36.25). The senior placed second on floor exercise (9.2), third on balance beam (9.125) and third on vault (9.0).
"It's a big deal for us because we have only been around for two years and we all knew of the potential we had this year," Boone said. "It's very exciting even though we had to share the title. We kicked butt and had our best all-around score in a few weeks."
Stephanie Balthaser finished fifth in the all-around (35.05). The freshman placed fourth on uneven bars (8.85), fifth on floor (0.0) and sixth on vault (8.7).
"I'm happy to do this with my team and be a part of it," Balthaser said. "We all had a great time and we all tried our best and accomplished a goal. We had good vibes and stayed positive and we went for it."
Also in the league meet, Madison Nietfeld finished eighth in the all-around (34.075), seventh on beam (9.0) and ninth on bars (8.45), Abby Marks was 11th in the all-around (33.425) and third on bars (8.9) and Elise Hedrick was 15th in the all-around (33.0) and ninth on floor (8.75).
The Bears now prepare for the district meet Feb. 22 at Kilbourne, where the top three teams advance to the state meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley.
"(Winning a league title) will give us more confidence in what we have to do to get (to state)," Balthaser said. "We all have to have trust in each other and do what we know."
Swim teams finish fifth at sectional
The boys and girls swimming teams both finished fifth in a Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Kenyon College and will be well represented in the district meet Thursday, Feb. 13, at Ohio State.
Brogan Robinson won the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 42.75 seconds) and was third in the 200 individual medley (1:54.85) as the boys team scored 150.5 points to finish behind champion Jerome (420.5).
Zach Lambert placed seventh in the 500 free (4:54.09) and 10th in the 200 free (1:49.9), and he and Robinson joined Garett Graybill and Ben Paull on both the fourth-place 200 free relay (1:31.06) and the fifth-place 200 medley relay (1:42.05).
The 400 free relay of Carson Reed, Jack Delligatti, Daniel Petrowsky and Nathan Reynolds finished ninth (3:41.44).
Graham Reed competed in district boys diving Feb. 12 at Ohio State.
Staci Nation placed fourth in both the 100 free (54.12) and 200 IM (2:11.0) at sectional as the girls team scored 203 points to finish behind champion Dublin Coffman (398).
Grace Butcher placed fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.57) and sixth in the 100 butterfly (1:00.23) and Audrey Butcher was fifth in the 100 fly (59.82) and eighth in the 100 backstroke (1:01.13).
Nation and the Butcher sisters joined Callista Rousher on both the second-place 200 medley relay (1:49.53) and the fourth-place 200 free relay (1:42.82), while the 400 free relay of Grace Zercher, Lauryn Ebersole, Lauren Delligatti and Ava First finished ninth (3:58.88).
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advance to state Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
The top six finishers in boys diving advanced to state Feb. 22.
Girls basketball team to begin postseason
The girls basketball team will open the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 15, with a first-round game at 22nd-seeded New Albany.
The 31st-seeded Bears were 10-11 overall before playing Cardington on Feb. 11.
Berlin, which was in Division II last season, lost to New Albany 47-46 on Jan. 11 as Maddie Goodman had 16 points and Deanara Mbouge scored 10. The Eagles are 10-12.
The first-round winner visits eighth-seeded Watkins Memorial in a second-round game Feb. 21.
The Bears finished 7-7 in the OCC-Cardinal after falling to Kilbourne 53-35 on Feb. 7. Mbouge had a team-high 14 points.
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin boys basketball, hockey and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 14 -- Delaware. The Bears lost to the Pacers 60-28 on Jan. 10.
Feb. 22 -- At top-seeded Gahanna in first round of Division I district tournament. The Bears are seeded 45th.
Feb. 13 -- Second-seeded St. Charles at Chiller North in first round of Blue Jackets Cup. Winner plays third-seeded Liberty or sixth-seeded Orange in semifinal Feb. 15 at OhioHealth Ice Haus. Final is Feb. 16 at Ice Haus. The Bears are seeded seventh.
*Feb. 13 -- Home vs Delaware
Feb. 19 -- At Upper Arlington