The Columbus School for Girls swimming and diving team won its seventh consecutive Division II district championship while exceeding the expectations of coach Brian Botzman.

The Unicorns scored 401 points, nearly doubling the total of runner-up St. Clairsville (201) as 31 teams scored in the meet Feb. 12 at Ohio State.

"We estimated that we would score around 200 points and we scored over 400," said Botzman, who was named district Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. "It was a full team effort for us, from the divers to the freshmen to the seniors."

The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to the state meet Thursday, Feb. 20, and Friday, Feb. 21, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.

Nya Funderburke powered CSG, winning a pair of events in meet-record times. The junior finished first in the 100-yard butterfly in 54.77 seconds and the 100 backstroke in 54.58, which also set a program record.

Senior Jordan Aurnou-Rhees won the 200 individual medley (2:05.97) and was runner-up in the 100 fly (56.04).

The Unicorns also won all three relays. The 200 medley relay consisted of Funderburke, Ava Fortney, Aurnou-Rhees and Olivia Morse (1:46.39), the 200 free relay was comprised of Funderburke, Morse, Lauren Dittrick and Cosette Persall (1:43.71) and the 400 free relay was made up of Julianne Aslaner, Riley Murphy, Fortney and Aurnou-Rhees (3:47.39).

Here's a list of state qualifiers.

"I think we really banded together as a team, and we really didn't know how we were going to do," said Fortney, who finished third in both the 100 breaststroke (1:07.57) and 100 free (54.57). "The (four-day) turnaround from sectional was faster than it has ever been and we weren't sure how our taper would go. We just went out and poured our hearts into it."

Other top performances came from Aslaner in the 500 free (5:22.19, fourth), Morse in the 50 free (25.16, fourth) and 100 free (55.26, fifth), Murphy in the 100 back (1:01.04, ninth) and 100 free (54.73, fourth) and Persall in the 50 free (25.46, seventh) and 100 free (55.93, seventh).

"State is a different world," Persall said. "Everyone is all hyped up and something happens mentally there that's hard to describe. My split in the 200 free relay last year was my best of all time. It's so much fun because the girls on the team are there hyping you up and you see your whole section in the crowd. It's great."

Last season at state, Aurnou-Rhees won the 100 fly (55.23) and Funderburke won the 50 free (23.46) as the Unicorns totaled 136 points to finish fourth behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (378), which won its 20th consecutive title.

CSG had three divers compete at district, where the top three advanced to compete at state Feb. 19.

Mimi Purdum placed fourth (274.8) behind state-qualifiers Lena Morgan (534.65) of Worthington Christian, Taylor Vargo (352.05) of Wellington and Olivia Robinson (285.6) of Wellington.

Also for the Unicorns, Olivia Barry-West (235.9) finished seventh and Kelsey Anderson (223.0) was eighth.

Basketball team begins district play

The 17th-seeded basketball team opened the Division II district tournament Feb. 17 at fourth-seeded Lakewood.

The winner plays ninth-seeded Utica in the second round Friday, Feb. 21, at the home of the better seed. That winner advances to a district semifinal Feb. 25.

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