The Olentangy Orange gymnastics team earned its first league championship since 2011.
The Pioneers were perfect in the OCC-Buckeye Division this season, going 4-0 in dual meets to earn 10 points and winning the league meet Feb. 11 at Hilliard Darby to finish 8-0 overall with 20 points.
"Seeing how excited the girls are is great," first-year coach Amanda Gaylor said. "They are seeing their hard work pay off and they have put so much heart, sweat and tears into this."
Orange scored 131.125 points in the OCC-Buckeye meet to edge runner-up Olentangy (130.95). Olentangy Liberty (128.9) was third, followed by Westerville Central (117.475) and Big Walnut (44.95).
Molly Wheeler led the Pioneers, winning the all-around with a 34.075. The sophomore also won vault (9.0) and placed third on uneven bars (8.35) and fourth on both balance beam (8.175) and floor exercise (8.55).
"I think it's great," Wheeler said of winning the all-around. "I got a lot of support from my teammates. We all have worked hard for us.
"I think I did my best on vault. I landed my second vault this season and I scored a (9.0), which is a really good score for me."
Holly Schutte placed fourth in the all-around (32.65), second on floor (8.7), sixth on bars (7.85), eighth on vault (8.25) and 10th on beam (7.85), Olivia Dieckmann was sixth in the all-around (32.125), third on floor (8.6), tied for sixth on vault (8.3) and seventh on beam (8.025) and Emma Wood was 10th in the all-around (31.325), tied for sixth on vault (8.3) and 10th on bars (7.85).
"They did really great," Gaylor said. "There were a few mistakes, but I think this was our second highest team score. They made me proud."
The Pioneers are preparing to compete in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 22, at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to the team state meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley and the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advance to the individual state meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.
"We feel good as a team, and we worked really hard for this," Wheeler said. "It gives us a lot of confidence (going into district). The energy (from the league win) will help us and we won't be as nervous."
Swim teams finish season at district
The season ended for the swimming and diving teams at the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State.
The 400-yard freestyle relay of sophomores Kayla Fisher and Alex Knodel and juniors Brooke Farren and Emma Logan combined to finish ninth in 3 minutes, 41.9 seconds to lead the girls team, which finished 17th (29 points) behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored.
The 200 medley relay of Fisher, Knodel, Farren and freshman Ava Row placed 13th (1:53.13), Knodel was 15th in the 200 free (1:58.6) and Fisher placed 16th in the 100 free (54.1).
The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to the state meet Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.
The 200 medley relay of freshman Tuckor Lambert, juniors Graham Weidenhamer and Tannor Lambert and sophomore Noah Crowe placed 13th (1:43.61) to lead the boys team, which finished 20th (15) behind champion Upper Arlington (381.5) as 23 teams scored.
The same four swimmers were on the 15th-place 200 free relay (1:35.06), while Tuckor Lambert placed 15th in the 100 backstroke (54.87) and Weidenhamer was 16th in the 100 breaststroke (59.94).
Hockey team preps for district tourney
The hockey team is seeded sixth in the district tournament behind top-seeded UA and has a first-round bye.
The Pioneers open against 10th-seeded Cincinnati Xavier or 24th-seeded Cincinnati Elder in the second round Sunday, Feb. 23, at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The winner plays second-seeded St. Charles, 18th-seeded Columbus Academy or 19th-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore in a quarterfinal Feb. 29 at the Ice Haus.
Orange enters the postseason at 20-11 after losing to third-seeded Liberty 4-0 on Feb. 13 in the opening round of the Blue Jackets Cup. The Pioneers were seeded sixth.
The boys basketball, girls basketball and bowling teams will open their postseasons this week.
The 20th-seeded boys basketball team plays host to 31st-seeded Dublin Jerome on Saturday, Feb. 22, in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The 43rd-seeded girls basketball team visits ninth-seeded Reynoldsburg on Friday, Feb. 21, in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The winner faces sixth-seeded Westerville North or 42nd-seeded Pickerington North in a district semifinal, Wednesday, Feb. 26, at a site to be determined.
The boys bowling team will compete in the Division I sectional Friday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes, and the girls compete the following day at the same venue.