The confidence the Watterson swimming and diving teams had entering district competition doesn't mean there weren't any pleasant surprises.
For the girls team in the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State, sophomore Olivia Oyster left feeling particularly good about what she accomplished in her two individual events.
A day earlier in the boys Division II district meet, sophomore Max Latshaw turned in a better time than he was expecting in one of his events.
"We did great (at a sectional Feb. 8 at Upper Arlington) and we weren't tapered for sectionals at all, so we (had) high hopes for (district)," coach Daniel Cherok said.
The top two finishers in each swimming event advanced automatically to the state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
At state, the Division II competition is Thursday, Feb. 20, and Friday, Feb. 21, while Division I is Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22.
Here's a list of state qualifiers.
At district, the boys finished 17th (48 points) behind champion Granville (253) as 34 teams scored and the girls were sixth (154) behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored.
For the boys team, senior Michael Vondran placed third in the 50-yard freestyle (22.37 seconds) and ninth in the 100 free (51.01) and Latshaw placed sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:07.18) and 11th in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.63).
Senior Ryan Newcomb, sophomore Mateo Pitones, Latshaw and Vondran combined to place 15th in the 200 medley relay (1:51.08) and 17th in the 200 free relay (1:40.36).
"I thought I was going to go slower (in the 200 IM), but it was a faster time than I anticipated so I was happy with it," Latshaw said.
Vondran competed at state the past three seasons, including last winter when he finished 14th in the 50 free (22.19).
"There were a couple bumps to get through getting sick twice with the flu, but we've powered through those and training has gone well," Vondran said. "I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been in."
Oyster led the girls team at district, placing third in the 50 free (23.37) and fourth in the 100 free (51.94).
She also joined senior Mia Brown and freshmen Teagan Price and Grace Rider on the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:32.36) and joined Brown, sophomore Lucia Cherok and Rider on the fourth-place 200 medley relay (program-record 1:44.93).
"I dropped time, so it was good," Oyster said. "I didn't expect to in both (of my individual events)."
Also reaching the podium at district were Brown in the 50 free (sixth, 23.46) and 100 butterfly (eighth, 57.73) and Rider in the 100 breast (fifth, 1:04.81) and 100 free (eighth, 52.87).The other representatives at district were Cherok in the 200 IM (12th, 2:10.82) and 100 backstroke (17th, 59.71), freshman Olive O'Dorisio in diving (23rd, 131.65), Price in the 500 free (11th, 5:11.58) and 200 free (16th, 1:58.69), sophomore Molly Shanahan in the 100 breast (18th, 1:09.42) and the 200 free relay of Price, senior Gabi Greene and freshmen Maggie Best and Meg Newcomb (16th, 1:45.04).
Girls basketball team wraps up CCL title
The girls basketball team captured the outright CCL championship with a 39-18 victory over Hartley on Feb. 11, finishing 6-0 in the league.
Watterson shared the league title with the Hawks last season. According to coach Tom Woodford, the Eagles have won 13 league titles during his 19-year tenure.
"It's definitely awesome," senior guard Paige Woodford said. "Last year, we tied for CCL champs, so it's definitely nice to end our senior season with a CCL victory."
Watterson closed the regular season on a four-game winning streak after losing consecutively to Westerville South (59-57 on Jan. 25) and Jonathan Alder (63-56 on Jan. 27).
Seeded second for the 48-team Division I district tournament, the Eagles routed 40th-seeded Westerville Central 60-29 in the first round Feb. 15 at home to improve to 21-2 overall.
Watterson plays host to 33rd-seeded Hilliard Darby in the second round Friday, Feb. 21, with the winner facing 13th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, 21st-seeded Marion Harding or 26th-seeded Eastmoor Academy in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 26, at a site to be determined. The district final is Feb. 29 at the Columbus Convention Center.
Watterson, which was a district runner-up two of the past three seasons, has reached the 20-victory plateau for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Eagles needed a last-second basket by Kilyn McGuff to beat Hartley 36-35 on Jan. 23 but controlled the action early in the rematch, building a 19-7 halftime lead and not giving up any points during the second quarter.
Danielle Grim, a 5-foot-8 junior wing player/guard who had missed six games with an injury before returning for the Eagles' 44-35 victory over DeSales on Feb. 6, and sophomore forward Kiley Graham both scored 10 points against Hartley on Feb. 11.
Boys basketball team to begin tourney
The ninth-seeded boys basketball team opens the Division II district tournament Wednesday, Feb. 26, at home against 18th-seeded Bexley.
The winner plays 17th-seeded Lakewood in the second round Feb. 29 at the home of the better seed.
The Eagles have won four of five games and are 11-11 overall. They beat Hartley 48-35 on Feb. 14 in their regular-season finale to finish 2-6 in the CCL as junior forward Noah Grayem and junior guard Noah Gruver both scored 16 points.
In a 48-43 victory over Dublin Scioto on Feb. 11, senior wing player Chris Crane had 15 points.
Bexley lost 51-45 to Wellington on Feb. 14 in its regular-season finale to drop to 5-17. The Lions snapped a three-game losing streak with a 66-65 victory over Independence on Feb. 11 when Damian Davis scored the game-winning basket with 15 seconds remaining.
Davis, a 5-9 senior guard, was averaging 18.5 points through 21 games.
The hockey and bowling teams open their postseasons this week.
The boys bowling team will compete in the Division I sectional Friday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes, followed by the girls the next day at the same site.
The 17th-seeded hockey team will face 15th-seeded Olentangy in the first round of the 25-team district tournament Saturday, Feb. 22, at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The winner plays fourth-seeded New Albany in the second round Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Ice Haus.