Coming off a strong regular season, the Westerville Central boys and girls bowling teams are gearing up to make postseason runs.
Both teams will compete in Division I sectionals this weekend at HP Lanes: the boys on Friday, Feb. 21, and the girls the following day. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 29 at HP Lanes.
"I'm very encouraged with the team going into postseason play," boys coach Jeff Robinson said. "They've gotten better every week. ... They work hard during practice on their physical and mental games. They work well as a team unit. I'm looking for big things."
The ultimate goal is a return trip to the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The boys compete March 6 and the girls roll the next day.
Last season, the boys reached championship play at state before losing in a quarterfinal to Ashland 3-1 in a best-of-five Baker series. The Warhawks also lost in a quarterfinal in 2018, a year after capturing the program's first state title.
Senior Wesley Minke has played on all four teams and is looking forward to competing for another state berth.
"The goals don't change," he said. "It's been the same goal we've had since November when we started. It's been get to March 6 -- get to state -- (and) be bowling solid on that day. It's just been a progression since November. It's the little things that are starting to come together. We're bowling as one unit now instead of bowling as seven individuals. It's been a huge change for us team-wise."
Minke finished third in the area with a 216.6 average, followed by Malik Curry-Brown in fifth at 211.1.
Central shared the COHSBC-A Division title with Olentangy Orange at 10-1 and won the OCC-Buckeye championship at 7-0, ahead of second-place Orange (6-1). It was the Warhawks' sixth consecutive COHSBC-A and OCC titles.
The girls team won the COHSBC-A title at 10-0, ahead of runner-up Olentangy (9-1), and finished first in the OCC-Buckeye at 6-0, again ahead of Olentangy (5-1). It was Central's second consecutive COHSBC-A and OCC titles.
Reace Gonzalez is first in the area with a 206.7 average, and Peyton Hartgrove is sixth at 185.2.
"We love this time of the year. It's exciting. It's fun," girls coach Tony Gonzalez said. "We've been talking about the process all season, both myself and coach Robinson. The steps that we need to take, (such as) show improvement every tournament that we've been in, we're seeing that as the season has gone on."
Last season at state, Central finished 12th (2,860) of 16 teams behind first-place Stow-Munroe Falls (3,265) during preliminary play.
Sophomore swimmer earns state berth
Sophomore Kiah Smith will represent the girls swimming and diving team in the Division I state meet Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Smith finished second in the 50-yard freestyle (23.3 seconds) in the district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State to earn an automatic berth to state. She also was fifth in the 100 butterfly (55.72), and Macey Swearingen was fifth in the 100 free (51.98) and sixth in the 100 backstroke (56.75).
The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.
Here's a list of area state qualifiers.
Also at district, Sophia Antonetz was 20th in the 50 free (25.15) and 22nd in the 100 fly (59.36). Smith, Swearengin, Antonetz and Ashley Hockstok were sixth in the 200 free relay (1:38.91) and eighth in the 400 free relay (3:38.22).
Central finished eighth (106) behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored.
For the boys, who did not score, Luke Radecki was 21st in the 100 fly (55.22) and Radecki, Grant Radecki, Luke Burky and Nick Van Allen were 24th in the 400 free relay (3:42.13).
Boys basketball team rallies past South
The boys basketball team closed OCC-Buckeye play with a 63-61 comeback win at Westerville South on Feb. 14.
Quincy Clark scored the winning basket on a short jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining.
Central trailed by as many as seven points in the second half.
"I'm proud of the kids," coach Kevin Martin said. "They battled. We were down, they continued to fight, they continued to play. On the road, you need somebody to make a shot and we did that."
Will LeMaire scored 18 points on six 3-pointers. M.J. Davis had 16 points and Clark added 13.
The Warhawks were 14-7 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 18 against Dublin Scioto. They finished 6-4 in the league, third behind co-champions South and Olentangy Liberty (7-3).
"We're disappointed that we're not at the top in the league because I think we let some slip away, but our league top to bottom has to be one of the best leagues in the OCC in terms of depth," Martin said.
The Warhawks are seeded 13th for the Division I district tournament and have a first-round bye. They will play host to 23rd-seeded Grove City or 24th-seeded Watkins Memorial in the second round Feb. 28.
Gymnasts finish fourth in OCC meet
The gymnastics team finished fourth (117.475) in the OCC-Buckeye meet Feb. 11 at Hilliard Darby behind champion Orange (131.125).
Chloe Griggs led the Warhawks by finishing 11th in the all-around (30.825). She was ninth on vault (8.25) and balance beam (7.9).
Kylie Nelson was 12th in the all-around (30.275). She also was 12th on vault (8-1).
Central finished fourth overall (8 points, 2-6) in the league behind champion Orange (20, 8-0).
Central will compete in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 22, at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to state Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley, and the top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to state Feb. 29 at Bradley.