Following a successful conclusion to the regular season, the Worthington Kilbourne gymnastics team turned its focus to reaching its first state team meet since 2015.
The Wolves finished the regular season by placing first (138.8) in a home meet Feb. 11, ahead of Olentangy Berlin (137.55). The Bears had won the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Feb. 6 with a score of 139.725, ahead of Dublin Jerome (139.575) and Kilbourne (138.55).
"I think we're in a good place," coach Cindy Fush-imi said. "I think we keep improving. We just need to keep heading in that same direction."
Moving further in that direction could put the Wolves on the road to state. The district meet is Saturday, Feb. 22, at Kilbourne, and the Wolves are seeded fourth behind top-seeded Thornville Sheridan, second-seeded Berlin and third-seeded Jerome.
At district, the top three teams advance to the state team meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley, while the top eight individuals in each event, including the all-around, advance to the state individual meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.
"We are definitely feeling pretty confident in our skills this year leading up to districts, (but) we are a little nervous because we've really been going head-to-head with Olentangy Berlin and Dublin Jerome," senior Hannah Hale said. "They've definitely been our top competitors, and since we only have three teams that are going to states from districts, we really need to work on beating those two teams to make it to states."
Hale has been an exemplary performer for the Wolves this year. On Feb. 11, she placed first on vault (9.3), balance beam (9.35), floor exercise (9.3) and in the all-around (36.75), and second on uneven bars (8.8) behind Marion Pleasant's Camryn Varner (8.85).
Hale said the Wolves have been working on improving their beam routines.
"I definitely feel like our team as a whole needs to really work on our beam," she said. "We have struggled a little bit with hitting our skills. So we've been working really hard in the gym leading up to districts, making sure we land all of our landings and stick them so we can get a good team all-around score."
The Wolves also have been preparing for the crowd noise and pressure-filled environment of the district meet. During practice when an athlete is performing a routine, teammates have been trying to distract her.
"They'll yell, they'll wave their arms or jump up and down ... so hopefully they can work on that focus and not letting their minds wander from what they're supposed to be thinking about," Fushimi said. "The district meet is really loud. There's a lot of cheering, there's a lot of people, so we're looking to get the kids ready for that. So we kind of play certain games in practice and force them to focus. ... We'll see how all of that pays off."
Last season, junior Emily Mosic reached the state individual meet. She placed 29th of 35 competitors on vault with an 8.8 and was 35th of 36 competitors on balance beam with a 7.8.
"We're just trying to get mentally ready, because I think physically we've done everything we could throughout the preseason and season to be stronger and be ready to do routines," Fushimi said. "We just have to develop that confidence."
Swimmers compete in district meet
The swimming and diving program was well represented in the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State.
For the girls team, competing were Nanami Campbell in the 200-yard freestyle (10th, 1 minute, 57.51 seconds) and 100 free (11th, 53.57), Evie DeCarlo in the 100 free (13th, 53.83) and 100 breaststroke (11th, 1:07.33), Paige Delma in the 200 individual medley (17th, 2:12.34) and 100 breast (16th, 1:08.37), Lauren Richner in the 50 free (12th, 24.28) and 100 backstroke (16th, 59.53) and Ellie Ishida in the 100 breast (23rd, 1:10.46).
Also competing were the 200 free relay (fourth, 1:38.16), 200 medley relay (sixth, 1:47.57) and 400 free relay (21st, 3:56.2).
Competing for the boys were Nathan Ambler in the 200 free (24th, 1:50.74), Mitchell Fisher in the 100 free (28th, 50.95), Christopher Richner in the 100 back (27th, 58.1), the 200 medley relay (16th, 1:46.33), the 200 free relay (14th, 1:33.35) and the 400 free relay (11th, 3:23.26).
Also competing were boys divers Kieran Maloney (26th, 120.8) and Michael Richardson (27th, 118.35) and girls divers Fiona Saunders (31st, 103.45) and Joselin List (34th, 97.8).
The girls placed ninth (86) behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored and the boys placed 19th (20) behind champion Upper Arlington (381.5) as 23 teams scored.
From district, the top six boys divers, the top four girls divers, the top two finishers in each swimming event and 16 at-large qualifiers in each swimming event based on times statewide advanced to the state meet, which begins Thursday, Feb. 20, and concludes Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Here's a list of area state qualifiers.
Boys team preps for tournament
The boys basketball team finished 6-8 in the OCC-Cardinal and was 11-10 overall before playing DeSales on Feb. 18 in its regular-season finale.
The Wolves are seeded 33rd for the Division I district tournament and open with a second-round game Feb. 28 at eighth-seeded Newark or at home against 38th-seeded Teays Valley.
"We're going to continue working on getting better every day," coach Tom Souder said. "I think we've done a nice job taking care of the basketball. We've got to continue to be a better rebounding team, we've got to be a better shooting team and we've shown spurts of that. We've got to develop a little more consistency. But this team has worked hard every day."
The Wolves closed league play by beating visiting Thomas 63-55 on Feb. 14. Ian Schupp had 17 points, Mitchell Tomasek scored 15 and Ayden Parsons added 13.
The boys and girls bowling teams open their postseasons this week, and the girls basketball team played its postseason opener earlier in the week.
The boys bowling team will compete in the Division I sectional Friday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes. The girls will compete the following day at the same site.
The girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 17 against Eastmoor Academy. The winner plays Marion Harding in the second round Feb. 21.
Below is the coming schedule for the Kilbourne wrestling team:
*Feb. 20 -- At Hilliard Bradley