Nyah Funderburke won two events in the Division II state swimming and diving meet, but the Columbus School for Girls junior might have come away with a new passion: the 100-yard backstroke.

The 100 back was one of Funderburke's two individual championships Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. She won the event in 54.49 seconds after swimming a program-record 54.35 a day earlier in the preliminaries.

Funderburke also won the 100 butterfly in 54.68.

Last year, she won the state title in the 50 freestyle (23.46), but opted not to compete in the event this postseason.

"I just kind of came out of nowhere in this race," Funderburke said of the 100 back. "I've been working on my underwater breakouts. I just felt like this was a strong stroke.

"Honestly, I felt like nobody could touch me in this race. My favorite race used to be the 50 free. Now I think it's the 100 back."

Funderburke and senior teammate Jordan Aurnou-Rhees were the top two finishers in the 100 fly. Aurnou-Rhees, a University of Tennessee signee, was runner-up in 55.61 after winning the event in 55.23 last season.

"Jordan overcame some adversity when a member of the media stepped on her toe just before the (preliminary) round began as she was waiting for the 200 medley relay," coach Brian Botzman said. "She was tough and swam all of her races.

"You don't have media on the basketball court during games. There just isn't a lot of room there."

Aurnou-Rhees placed third in the 200 individual medley (2:04.49) and she and Funderburke joined junior Ava Fortney and freshman Olivia Morse on the runner-up 200 medley relay (program-record 1:44.52) and senior Cosette Persall and Morse on the third-place 200 free relay (1:36.99).

"I think it's going to take a while to sink in," Funderburke said of her state performance. "I'm in awe that this happened in such a short time.

"I'm really going to miss Jordan, who (will be graduating). She really helped me in my evolution as a swimmer."

Also at state, the 400 free relay of Morse, Persall, sophomore Riley Murphy and Fortney placed sixth (3:39.63) as the Unicorns totaled 165 points to finish third behind Gates Mills Hawken (399) and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (217) as 59 teams scored. Hawken won its 21st consecutive state title.

"The girls did really well to finish third behind the big Cleveland (-area) schools," Botzman said. "We added a couple more state titles and all three relays were in the top six. It was a good showing."

The Unicorns won their seventh consecutive district championship Feb. 12 at Ohio State, scoring 401 points to nearly double up the runner-up, St. Clairsville (201).

CSG won a sectional title Feb. 8 with 243 points, ahead of host and runner-up Columbus Academy (177), and won its seventh consecutive league title and its first in the MSL on Jan. 25 with 393 points, well ahead of runner-up Academy (224).

"The biggest thing I took away (from the season) was how well my training paid off and also the great team support I received," Funderburke said. "CSG is a close-knit community. Everyone sees how we support each other at meets, and we really make a statement with that. It's great to be a part of that."

Basketball team doubles win total

The 17th-seeded basketball team lost at fourth-seeded Lakewood 52-19 on Feb. 17 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.

Junior guard Eva Nicolosi scored six points to lead the Unicorns, who finished 12-11 overall. Sophomore guard Emma Spangler added four points.

CSG doubled its win total from last season, when it finished 6-16.

"I think we met or exceeded our expectations," said second-year coach Heath Goolsby, whose team finished sixth (5-9) in its first season in the MSL-Ohio Division behind champion Whitehall (13-1). "We were used to being in the CCL and not having any league wins, so we like being in the new league. To have five wins (in the MSL-Ohio) is quite an accomplishment and we also doubled our win total."

The Unicorns are losing two seniors in guard Ellen Monahan and post player Veronica Ross.

"We lose a lot in 'V' with her ability to rebound and score around the rim," Goolsby said. "She could alter shots when kids drove in the lane.

"Ellen was the spark plug coming off the bench. 'V' was a four-year player and Ellen played for three. They have seen the highs and lows of the program, and we were able to send them out on a good note (with a winning record)."

Nicolosi was named second-team all-league and sophomore point guard Lauren Sloan was honorable mention all-league.

"We expect to return the core of our team," Goolsby said. "More than any individual, I was pleased with the progress of the program. We have eight eighth-graders who we expect will join our program next year, so we should have a full j.v. schedule."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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