DeSales swimmer Brady McInerney reflected on his second Division II state appearance wishing he could have been a little faster, but overall the sophomore was thrilled at what he accomplished Feb. 20 and 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

Not only did McInerney finish seventh in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 55.41 seconds) and 13th in the 100 backstroke (54.02), but he also set two program records for the second time in a little more than a week. McInerney's times in the 100 back (53.46) and 200 IM (1:54.04) during preliminaries Feb. 20 bested his own marks of 53.97 and 1:56.34, respectively, from the district meet Feb. 12 at Ohio State.

"It means everything to me being able to rewrite the record books at my school. It feels good," said McInerney, who also holds the 200 freestyle (1:44.82) and 500 free (5:01.49) records. "It just means so much more being in that (championship) heat and being able to swim with some of the swimmers in that heat. To step up to that level means a lot. It's exciting to see where I can go for the next two years."

McInerney finished 7.89 seconds behind 200 IM champion, Wayneville's Owen Conley, who set a state record of 1:47.52.

McInerney, the Stallions' only state qualifier, scored 16 points and DeSales tied Celina and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy for 37th place behind champion Cincinnati Indian Hill (224) as 66 teams scored.

"Since he is so dynamic and really has no weak stroke, he has the potential to break every individual team record," coach Ryan Buechner said. "I do not think he is closer to being finished maturing at all. His underwater is a big reason for his time drops in his backstroke this year, but he just works so hard in and out of the pool that I think he has the determination to continue to improve at this level and compete at the collegiate level as well."

McInerney was the first DeSales swimmer to stand on the podium by virtue of a top-eight finish since 2013, when Andrea Acquista won the girls diving championship, and the first boy to do so since Cooper Staton placed second in the 50 free and third in the 100 free as a senior in 2011.

"I felt as though I could have done better, but that's fine because it's a good way to end the season anyway," McInerney said. "Next year, I'll just come back hoping to do better and (having) learned from the experience."

Most of the boys team's top contributors are eligible to return, including sophomore Will Jordan and freshmen Reece Hanley and Wyatt Hanley. All were district qualifiers.

Wyatt Hanley was runner-up in the 100 back and 200 free at the CCL meet.

Sophomore Libby Ruff led the girls team by qualifying for the Division I district meet in both the 200 free and 500 free for the second year in a row and holds the program records in both events of 1:57.96 and 5:15.52, respectively.

Junior Annamarie DeGuzman and freshmen Ashley Anderson, Lydia Letzelter and Kaitlyn Schaefer also are expected to return.

Boys team's Watson scores 1,000th point

The boys basketball team finished the regular season Feb. 18 with a memorable 66-53 win at Worthington Kilbourne, in which junior forward Desmond Watson scored his 1,000th career point.

Watson, who entered the game with 993 points, passed the milestone about three minutes into the game. He scored eight of the Stallions' first 10 points and finished the game with 22.

Kobe Righter added 15 points and Jonathan Thompson scored 10 for DeSales, which is 16-6.

Watson is the seventh player in program history to reach 1,000 points and the second in as many seasons, after 2019 graduate Kayin Derden did so during the postseason last year.

Seeded third in the Division II district tournament, the Stallions took a first-round bye and will play host to 14th-seeded Centennial or 15th-seeded Licking Valley in a second-round game Saturday, Feb. 29.

The winner will play second-seeded Heath, 10th-seeded Granville or 22nd-seeded Sparta Highland in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 4, at a neutral site. The district final is March 7 at Central Crossing.

The Stallions defeated Granville 54-43 on Jan. 14.

Boys bowlers advance to district

Led by Will McAfee-Witherspoon's 581 three-game series and an 18th-place finish, the boys bowling team placed sixth in the Division I sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes and advanced to district Saturday, Feb. 29, at the same facility.

Bryan Ritzler was 29th (555) to help lead the Stallions, who had a team score of 3,759 to place sixth of 47 teams, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991).

The next day in the girls sectional at HP Lanes, Skyla Blumenscheid finished 20th (501) to earn an individual district berth. The Stallions placed 31st (2,541) of 42 teams, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).

In both sectionals, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.

At district, the top three boys teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams as well as the top four girls teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 6 and 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Blumenscheid finished 77th at state last year.

Wrestlers set for postseason

The wrestling team will compete in the Division II sectional Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, Feb. 29, at Licking Valley.

Heavyweight Cole Potts will seek his third consecutive district berth and try to improve on his second-place finish at sectional from a year ago. He is the Stallions' only returning district qualifier.

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Wilmington.

Girls basketball team falls to Shamrocks

The girls basketball team's season came to an end Feb. 21 with a 60-19 loss at fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

Gracie Sabo's eight points led the 24th-seeded Stallions, who finished 14-10. DeSales trailed 29-14 at halftime and was held to five points in the second half.

The Stallions opened the postseason Feb. 15 with a 41-23 home win over 34th-seeded Licking Heights in which Erin Burns had 11 points and Stefanie Karras added 11 points and six rebounds.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave