Grace Butcher concluded her high school career with her third appearance in the state swimming and diving meet.
The senior and University of Houston signee represented the Olentangy Berlin girls team in the Division I meet that concluded Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, finishing 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, 5.62 seconds.
Last season, Butcher became the first Bears swimmer to earn a state medal, placing sixth in the 100 breast (1:03.8) in Division II. She had placed 10th in the event (1:04.21) in Division I as a sophomore at Olentangy.
"It's an honor to be back here for a third time at state," Butcher said. "I didn't feel quite right and my time isn't what it should be, but it is what it is. I made it back (to state) and that's all that matters."
Sophomore Brogan Robinson represented the boys team at state, finishing 14th in the 200 individual medley in a program-record 1:54.28.
"Both Grace and Brogan made it ... to finals, and it's always a goal to swim on the second day," second-year coach Glenn First said. "Brogan had his lifetime-best in the 200 IM (consolation) final, and Grace didn't swim as well as she had hoped, but still had a good last experience at state."
Butcher and Robinson both earned three points at state, as the girls team tied Springfield for 48th behind champion Dublin Coffman (214) and the boys team tied Euclid for 49th behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310). Fifty-three teams scored in both the boys and girls meets.
"I think from a coaching standpoint, we knew what to expect (with the jump to Division I)," First said. "For some of our seniors and juniors who had swam in Division I before the (school district's) redistricting (for the opening of Berlin), they knew what to expect. For our sophomore class and some of our juniors, it was a surprise for them how competitive it was when we got to district.
"There's so much competition at district just to get to Canton. So many people are tapering to be swimming their best times at district to get to state. That was eye-opening to a lot of kids on the amount of effort needed to get out of the district level."
In the district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State, the boys team tied for 12th (57) behind champion Upper Arlington (381.5) and the girls finished 13th (62) behind champion New Albany (378).
Butcher was part of an eight-member senior class for the overall program. First said the initial senior class will leave a lasting legacy.
"They are a special class of kids who are phenomenal people outside the pool," he said. "We gave them a blueprint last year, and they took it and made Berlin swimming what it looks like today.
"They really set the tone for what a team is like and what it will be in the future. They are leaving some big shoes to fill. They are really special kids."
Robinson and junior Garrett Graybill are expected to be key performers for the boys team next season, while sophomores Staci Nation and Callista Rousher and freshmen Audrey Butcher and Ava First are expected to be key returnees for the girls squad.
Bland, Oliverio to bowl at district
Junior Isabella Bland and sophomore Jacob Oliverio will represent the bowling teams in the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
Bland tied for 35th of 192 bowlers with a 465 three-game series in the girls sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. She was the 11th individual district qualifier as the top 16 teams and the top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.
Berlin finished 22nd (2,669) of 42 teams, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653). Pickerington Central (2,783) was the final district qualifier.
Also rolling three games were Eve Pennington (433, tied for 55th), Michele Starner (410, tied for 81st), Megan Comyns (330, tied for 142nd) and Annalee Montooth (317, 154th).
Oliverio rolled a 544 to tie for 40th of 270 bowlers in the boys sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes, earning the 12th individual qualifying spot.
The Bears finished 25th (3,260) of 47 teams, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991). Groveport (3,498) was the final district qualifier.
Logan Wright (475, tied for 101st) also rolled three games.
Season ends for girls basketball team
The girls basketball team lost at eighth-seeded Watkins Memorial 45-30 on Feb. 21 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Sophomore center Deanara Mbouge scored 15 points to lead the 31st-seeded Bears, who finished 11-13 overall.
"Deanara is a coachable kid and she works on the little things all of the time on her own," second-year coach Megan Beidelman said. "She applies what she learns in practice and it's been great to see her blossom, finish well and gain confidence."
Berlin went 7-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Delaware for fifth behind co-champions Hilliard Bradley and Worthington Kilbourne (both 11-3).
Junior guard/forward Courtney Suchan was named first-team all-league, junior guard Maddie Goodman was second-team all-league and Mbouge was honorable mention all-league.
"This team has fought all year," Beidelman said. "We had four kids tear their ACLs in a year and at any point they could have quit and they chose to fight every time. If you look at our season as a whole, we overcame a lot and we grew in a lot of areas."
Wrestlers getting set for sectional
The wrestling team begins its postseason Saturday, Feb. 29, in a Division I sectional at Watkins Memorial.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.