What transpired for Olivia Lynch at the Division I state girls diving meet might not have occurred if not for what happened a week earlier.
The Olentangy Liberty junior believes winning the district title Feb. 13 at Ohio State propelled her to a new level of confidence Feb. 20 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
She followed her district performance by scoring 428.55 points to capture the state championship. She finished seventh at state last season.
"One thing I've really improved on is my ability to perform under pressure," said Lynch, who kicked off a memorable three-day state meet for the Patriots swimmers and divers. "Especially in the district meet, I felt a lot of pressure to win from myself and everyone watching. I felt some extra pressure (at state) because I'd won district. It took a few dives to get into the rhythm of the meet and forget about everything else. Once I hit a few dives, I felt pretty confident."
When the meet concluded Feb. 22, the boys team ended up seventh (111.5) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 53 teams scored and the girls tied for 19th (34) behind champion Dublin Coffman (214) as 53 teams scored.
The girls team's other qualifier was senior Kate Saczawa, a Purdue recruit who was a four-time state competitor and finished fifth in the 100-yard backstroke in 55.8 seconds.
"I only had a couple months of training because I was out with an injury from November to December, so I was focusing on my 100 back ... and I'm really happy," Saczawa said. "I'm just happy to be back (at state) and in good health."
The boys team was led by junior Christian Hosler and seniors John Bently, Isaac Iversen and Max Miller. They placed third in the 200 freestyle relay (1:22.81) and fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:32.97).
"It was a great year of training and I'm just glad to hit my peak at state," Iversen said. "Consistency was key. The camaraderie really helped. The relays are less stressful, so it helps to encourage each other and push each other faster."
Hosler finished fourth in the 50 free (20.48), Bently was 10th in the 100 free (46.59) and Miller was 19th in the 100 breaststroke (58.2). Hosler and Bently joined seniors Andrew Gehring and Eli Grubbs on the 400 free relay that placed 10th (3:09.62).
"Everyone swam their best times for every single split, so that's great," Miller said. "Everybody stepped up."
In boys diving, sophomore Anthony Sciulli finished fifth (410.75) and senior Micheal Boothman placed 21st (136.75) on Feb. 22.
"It went pretty well," Sciulli said. "I had a slow start in the warmup, but once I got to the meet I was feeling pretty comfortable and was having a good time."
Junior Jack Matthews, a two-time state qualifier in diving who qualified again this winter, did not compete at state because of an international meet.
Others eligible to return include sophomore Gavin Weis and freshmen Aiden Gaier, Keegan McCauley and Isaac Wolfe for the boys and juniors Brooke Kleinschmidt and Sarah Worster, sophomores Meggie Gehring, Kirin Loughrey, Kaitlyn Mathews and Amelia Wells and freshmen Morgan Lisch and Christina Racke for the girls.
Girls basketball team makes district semifinal
With a 59-26 victory over 20th-seeded Independence on Feb. 21, the girls basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal Feb. 26 against 14th-seeded Canal Winchester.
The winner plays top-seeded Newark or eighth-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district final Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion plays Coffman, Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Bradley or Gahanna in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at Otterbein.
The 12th-seeded Patriots, who opened the postseason with a 63-16 victory over 41st-seeded Central Crossing on Feb. 15, got a program-record eight 3-pointers from senior guard Kelly Levering as she scored 30 points against Independence.
Levering, who averaged 13.1 points during the regular season, scored 18 against Central Crossing with four 3s.
"We've all just recognized our potential," said Levering, who committed to Marietta on Feb. 11. "At the beginning of the season we all knew how good we could become. I've always known my role on this team. This year especially it's expanded talking-wise. I think I've kind of fallen easily into that role."
If the Patriots beat Canal Winchester, they will compete in a district final for the third consecutive season after losing the last two years to Pickerington Central.
Newark has won five consecutive district titles.
"We recognize how good we are, but I think we're a pretty low-key team (that is) not talked about as much," Levering said. "We get our work done, but there's not as much hype about us. When we're playing teams with a lot of hype, we're second-guessing how good we are. (We need to be) recognizing how good we can be and that we can beat those teams."
Three bowlers reach district tournament
Junior Nick Bateson and sophomore Carter Street of the boys team and senior Breanna Withrow of the girls team will compete in the Division I district bowling tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
The top three boys individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 6 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, and the top four girls individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 7 at the same site.
The boys finished 17th (3,481) in the 47-team sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991), but only the top 16 advanced to state. Street finished ninth (608) and Bateson was 48th (538) to advance individually.
On Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, Withrow tied for 44th (449) as Liberty did not post a team score.
Wrestlers set for sectional tourney
The wrestling team opens the Division I postseason with a sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.