Westerville Central sophomore wrestler David Javier always looks forward to challenges.
After competing in the North Carolina state tournament last season, Javier transferred to Central in hopes of a step up in competition. He also moved because his family thought it would lead to better college choices for wrestling down the road.
Javier has responded, going 42-2 while competing at 106 and 113 pounds. He expects to compete at 106 in the postseason.
"Wrestling is much different here," Javier said. "It's more challenging. Every opponent I get in every tournament in the finals is always a step up from North Carolina."
Competing for Class A Elkin last season, Javier went 1-2 at 106 at state to finish 47-3.
"Last year will help me," he said. "Being under pressure those matches will help me for sure."
Central will compete in the 14-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
Gary Steele also is looking to make a postseason run. A two-time district qualifier, he is 39-9 at 145.
Josiah Mair is 34-7 at 195, Tate Sterling is 33-12 at 152, Xavier Allen is 28-13 at 220, Caleb Scheideger is 25-16 at 132/138 and Logan Moore is 21-10 at 170/182.
"My original goal before everybody was banged up was nine (district qualifiers)," coach Jerry McSwords said. "When I look at it now, I'm hoping (for) six. They have to put forth the work and make sure they do all the right things."
The Warhawks will be without two key contributors as Zeke Healy (182) and Braden Weimer (195) are out with shoulder injuries. Healy finished 24-3 and Weimer was 18-10.
"It's very disappointing," said Healy, a two-time district qualifier who suffered a torn left labrum Jan. 4 at Dublin Scioto. "I'm still going to be there for my team every practice."
Healy took time off to rest the shoulder, but re-aggravated the injury during the Pickerington North Invitational on Jan. 18. He's hoping the injury will heal through rehabilitation, but surgery remains an option.
Smith leads swim team at state
Sophomore Kiah Smith led the girls swimming and diving team in the Division I state meet Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Smith finished seventh in the 50-yard freestyle (23.65 seconds) and 14th in the 100 butterfly (56.92).
"I didn't like my (fifth-place) prelim swim (of 23.61 in the 50 free)," said Smith, who finished ninth at state in the 50 free (23.76) last season. "It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my best. Even the final wasn't my best, but I came and I raced, and that was what was important to me. I just want to have fun and do what I love to do, which is swimming."
Smith, seniors Macey Swearingen and Sophia Antonetz and junior Ashley Hockstok were 22nd in the 200 free relay (1:39.55), and Swearingen was 14th in the 100 free (53.38) and 100 backstroke (57.73).
Swearingen was a four-time state qualifier.
"I have so many people that I know and that I swam with for a really long time, not just in high school, and some of the people that I swim with every day," she said. "It's really fun to have a place where we all come together, especially as my last high school meet."
Central finished 28th (20.5) behind champion Dublin Coffman (214) as 53 teams scored.
"Our season was full of ups and downs, but we swam well at the end of the season and were pleased with our state meet presence on the women's side," coach Ron Staab said. "Our men's team is growing, and we are seeing young talent coming in the next few years and are looking forward to seeing where we can go."
Bowlers advance to district tourney
The boys and girls bowling teams turned in strong showings in Division I sectional tournaments to advance to district Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
The girls finished first (3,653) in the 42-team sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, ahead of second-place Gahanna (3,553). Stephanie Showalter led the Warhawks by tying for eighth of 192 bowlers with a 545 three-game series.
The boys finished second (3,883) in the 47-team sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes, behind Reynoldsburg (3,991). Wesley Minke was first of 270 bowlers with a 651 series.
Boys basketball team to face Grove City
The 13th-seeded boys basketball team will play host to 23rd-seeded Grove City in the second round of the Division I district tournament Friday, Feb. 28.
Central, which is 15-7, lost to Grove City 52-43 in the Grove City Tip-Off Classic championship game Nov. 30.
The winner likely plays third-seeded Columbus South in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 4, at a neutral site.
Girls basketball team closes season
A season of turmoil for the girls basketball team ended Feb. 15 with a 60-29 loss at second-seeded Watterson in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Mabinty Kebe, the only senior on the team, led the 40th-seeded Warhawks with 13 points.
Central finished 4-19 overall and 1-9 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
After replacing Jim Morgan as coach, Randy Patton resigned in early January because of personal reasons. Assistant coach Jermaine Hester replaced Patton on an interim basis.
"It's a young team, and we developed and got better," Hester said. "Unfortunately, coach Patton with his personal situation had to step down. I just took the lead. The girls embraced it and competed. That's all I asked for."
Kebe, a guard, led the Warhawks in scoring (12.0), rebounds (7.4), assists (2.0) and steals (2.0) and was named second-team all-league.
Sophomore Ashley Kerscher (wing player/post player) was honorable mention all-league.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Sydney Bell (guard) and Erin Hunley (wing player/post player), sophomores Lea Albrecht (guard), Taylor Hickman (wing player/post player), Rugie Kabia (post player) and Sharon Ndiki Mahop (wing player/post player) and freshmen Gwen Reed (guard) and Alexis Shea (guard).