Over the last year, Lena Morgan had to deal with the frustration of how painfully close she came to capturing the Division II state girls diving title in her first state appearance last season.
There was no such disappointment this winter for the Worthington Christian junior, as she became the program's first state champion in girls diving Feb. 19 at Branin Natatorium in Canton by scoring 448.35 points to edge Cincinnati Wyoming's Grace Courtney (444.5) for the title.
A season ago, Morgan scored 479.85 points but placed second behind Pepper Pike Orange's Janie Boyle (483.7).
"Last year (Boyle) beat me by a couple points, so I was like, 'Next year, I can do so much better,'" Morgan said. "I did start (this year's state) meet out rough, but ultimately I did my best toward the end. Last year definitely helped motivate me to do a lot better."
Morgan, who also won the district title Feb. 12 at Ohio State, was in fifth place after her fifth dive at state.
"My first five dives were inconsistent and rough and I was having a little bit of a hard time, but after the fifth dive, there was no way I could keep going like this, so I got it together and did the best I could," Morgan said. "The atmosphere is pretty fun (at state)."
Morgan trained with a club team from Indiana during the offseason while Ohio State's facility was being renovated.
"This season, Lena has worked really hard on being strong and consistent," coach Jill McInerney said. "She's always been able to do some difficult dives and she's worked on putting them in the water clean. Lena is such a strong athlete. She's been able to make her dives look effortless, which is fun to watch.
"She did add a new dive to her repertoire this season, a reverse 1 1/2 with a half twist, and it has become one of her best dives. She's also worked really hard on the details of each dive and her entries. She has, all around, matured as a diver and as an athlete."
Morgan was the only state representative for the Warriors, who tied for 31st (20) at state behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (399).
Freshman Emma Stoll, junior Mary Lake and sophomore Morgan Lawrence should be the top returning girls swimmers next season.
At district, Stoll placed fifth in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 24.36 seconds) and 14th in the 100 butterfly (1:04.95). She also teamed with Lake, Lawrence and senior Anna Stathulis on the 19th-place 200 free relay (1:55.02) and the 21st-place 200 medley relay (2:09.04). Lake also was a district qualifier in the 50 free.
Sophomore Isaac Myhal, who placed fifth at district in the 100 fly (56.5), and sophomore Micah Shemenski, who was seventh at district in the 500 free (5:20.76), should be the top returning boys swimmers.
Girls bowlers make first state tourney
In its fifth season as a program, the girls bowling team has advanced to its first Division II state tournament.
The Warriors will compete in the 16-team state event Saturday, Feb. 29, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl after scoring a 3,429 on Feb. 20 at HP Lanes to capture the championship at the 12-team district tournament.
Juniors Emily Weishaar and Lilly Marsh placed fifth (529) and sixth (523), respectively. Others contributors included seniors Hope Nyland, Natalie Opava, Amber Ralston and Coral Varian and junior Abby Lanker.
Worthington Christian was leading after three games and scored a tournament-best 1,067 during the six Baker games to beat runner-up Galion Northmor (3,315) by more than 100 pins.
"Everybody stepped up," coach Matt Hamilton said. "People like Coral Varian stepped up. She's usually our sixth bowler and she came in and was a very big contributor for two and a half games. Everybody was on. Even my eighth bowler, (Lanker), when it was her time, she came in and hit shots (during the Baker games). It was a 100-percent team effort. When one girl was struggling, another girl stepped up. It was just awesome."
Inconsistency during the Baker games hurt the boys team at district, as it finished 10th (3,238) behind champion Heath (3,942). The Warriors were 137 pins out of second place after the three regulation games, but scored more than 150 pins in just two of the six Baker games.
Caleb Slagle, the team's only senior, rolled a 592 three-game series to place fifth, finishing 62 pins behind runner-up Joey Henson of Morral Ridgedale.
Sophomore Jonah Varian (472) tied for 33rd and sophomore Noah Dirscherl was 45th (427), while junior Mason Marsh and sophomore Connor Lawson also contributed.
Boys basketball team set to begin tourney
The second-seeded boys basketball team opens the postseason with a second-round Division III district tournament game Friday, Feb. 28, at home against 11th-seeded Marion Elgin or 14th-seeded Fairbanks.
The winner plays eighth-seeded Galion Northmor, 10th-seeded Fredericktown or 15th-seeded Madison Plains in a district semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at a site to be announced.
That winner advances to a district final March 6 at Ohio Dominican, where it likely would face top-seeded and defending state champion Harvest Prep.
Worthington Christian is 17-4 and on a nine-game winning streak.
Fairbanks, which lost to the Warriors 52-35 on Dec. 3, was 11-11 and Elgin was 13-9 heading into their matchup Feb. 25.
Fairbanks is led by 6-foot-3 junior Braylon Green, who averages 12.5 points, and Elgin features 6-5 senior Ryan Sheridan, who averages 20 points.