Two members of the Delaware Hayes girls wrestling team placed in the inaugural state tournament held Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson.

Freshman Kelcey Dew defeated Liberty Center's Kalen Rauch to place third at 121 pounds after falling to eventual champion Leilah Castro of New Lexington in a semifinal.

Dew, who was seeded fourth, went 4-1 at state and finished the season 14-5.

"I think I did well this year," said Dew, who has wrestled since she was young. "My coaches said I looked a lot better than I did last year in eighth grade, and I think what helped me was having other girls around me."

"The state tournament was the best tournament she had all year," assistant coach Kyle Meyer said of Dew.

Dew's objectives for next season are to pick up where she left off this year and to continue helping to grow the Pacers' program.

"My goals now are to help the other new girls that are coming in, because we're getting a lot of new girls next year," she said. "I'm hopefully going to help them be able to wrestle. And I really want to go to the state tournament again."

In her first year competing in the sport, senior Ari Avant went 3-3 and placed sixth at state at 137, falling to eventual runner-up Aliya Martin of Big Walnut in a semifinal and to Kate Telles of West Chester Lakota West in fifth-place match.

Avant, who was seeded third at state, finished 15-5.

"I was really happy with the entire season and I left happy that I decided to try wrestling," Avant said. "I was hoping for something better, but I was not feeling very good on the second day of the tournament, so it didn't go my way, but it's OK. The first day was awesome, and getting a chance to compete with all those girls was a lot of fun."

"She was always getting better," Meyer said of Avant. "There was never really a dip."

Avant, a standout track and field competitor, said wrestling has improved her capabilities as an athlete.

"I think I gained a lot more stamina and mental toughness," she said. "The longest race I've done was literally a minute. And then to have to wrestle a full six minutes is so tiring, but you can't just quit and give up."

Also competing at state were senior Chloe Diehl (143), junior Jordan Rutherford (106) and freshmen Madelyn Graham (111) and Meredith Milligan (126).

This was the first season in which the Pacers featured multiple girls on the roster.

"All but one of them is new to the sport, so it was really nice to see some of them try something different and challenging, and seeing them grow throughout the year was probably the coolest thing," assistant coach Phil Carr said. "They didn't know the rules, they didn't know stances, everything was new. And how they've progressed throughout the season, it's amazing how far they've come in a short time. I can't imagine the boys progressing as fast as these girls did, so it was pretty cool to see."

Members of the boys team competed in a Division I sectional Feb. 29, at Marysville, with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to the district tournament Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, at Hilliard Darby.

At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state March 13-15 at Ohio State.

Sulek places fourth at state in diving

Sam Sulek concluded his high school diving career by placing fourth (414.05 points) in the Division I state meet held Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

The senior improved by 10 spots from last season, when he finished 14th (384.85) at state.

"It's pretty meaningful, especially because last year I kind of peaked at the district meet," Sulek said. "So it kind of felt like a comeback to be on the podium this year."

Also competing at state for the boys team was sophomore Mark Sulek, who finished 23rd in diving (132.45).

Sam Sulek scored 15 points at state, as Delaware finished 30th behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 53 teams scored.

The girls team was represented at state by freshman Mackenzie Carter in the 50-yard freestyle (22nd, 24.25 seconds) and the 200 free relay of Carter, senior Elizabeth Abahazi, sophomore Kailyn Smith and junior Rena Ouyang (19th, 1:38.92).

The Pacers did not score at state.

Among the expected returnees for next season are Mark Sulek, sophomores Max Etheridge and Jake Stein and freshmen Charles Abahazi and Kaden Gannon of the boys team and Carter, Ouyang, Smith and junior Elizabeth Uniss of the girls team.

White leads gymnasts at district meet

Sophomore Rachel White led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.

White placed ninth on balance beam (9.050) and 27th in the all-around (33.325). She was a state alternate on beam, as the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to state Feb. 29 at Hilliard Bradley.

Delaware finished 14th (124.85) at district behind champion Thornville Sheridan (144.55) as the top three teams advanced to state Feb. 28 at Bradley.

Also in the all-around for the Pacers, freshman Maddi Francisco tied for 64th (30.75) and senior Elizabeth White placed 68th (30.625).

Girls bowling team advances to district

The girls bowling team competed in the Division I district tournament Feb. 29 at HP Lanes.

Led by senior McKenzie Cooke, the Pacers qualified for district by finishing sixth (3,154) of 42 teams in the sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653), as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.

Cooke rolled a 536 three-game series to finish 10th of 192 bowlers. She was followed by sophomore Hannah Halstead (22nd, 499), sophomore Lydia Bendele (40th, 454) and freshman Makayla Pounds (63rd, 428).

The boys team's season ended at sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes, as the Pacers finished 34th (2,976) of 47 teams, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991).

Senior Nick George led the Pacers, tying for 104th (472) of 270 bowlers.

At district, the top four girls teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Saturday, March 7, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Boys basketball team opens postseason

The 18th-seeded boys basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 28 against 12th-seeded St. Charles.

The winner plays fourth-seeded Pickerington Central or 37th-seeded Licking Heights in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 4, at a site to be determined. That winner likely would face third-seeded Columbus South or 13th-seeded Westerville Central in a district final Saturday, March 7, at Ohio Dominican.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 12.

The Pacers finished the regular season 13-9.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve