Notebook: Hilliard Davidson Wildcats gymnasts prep for postseason

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Davidson's Megan McCabe placed ninth in the all-around (32.25) in a six-team meet Jan. 25 at Darby. The Wildcats finished third (124.5) as the host Panthers (136.95) won.

Despite having a limited roster of seven competitors, Hilliard Davidson gymnastics coach Carol Eskay has been pleased with her team’s progression. 

The Wildcats have been led by seniors Megan McCabe and Hope Tageson. 

Davidson finished third (124.5) in a six-team meet Jan. 25 behind first-place and host Darby (136.95). 

Tageson led the Wildcats by finishing first on vault (8.2) and sixth in the all-around (32.675), and McCabe was ninth in the all-around (32.25). 

“We have a really young team with just the two seniors, and some of our newer girls are getting more consistent on their events,” Eskay said. “We did a lot better (Jan. 25). We had fewer falls on (balance) beam, so we’re really trying to get that consistency in our skills and keep inching up our scores.” 

Davidson will compete in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Feb. 20 at Thomas Worthington, and the district meet will be held Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne. 

At district, the top three teams advance to the state team meet March 5 at Bradley, while the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around qualify for the individual state meet March 6 at Bradley. 

Eskay, who also coaches Bradley and Darby, is impressed with how her teams have responded despite competing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“We’ve gotten in a good routine,” she said. “We’re kind of lucky in our sport because we can be distanced. We can have our masks on and then when they’re up one at a time on the event they have their masks off. It helps that our sport functions in that way, so we’re able to keep the safety pretty high. There’s some modification. We do a lot of cleaning.” 

•The Darby gymnastics team turned in a strong effort while winning its home meet Jan. 25. Annamarie Bayer was the top performer for the Panthers, finishing first on beam (8.8), second on floor exercise (9.0) and third in the all-around (33.5). 

Abby Killilea was first on uneven bars (9.0), tied for second on vault (8.15) and placed fourth in the all-around (33.435), and Laurel Bonn tied for fifth in the all-around (33.15). 

“We’ve had some injuries, so we’re getting back to our full lineup,” Eskay said. “We’ve had some great depth thus far. I really want to have some consistency and we have some opportunities to continue to raise our scores. We have some good growth opportunities ... to finish out strong at OCC and district.” 

The Panthers will compete in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 20 at Thomas, followed by district. 

–Frank DiRenna 

•Lilly Gibbs won the all-around title for the Bradley gymnastics team Jan. 25 at Darby.

Gibbs scored 34.65 points to lead the Jaguars, who placed second (134.125). In individual events, Gibbs was first on floor (9.3), third on bars (8.7) and beam (8.55) and tied for third on vault (8.1).

Averey Jervis was third in the all-around (33.7), placing second on bars (8.75), third on floor (8.95), 10th on beam (7.9) and tying for third on vault (8.1). Gabi Graff was fifth in the all-around (33.15), tying for second on vault (8.15) and eighth on beam (8.2) and placing fifth on floor (8.75) and sixth on bars (8.05).

Paige Hamilton was 10th in the all-around (32.15). She tied for second on vault (8.15), placed seventh on bars (7.8) and tied for eighth on beam (8.2).

–Scott Hennen

•The Davidson swimming and diving teams are gearing up for what they hope will be a strong postseason. 

“We’re still swimming, so that’s a positive,” coach Lynn Bowers said. “They’re working hard in and out of the pool. They’ve been flexible and have remained positive despite all of the changes to schedules and protocols. I’m proud of our swimmers and coaching staff. It’s a privilege to serve as their head coach.” 

Bradley, Darby and Davidson will compete in an all-Hilliard Division I sectional Feb. 14 at the Hilliard YMCA. 

The district meet is Feb. 21 at Bowling Green. 

Bowers said the Wildcats’ top swimmers have been Owen Johannsen (individual medley, breaststroke) and A.J. Zody (freestyle) for the boys and Brynn Conrad (IM, backstroke) and Vivian Smith (free) for the girls. 

–Frank DiRenna 

Jared Hopkins and Darby are preparing for a Division I sectional meet Feb. 14 at the Hilliard YMCA.

•Darby swimming and diving coach Brian Dickmann has been pleased with his teams’ performances. 

“Progress is good considering the practice restrictions with COVID protocol,” Dickmann said. “Five (swimmers) per lane staggered through the pool makes it very difficult to teach the kids. I find I do more shouting at them, due to distance between us. I hope they know I’m just raising my voice because some are physically quite a distance away.” 

Key contributors for the boys have been Hayden Apel (diving), Chase Ellis (free, back), Jared Hopkins (breast), Mason Irwin (back, IM, free) and Mason Peck (free, IM, butterfly). 

Rachel Hopkins (breast), Avery Peltcs (breast), Bailee Sturgell (diving) and Natalie Wood (free) have led the girls. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing how fast and far we can sprint at the end of the season,” Dickmann said. “We’re utilizing a lot of heart-rate sets.” 

–Frank DiRenna

•The Darby girls basketball team was 5-8 overall before playing Olentangy Berlin on Jan. 29, but remained in the OCC-Cardinal race at 4-2.

The Panthers were tied with Marysville for second after the teams split their two league meetings. The Monarchs won 55-31 on Jan. 18 before Darby took the rematch 32-21 on Jan. 22.

Olentangy was first at 5-1 before playing Thomas on Jan. 29.

“We have four league games remaining, and our goal is to sweep them and win a title,” said coach Tay Tufts, whose team lost 41-29 at Bradley on Jan. 26. “Teams play you hard when they know you have a shot. We have to learn from tonight (against the Jaguars) and get ready to go.”

The Panthers are scheduled to play at home Feb. 5 against Olentangy, which won the first matchup 47-37 on Jan. 2. They also play Feb. 9 at Dublin Jerome, which lost 39-35 to the Panthers on Jan. 15.

Darby also plays Northland at home Feb. 6 and at Watkins Memorial on Feb. 10.

Through 13 games, Ashley Powers was averaging 9.2 points to lead a balanced scoring attack. She was tied with Sofia Gentile for the team lead in rebounds at 4.8 per game.

Bella Heaton was averaging 8.3 points and 2.1 assists, and Tayen Brown was averaging 7.1 points, 2.1 assists and a team-leading 2.3 steals. Sophie Williams was averaging 6.5 points and had shot 21-for-59 from 3-point range (35.6 percent).

–Scott Hennen

•Julien Kleiv went 3-0 at 106 pounds for the Bradley wrestling team in a quad Jan. 22 at Pickerington North.

The Jaguars lost to Dresden Tri-Valley 50-20, Bloom-Carroll 42-36 and the host Panthers 53-27.

Tristan Carlson-Inks (132/138) went 2-0, and Caden Ellison (126), Matt Sailor (220), Robert Snyder (heavyweight) and Jeremy Uting (170/182) all went 2-1.

Bradley, which was 0-3 in the OCC-Central before facing Olentangy Orange on Feb. 3, closes out its league duals Feb. 11 at Dublin Coffman.

–Scott Hennen

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