When Tim Bolon spoke to senior Mikey Penn before the start of the season, he may have thought the Bexley High School wrestler wasn't listening.

When Tim Bolon spoke to senior Mikey Penn before the start of the season, he may have thought the Bexley High School wrestler wasn't listening.

Penn got the message. It just took him awhile to understand the truth behind it.

"During football season, Mr. Bolon always talked to us about how he stopped wrestling and how he always regretted it," Penn said. "But I was dinged up from football and I decided not to come out. When he found out, he was disappointed but he understood the reason."

After deciding not to wrestle this season, Penn had an about-face a month into the season.

He is now 19-2 overall with 11 pins.

Last Friday and Saturday in the Grandview Invitational, Penn defeated Marion-Franklin's Cameron Summers 6-4 to win the 189-pound weight class.

Teammate D.J. Jones (125) defeated Fairfield Union's Rusty Oehlers in 3 minutes, 52 seconds to win his weight class.

Dan Doersam was second at 112 as the Lions placed third with 149 points behind the champion Red Devils (238) and Westfall (168.5).

"I didn't say anything super profound," said Bolon, a 1979 Bexley graduate whose son Tommy wrestles with Penn. "I told him 'You've wrestled since you were in seventh or eighth grade. If you stop now, you're going to regret it."

Penn was 6-2 overall and runner-up in the Ready Invitational on Dec. 29-30 while wrestling in the 215-pound weight class. Since dropping down to the 189 class, Penn is 13-0. In addition to winning at Grandview, he won a title in the Licking Heights Invitational on Jan. 9.

"Mikey has provided strong leadership for this team," coach Jason Barnett said. "He's a big, tough kid and he doesn't take any crap from anyone. He's taught the younger kids on this team how to be aggressive."

Penn was a defensive back and wide receiver for the football team. He was the team's leading receiver with 17 receptions for 286 yards and two touchdowns during a 3-7 season.

However, Penn spent a majority of the season wracked with pain. He went through the same pre-game ritual: icing the legs down, taping his shins and covering them with a shin brace and downing some ibuprofen.

It didn't make the ache disappear but it allowed him to finish the season.

"At times, the pain was unbearable," Penn said. "There was this fiery sting that shot through my legs whenever I ran."

The senior thought he had a hairline fracture in his leg and shuddered at the thought of enduring that kind of pain for wrestling season.

After an x-ray revealed that his leg wasn't broken, Penn discovered all his legs needed were rest. As the pain subsided, the longing to wrestle increased.

"Whenever I'd get together with my friends, we'd reminisce about all the good times we had during wrestling season," Penn said. "I started to realize how much I missed it."

Barnett was delighted when he got a text message from Penn asking if it was too late to rejoin the team.

"He texted back saying I'd always have a place on this team," Penn said.

Penn finished 13-9 overall at 160 last season and was a district alternate after placing fifth in the Licking Heights sectional.

It was a battle to get back into wrestling shape, but a new winning atmosphere at Bexley pushed Penn forward.

"Wrestling is one of the toughest sports to get in shape for," Penn said. "It requires a whole different type of shape than football. I was at a major disadvantage."

•The girls soccer team will be honored for its state championship season at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at the high school. Thanks to a forfeit, Bexley will be presented the state trophy and each player will receive their medallion.

"We had to find a day where they were no athletic activities going on," coach Scott Dempsey said. "We're hoping we can draw a big crowd to thank the people who supported us all season."

The Lions lost to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 2-1 in the Division II state final on Nov. 14 at Columbus Crew Stadium.

However, the OHSAA discovered in December that one of the Blazers' players was ineligible and gave Bexley, 21-0-3, the forfeit win and state title. Hathaway Brown appealed the decision but was denied the appeal by a 9-0 vote.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for Bexley boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Last Friday -- Defeated Columbus Academy 72-39. Reuel Rogers had 16 points. Matt Asensio (14 points), Josh Lake (13) and Jon Primes (12) also scored in double figures. *Last Tuesday -- Played Heath *Saturday -- At Whitehall. The Lions defeated the Rams 74-62 on Dec. 18. Reuel Rogers scored 27 points in that meeting. Tuesday -- At Hamilton Township

Of note: The Lions were 10-1 overall and 6-1 in MSL-Ohio before last Tuesday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Last Saturday -- Def. Granville 57-36. The Aces outscored the Lions 32-16 in the first half. Lily Watson had 16 points. *Friday -- At Newark Catholic. The Lions lost to the Green Wave 56-511 on Dec. 15. Tuesday -- At Lakewood. The Lions defeated the Lancers 36-29 on Dec. 15. Feb. 4 -- At Jonathan Alder Of note: The Lions were 8-7 overall and 4-6 in MSL-Ohio. SWIMMING & DIVING Last Friday -- Boys: Lost to Wellington 57-37; Girls: Def. Wellington 61-33 Last Saturday -- Boys: Lost to Dublin Scioto 75-19 and lost to Whetstone 64-32; Girls: Def. Whetstone 62-36 and lost to Dublin Scioto 51-43 Friday -- At St. Charles

WRESTLING

*Jan. 21 -- Def. Academy 48-3 and lost to Licking Valley 40-13 Last Friday-Saturday -- Finished third (149) behind champion Marion-Franklin (238) at 14-team Grandview Invitational. D.J. Jones (125) and Mikey Penn (189) won their weight classes and Dan Doersam (112) was second. *Today -- At Newark Catholic and Heath Wednesday -- At Hartley Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Granville

Of note: The Lions were 3-8 overall and 1-1 in MSL-Ohio.

*MSL-Ohio contest