Its fifth-place finish in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament Feb. 1 on its home mats might not appear to be an accomplishment for the Bexley High School wrestling team.
However, for a team that was last in the event a year ago, it was another sign the program continues to rebound.
Freshman Zach Welsh (120 pounds) and senior captains Sam Shorr (132) and Daniel Lee (195) each finished second to earn second-team all-league recognition.
West Jefferson won with 214.5 points, ahead of London (173.5), Whitehall (160.5), Madison Plains (152), Bexley (128.5), Grandview (101), Columbus Academy (84.5) and Harvest Prep (15).
"I'm extremely proud," second-year coach Ed Cruz said. "Realistically, we did everything we could do. The bottom line is we didn't lose a single match today that we should have won. If we got beat, we got beat by a better kid."
Bexley's performance in the league tournament capped a week in which the Lions also won two dual matches to finish with a 10-5 record in duals, a year after they won just two duals and finished the season with only seven wrestlers.
The Lions defeated Columbus Academy 37-29 and Eastmoor Academy 57-6 on Jan. 30. During that tri-meet, Welsh picked up his 24th victory to set a program record for wins as a freshman.
Welsh went 4-1 in the league tournament, including a pair of wins by pin, to improve to 28-14 overall.
"It feels good," he said. "I feel like we're going to have a good program. We're already starting to build it up.
"I feel like in a few years, we'll be up there with the good teams."
Competing with a bruised left knee suffered in practice the day before, Shorr went 2-1 in the league tournament. He opened with a technical fall victory, 16-0 over Grandview's Ben Jump, who had beaten Shorr earlier this season.
"I'm very proud. Obviously, we would want to win -- we'd want to get first-team all-league, want our team to come in first -- but seeing where we were last year, it is just almost ridiculous," said Shorr, who is 29-11 overall. "To get fifth and we have three guys (earn) second-team all-league, it is remarkable."
Lee turned in a 3-1 performance, with all of his matches ending in a pin.
"It is a great day for Bexley. It is a win in our book even if it is, on paper, kind of menial," said Lee, who is 25-10 overall. "For us, it's a big deal to have those kind of accomplishments, come out and have this many people on top.
"Of course there were disappointing moments today for everybody, but I think all in all people will look at this as a really great day."
Freshman Eric Crane placed third at 138 and senior Craig Music was third at heavyweight. Crane went 2-1 and is 16-15 overall, and Music is 9-16 overall after going 3-2 in the tournament with all three wins by pin.
The Lions next compete Feb. 15 in a Division II sectional at Madison Plains.
"It's huge because now the attitude of the kids in the (practice) room is we can do better," Cruz said. "From a positive standpoint, they can say this is where we were, this is where we are and we can get even better.
"I can guarantee one thing: We're not taking a step backwards. That won't ever happen."
Boys basketball team 'grinding' out wins
The boys basketball team picked up a pair of lopsided MSL-Ohio victories over Madison Plains on Jan. 29 and 31 to extend its winning streak to six games.
The Lions were 11-6 overall and 7-2 in the league before playing West Jefferson on Feb. 3.
Bexley, which also played a league game against London on Feb. 5, entered the week third in the MSL-Ohio behind Whitehall (10-1) and Grandview (7-1). The Lions play Saturday, Feb. 8, at Whitehall and Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Grandview.
The Lions lost to the Rams 74-68 on Jan. 13 and fell to the Bobcats 67-65 on Jan. 11.
"I like what we are doing. We are grinding these games out," coach Dave Gustin said. "A lot of teams now are just talking about the (district) tournament, because they are not in their league race. We are still in the league race and we'll have an opportunity to win the league if we continue to win."
In the first game against the Golden Eagles, Sam Nolan scored 21 points as the Lions won 65-37 after leading 34-9 at halftime. Niejel Young had 14 points and Cole Heilman added 13.
Two nights later, Bexley beat Madison Plains 86-58 as Drew Esposito led with 22 points. Nolan had 16 points, Marshall Drewry scored 13 and Young added 10.
"It is a great time to be on this run," Gustin said. "I just want to continue it and keep it going."
Girls basketball team seeded 15th in tourney
The girls basketball team was on a four-game winning streak and was 7-9 overall and 7-3 in the MSL-Ohio entering its game Feb. 3 at Grandview.
The Lions are seeded 15th in the Division III district tournament and have a first-round bye. They will play at 11th-seeded Galion Northmor or play host to 16th-seeded Columbus Academy in the second round Feb. 20.
"We were seeded about where we thought we'd be," coach John Callahan. "It gives us a chance, if we get a win, we can get to the district semifinals, and that is a step in the right direction for the program."
Bexley earned a 47-27 league win over Whitehall on Jan. 31, outscoring the Rams 31-16 in the second half. Brie Toney scored 18 points and was the only Lions player to reach double figures.
The Lions' league game at London on Jan. 28 was rescheduled for Feb. 5 because of bad weather. Bexley originally was to play at Buckeye Valley on Feb. 5 in a game that had been rescheduled from Jan. 7, but now that non-league contest might be canceled.
Entering the week, Bexley was third in the MSL-Ohio behind Worthington Christian (11-1) and West Jefferson (8-3) and ahead of Grandview (8-4).