The championship the Hartley High School wrestling team celebrated Feb. 22 at Heath has proven to be one of a group of firsts for the program.
A week after the Hawks won what coach Kevin Petrella believed was the first sectional title in program history, they captured their first district championship and advanced four competitors to the Division III state tournament for the first time.
In addition, senior Grant Rathburn (138 pounds) became the program's first three-time state qualifier.
It sets up Hartley for what Petrella hopes is another memorable weekend when it competes at state Thursday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 1, at Ohio State.
"We want to be on the board when it's all over, and that's a top-10 (team) finish," Petrella said. "That's a pretty realistic goal."
Hartley scored 107.5 points to top the district field as 50 teams scored in the two-day tournament.
Junior Kristopher Hill beat Bainbridge Paint Valley's Tyler Stoneburner 17-8 to win the title at 113 and improve to 44-4 overall. He was sixth at state at the same weight last season.
"I got second (at district) last year, so it does feel pretty good," Hill said.
Rathburn beat Newark Catholic's Evan Hansel 8-4 in his final to improve to 41-10. Rathburn, who went 0-2 at 126 at state as a sophomore and 1-2 at 132 last season, rallied from a 4-1 deficit in his district final. He came back from a 12-4 deficit to beat Hansel 16-12 in the sectional final Feb. 15 at Cardington.
"(Hansel) gets gassed late in matches, so I knew I had him when I got the lead," Rathburn said.
Sophomore Jared Croswell (220) edged Columbus Academy's Dan Jones 1-0 in his final, improving to 34-12. He lost to Jones 3-2 in the sectional final.
His senior brother, Jacob Croswell, lost to Northridge's Rob Mickey 5-3 in the 160 final and enters state at 38-10.
"It's a great feeling," Jared Croswell said. "My brother is going to be there as a senior and it's his first time. It's a great feeling to share that with him."
Also competing at district were sophomore Josh Heinmiller (1-2 at 120, final record of 25-18) and senior Trey Hampton (0-2 at 182, 22-19).
"It's been a pretty good year," Jacob Croswell said.
Boys swimmers compete at state
The boys swimming and diving team competed in two events in the Division II state meet, but didn't make the final in either.
Junior Patrick Lawrence placed 20th in the 100-yard butterfly (53.94 seconds) and joined junior Michael Bungard and sophomores Jonathan Kluczynski and Bruce Kotlinski on the 200 medley relay that placed 23rd (1:44.5).
Hartley did not score at state, which was held Feb. 19-21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"We were all just stoked to be there," Lawrence said. "We have a whole other year together, so we can only go up from here. Obviously we didn't do as well as we were hoping, but we weren't that far from the school record (of 1:42.99 in the 200 medley relay)."
Girls bowlers advance to district
Led by seniors Chelsea Craft, Molly Stitt and Mia Meyer, the girls bowling team advanced to the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 1, at Eastland Lanes.
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to state March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
In the sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes, the girls placed 16th (2,603) of 37 teams behind champion Briggs (3,345) as the top 20 teams advanced.
Craft was 59th (395), Stitt placed 69th (385) and Meyer was 78th (374).
It's the first time the girls have qualified for district as a team.
On Feb. 22 in the boys Division II district tournament at HP Lanes, senior Corey Wilbur failed to advance to state, tying for 23rd (566) as the top three individuals not on qualifying teams moved on.
Boys basketball team begins postseason
The top-seeded boys basketball team opened the Division III district tournament with a second-round game Feb. 26 at home against 20th-seeded Madison Plains.
The winner plays ninth-seeded Liberty Union or 10th-seeded Fredericktown in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Hilliard Davidson. The district final is March 6 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Hartley was 14-7 and Madison Plains was 2-19 entering their game.
Liberty Union is 12-10 and Fredericktown is 12-11 entering their game Thursday, Feb. 27.
Girls basketball team falls to River Valley
The girls basketball team's hopes of defending its Division II district title ended with a 49-42 loss to visiting 15th-seeded Caledonia River Valley in the second round Feb. 20.
The Hawks, who were seeded sixth, finished 12-10.
"We just never got on track," coach Mike Lanza said.
Hartley loses two seniors in guard Alexis Britford, who was the second-leading scorer at 7.3 points per game, and post player Erin Chatman.
Junior post player Marissa Brown, who has committed to Youngstown State, increased her scoring average from 9.3 a year ago to 16.1 this winter and also averaged 7.5 rebounds. She scored a season-high 29 points in a 79-31 win over 16th-seeded Columbus South on Feb. 17 in the postseason opener.
The Hawks also are eligible to return juniors Kailey Beard (guard), Kylie Casimir (guard), Miranda Golden (post player) and Sydney Williams (guard), sophomores Haley Johnson (post player) and Hannah Kelly (post player) and freshmen Faith Saxton (guard) and Kristen Chatman (forward).
Hartley finished fourth (4-4) in the CCL behind DeSales (6-2), Ready (5-3) and Watterson (5-3) and ahead of Columbus School for Girls (0-8).
"(There are) a lot (of key players) coming back," said Lanza, who recently was named Grove City football coach and hasn't decided his future with the Hawks.