The Bexley High School wrestling team showed significant growth in its second season under coach Ed Cruz.
In 2012-13, the Lions went 2-12 in duals meets, placed last in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament, had one wrestler qualify for district and finished with a roster of just seven athletes.
This season, Bexley went 10-5 in duals, placed fifth in the league tournament, qualified four wrestlers for district and featured a roster of 13.
"This team has a lot to celebrate this year. Our improvement as a team, and for our individual wrestlers, has been dramatic," Cruz said. "The effort and improvement is amazing."
Senior captains Sam Shorr and Daniel Lee led the way for the Lions, as each placed second in the league tournament and qualified for district. Shorr qualified for district for the third consecutive season and finished 33-14, and Lee went 30-13 with 22 pins.
In the league tournament Feb. 1 at home, the Lions scored 128.5 points to finish behind West Jefferson (214.5), London (173.5), Whitehall (160.5) and Madison Plains (152) and ahead of Grandview (101), Columbus Academy (84.5) and Harvest Prep (15).
Shorr (132), Lee (195) and freshman Zach Welsh (120) all were runners-up to earn second-team all-league honors.
In a Division II sectional Feb. 15 at Madison Plains, the Lions placed eighth (86) of 11 teams behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (228) as Shorr (138, third), Lee (195, third), freshman Eric Crane (145, fourth) and sophomore Dylan Cramer (152, fourth) advanced to district.
Freshman Perrin Ruff (113, fifth) and Welsh (126, fifth) were district alternates.
At district Feb. 21 and 22 at Uhrichsville Claymont, Lee went 2-2 and Cramer, Crane and Shorr all went 0-2. The Lions tied for 34th (6) behind champion Claymont (279.5) as 39 teams scored.
In the Division II state team tournament, the seventh-seeded Lions, competing in Region 14-A, lost their opening-round match at second-seeded Buckeye Valley 62-6 on Jan. 22.
Gage Hedrick (160) and Craig Music (heavyweight) rounded out Bexley's four-member senior class.
Welsh went 30-16, surpassing the previous record of 24 wins by a freshman. Crane finished 18-19, Cramer was 20-18 and Ruff went 23-22, including a first-place effort Jan. 18 in the Jonathan Alder Invitational.
"While losing Sam and Daniel is tough, we have two district qualifiers and two (district) alternates coming back," Cruz said. "Add that to the other returnees and the eighth-grade wrestlers moving to high school, and we are looking toward a very bright future."
Girls basketball team showed progress
John Callahan believes the girls basketball team set a foundation for future success during his first season as coach.
After winning only three of their first 12 games, the Lions finished 9-13 overall and placed fourth (9-5) in the MSL-Ohio behind Worthington Christian (13-1), Grandview (10-4) and West Jefferson (10-4) and ahead of Madison Plains (7-7), Columbus Academy (3-11), London (3-11) and Whitehall (1-13).
Bexley was seeded 15th in the Division III district tournament and lost its postseason opener 33-28 on Feb. 20 at 11th-seeded Galion Northmor.
"The girls gave great effort throughout the entire season," Callahan said.
"As the season went on, we started to play better as a team."
Freshman forward Brie Toney was a first-team all-league selection after averaging a team-leading 9.3 points to go with 4.5 rebounds. Junior center Elise Torrence was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district after averaging 8.3 points to go with a team-best 7.0 rebounds and 68 blocks.
Point guard Sidney Woodford, the team's lone senior, was honorable mention all-league after averaging 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Junior forward Mary Massarelli averaged 3.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and blocked 30 shots, while freshman guard Olivia Anderson had a team-leading 30 assists.
A main area of concern for Callahan was turnovers. The Lions committed 488 turnovers (22.2 per game) but had only 165 assists (7.5 per game).
"Taking care of the basketball will be a focus for us in the offseason. We had turnovers at costly times in games and we didn't handle pressure as well as we needed to," Callahan said. "It is my job as a coach to make sure we get better at handling the basketball and pressure that we saw this past year.
"The girls did their best this year, but I believe we have a group that is willing to do the work to get better and that has to start with me. Becoming more consistent scorers on the offensive end is also something we will be working on."
Other players expected to return are juniors Abby Barno (guard), Olivia Riley (forward) and Sophie Schottenstein (guard) and sophomores Ashley Barno (guard) and Meredith Schwager (forward).
"We had hoped to win the league, which will always be our goal, but we came up short, which I believe we can use as motivation for next season," Callahan said.
"This summer we will be able to do more things because the girls will be familiar with what our expectations are and how we want things run."