Groveport Madison High School wrestling coach Mark Niemann thinks his squad can produce five district qualifiers.

Groveport Madison High School wrestling coach Mark Niemann thinks his squad can produce five district qualifiers.

The Cruisers will compete in the Division I sectional tournament Saturday, Feb. 16, at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby.

"We'd have to wrestle extremely well, but we've got five guys capable of doing that," Niemann said. "We haven't been a great dual team, but we've got three kids who definitely have a chance and another two who are borderline but have wrestled well lately. I'd be thrilled to get all five out."

Groveport is seeded 33rd of 40 teams in the district. Also competing in its sectional are second-seeded Mount Vernon, fifth-seeded Darby, ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty, Teays Valley (12th), Pickerington North (13th), Logan (23rd), Westerville South (31st), Westerville Central (36th) and Newark (38th).

Sophomore Shakur Laney is 25-4 at 106 pounds and was a district qualifier a year ago, going 1-2 at district.

"He is on fire right now," Niemann said. "He's doing things routinely after we show him one time in practice. A light bulb went on, and he's really kicked it in. He will still have to wrestle well because the top four wrestlers in the district at 106 are in this sectional. One mistake and he could be done, but I just don't see that happening with his focus right now."

Sophomore Malcolm Solack is 12-7 at 195.

"I feel I have a good chance to get to district and possibly, if everything goes right, I could have a small chance of getting to state," Solack said. "I missed a couple of tournaments with a skin issue and a minor injury, but I'm ready to go now. These matches are going to be closer and more intense, so I have to stay focused all the time."

Niemann likes the mental approach he has seen from Solack in recent matches.

"He won our Cruiser Invitational (on Jan. 26) because he finally put together complete periods, which produced complete matches, which produced a great tournament for him," Niemann said. "He has been able to string periods together lately, and that's the way you win. You have to focus on winning each period, not on winning a match."

Junior Zander Wright, who recently returned to action after missing a few matches, is 7-3 at 132.

"He has all the talent in the world on that mat and he's been wrestling for six or seven years," Niemann said. "He knows what to do and there's no reason he can't make it to district."

Senior Sam Loving (138) and sophomore Kyle Stover (145) have shown that they can compete for a district berth as well, Niemann said.

"Both have losing records right now, but they're coming on strong," Niemann said. "Stover is initiating moves and is being aggressive. He took down a kid from Lancaster who is ranked in the state. Those guys have a chance, but they have to keep their vision and focus."

Bowlers getting set for sectional tourney

The boys and girls bowling teams begin the postseason this week.

The girls team will compete in the 26-team sectional tournament Friday, Feb. 15, at Columbus Western Bowl, with the boys squad competing in the 30-team sectional the next day at the same site.

The top nine teams and top nine individuals not on a qualifying team in both sectionals advance to the district tournament at HP Lanes. The boys district is Friday, Feb. 22, and the girls district is Saturday, Feb. 23.

The girls team finished 9-8-1 overall, including 8-5-1 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division and 1-3-1 in the OCC-Ohio. Elizabeth Moore leads the team with a 169 game average, followed by Alizabeth Clements (168.2), Tewana Smiley (112.8) and Callie Smith (101.7).

According to coach Shon Jenkins, academic ineligibility will prevent the girls squad from having enough bowlers to post a team score.

"Our girls will compete as individuals," Jenkins said. "I think Moore and Clements both could advance if they bowl well that day."

Last season, the girls team advanced to district, where it finished sixth (3,219) behind champion Westerville Central (3,551) as the top three teams advanced to state. Gahanna (3,415) earned the final state-qualifying berth.

The boys team finished 7-13 overall, 6-8 in the COHSBC-South and 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio. Brandon Klentz leads the Cruisers with a 192.9 game average, followed by Tyler Brown (179.6), Devon Stepney (152.4), Billy DeMatteo (144.9) and Gared Popp (135.3).

"It'd be nice to have them go on as a team, but that can only happen if they keep their heads together," Jenkins said. "They've had trouble focusing. If they can't make it as a team, I do think Klentz and Brown have a good chance of moving on as individuals."

Last season, boys team advanced to district, where it finished 10th (3,548) behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,962). Whitehall (3,769) secured the third and final state berth.

Girls basketball team preparing for tourney

The girls basketball team is seeded 40th of 43 teams in the Division I district tournament and will open at second-seeded Gahanna in the first round Saturday, Feb. 16.

The winner will play host to 41st-seeded Watkins Memorial in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 20. The second-round winner will face 12th-seeded Dublin Scioto, 15th-seeded Dublin Jerome, 18th-seeded Central Crossing or 19th-seeded Lancaster in a district semifinal Feb. 28 at Jonathan Alder.

Groveport lost to Gahanna twice in OCC-Ohio play, falling 57-31 on Dec. 7 and 68-31 on Jan. 18, but has not played Watkins Memorial this season.

The Cruisers are 4-18 overall and finished eighth in the OCC-Ohio at 0-14, behind Reynoldsburg (14-0), Gahanna (11-3), Pickerington North (9-5), Pickerington Central (8-5), Newark (6-8), Lancaster (5-9) and Grove City (2-12). Reynoldsburg is the top seed in the district.

Groveport hasn't won a tournament game since the 2004-05 season, when it defeated Northland 56-34.

The Cruisers closed the regular season with a 66-19 loss to Pickerington on Feb. 8. Senior guard Brittany Morgan had 10 points.

Boys basketball team closing regular season

The boys basketball team will close OCC-Ohio play Friday, Feb. 15, at Reynoldsburg and will conclude the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 19, at St. Charles.

Both are makeup games. The contest against Reynoldsburg was postponed Jan. 25 because of bad weather and the contest against St. Charles was postponed Jan. 26 when the Cardinals had to make up a CCL game. The Cruisers lost to Reynoldsburg 85-35 on Jan. 11.

Groveport, which is 6-14 overall and 2-11 in the OCC-Ohio, lost league games to Pickerington North and Pickerington Central last week.

The Cruisers lost to North 54-36 on Feb. 5 and lost to Central 77-49 on Feb. 8. Point guard Ty Ferguson had 10 points against North and 12 against Central and guard C.J. Crowder scored eight against the Panthers and nine against the Tigers.

The Division I district tournament draw was held Feb. 10. The tournament begins Feb. 23.