Max Lacey of the Canal Winchester High School wrestling team didn't achieve his goal of reaching the podium in the Division I state tournament, but he didn't have any regrets about his performance.
The senior went 1-2 at 220 pounds in his first appearance in the state tournament, held Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State, to finish 50-6 on the season.
Lacey was the lone state qualifier for the Indians, who scored one point and tied nine teams for 80th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (117) as 89 teams scored.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't win more matches and place at state, but I'm proud of myself for making it this far and I know I have nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "The competition was tough and I did my best."
Lacey said nerves from competing in front of thousands of fans for the first time may have gotten the better of him in his opening match, a 6-4 loss to Macedonia Nordonia's Alex Woicehovich.
"I walked out of that dark tunnel and into those bright lights and I was shell-shocked," Lacey said. "Wrestling in front of so many people was a crazy experience and it made me really nervous. It got to me and I didn't open up much. That's a match I should have won, but I gave up a takedown in the third period and I wasn't able to score again."
Lacey bounced back to beat Barberton's Vernon Rowe 7-3.
"I really didn't want to go two-and-out, so I came back and wrestled tough," he said. "I opened up my offense more, dictated the match and got some big takedowns to beat him."
Lacey was eliminated in his next match, an 8-7 loss to Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Austin Linden.
"I gave up a late takedown in the second period and I just couldn't score in the third," he said.
Lacey's state appearance capped a rebuilding season for the Indians, who weren't able to fill multiple weight classes.
Canal Winchester went 2-5 in MSL-Buckeye Division duals to tie Logan Elm for fifth, behind Amanda-Clearcreek (7-0), Teays Valley (6-1), Circleville (5-2) and Fairfield Union (4-3) and ahead of Bloom-Carroll (1-6) and Hamilton Township (1-6).
The Indians scored 80 points to finish ninth in a 10-team sectional Feb. 16 at Watkins Memorial, behind champion Hilliard Bradley (205).
Lacey, who went 3-1 and placed second, and sophomore Nick Hammond, who went 2-1 and placed second at 145, qualified for district Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby. Senior Zach Snyder (2-1 at 152) and juniors Emmanuel Barnes (2-2 at 132) and Kevin Wade (2-2 at heavyweight) placed fifth at sectional and were district alternates.
Also competing at sectional were juniors Justin Burge (0-2 at 182) and Matt Schell (0-2 at 120), sophomore Trace Luckett (0-2 at 170) and freshmen Jamirhan Jackson (1-3, sixth at 106) and Leveland Taylor (0-2 at 138).
At district, Lacey went 4-2 and placed fourth, as the top four placers in each weight class advanced to state. Hammond went 1-2 at 145.
The Indians scored 20 points to place 28th at district behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 squads scored.
"We had to forfeit a lot of weight classes and it was hard to win dual matches, so we just tried to win the matches that we wrestled in," Lacey said. "It was more fun competing in tournaments, and I'm glad that Nick and I both qualified for district. It was exciting going to state for the first time."
The Indians lose two seniors in Lacey and Snyder (31-15 at 152).
Starters expected to return are Jackson (15-19 at 106), Schell (2-15 at 120), Barnes (35-20 at 132), Taylor (5-17 at 138), Hammond (45-9 at 145), Luckett (2-30 at 170), Burge (11-22 at 182) and Wade (14-18 at heavyweight).
"I feel like Zach and I both had good senior years and represented Canal Winchester well," Lacey said. "The talent is there to be good next year, but they don't have the numbers so they need to get more people wrestling to be successful."
Girls basketball team doubles win total
The girls basketball team finished 10-13 overall after going 5-16 each of the past two seasons.
Canal Winchester closed the season with a 54-27 loss to eighth-seeded Hilliard Davidson in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 16. The Indians were seeded 28th of 43 teams.
"We were more competitive this year and doubled our wins," coach Gary Burke said. "The kids grew a lot and took a positive step in the right direction. We became more of a team and family, instead of a bunch of individuals."
The Indians went 8-6 in the MSL-Buckeye to place fourth, behind Fairfield Union (13-1), Teays Valley (12-2) and Logan Elm (11-3) and ahead of Amanda-Clearcreek (6-8), Circleville (4-10), Hamilton Township (2-12) and Bloom-Carroll (0-14).
"We beat one of the top Division II teams in the area in Centennial (54-46 on Dec. 28) and I was very pleased with the way we played against the three teams that finished ahead of us in our league," Burke said. "We won the games we were supposed to win this year and were competitive against the tougher teams."
Canal Winchester was competitive in league losses to Logan Elm (62-56 on Dec. 7 and 56-52 on Jan. 15), Teays Valley (62-60 on Dec. 21) and Fairfield Union (48-42 on Feb. 8).
The Indians lose three senior starters in point guard Kaleigh Whitlatch, guard Marci Browning and post player Sarah Miles.
Whitlatch averaged 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.7 steals and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Miles averaged 9.1 points and six rebounds and was second-team all-league.
Among those expected to return are two starters in sophomore forward Raven Hamilton and junior guard Jade Smith.
Hamilton averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league, and Smith averaged 5.3 points and 3.2 rebounds.
"I was pleased with our seniors' leadership, but we'll have eight returning letterwinners next year and we hope to improve once again," Burke said.