Shakur Laney of the Groveport Madison High School wrestling team placed in the Division I state tournament for the second consecutive year.
The junior finished fifth at 113 pounds at state held Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State after placing fourth at 106 last season.
"Shakur has had a great season and he's very competitive," coach Pat Niemann said. "He wants to be the best and he has that drive and work ethic, so he's not very happy when he doesn't win.
"He was fourth last year and his goal this year (was to) stand on the top of the podium. He wouldn't be happy with anything less."
Laney, Groveport's lone state qualifier, went 4-2 at state to finish 47-6 on the season. He led Centerville's Troy Barklay 6-1 after two periods in his opening match before losing 9-6, but rebounded to beat Macedonia Nordonia's Andrew Coghill 8-3 and Massillon Washington's Jake Donahue 3-1 to assure a spot on the podium.
Laney then defeated Strongsville's Garrett Lambert by default before losing to Lakewood St. Edward's L.J. Bentley 7-2 to fall into the fifth-place match, where he beat Mason's Patrick Kearney 5-2.
Laney, who finished 33-8 last season, scored 10 points at state as Groveport tied for 43rd behind champion Massillon Perry (185) as 75 teams scored.
Laney advanced to state by placing second at district held Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby, as the Cruisers finished 26th (21) behind champion Marys-ville (147.5) as 37 teams scored.
Also competing at district was senior Dayrel Billingsley, who went 0-2 at 145 pounds to finish 21-12.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to state.
Laney and Billingsley qualified for district by finishing second and third, respectively, in the 11-team sectional Feb. 15 at Marysville, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced.
Also competing at sectional were senior Ryan Smith (126), junior Brendan Finneran (195), sophomores Marshall Buck (170), Matt Miller (106) and Eli Schleret (120) and freshman Kyle Duty (160).
Buck went 2-2 to place fifth and finish 8-19. Smith went 1-2 to finish 11-17, and Finneran (6-17), Miller (21-16), Schleret (7-16) and Duty (9-17) all went 0-2.
The Cruisers finished 10th (40.5) behind champion Marysville (218.5).
Groveport went 1-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish seventh, behind Pickerington Central (7-0), Lancaster (6-1), Pickerington North (5-2), Grove City (4-3), Gahanna (3-4) and Reynoldsburg (2-5) and ahead of Newark (0-7).
"I was happy with everyone in the program this year," Niemann said. "We're real young and a lot of our those guys got experience."
Among the key expected returnees is junior Malcolm Solack (220). A district qualifier last season, he was slowed by a knee injury and was unable to compete in the postseason.
Boys basketball team falls in tourney opener
The boys basketball team struggled offensively in a 66-53 home loss to 27th-seeded St. Charles in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 28 to finish 11-12 overall.
The Cruisers, who were seeded 19th of 45 teams, had a first-round bye.
"They knocked down their shots and we didn't," coach Ryan Grashel said. "They made 11 3-pointers. We also allowed too many second chances. When you play good defense for 30 seconds and they miss a shot, it really hurts when they get another opportunity."
Carmearl Thomas, a 6-foot-7 junior post player, was in a car crash on the way to the game and didn't play as many minutes as normal, according to Grashel.
"I think he was shaken up a bit, but between that and us using a smaller lineup to try to create the pace we wanted to play, create more possessions, we allowed too many second chances," Grashel said. "But mostly, we just didn't shoot it well."
Senior guard C.J. Crowder had 14 points to lead the Cruisers. Sophomore guard Tyus Ferguson scored nine and sophomore guard Tre Charles-Martin and junior guard Raymond Rhone both scored eight.
Groveport went 4-10 in the OCC-Ohio to place sixth. Gahanna, Newark and Pickerington Central all went 11-3 to share the league title, with Grove City (9-5) and Reynoldsburg (8-6) placing fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the standings were Pickerington North (2-12) and Lancaster (0-14).
"We had a good season and we're excited about it, but we still have a long way to go to get to where we want this program to be," Grashel said. "The boys want this program to be the face of Groveport Madison athletics. We had great community support and I saw a lot of our staff members at the games.
"We were 6-16 last year. We don't want to forget where we've been because that helps drive us to where we're going. We've got four starters returning and we had three sophomores on the roster."
The Cruisers lose three seniors in Crowder and forwards Jake Seipel and DeShawn Sowell. Crowder averaged 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
"C.J. had a good season and Jake and DeShawn did well in limited minutes," Grashel said. "Jake gave us knowledge of the game and was always in the right position. DeShawn was an energy guy off the bench. They all did what we asked and were the ones to give the most consistent effort in practice and games."
Crowder was second on the team in scoring behind sophomore guard Tyrell Carter (11.3), Junior guard Tyrone Cherry (10.6) was next, followed by Ferguson (10.5), Charles-Martin (8.4) and Thomas (8.3).
Ferguson, who was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district, averaged a team-high 3.4 assists and Thomas led the Cruisers in rebounding, averaging 6.1.
Bowlers end season in district tourney
Junior Brandon Klentz of the boys bowling team rolled a three-game series of 581 to tie Hilliard Bradley's Brandon Knadler for eighth of 139 competitors in the Division I district tournament March 1 at Eastland Lanes.
Klentz lost the highest-game tiebreaker to Knadler for the final state-qualifying spot. Klentz rolled a 204, 225 and 152 in his three games and Knadler rolled a 210, 234 and 137, as the top four individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to state Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
"Brandon felt like he pulled something in his back and it definitely bothered him in the third game," coach Shon Jenkins said. "It's tough to bowl with a bad back. I hope next year he can get to state."
Walnut Ridge's Wayne Russell Jr. won the district championship with a 643.
Also competing at district for the boys team was freshman Jordan Bennett, who placed 39th with a 512 (158-164-190).
Klentz and Bennett advanced to district by finishing among the top 20 individuals in the 40-team sectional Feb. 22 at Eastland Lanes not on a qualifying team.
The Cruisers finished 23rd (3,246) at sectional, where Bennett finished 23rd (541) and Klentz tied for 47th (511).
Also competing were sophomore James Jervis (435), freshman Dakota Harmon (411) and sophomore Devon Stepney (375).
Rounding out the roster was sophomore Austin Harmon.
Groveport finished 16-3 overall, 13-2 in the 16-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division to tie Briggs for second behind Teays Valley (13-1) and 4-1 in the six-team OCC-Ohio to share the title with Lancaster and Newark ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (2-3), Reynoldsburg (1-4) and Thomas Worthington (0-5).
The Cruisers finished eighth (3,093) of 11 teams in the COHSBC championships Feb. 15 behind champion Teays Valley (3,581).
The girls team also had two individuals competing at district, with juniors Elizabeth Moore and Bonnie Kyle placing 29th with a 458 (137-151-170) and 66th with a 377 (136-117-124), respectively, out of 134 competitors.
"They bowled pretty well, but they were our most experienced girls and I think that showed (at sectional)," coach John Haney said. "The good news is that we only lose one senior and all of the girls have now experienced a sectional, so I expect us to be stronger next year."
The Cruisers finished 25th (2,346) in the 37-team sectional behind champion Briggs (3,345).
Moore finished 45th (431) and Kyle was 83rd (361) at sectional. Also competing were sophomore Kahlia Killen (318), senior Tewana Smiley (303) and sophomore Loren Jackson (260).
The girls team finished 7-8 overall, 7-6 in the 14-team COHSBC-South to place eighth behind champion Briggs (13-0) and 2-2 in the five-team OCC-Ohio to tie Newark for second behind Lancaster (4-0) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (1-3) and Kilbourne (1-3).