Christian Bobo is hoping that mentoring the younger members of the Whetstone High School wrestling team the past few weeks will pay dividends in the City League tournament Saturday, Feb. 8, at Briggs.
"We spent a good deal of time tutoring them, tightening up the basic fundamentals and basically preparing them for the City championships and sectional," the senior said.
The Braves will compete in the Division I sectional tournament Feb. 15 at Upper Arlington.
Bobo said he didn't feel as prepared as he should have in the Comet Tournament on Feb. 1 at Central Crossing, where he went 4-1 and placed fifth at 170 pounds and improved to 34-4 on the season.
"I didn't wrestle my best and gave up five quick points in the match I lost (13-11 in overtime to Independence's Amando Ndongo)," Bobo said. "I got back into it, but then slipped up and lost. I wasn't sharp."
Whetstone finished ninth (39) in the 14-team event behind champion Teays Valley (263.5).
Also placing for the Braves were seniors Demetrius Burrell (195, fourth) and Chris North (160, sixth) and freshman Jessie Sellers (126, sixth).
"It wasn't a great day for us," coach Tom Jones said. "Christian Bobo lost to another City League wrestler who he had tech-falled earlier this year. Chris North had four losses going in and he went 2-3. Ricky Bowmen, who finished second (in the) Jonathan Alder (Invitational on Jan. 18), went 0-2. Those are three seniors who we count on a lot. We'll need them to do well in the City if we want to contend for the championship."
North is 24-7 on the season, while Bowmen is 22-10 and Burrell is 7-7.
Jones said he expects those wrestlers to bounce back. He also expects Burrell, freshman Justin Rodriguez (106), sophomore Nate Perry (113) and either senior Demetrius Wade (heavyweight, 4-0) or junior Jeremy Polk (heavyweight, 8-2) to score well.
"We need those guys to do their thing and then it will come down to the inexperienced guys and how much we get from them," Jones said. "We were third last year and didn't have a full lineup, so we'll have a full lineup and the young kids will determine if we can compete with Mifflin and (Columbus) West.
"I think we can also be in the mix, along with Brookhaven. People are looking past them and they shouldn't be. Centennial will have a full lineup and Walnut Ridge is good, too."
In the 16-team City tournament last season, the Braves had three champions, including North at 160, and six top-three placers and scored 170 points to finish behind Mifflin (192.5) and West (187).
Bobo was runner-up at 170. The other four who placed were 2013 graduates.
"Chris North is my drill partner and we didn't get to roll around as much as we needed to the past few weeks, but that will change now," Bobo said. "We shouldn't have much trouble getting back into it and the young guys have shown vast improvement and we hope it carries over."
Boys swimming team captures league title
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams will enter the postseason with positive vibes.
The boys team won the City League championship Feb. 1 at Columbus Aquatics Center and the girls team was runner-up in what was the Braves' final meet before the Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 8, at Upper Arlington.
The boys team scored 153 points to finish ahead of Northland (129), Centennial (116), Beechcroft (26), Eastmoor Academy (26) and Columbus East (3).
Bert Pajor won the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 2.62 seconds) and 100 butterfly (1:01.05), Connor Flanagan won the 100 backstroke (1:02.09) and Trevor Karnehm finished first in diving (179 points).
Runners-up included Flanagan in the 100 free (55.91), Mitchell Nottage in the 50 free (24.99), David Basye in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.36) and Jose Soto in the 200 individual medley (2:30.87).
Also placing second were Flanagan, Basye, Pajor and Nottage in the 200 medley relay (1:51.95) and 200 free relay (1:41.96) and Sam Green-Lauber, Luke Green-Lauber, Evan Myers and Soto in the 400 free relay (4:07.66).
Jennifer Basye was the lone winner for the girls team, which finished second (140) behind Centennial (153) and ahead of Northland (94), Eastmoor (44), Beechcroft (36) and East (8).
Basye won the 100 breast (1:17.08)
"We had five first places in 24 events overall (boys and girls) and the boys won handily and the girls were closer than expected to winning," coach John DeRing said. "That shows how much of a team effort this was. From top to bottom, I am so proud of all the kids and the way they competed. It was unreal the number of season-best and personal-best (times) we had.
"The boys won their first (City) championship since 2009 and the girls were close to getting their first since 2010. It was a wonderful day."
Runners-up for the girls team were Natalie Hunt in the 50 free (29.78) and 100 fly (1:18.29), Karina Spulgis in the 100 free (1:02.83) and 100 breast (1:18.88) and Ellie Downie in the 100 back (1:15.57).
Also placing second were the 200 medley relay of Downie, Basye, Hunt and Spulgis (2:12.95), the 200 free relay of Hunt, Basye, Abby Falor and Spulgis (1:59.65) and the 400 free relay of Caity Haughey, Hailey Cannaday, Rita Knasel and Falor (4:47.72).
At sectional, the winner of each swimming event automatically qualifies for the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until the district meet.
Girls basketball team secures winning season
The girls basketball team has secured a winning season.
Whetstone, which was 12-7 overall and 7-6 in the City-North before playing Columbus International on Feb. 4, defeated Mifflin 35-32 on Jan. 30 and lost to Centennial 73-45 on Jan. 31 in league games.
Senior guard Kalie Mascarello scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter against Mifflin, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and Cecilia Bulgrin added 10 points to lift the Braves, who trailed 24-16 through three quarters.
Against Centennial, Emily Morris had a team-high 13 points, followed by Bulgrin with 10 and Mascarello with eight.
The Braves are seeded 26th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 29th-seeded Hamilton Township in the first round Feb. 15.
They play host to DeSales on Friday, Feb. 7, in their regular-season finale.
Struggles continue for boys basketball team
The boys basketball team lost to Mifflin 78-34 on Jan. 30 and fell to Centennial 78-34 on Jan. 31 to drop to 2-14 overall and 1-12 in the City-North.
Whetstone had lost eight in a row before playing Columbus International on Feb. 4.
Entering the week, its only victories came against International (51-45 on Dec. 13) and Patriot Prep Academy (64-48 on Jan. 3).
Aaron Adair had a team-high 13 points against Mifflin and Jack Staggs had eight points to lead the Braves against Centennial.
Whetstone travels to Beech-croft on Friday, Feb. 7, for its league finale. The Braves lost to the Cougars 72-49 on Jan. 10.