The Whetstone High School wrestling team won its first City League championship since 1976 and had three Division I district qualifiers after having no one advance out of sectional last season.
The Braves could not extend the season into the final week, however, as seniors Demetrius Burrell (182 pounds), Christian Bobo (170) and Chris North (160) did not advance out of the district tournament held Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each weight class qualified for state, which runs Thursday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 1, at Ohio State.
North earned the Braves' lone win at district, pinning Teays Valley's Mason Kauffeld in 1 minute, 20 seconds in the opening round. He then was pinned by Darby's Sean Black in 2:28 before losing to Marys-ville's Nick Ricoh 7-4 to finish 31-11 on the season.
"I thought Chris wrestled smart and well, but the Marysville kid got a lead and put (North) in a position he didn't want to be in," coach Tom Jones said. "He knew what the Teays Valley kid had because we scrimmaged them in the preseason and he knew exactly what would work and he executed.
"The Darby kid was very solid, but Chris didn't back down. (Black) went on to qualify for state (by finishing second)."
Bobo went 0-2, losing to Lancaster's Eric Deluse 7-0 in the first round and Gahanna's Doland Martin 7-3 in overtime to finish 39-8.
"I thought Christian was coming off a little letdown after finishing fourth at sectional," Jones said. "He was a little banged up at sectional, but by not finishing higher he got a tougher opening match (at district), so he finished sectional with a loss and opened district with a loss. And this being his first district appearance, I think it played a part.
"He looked alright, but he wasn't as effective in the neutral position as he normally is. But he has over 100 career wins, is a district qualifier and a two-time City League runner-up. He beat some real good kids this year, like (district runner-up Jakob Hines of Westerville North)."
Burrell also went 0-2, losing to Teays Valley's Tanner Oller 8-5 in the first round before being pinned by Olentangy Liberty's Kyle Arcaro in 4:54 to finish 13-11.
"Demetrius lost a tough one in the first round and he looked physically tired against (Arcaro) and got pinned," Jones said. "I don't know if it was endurance or whether it was mentally, but he looked tired and maxed out. But he had a pretty good year, too, and I was happy for him -- and all of them -- to get the chance to wrestle at district."
Whetstone scored four points at district to finish 34th behind champion Marysville (147.5) as 37 teams scored.
Girls bowling team advances to district
The girls bowling team totaled 2,691 pins to finish 13th of 37 teams in the Division I sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes and advance to district.
Briggs (3,345) won the sectional title, as the top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team in both the girls and boys sectionals advanced to district Saturday, March 1, at Eastland Lanes.
At district, the top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to state, which is March 7 for boys and March 8 for girls at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Freshman Savannah Stuver finished 48th with a 421 three-game series to lead the Braves. Sophomore Jillian McCarter (407, 54th) was next for the first-year program, followed by freshman Chelsea Harper (377, 76th) and seniors Val Vokac (360, tied for 85th) and Melinda Petrey (352, tied for 92nd).
Last season, the Braves had one co-ed team that competed in the boys sectional and did not have any district qualifiers.
The boys team finished 24th (3,198) at sectional, finishing 75 pins behind the final district qualifier, Lancaster (3,273). Walnut Ridge (3,805) won the sectional title as 40 teams scored.
Junior David Stern (518, 44th) qualified for district as an individual, while senior Win McCarter (477, 81st) missed qualifying by seven pins.
Also competing were freshman Christian Jefferson (466, tied for 89th), junior Ethan Denbow (431, 111th) and freshman Mike Curry (403, 125th).
Boys basketball team ousted from tourney
The boys basketball team lost to top-seeded host Northland 100-36 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 21 to finish 2-20.
Senior Aaron Adair had nine points and freshman Jack Staggs scored seven for the Braves, who were seeded 44th of 45 teams.
Whetstone, which trailed 28-5 after the first quarter and 53-11 at halftime, had lost twice to Northland during the regular season, falling 110-35 on Dec. 17 and 102-33 on Jan. 24 in City League-North Division play.
The Braves lost their final 14 games, including a 55-47 decision against visiting Independence in their regular-season finale Feb. 18. Adair had 21 points against the 76ers and sophomore Tommie Lee scored eight.
Swimming teams plan to come back strong
The boys swimming and diving team will lose two seniors in Evan Myers and Bert Pajor who helped it win its first City League title since 2009.
Pajor was a Division I district qualifier the last two seasons.
"Obviously, replacing him will be difficult because of his leadership and talent," coach John DeRing said. "He was our top butterflyer and was strong in the medley relay and 200 freestyle relay, but I think we'll come back strong again next year."
The boys team qualified all three relays to the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, where each relay recorded season-best times but failed to advance to the state meet that concluded Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Connor Flanagan, David Basye, Pajor and Mitchell Nottage combined to finish 23rd (1 minute, 51.77 seconds) in the 200-yard medley relay and 27th (1:41.43) in the 200 free relay. The 400 free relay of Sam Green-Lauber, Drew Marcum, Luke Green-Lauber and Jose Soto finished 29th (4:13.56).
The Braves did not score at district after finishing ninth (24 points) in the 11-team sectional Feb. 8 at Upper Arlington behind champion St. Charles (340).
Whetstone won the City meet Feb. 1 at Columbus Aquatics Center, scoring 153 points to finish ahead of Northland (129), Centennial (116), Beechcroft (26), Eastmoor Academy (26) and Columbus East (3).
Pajor won titles in the 200 free and 100 fly, Flanagan won the 100 backstroke and Trevor Karnehm finished first in diving.
"Winning the league was our highlight this year," DeRing said. "I think we've got a lot of talent returning next year, so we'll have high expectations."
The girls team also loses two seniors in Kelli Chin and Ellie Downie.
Whetstone did not have any district qualifiers and scored eight points in the 13-team sectional to finish 12th behind champion host UA (494). The Braves were shorthanded at sectional, as three girls missed the meet to take the ACT and a fourth had another obligation.
"We had to make changes to all of our relays and it was a shame after we finished second in the City meet," DeRing said. "But I'm excited for next year because we'll have a strong group back with more experience."
At sectional, Downie swam a personal-best 1:15.29 in the 100 back to finish 20th and Chin and Nina Seiter had personal bests in the 100 breaststroke.
Whetstone finished second (140) in the City meet behind Centennial (153) and ahead of Northland (94), Eastmoor (44), Beechcroft (36) and East (8). Jennifer Basye was league champion in the 100 breast.
Girls basketball team losing one starter
The girls basketball team loses just one senior starter after concluding its first winning season since 1988-89.
The Braves, who were seeded 26th of 47 teams, lost to 29th-seeded Hamilton Township 63-56 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 15 to finish 13-8 overall.
Senior Kalie Mascarello, a four-year starter, averaged 12.7 points and 4.8 assists this season and was named second-team all-City-North.
"Kalie had a lot put upon her during her four years and she had a great senior season on the court and as a leader," coach Bucky Walters said. "She and (senior) Emily Tuttle were great as captains leading a young team. (Senior) Colleen Kelly was part of our top rotation."
The Braves went 8-6 in the City-North to tie Mifflin for fourth place behind Northland (14-0), Centennial (12-2) and Brookhaven (9-5) and ahead of Beechcroft (6-8,) East (4-10), Columbus International (1-13) and Linden-McKinley (1-13).
Among those expected back are junior Liz Khoury and sophomores Cecilia Bulgrin, Lily Morris, Emily Morrison and Brenna Sullivan. Morris, who averaged 10.0 points and 4.7 assists, and Bulgrin, who averaged 7.3 points, both made honorable mention all-league.
"We have a good base of young girls coming back, but we'll be in the same position in terms of lack of height," Walters said. "We had our first j.v. team in a few years, so everyone gained experience this season and assistant coach Krystal Sensabaugh did a great job, too."