Only one of the six Big Walnut High School wrestlers who competed in the Division II district tournament advanced to state.
Alec Eisnnicher earned his first trip to the state tournament by going 3-1 and placing second at 170 pounds at district. He lost to New Philadelphia's Mark Barrow 8-6 in the final.
The junior concluded his season Feb. 28 at state, losing to Tyler Maclellan of Cuyahoga Falls CVCA 2-0 and to Chris Moore of Clyde 4-2.
He finished 35-7.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district, held Feb. 22 and 23 at Heath, qualified for state, which concluded March 2 at Ohio State.
Eisnnicher is the Golden Eagles' first state qualifier since 2010, when 2011 graduate Matt Brown (215) accomplished the feat.
"Alec has had a great year," coach Luke Moore said. "I can't say I'm surprised. He's definitely put the work and time in to make himself better."
Eisnnicher, who won a sectional title Feb. 16 at Licking Heights, was a district qualifier as a freshman but suffered a head injury after winning his opening match at sectional last season and had to default his final three matches.
"He might have surprised some people around the state (by qualifying for state)," Moore said. "But for us, we saw it coming."
Also competing at district were senior C.J. Harness (160, 1-2), juniors Austin Carr (152, 0-2), Jhordan Lang (182, 0-2) and R.J. Martin (138, 0-2) and sophomore Donny Didion (113, 2-2).
The Golden Eagles scored 29 points to tie Caledonia River Valley for 19th behind champion Uhrichsville Claymont (182.5) as 42 teams scored.
Boys basketball team falls in second round
The boys basketball team ended its season with a 59-42 loss to seventh-seeded and host Eastmoor Academy in the second round of the Division II district tournament Feb. 28 to finish 7-17.
Senior forward Adam Shaheen had 15 points to lead the 20th-seeded Golden Eagles and senior guard Zach Laughman scored 11.
Eastmoor improved to 17-7 and advanced to play second-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at Olentangy.
Big Walnut defeated ninth-seeded and host Licking Heights 76-75 in overtime in the first round of the tournament Feb. 23.
The Golden Eagles, who had lost to the Hornets 67-49 on Feb. 12, ended a five-game losing streak with the win.
"We liked the idea going into the draw of coming back and playing a team we've already seen," coach Eric Myers said. "We were able to break them down on film and we felt like it was going to be a good matchup for us."
The Golden Eagles trailed 29-24 at halftime but rallied in the second half, as Shaheen scored 31 points in the final two quarters and finished with 44 points and 20 rebounds, both career highs. He was 18-for-23 from the foul line.
"He was determined to attack the basket," Myers said. "We didn't feel like they had a good matchup for him inside. He took it to the rim and did a nice job rebounding. He wasn't ready for his senior year to be over just yet."
Laughman added 15 points against the Hornets.
Girls basketball team falls in district semi
The girls basketball team lost to top-seeded Eastmoor 48-44 in a Division II district semifinal Feb. 27 at New Albany to finish 14-10.
The Golden Eagles, who were seeded eighth of 26 teams, outscored the Warriors 30-20 in the second half but couldn't overcome their 28-14 halftime deficit.
Junior post player Skylar Fleak had 19 points and senior forward Emily Chucta scored 14 for Big Walnut, which had a first-round bye and beat 16th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek 41-27 in the second round Feb. 20 to reach a district semifinal for the eighth consecutive season.
Eastmoor improved to 21-4 and advanced to play 15th-seeded River Valley in a district final March 1.
Bowler competes in district tourney
Sophomore Conner Leidtke of the boys bowling team rolled a 502 series to finish 57th of 117 competitors in the district tournament Feb. 23 at HP Lanes.
The top three finishers not on a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. Newark's Austin Martin (728) won the district title and Granville's Jon Massey (657) was the final state qualifier.
Leidtke was the only member of the boys or girls teams to compete to district.
"He did pretty well," coach Pat McClelland said. "He was above his game average the whole way through. It was a tough day. He was hanging in there."
Leidtke had a 150.7 game average during the regular season and rolled a 181, 170 and 151 in his three district games.
Swim teams finish successful seasons
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams had one of the more successful seasons in program history, according to coach Andy Chatterton.
"They did really well from start to finish," he said. "We had 15 kids go to districts. That's really good for us."
Neither team had anyone qualify for the state meet, held Feb. 20-23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The top finisher for the boys team in the Division II district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State was the 200-yard freestyle relay, which placed ninth in 1 minute, 38.05 seconds.
The relay was comprised of sophomore Jens Paglialunga, junior Carter Marsch and seniors Brant Weiss and Carson Chatterton.
Also competing were Chatterton in the 100 free (54.24, 15th) and 100 butterfly (58.39, 17th), Marsch in the 50 free (24.06, 12th), the 200 medley relay of Windle, senior Sean Conley, Chatterton and Marsch (1:54.02, 12th) and the 400 free relay of seniors Matt Heiden and Ben Stefaniak, Windle and Paglialunga (disqualified).
In Division II, the top two placers in each swimming event at district automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
Big Walnut scored 35 points at district to finish 21st behind champion Granville (332) as 36 teams scored. The Golden Eagles scored 395 points in the sectional Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington, but they were the only Division II boys squad at the site.
The top finisher for the girls team in the Division I district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State was sophomore Ashley White, who placed ninth (381.4) in diving.
Also competing were junior Jessica Osburn in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.44, 28th), junior Michelle Stefaniak in the 50 free (26.35, tied for 28th), the 200 medley relay (1:50.39, 23rd), the 200 free relay (2:05.88, 22nd) and the 400 free relay (4:27.34, 27th).
The Division I district meet had the same number of automatic and at-large state berths in swimming events as Division II and the top four girls divers advanced to state.
Big Walnut scored nine points to finish 22nd behind champion Upper Arlington (491) as 24 teams scored. The Golden Eagles finished eighth (76) of 12 teams at sectional Feb. 9, behind champion and host Thomas Worthington (311).
In the OCC-Capital Division meet Jan. 26 at New Albany, the boys team finished seventh (74) behind New Albany (335), Olentangy (274), Delaware Hayes (254), Olentangy Orange (166), Mount Vernon (96) and Watkins Memorial (77), and the girls team placed sixth (101) behind New Albany (312), Olentangy (274), Delaware (259), Orange (167) and Watkins Memorial (114) and ahead of Mount Vernon (63).
Franklin Heights does not have a swimming program.
Big Walnut loses a total of nine seniors, including Chatterton, Conley, Heiden, Ben Stefaniak and Weiss.
"Most of them were at the district meet," coach Chatterton said.
Coach Chatterton wants to see the program build on this season next year.
"I'm hoping we'll have at least the same number of kids or more," he said. "If we can get kids to start swimming as freshmen, when they're seniors they'll do really well."
Gymnastics team concludes season
The gymnastics team ended its season in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Big Walnut, whose team was comprised of four freshmen, finished 22nd (103.85) of 24 teams, as Kilbourne (140.625), Dublin Coffman (138.925) and Thomas Worthington (136.125) advanced to the state team meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley.
The top nine finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the state individual meet March 2 at Bradley, but the Golden Eagles did not have any qualifiers.
Katelyn Connor led Big Walnut in all events, finishing 69th (7.9) on the floor exercise, tying for 76th (6.6) on the uneven bars, tying for 80th (7.2) on the balance beam, tying for 88th (7.55) on vault and finishing 63rd in the all-around (29.25).
Big Walnut placed fifth (105.5) in the OCC-Capital meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, behind Bradley (128.925), Dublin Jerome (122.85), Orange (120.05) and Franklin Heights (107.525) and ahead of Central Crossing (104.35).
The Golden Eagles went 0-5 in league duals and finished sixth in the overall league standings with six points, behind Bradley (24, 5-0), Orange (18, 4-1), Jerome (18, 3-2), Franklin Heights (10, 1-4) and Central Crossing (8, 2-3).
Also on the team were Carlee Ambrose, Jordan Apple and Brianna Glidden.