Greg Brusco capped a record season for the Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team by finishing fourth in the Division I state tournament.
The freshman went 4-2 and placed fourth at 113 pounds at state, held Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State, to finish 41-8 on the season.
"When I was on the podium getting my medal, I just kept thinking that next year I've got to make it to the top," Brusco said. "It was pretty cool and I'm proud to be fourth, but I'm not satisfied."
Brusco opened state by defeating Loveland's Brandon Tucker 8-6 in sudden victory before to losing to eventual champion Aaron Assad of Brecksville-Broadview Heights 20-10 in a quarterfinal.
He defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius' Jimmy Ferritto 9-7 in sudden victory in his next match to assure a spot in the top eight and then beat Cincinnati Moeller's Conner Ziegler 8-6 to reach the third-place match, where he lost to Boardman's Nick Mancini 16-3.
"Nothing shook him," coach Josh Heffernan said of Brusco. "He won twice in sudden victory, including his first match, at state as a freshman. Then he beat Ziegler, a highly-ranked kid from Moeller after he got put on his back and trailed 5-0 in the first period. He fought all the way back and got back points with eight seconds left to win.
"The most dramatic match was against Ferritto. He had to win to place, and he was down 7-2 in the first period. Ferritto kept bleeding and getting injury timeouts and you kept wondering if it would stall (Brusco's) comeback, but he tied it at the very end and won it about 12 seconds into sudden victory."
Also competing at state for the Pacers was junior Shawn Johnson, who went 0-2 at 195 to finish 36-10. He lost to Cincinnati Sycamore's Tinashe Bere 10-2 in the first round and was eliminated with a 6-2 loss to Cuyahoga Falls' Joey Repasky in his next match.
"Shawn had an incredible season and just didn't put it together at state," Heffernan said. "Considering he finished just over .500 last year and built himself into a state qualifier during the offseason, well, that's a tremendous accomplishment. ... I can't wait to see how he does next year."
The Pacers scored 13 points at state to tie Fairfield and New Carlisle Tecumseh for 36th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (117) as 89 teams scored. Delaware had a program-record eight district qualifiers, including four who were sectional champions. All those who competed in the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 are underclassmen.
Both Brusco and Johnson were district runners-up as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state. Brusco went 3-1 and was pinned by Mount Vernon's Dakota Riley in 4 minutes, 35 seconds in the final, and Johnson went 3-1 and lost to Marysville's Austin Pfarr 12-1 in the final.
Also competing at district were juniors Nick Beyer (145, 1-2, 29-22), Colton Richard (220, 1-2, 21-7), Andrew Sierawski (182, 2-2, 41-8) and Raymond Simpson (160, 2-2, 35-13) and freshmen Raezel Garrett (132, 1-2, 25-17) and Chris Martinez (170, 2-2, 33-15).
The Pacers finished 10th (62.5) at district behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 teams scored.
Brusco, Johnson, Richard and Sierawski were sectional champions, as Delaware finished second (214.5) in the 10-team sectional Feb. 16 at Westland behind champion Hilliard Davidson (224.5).
Senior Wyatt Davis (126, 32-14) and sophomores Zack Brockett (138, 16-18) and Danny Shaver (120, 22-19) all went 2-2 and placed fifth at sectional to finish as district alternates. Davis is the team's only senior.
Also competing at sectional were junior Derrick Sumner (152, 1-2, 11-16), sophomore Derek Louck (heavyweight, 0-2, 20-20) and freshman Tommy Detunno (106, 0-2, 10-21).
Delaware went 6-1 in OCC-Capital Division duals to place second, behind Mount Vernon (7-0) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (5-2), Watkins Memorial (4-3), Olentangy (3-4), Big Walnut (2-5), New Albany (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
The Pacers were seeded second in Region 5-A of the inaugural Division I state team tournament and lost to third-seeded Orange 30-29 in the second round Jan. 30 after beating seventh-seeded Westerville Central 59-10 in the first round Jan. 23.
"Delaware has never won a league or postseason championship and we were a match away in the OCC and one or two matches away in the sectional," Heffernan said. "With everyone coming back except Wyatt Davis, that should be enough motivation for these guys to come back and get it done next year. We also have another big and talented corps of freshmen coming in.
"Our goal is to win the conference, sectional and district championships and to be in the top 10 at state."
Injuries impacted girls basketball team
The girls basketball team was plagued by injuries throughout the season, but coach Erin Margraf is hoping the fact that younger players were called upon to step in and contribute will pay dividends next season.
Delaware finished 9-14 overall, losing to fifth-seeded and host Northland 77-37 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 20. The Pacers, who were seeded 32nd of 43 teams, defeated 27th-seeded and host Briggs 47-28 in the first round Feb. 16.
The Pacers lose three seniors in forward Allissa Beard, guard Kaci McCoy and post player Bethany Naegele.
"Naegele was injured almost the entire season, McCoy was injured all last year and Beard played (junior varsity) last year," Margraf said, "so (the team was not) a real experienced bunch to begin with and we asked a lot of (the younger players) this year. They were put in a situation they weren't used to and still did a good job."
Among the expected returnees are four starters in juniors Kristen McMillen (point guard), Julie Bauer (guard) and Miriam Aburmaieleh (forward) and sophomore Abbie Gore (post player). Gore missed half the season with an injury, as did junior post player Katie Ellis.
Junior guards Monique Martinez and Maranda Merriman were part-time starters.
"There were times when we had a full lineup injured on the bench," Margraf said. "I've never experienced anything like that before. Our younger girls got a lot of reps and we saw a lot of improvement."
The Pacers went 7-7 in the OCC-Capital to place fourth, behind Orange (14-0), Olentangy (12-2) and New Albany (10-4) and ahead of Big Walnut (6-8), Mount Vernon (4-10), Watkins Memorial (3-11) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
"It wasn't a bad year, given the circumstances," Margraf said. "We still finished fourth in the league behind three of the top-tier teams in the district. I'm not ashamed of that.
"We'll have McMillen, who led us in scoring the past two years, back at point guard and Bauer, our second-leading scorer. Bauer developed an outside game this year and Aburmaieleh started every game and made huge improvements. We'll have an experienced senior class and some young girls.
"Because of injuries, we had two freshmen practice all season with us. I expect them (post player Brandy Bauer and guard Caylin Morstadt) to be ready next year."
McMillen averaged 15.0 points and 3.0 assists and was named second-team all-league. Bauer averaged 12.2 points and 3.2 assists and was special mention all-league, and Aburmaieleh was honorable mention.