It seemed fitting that Colton Richard clinched a berth in a Division I state quarterfinal for the Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team.
The senior pinned Teays Valley's Brandon Evans in 50 seconds at 195 pounds to give the Pacers an insurmountable 32-18 lead in the Region 5 final Jan. 29 at Westerville North and they went on to win 38-24.
Delaware will face Massillon Perry in a state quarterfinal Saturday, Feb. 8, at Ohio State's St. John Arena. That same day, the winner will compete against Oregon Clay or Cincinnati Moeller in a semifinal and the semifinal winner will face Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Lakewood St. Edward, Marysville or Mason in the final.
Delaware reached the regional final by defeating Westerville North 31-28 in a semifinal. Richard was disqualified against the Warriors' Nick Kramer for an illegal slam and, as a result the Pacers' lead went from 25-16 to 25-22 with three matches remaining, putting them in jeopardy of failing to advance.
Westerville North and Delaware were seeded first and second, respectively, in Region 5-B.
"I got a second chance because Andrew Sierawski had my back after my Westerville North match," Richard said. "We have an amazing team. My teammates and coaches settled me down and helped me refocus before Teays Valley. Then, when it was my time, we needed the points and I told myself I'm not letting these guys down again. We're going to win this thing and get to state."
Sierawski pinned Andy Struttman in 1:43 at 220 to put the Pacers ahead 31-22 lead before Derek Louck lost to Gage Archer at heavyweight to close the match.
"When that happened to Colton, I told myself that's not how this thing is going to end," Sierawski said. "He's one of my best friends and this is our senior season and it just couldn't end up like that. I had to win and I knew a pin would seal it. I told him, 'I got you. We're going to win this, baby.'"
In the regional final, the Pacers lost the first four matches and trailed 15-0 before victories by Garrett Young (132), Brandyn Dydek (138) and Raezel Garrett (145) cut their deficit to 15-10 with seven matches remaining.
The Pacers won five of the final seven matches, with Raymond Simpson (160), Chris Martinez (170), Shawn Johnson (182), Richard and Sierawski earning the victories. Johnson, Richard and Sierawski each won by pin.
"We told the guys that they couldn't lose focus or get upset if we fell behind because Teays Valley is very, very strong in the lighter weights," coach Josh Heffernan said. "These guys just showed their grit and overcame obstacles all night.
"Some things didn't go our way against North and we overcame that. Then we trailed 15-0 and 18-10 (against Teays Valley) before our seniors came out there, won and got us bonus points. It's a testament to the entire team. Young and Garrett are freshmen and Dydek is a sophomore who got a huge win. They started us back."
Delaware, which will compete in the sectional Feb. 15 at Watkins Memorial, is seeking its first league championship. The Pacers were 6-0 in the OCC-Capital Division after beating New Albany 8-1 on Jan. 30 and conclude the regular season Thursday, Feb. 6, at home against Worthington Kilbourne in a league dual.
"We're at crunch time now," Heffernan said. "We've worked hard to get to where we are. Now we have to finish. In these next several weeks, we'll be trying to get our first league, sectional, district and state titles. We've never won any of those titles."
Delaware was runner-up in its annual Rieman Invitational on Jan. 24, scoring 222.5 points to finish behind Massillon Perry (387) in the 12-team event. It marked the Pacers' highest finish in the event.
Ashland (210) placed third, followed by Olentangy (164.5), Canal Fulton Northwest (155.5), Hilliard Davidson (146), Gahanna (130.5), Troy Christian (108), Dublin Jerome (79), Bloom-Carroll (76.5), Norwalk (54) and Delaware B (10). Delaware B replaced Springfield Kenton Ridge, which didn't travel because of the weather.
Richard and Sierawski won titles and Nick Beyer (152), Martinez and Johnson each placed second.
Entering the dual against New Albany, Delaware had nine wrestlers with at least 21 wins in Sierawski (35-3), Martinez (31-10), Simpson (29-13), Johnson (25-9), Richard (23-8), Beyer (23-11), Louck (22-14), Young (22-16) and Max Wright (113, 21-15).
Swimming teams set to begin postseason
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams will compete in the Division I sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 8, at Thomas Worthington.
The winner of each sectional 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.
The girls team placed third (254) in the OCC-Capital meet that concluded Jan. 25 at Thomas, behind Olentangy (298) and New Albany (282) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (181), Worthington Kilbourne (142), Big Walnut (82) and Mount Vernon (49).
Franklin Heights does not have a swimming program.
Winning titles were Brooke Glesenkamp in the 100-yard freestyle (54.26), Brittany Puthoff in the 200 individual medley (2:17.73), Regan DeWitt in the 500 free (5:22.31) and the 400 free relay of Samantha Curtin, DeWitt, Puthoff and Glesenkamp (3:41.07).
Placing second were DeWitt in the 200 free (1:59.48), the 200 free relay of Curtin, Marisa Sulek, Bethany Ward and DeWitt (1:46.31) and the 200 medley relay of Glesenkamp, Brittany Puthoff, Ward and Kristen Puthoff (1:56.77).
Finishing third were Glesenkamp in the 100 butterfly (1:02.38) and Curtin in the 200 free (2:01.7).
The boys team finished fourth (200) in the league meet behind Olentangy (263), New Albany (246) and Kilbourne (229) and ahead of Mount Vernon (144), Orange (116) and Big Walnut (69).
Anthony Hinton won the 50 free (21.71) and 100 free (48.69) and swam anchor behind Kai Herrera, Remy Curtin and Dustin Buschman on the second-place 200 medley relay (1:49.59). He swam leadoff on the third-place 200 free relay (1:33.22) that also included Mason Nicol, Skyler Pollock and Buschman.
Pollock was runner-up in the 500 free (5:08.16).
Boys basketball team remains in title hunt
Khalil Iverson scored on a putback with 8.7 seconds left to lift the boys basketball team to a 49-48 win over Big Walnut in an OCC-Capital game Jan. 24.
Entering play Jan. 30, Delaware and Kilbourne were tied for second in the OCC-Capital behind New Albany (6-2). The Pacers were 12-6 before playing Orange on Jan. 31 and Whitehall on Feb. 1.
Delaware's league game against New Albany on Jan. 28 at home was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Feb. 15.
Iverson scored 20 of his game-high 24 points in the second half against Big Walnut and had 11 rebounds. Noble Moore, Tyler Treese and Philip Frentsos each added six points against the Golden Eagles.
Girls basketball team nearing postseason
The regular season is winding down for the girls basketball team.
Delaware, which was 11-7 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Capital before playing Orange on Jan. 31, has three games remaining before the start of the postseason. The Pacers have road games Tuesday, Feb. 4, against Mount Vernon and Friday, Feb. 7, against Franklin Heights before traveling to New Albany on Feb. 10.
The Division I district tournament draw will be held Sunday, Feb. 2, with first-round games starting Feb. 15.
Delaware defeated Big Walnut 39-36 on Jan. 24 behind 20 points from Kristin McMillen. Julie Bauer and Maranda Merriman added eight and seven points, respectively.