Eight members of the Big Walnut High School wrestling team advanced to the Division II district tournament.
Leading the way for the Golden Eagles in the 14-team sectional Feb. 15 at Licking Valley was senior Alec Eisnnicher, who won the 170-pound title by going 3-0 and beating Bloom-Carroll's Zach Gibson 17-8 in the final.
Eisnnicher, who was a state qualifier in the same weight class last season, entered district Feb. 21 and 22 at Uhrichsville Claymont with a 23-1 record.
Placing second at sectional were seniors Austin Carr (160, 30-14 before district) and R.J. Martin (138, 28-16) and sophomore Wes Landrum (120, 20-17). Sophomore Nico Grier (113, 20-13) and freshman Nate Helsley (106, 14-28) both placed third and senior Austin Crow (220, 10-5) and sophomore Evan Watkins (182, 21-20) finished fourth, as the top four in each weight class advanced.
Carr and Martin were district qualifiers last year at 152 and 138.
Sophomore Drew Cochran (132) and freshman Matt Halbakken (126) both placed fifth and were district alternates, and placing sixth were sophomores Tyler Hogg (195) and Anthony Pisano (152).
"I thought it went really well," coach Luke Moore said of sectional. "I was really proud of our guys and the way they wrestled."
The Golden Eagles scored 164 points at sectional to finish third behind Licking Valley (193.5) and Granville (177).
"After the first two rounds, we were in the lead," Moore said. "We thought we had a chance (to win the sectional title) going in. We kept telling them all year to keep plugging away. They did that and it made the difference. It was a real good day."
The top four finishers in each weight class at district qualified for the state tournament Thursday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 1, at Ohio State.
Boys basketball team begins district play
The boys basketball team opened the Division II district tournament Feb. 22 against 12th-seeded Centennial.
The winner advanced to a second-round game Wednesday, Feb. 26, at third-seeded Granville, with the winner of that game advancing to a district semifinal March 5 at Olentangy.
Big Walnut, which was seeded 18th of 28 teams, did not play Granville during the regular season.
The Golden Eagles entered the postseason on a three-game losing streak. They concluded OCC-Capital play with a 58-49 loss to Franklin Heights on Feb. 14 and fell to Licking Heights 67-64 in overtime in their regular-season finale Feb. 15 to fall to 9-13 overall.
Big Walnut finished 4-10 in the OCC-Capital to place seventh, behind co-champions Delaware (11-3) and New Albany (11-3) as well as Worthington Kilbourne (10-4), Franklin Heights (7-7), Mount Vernon (5-9) and Olentangy (5-9) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (3-11).
Matt Tarney had a team-high 12 points against Franklin Heights, which jumped out to a 19-3 lead in the first quarter, and Chase LaVeer scored nine.
Against Licking Heights, Nick Herbert led the Golden Eagles with 16 points and Logan Boyd scored 14.
Girls basketball team opens postseason
The girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 20 with a 44-29 loss to host sixth-seeded Zanesville.
The Golden Eagles, who were seeded 21st of 47 teams and had a first-round bye, finished the season 14-9.
Makenna Hammond scored a team-high nine points for the Golden Eagles, who trailed 27-13 at the half.
"We've got to score more than 13 (points in the first half) to get things done," coach Steve Palmer said. "It was a good, hard-fought battle. We just needed to score more."
Skylar Fleak scored the first four points of the second half to close the margin to 27-17, but the Blue Devils responded with a 7-0 run.
"(Zanesville) is a good team," Palmer said. "Defensively, they play very fast and very hard. They're a good offensive team, too. So I was proud of our kids to keep them to 44 (points)."
Season ends for swimmers and divers
The swimming and diving teams ended their season in the district meet Feb. 14 and 15 at Ohio State, as neither the boys team in Division II nor the girls squad in Division I had any state qualifiers.
The state meet concluded Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Competing at district for the boys team were Justin Beyer, Carter Marsch, Jens Paglialunga and Joel Windle in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 38.29 seconds, sixth) and 400 free relay (3:42.75, eighth), Jonathan Schnipke, Windle, Marsch and Paglialunga in the 200 medley relay (1:55.01, 13th), Wes Hammond in the 200 individual medley (2:28.64, 23rd) and 500 free (5:42.19, 20th), Marsch (24.52, 22nd) and Windle (24.93, 25th) in the 50 free, Paglialunga in the 100 free (53.75, 23rd) and Bret Stacy in the 500 free (6:06.3, 28th).
The boys team scored 56 points to finish 11th behind champion Dover (259) as 41 teams scored.
Competing at district for the girls team were Ashley White (430.15 points, seventh) and Bethany Ranneberger (119.2, 33rd) in diving, the 200 medley relay of Josie Sweeney-Rogers, Jessica Osburn, Katie Von Hollen and Michelle Stefaniak (2:05.52, 26th) and Sweeney-Rogers, Alison Hager, Osburn and Stefaniak in the 200 free relay (1:49.98, 27th).
The girls team finished 21st (12) behind champion Upper Arlington (522.5) as 24 teams scored.
Gymnasts compete in district tourney
The gymnastics team competed in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top three teams advanced to the team state meet Friday, Feb. 28, at Hilliard Bradley, and the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the individual state meet Saturday, March 1, at Bradley.
Bowlers compete in sectional tourney
The boys and girls bowling teams competed in their respective Division I sectional tournaments Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes.
The top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team in both the boys and girls sectionals advanced to district Saturday, March 1, at Eastland Lanes.
The top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team in both the boys and girls districts advance to state at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The boys compete at state March 7 and the girls compete March 8.