In six seasons as Dublin Jerome High School wrestling coach, Adam Huddle has never been more confident heading into a Division I sectional tournament.
"I think this is the best team we've had from top to bottom," said Huddle, whose team competes Saturday, Feb. 16, at Marysville. "There are some tough weight classes, but our kids have been wrestling well at the right time. Everybody is healthy and ready."
The lineup includes four returning district qualifiers in Josh Transue (113 pounds, 32-7 overall), Bennett Comfort (145, 30-3), Andrew Pearson (152, 27-9) and Brett Mowery (220, 21-0), who won a match at state a year ago.
The top four individuals in each weight class from the Marysville, Pickerington North, Watkins Memorial and Westland sectionals will advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby.
Seth Transue (106, 33-8), Liam Dunlea (120, 18-10), Alex Jacobs (132, 24-17) and Alec Hood (160, 28-14) also enter the postseason with winning records for the Celtics.
Marysville, which reached a quarterfinal in the Division I state team tournament, is among the opponents in the 10-team sectional field. The other teams are Briggs, Columbus West, Franklin Heights, Gahanna, Lancaster, Northland, Westerville North and Whetstone.
In the OCC-Cardinal Division, Jerome finished fifth (3-4) behind champion Darby (7-0), Hilliard Bradley (6-1), Westerville North (5-2) and Kilbourne (4-3) and ahead of Westerville South (2-5), Dublin Scioto (1-6) and Westerville Central (0-7).
Scioto's Akutsu again could face Gusan
Scioto senior Yoshi Akutsu expects to meet the area's top-ranked heavyweight for a third time this season when the Irish compete in the Westland sectional Saturday, Feb. 16.
Twice this season, Hilliard Davidson's Travis Gusan defeated Akutsu (32-3) by scores of 3-1. They faced off Dec. 15 in the Panther Invitational at Pickerington North and Dec. 27 in the Ready Winter Classic.
"If Yoshi sees him again, it likely won't be until the finals," coach Aaron McKenzie said. "The last time he faced him, he tried to get an escape at the end, but we lost the same way."
Others entering the postseason with winning records include senior Anthony Trocchio (152, 26-7), who was a district qualifier in 2010-11, and junior Cameron Wallace (160, 15-12).
McKenzie said he also has been impressed by the recent performances of junior Jeffrey Jarry (170, 16-18) and freshman Matt Michael (106, 3-2).
In addition to Scioto, Davidson and Westland, the other teams in the sectional will be Central Crossing, Delaware, Grove City, Kilbourne, New Albany, St. Charles and Upper Arlington.
Coffman's Wooden begins quest for state
Markell Wooden got a taste of the Division I state tournament last season as an alternate. The 160-pound senior expects to be a competitor there this year.
At 32-3, Wooden has been the Shamrocks' top wrestler in a lineup that features six freshmen.
Coffman will compete Saturday, Feb. 16, in the Watkins Memorial sectional with the host Warriors, Bradley, Canal Winchester, Olentangy, Olentangy Orange, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg, Thomas Worthington and Zanesville.
Besides Wooden, freshmen Lucas Manarolla (113, 20-10) and Willy Plaisir (138, 29-16), sophomore Kevin Bedle (145, 17-16) and juniors Andrew Muncrief (182, 19-14) and Riley Young (heavyweight, 17-13) have winning records.
Coffman tied Central Crossing for sixth (2-5) in the OCC-Central behind Marysville (7-0), Thomas (6-1), Davidson (5-2), Olentangy Liberty (3-4) and Upper Arlington (3-4) and ahead of Westland (0-7).