As he walked off the mat last Saturday following the 189-pound final at Watkins Memorial, Gahanna Lincoln High School wrestler Nick Brown had trouble letting go of the frustration.

As he walked off the mat last Saturday following the 189-pound final at Watkins Memorial, Gahanna Lincoln High School wrestler Nick Brown had trouble letting go of the frustration.

And this came after the junior had just defeated Dublin Scioto's Wes King 16-2 for the championship and advanced to the Division I district tournament for the first time.

It was another example of how far into the background last season has gone for the Lions, who tripled their number of district qualifiers and battled for a sectional runner-up team finish before settling for third.

Brown's only disappointment at the sectional was that he was unable to get either a technical fall or a pin against King. He pinned his first three opponents and was one of three sectional champions and six district qualifiers.

Gahanna is looking to significantly increase its number of state qualifiers after having one last year when it competes at the district tournament Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Darby.

"It wasn't a challenging sectional," said Brown, who finished sixth at sectionals last year. "I'm still getting ready for higher competition at district. The kids at district will be at a higher level than here, so I'm going to be working more on finishing. I did a lot of riding (at the sectional) and I need to stay with what I'm good at."

Brown (35-5) will wrestle Thomas Worthington's Andrew Shackelford (14-11) in his opening district match.

Also entering district after winning sectional titles are Drew McDougle (112, 31-4), who will face Olentangy Liberty's John Pfleiderer (21-13), and Tim Tuaquoi (heavyweight, 26-9), who will wrestle Lancaster's Kevin Miller (21-16).

Gahanna's other district qualifiers are Kasee McDougle (second at 119), Jordan Schembri (third at 145) and Justin Strohschein (third at 160). In district openers, Kasee McDougle (32-7) will face Beavercreek's A.J. Donigian (13-17), Schembri (31-11) will wrestle Reynoldsburg's Zach Hartsell (28-11) and Strohschein (29-11) will face Hilliard Darby's Tyler Bowens (32-7).

"I just went out and did what I had to do," Drew McDougle said. "I tried not to get nervous and just stayed composed. I'm hoping to do well (at district). I'm not planning to do anything different, it's just going to be tougher competition."

Last season, Gahanna finished 12th (41) at its sectional and advanced only 2009 graduates Matt Nelson (140) and Adam Jah (152) to district. The Lions scored 17 points to place 29th at district as Nelson took third and then scored one state point as Nelson went 1-2.

Last Saturday, Gahanna ended up third with 170 points, behind Marysville (239) and Teays Valley (205.5).

"It means a whole lot, especially with us coming from second-to-last last year to third this year," Tuaquoi said. "It's a complete change and we want to keep it going. This is a huge change for me after going 0-2 at the sectional last year."

"I was really proud of the guys," coach Kyle Bentley said. "We only had three guys who didn't score at least one point. We got six out, which was pretty much what we thought. We probably should have gotten a couple more out."

At a glance

Below are recent results and the coming schedule for the Gahanna wrestling team:

Last Saturday -- Finished third (170) in 13-team Division I sectional tournament at Watkins Memorial behind Marysville (239) and Teays Valley (205.5). Drew McDougle (112), Nick Brown (189) and Tim Tuaquoi (heavyweight) were first, Kasee McDougle (119) took second and Jordan Schembri (145) and Justin Strohsche (160) finished third to advance to district. Also placing were Doryan Arnold (125, sixth), Josiah Dembroski (135, sixth) and Connor Noel (152, fifth).

Friday-Saturday -- Division I district tournament at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each weight advance to the state tournament March 4-6 in Ohio State's Schottenstein Center.