Gavin McKenney felt a sense of pride Jan. 29 concerning his Central Crossing High School wrestling team.
Even though the Comets had lost to host Marysville 52-26 in the Region 6 final of the Division I state team tournament, the senior knew what this meant for the future of the program.
"We have worked so hard in the wrestling room just to get here and to think how close we came to going to state," said McKenney, whose team defeated Hilliard Davidson 37-30 in a Region 6 semifinal earlier in the day. "Sometimes we wrestle to our competition and that was good this time. We were able to beat (Hilliard) Bradley (33-32 on Jan. 22 in the tournament) and then Davidson. Not many gave us a chance, but we were able to beat them and make the (Region 6) final. This is really good for us."
Marysville advanced to the eight-team state duals Saturday, Feb. 8, at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
McKenney won by pin at 132 pounds against Marysville and by decision at 138 against Davidson.
Jackson Lakso won twice at 106, by pin against the Monarchs and in a 4-2 overtime decision against the Wildcats.
"This gives us great momentum, if we can just keep it up," Lakso said. "Hopefully we can get seven or eight guys out from (a Division I) sectional (Feb. 15 at Marysville) to district (Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby)."
The top four from each weight class at sectional advance to district.
Josh Wimer (126) had two pins on Jan. 29, while Robbie Fusner (195) won by pin against Marysville and by decision against Davidson. Heavyweight Kameron Teacher won by major decision against the Wildcats and by decision against the Monarchs.
Fusner faced Davidson's Amir Mansour with the Comets leading 30-24, but knowing his team would forfeit 220, it meant the dual essentially was tied at 30. Fusner won 5-3 to give Central Crossing a 33-30 edge entering the heavyweight match, which Teacher won 9-0 over Davidson's JoJo Reid.
"I had wrestled (Mansour) a couple of weeks earlier and was pinned in the final seconds of the match," Fusner said. "I knew how important this match was and that I had to beat him. This time I knew I had to fight off his hands and finish through on my shot."
Kyle Collins (113, pin), Casey Davis (152, technical fall), Hunter Taylor (160, major decision) and J.D. Woods (120, decision) all had victories against Davidson.
"Coming into the season, I really didn't think we were that strong of a dual team because we were young, and we were inexperienced in spots," coach Jamie Ramirez said. "We stepped up at the right time."
The Comets improved to 2-4 in the OCC-Central Division by defeating Westland 63-18 on Jan. 30. Collins (106), Davis (152), Fusner (195), Lakso (113), Ethan Leapley (145), McKenney (132), Taylor (160), Teacher (heavyweight), Wimer (138) and Woods (120) all won by pin and Caleb Alexander (170) won by decision.
In the inaugural 14-team Comet Tournament on Feb. 1, host Central Crossing (256) was runner-up behind Teays Valley (263.5).
James Wimer won the 113 title and was named the event's Most Valuable Wrestler. He went 5-0 with four pins, including the fastest pin of the tournament in 14 seconds.
Other champions were Fusner (195; 5-0, 5 pins) Lakso (106; 5-0, 4 pins), Leapley (145; 5-0, 1 pin), McKenney (132; 5-0, 2 pins), Teacher (heavyweight; 3-0, 2 pins) and Josh Wimer (138; 5-0, 4 pins). Taylor (160; 3-1, 2 pins) was runner-up and Davis (152; 3-1, 3 pins) placed third. Woods (120; 2-2, 2 pins) was fifth and Hunter Pemberton (182; 2-3, 1 pin) took sixth.
Crosby, Evanichko win All-North titles
Grove City had two individual champions in the All-North Tournament on Feb. 1 at Dublin Jerome.
Jake Crosby (170) and Chandler Evanichko (220) won titles as the Greyhounds finished ninth (94.5) of 16 teams behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (191).
Crosby defeated Gahanna's Doland Martin 6-5 in his championship match, and Evanichko defeated Amanda-Clearcreek's Cole Genders 5-4 in three overtimes for his title.
Drew Capehart was fourth while also competing at 170.
The Greyhounds dropped to 2-4 in the OCC-Ohio, losing to Pickerington Central 44-24 on Jan. 30. Jordan Baumgardner (182), Justin Belmonte (195), Crosby (170) and Evanichko (220) all won by pin.
Grove City competes in a Division I sectional Feb. 15 at Upper Arlington.