The OCC-Cardinal Division championship will be on the line when the Hilliard Bradley and Hilliard Darby high school wrestling teams meet in a dual Thursday, Feb. 7, at Hilliard Memorial Middle School.
The Panthers got the better of Bradley on Jan. 30, winning 36-22 in the second round of the Division I state team tournament.
"Hats off to Darby. They kicked our butts, and we'll learn from it," Bradley coach John Riggs said. "We'll get back to practicing, we'll work hard and we'll strap it up again with Darby. Hilliard Memorial is a great venue, a great atmosphere for wrestling. We're really excited about the opportunity to go over there. We're going to work on getting better and learn from this outing, and so are they."
Bradley improved to 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal by defeating Westerville North by forfeit Jan. 31. North also forfeited its match against the Jaguars a day earlier in the state team tournament because a number of its wrestlers were ill.
Darby, which defeated Dublin Scioto 63-16 on Jan. 31 to improve to 6-0 in the league, competed against host Marysville in the Region 5 final Feb. 6, with the winner advancing to the eight-team state tournament Saturday, Feb. 9, at Ohio State's St. John Arena. The Monarchs were the top seed in Region 5-A.
The top seed in Region 5-B, the Panthers trailed third-seeded Bradley 8-7 in a regional semifinal before scoring 15 consecutive points for a 22-8 lead. They ultimately won nine of the 14 weight classes.
Winning for Darby were Sean Black (152 pounds), Jake Donatelli (138), Zack Donatelli (160), Zach Garrett (113), Alex Martin (220), Chad Miller (heavyweight), Ben Radcliff (145), Sam Valenti (120) and Matt Walker (182). Walker won by pin.
The winners for Bradley were C.J. Campbell (106), Rob McGrath (126), Ryan McGrath (132), Sam Riggs (195) and Jake Stratton (170). Campbell won by pin.
"It's a lot of fun wrestling the Hilliard schools," Jake Donatelli said. "It's usually a pretty heated rivalry. I have some good friends on the other team. I'm sure all of us do, and it's always fun to go against them because we live within five miles of each other."
Bradley competed against Darby without starters Keegan Driscoll (145) and Hunter Kidd (182), but Riggs is hoping to have both for the rematch.
"Your first goal is to be No. 1 in your league," Riggs said. "The state dual meet, that one's not possible now, but we still have an opportunity to win a league title and be No. 1 in our league, and that's always your first goal."
Darby defeated fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington 36-21 in a second-round Region 5-B match Jan. 30 before facing Bradley. The Panthers won eight weight classes, including pins by Black (152) and Jake Donatelli (138).
"It was nice to get Jake back on the mat," Darby coach Brendan Moody said. "He's starting to get a little healthier. He's had a rough go of it with some injuries, but he's starting to get it back a little bit, so it was nice for him to come out and get a couple of wins."
Bradley scored 225 points to win the 10-team Watkins Memorial Invitational on Feb. 2, ahead of runner-up Watkins Memorial (194). Five Jaguars reached the finals, with Ryan McGrath winning the title at 132.
Wildcats reach regional final
The top seed in Region 6-A, Davidson advanced to a regional final of the state team tournament, where it competed against Pickerington Central, the second seed in Region 6-B, on Feb. 6. The winner advances to state Saturday, Feb. 9, at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
The host Wildcats defeated fourth-seeded Grove City 46-20 in the second round and second-seeded Upper Arlington 49-18 in a regional semifinal Jan. 30.
Winning against UA were Alex Desmond (120), Zach Duhl (126), Trent Gill (106), Travis Gusan (heavyweight), Nick Lawler (145), Amir Mansour (195), Garrett McIlvain (152), Austin Miller (220), Bobby Smith (138) and Lee Wilson (132).
Davidson lost to host Marysville 43-27 on Jan. 31 to fall to 4-2 in the OCC-Central, getting wins from Gusan (heavyweight), Lawler (138), McIlvain (152), Wilson (132) and Galen Moore (160). McIlvain and Moore won by pin.
"You take a loss," coach Dominic DiSabato said. "I think it looked a lot worse than what it was based on where the match started. We still won some matches. If we win a match or two in those tight ones, I don't know if we could beat them, but it is closer. We're going to come back. We'll be fine."
Davidson, which is third in the OCC-Central behind Marysville (6-0) and Thomas (5-1), defeated Darby 31-30 by criteria Jan. 19.
"That match is kind of what turned (the season) around," DiSabato said. "We didn't have a very good match against Thomas Worthington (a 34-33 loss by criteria Jan. 11), and we buckled down and they gave that effort against Darby. We've been wrestling good since then."
Davidson finished sixth (149.5) in the 14-team All-North Tournament on Feb. 2 at Dublin Jerome, behind champion Mount Vernon (244.5).