Wrestlers earn sectional championship
Coach Eric Potts said winning has become second nature for the Northridge High School wrestling team.
The Vikings earned their first team title in the postseason by winning the Division III sectional tournament held Feb. 15 and 16 at Cardington.
Northridge finished first (206.5 points) of 15 teams, ahead of runner-up Galion Northmor (158).
The Vikings advanced 10 of 14 wrestlers to district, which was held Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo. The top four in each weight class at district advanced to the state tournament Thursday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 2, at Ohio State.
"I think with all of the experiences our kids have had in youth, middle school and high school (wrestling), they don't get jitters on the big stage," said Potts, whose squad won the Licking County tournament Dec. 22, the MBC Duals on Feb. 2 and reached a semifinal in the inaugural state team tournament Feb. 9. "They went to the national duals in middle school. They were at (Ohio State's) St. John (Arena) for the state duals this year and have been at a lot of other big events. They don't get bothered by things like that."
Winning sectional championships for the Vikings were seniors Rob Mickey (160 pounds) and Thomas Williams (145) and sophomore Jake Adkins (106).
Mickey improved to 29-7 overall entering district by going 4-0 at sectional. He pinned Northmor's Cody Ross in 1 minute, 22 seconds in a final.
Williams dropped from 152 to 145 for the postseason and went 4-0 at sectional. He improved to 52-3 by defeating Northmor's Jamie Baldridge 6-3 in a final.
"Thomas was weighing out at practice at 147 pounds, which is the weight allowance to wrestle at 145," Potts said. "He would have been a light 152-pounder, so he decided to drop down."
Adkins went 3-0 at sectional to improve to 45-4. In his final, he defeated Heath's Isaiah Young 19-5.
The top four in each weight class at sectional advanced. Finishing second for the Vikings were seniors Shane Mulligan (132) and Anthoney Verhovec (heavyweight). Mulligan went 3-1 at sectional and was 41-11 after losing to Danville's Cade Mickley 5-1 in a final. Verhovec went 2-1 and was 36-9 after falling to Sugarcreek Garaway's Ben Sexton 6-1 in a final.
Senior Zach Rudy finished third at 182, going 3-1 at sectional to improve to 30-19.
Finishing fourth were senior Drew Mullen at 138 (3-2 at sectional, 47-11 overall before district) and juniors John Barber at 195 (2-2, 27-24), Parker Fox at 170 (2-2, 25-17) and Wade Stischok at 152 (3-2, 30-16).
Freshmen Michael Holly at 113 (0-3, 21-23) and Jacob McNamera at 120 (1-3, 12-37) both placed sixth. Also failing to advance were juniors Alex Arnold at 126 (0-2, 29-19) and A.J. Mooney at 220 (0-2, 17-17).
"Our team is pretty healthy and that's a blessing this time of year," Potts said. "We have a few dings, but nothing major (going into district). A lot of teams would like to be able to say that."
Last season, Adkins (106), Verhovec (heavyweight) and Williams (138) all qualified for state, where Williams finished fourth to become the first Northridge wrestler to place since Joey Simcoe was third at 130 in 1999.
Both Adkins and Verhovec went 0-2 at state a year ago.
Swimming season ends at district
The swimming and diving teams did not have any competitors advance to the Division II state meet, which was held Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In the district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, freshman Josie Bunstine finished ninth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:11.27) and 11th in the 100 butterfly (1:02.81) to set girls program records in both events.
Junior Riley Love finished 16th in the 200 individual medley (2:34.16) and 24th in the 100 backstroke (1:10.05).
The girls team finished 16th (21) behind champion Granville (457) as 36 teams scored.
For the boys team, junior Brandon Eckstein was 25th in the 200 IM (2:27.33). He also joined sophomores Mat Scott, Chris Lindsay and Jasen Dean on the 25th-place 400 freestyle relay (4:03.48) and the 24th-place 200 medley relay (2:02.37).
The boys did not score as Granville (332) won and 36 teams scored.
"We really had a great district meet, cutting time in every event that we swam and setting (program) records or personal records," assistant coach Jeff Lindsay said. "It was a great meet and we had a lot of fun. We have no seniors, so most of this team will be together two more years, except for our three juniors."
On Feb. 9 in a sectional at Columbus Academy, the girls finished 12th (18) behind champion Granville (339) as 24 teams scored and the boys finished 14th (20) behind champion Granville (279) as 21 teams scored.
The girls finished eighth (32) in the 10-team Southeast Ohio Swim League meet Jan. 26 at Ohio University behind champion Coshocton (279). The boys finished fifth (107) behind champion Coshocton (239).
The boys team also expects to return sophomores Mason Alexander, Bryce Curtis, Paul Haught, Noah Orcutt and Steve Wickham and freshmen Adam Eckstein and David Stanton.
Junior Katie Pileski also is expected back for the girls team.
"We had a great year, but you have to give credit where credit is due," said coach Lindsay, who assisted first-year coach Louissa Summers.
"Coach Summers got them ready for each meet so they would be ready to do well at district. This isn't like college when you have a month to prepare for the postseason. You have to drag and taper over a two-week period and she did a great job with the kids."
Boys basketball team swept by Johnstown
The boys basketball team was 7-15 overall and finished 4-10 in the MBC after losing to Johnstown-Monroe 66-54 on Feb. 15.
Junior guard Matt Grindle led the Vikings with 10 points, and senior guard Hayden Warner and sophomore guard Gavin Shank both added nine.
The Johnnies also beat Northridge 58-54 in overtime Jan. 11.
The Vikings were seeded 17th in the Division III district tournament and opened Feb. 23 at 10th-seeded West Jefferson.
The winner advanced to play sixth-seeded Worthington Christian in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Worthington Christian Middle School. The Warriors are 14-8 overall and did not play the Vikings this season.
The winner plays second-seeded Columbus Academy, East Knox or Cardington in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. March 5 at Delaware.
Girls basketball team falls to Centerburg
The girls basketball team finished 2-21 overall, losing to host Centerburg 53-39 on Feb. 16 in the opening round of the Division III district tournament.
Junior guard Sara Pribonic led Northridge with 18 points and senior forward Lydia George had seven. Sophomore post player Belinda Marcum and freshman forward Jamie Swickard both scored four points.