Clayton Bullard set his name in Johnstown-Monroe High School wrest-ling lore by reaching the awards podium at the Division III state tournament.
The junior became the Johnnies' fifth wrestler to place at state, which was held Feb. 28 through March 2 at Ohio State. He lost to Kirtland senior Evan Brettrager 5-4 in the fifth-place match at 195 pounds to go 3-3 at state and finish the season 55-6.
"It's great to be able to get up on the podium," Bullard said. "Now I have to work hard to do even better next year."
Chris Block, an assistant with the Johnnies, is the program's highest state placer, having finished fifth at 140 as a senior in 2009, and he also finished seventh at 135 in 2008. Keith Tanner was eighth at 135 as a senior in 2009 and Steve Dillinger was seventh at heavyweight as a senior in 2005.
Joey Dismuke, a 2012 graduate, finished eighth at 195 last season.
"Clayton has some things he could work on, but he should come back ready to go next season," third-year coach Jared Writesel said. "He's learned a lot and a lot more will kick in next year with him being a senior."
The Johnnies tied Caldwell, Casstown Miami East, Coshocton, Hartley and New Washington Buckeye Central for 53rd (9 points) at state behind champion Troy Christian (95.5) as 94 teams scored.
In the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo, Johnstown finished 23rd (27.5) behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (147.5) as 54 teams scored.
Bullard placed third at district to advance to state. Also competing were junior Alex Workman (1-2 at district, 30-8 overall) at 152 and freshman Hayden Bullard (0-2, 34-19) at 126.
The Johnnies tied Grandview for 10th (69) in the 14-team sectional Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Plains behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (258).
On Feb. 2, Johnstown finished sixth (132) in the MBC Duals behind Northridge (395), Loudonville (235), Centerburg (231), Utica (184) and host Fredericktown (138) and ahead of Danville (131) and East Knox (65).
The Johnnies had no league champions, but Clayton Bullard (195), Workman (170) and Hayden Bullard (120) finished second. Freshman Ryan Thacker (106) placed third, and junior Logan Writesel (160) and sophomore Cody Thompson (145) both were fourth.
Johnstown is leaving the MBC to join the Licking County League.
In the Division III state team tournament, the eighth-seeded Johnnies fell to ninth-seeded Fredericktown 30-28 in the opening round of Region 22-A matches Jan. 23 at Galion Northmor.
Also expected to return are junior Aaron Davis (220), sophomores Trevor McGee (138) and Vince Walls (132) and freshmen Josiah Annis (126), Alex Catalogna (heavyweight) and Clay Psurny (132).
"Our team was young and we had three wrestlers make it to district, and all three are underclassmen," coach Writesel said. "We didn't have any seniors and we have a pretty decent-sized middle school team, so that should be good for next year."
Boys basketball team endures tough schedule
The boys basketball team finished 14-9 overall after losing at seventh-seeded Marion Pleasant 65-59 on Feb. 27 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
The 13th-seeded Johnnies won their tournament opener at ninth-seeded Mount Gilead 56-50 on Feb. 23.
The Johnnies tied Danville for second (10-4) in the MBC, behind Fredericktown (13-1) and ahead of Utica (9-5), Centerburg (6-8), Northridge (4-10), East Knox (3-11) and Loudonville (1-13).
"I was really happy with the 14-9 record because we lost to some really good teams like Fredericktown, Newark Cath-olic (and) Ready," said coach Kevin Martin, who completed his fifth season. "The tournament is a different level of play than the regular season. It will be like that next year in (the Licking County League) night in and night out. It will be a battle every night and we'll have 18 league games, so that will be a challenge in itself."
The Johnnies were led by junior guard Will Orr, who was second-team all-district and first-team-all-league. Orr averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocks. He also made 38 of 103 3-point attempts (36.9 percent) and was 68 of 81 on free-throw attempts (84 percent).
Sam Scovell, a senior guard and two-year starter, was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury during a 42-39 loss to Danville on Dec. 11. He averaged 6.3 points in four games before the anterior cruciate ligament tear.
The Johnnies had five other seniors in guards Daniel Mark Almendinger, J.D. Arnold and Vaughn Green, forward Scott Sammons and post player Tim Sayer, who averaged 6.0 points and 5.1 rebounds and was second-team all-league.
"I told my senior group that I had a lot of respect for the leadership they showed," Martin said. "We had underclassmen playing a lot of minutes, and sometimes that can be detrimental to the team. But they handled that well and they helped make our team what it was with their attitudes.
"Sam Scovell went down early and that hurt us. He would have only helped us. And Scott Sammons battled injuries and sickness from Christmas on. Tim Sayer gives you give 100 percent all of the time, because he could score, rebound, and every night he was great on defense."
Other top players expected back are junior guard Justin Bush (honorable mention all-league; 6.1 points, 1.3 steals, 1.3 assists), sophomore guard Cody Farley (5.3 points, 2.6 assists) and freshman forward Jason Carter (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks).
Also expected back are juniors Charles Benton (forward), Thomas Benton (post player) and Josh Kirkpatrick (forward).