Clayton Bullard said he felt proud and relieved following his final high school wrestling match.
The senior for Johnstown-Monroe High School placed third at 195 pounds in the Division II state tournament held Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State. While he fell short of a title, he became the Johnnies' first state placer in Division II and recorded the highest state finish in program history.
Bullard finished the season 53-1 overall. He lost to Perry's Kyle Kremiller 9-3 in the second round, but defeated Kremiller 5-4 in the third-place match.
"That was my last match," said Bullard, who last season placed sixth at 195 in Division III and finished his career 168-28. "I'll be going to Hocking (College) for criminal justice. It's doesn't seem real that it's over."
All of the Johnnies' previous state placers were in Division III. Current assistant coach Chris Block finished fifth at 140 as a senior in 2009 and seventh at 135 in 2008. Keith Tanner was eighth at 135 as a senior in 2009, Steve Dillinger was seventh at heavyweight as a senior in 2005 and Joey Dismuke was eighth at 195 as a senior in 2012.
Bullard scored 17 points at state to give the Johnnies a tie for 28th behind champion St. Paris Graham (185.5) as 87 teams scored.
"It was a blessing to be able to coach Clayton this season," first-year coach Bob Fresch said. "He's a good kid from a good family who does all of the right things. He was a great leader and helped the younger kids a lot."
In the district tournament Feb. 21 and 22 at Uhrichsville Claymont, Bullard won a title as the Johnnies tied for 22nd (30) behind champion Claymont (279.5) as 39 teams scored.
Bullard also won a sectional title Feb. 15 at Madison Plains as the Johnnies finished 10th (51.5) of 13 teams behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (228). Sophomore Hayden Bullard (132) placed fifth and juniors Trevor McGee (138) and Vince Walls (126) both were sixth.
In the LCL tournament Feb. 1 at Licking Heights, Clayton Bullard won a title as the Johnnies finished ninth (102) of 10 teams behind champion Granville (309). Hayden Bullard was third, Walls placed fourth, senior Aaron Davis (220) was seventh and freshman Colton Hiles (152) was eighth.
In Region 21-A of the Division III state team tournament, the eighth-seeded Johnnies beat ninth-seeded Africentric 40-24 in the preliminary round Jan. 22 before losing their first-round matchup with top-seeded and host Hartley 63-15.
Also on the team were sophomores Ryan Thacker (113) and Nate Wood (160/170) and freshman Dakota Ramey (120).
"We're working on building a program," Fresch said. "Chris Block and his dad, Rick, have done a great job with the youth program and that's where we have to start building."
Boys basketball team loses to Bulldogs
The boys basketball team finished 19-5, losing to sixth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 50-37 in a Division II district semifinal March 5 at Olentangy.
Jason Carter led the fourth-seeded Johnnies with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Kaden Welch scored six points and Justin Bush had seven assists.
Will Orr, who entered the game averaging 17.8 points, was held to five.
"We have two (players) who have led us all season in Jason Carter and Will Orr," coach Kevin Martin said. "When (opponents) hold one of them down, it's hard to win the game. We needed to have both guys in double figures."
Joey Schmitz scored all of Bloom-Carroll's points in the first quarter as Johnstown fell behind 14-11. Carter scored 10 points in the second as the Johnnies went on an 8-0 run to go to halftime tied at 23.
The Bulldogs' zone collapsed on Carter in the third, helping Bloom-Carroll to build a 39-29 lead entering the fourth.
"I think that run to tie the game (before halftime) took a lot more out of us than we had thought," Martin said. "We knew we couldn't let them start strong in the third. They have put up some big numbers all year in the third."
Girls team falls in district final
The girls basketball team finished 23-3, losing to second-seeded Eastmoor Academy 61-46 in a Division II district final March 1 at New Albany.
Paige Cannon had 23 points and six rebounds for the top-seeded Johnnies. Natalie Carpenter battled foul trouble and scored eight points.
Eastmoor led 17-6 after one quarter and 30-15 at halftime.
"(The Warriors) jumped on us right out of the chute and we had too big of a hole to dig out of," coach Carl Dufford said. "They took away our outside game. They had a really good game plan and they really played well.
"Natalie got three quick fouls and didn't play in the second quarter, and Makenzie (Spang) sprained both the inside and outside of her right ankle. She tried to come back, but was in a lot of pain and still finished with 10 rebounds."
Annis qualifies for state indoor track
Sophomore Josiah Annis qualified for the Divisions II-III state indoor track and field meet March 8 at the University of Akron.
Annis was seeded 20th in the pole vault (13 feet).