Five members of the Watkins Memorial High School wrestling team advanced to the Division I district tournament, including three sectional champions.
Seniors Noah Holter (138 pounds) and Nick Lancia (152) and sophomore Andrew Lieb (126) each won his weight class in a 10-team sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Watkins Memorial and junior Dylan Scott (132) and freshman Dean Marek (106) both placed third.
The top four finishers in each weight class qualified for district Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby. Holter, Lancia and Lieb also were district qualifiers last season, and Scott was a district qualifier as a freshman.
Holter went 4-0 at sectional, winning each match by pin, including the final in which he beat Thomas Worthington's Ben Hooff in 1 minute, 39 seconds. He was 39-7 on the season entering district.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to the state tournament, which runs Thursday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 2, at Ohio State.
"That's typical Noah," coach Mark Kurth said. "He has 37 pins this season and 26 of his 32 wins last season were by pin. He just methodically keeps wrestling and eventually finds a way to pin his opponent. It's remarkable. I need to do some checking to see what the (program's) season and career records are for pins."
Lancia went 3-0 at sectional and pinned all three opponents, including Pickerington Central's Aaron Yarger in 3:24 in the final. He entered district 41-3.
"He wrestled very, very well," Kurth said. "He's just so physical and has immense intensity. When he's on, he's tough to beat."
Lieb went 4-0 at sectional, beating Pickerington Central's Tyler Hogue 5-3 in the final. He entered district 39-6.
"He had an upset stomach early and was a little shaky," Kurth said. "But as the day went on, he wrestled better and better."
Marek and Scott both went 3-1 at sectional. Marek was 30-18 entering district and Scott was 20-6.
"Dylan came back from a shoulder injury and surprised everyone with how good of shape he was in," Kurth said. "He just got (medically) cleared (Feb. 12) and hadn't practiced since mid-January. His only loss was in overtime in a semifinal.
"Dean beat Devin Johnson from Pickerington Central twice after losing to him 8-3 in the state duals. I thought Dean and Dylan both really stepped up."
Watkins Memorial adjusted its lineup for sectional, as senior Chris Bankes (132) suffered a broken finger during practice Feb. 11 and wasn't able to compete. A district qualifier last season, he finished 40-6.
The Warriors also competed without juniors Josh Lyday (195, 16-10) and Taylor Evener (heavyweight, 11-14) because of injury.
Senior Damian George (220) went 3-2 at sectional to improve to 40-10 and placed fifth, making him a district alternate. Also placing was junior Adam Tomkins (160), who went 1-3 to finish 25-25.
Also competing were senior Jared Corum (170, 1-2, 12-31) and freshmen Robert Speaks (145, 0-2, 16-19), Elliot Holter (113, 0-2, 17-25) and Jack May (182, 0-2, 2-15).
The Warriors scored 136 points at sectional to finish fifth, behind Hilliard Bradley (205), Pickerington Central (200.5), Thomas Worthington (182.5) and Olentangy Orange (174) and ahead of Olentangy (134), Dublin Coffman (109), Reynoldsburg (84.5), Canal Winchester (80) and Zanes-ville (13).
Season ends for girls swim team
The members of the girls swimming and diving team who competed in the Division I district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State performed well but did not advance to state.
The Warriors set three program records in the seven events in which they competed.
"It was a pretty stellar day for us," first-year coach Heidi Williams said. "All of them dropped time in every single event and, with three school records, you can't beat that. They gave it their all and the girls were ecstatic."
Sophomore Kayla Fenimore set the program record in the 100-yard butterfly, placing 24th in 1 minute, 2.41 seconds, and finished 27th in the 200 individual medley (2:21.33). She also was on the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, both of which set program records.
Fenimore teamed with sophomore Shelby Seas, junior Rachel Baughn and senior Miranda Gessner to finish 17th in both the 200 medley relay (1:59.21) and 200 free relay (1:47.46).
Gessner finished 14th in the 50 free (25:22) and 20th in the 100 free (56.61) and Seas finished 17th in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.3).
"I am real happy with my times and couldn't be prouder of my team for the records we've set," Gessner said. "This season was terrific and I think the team will be strong again next year."
The top two placers in each swimming event at district automatically advanced to the state meet that concluded Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide. The top three boys divers and top four girls divers also advanced to state.
Watkins Memorial did not score at district. Upper Arlington (491) won the district title, as 24 teams scored.
The Warriors finished seventh (103) of 12 teams in the sectional Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington behind champion Thomas (311) and placed fifth (114) in the OCC-Capital Division meet that concluded Jan. 26 at Thomas, behind New Albany (312), Olentangy (274), Delaware (259) and Orange (167) and Big Walnut (101) and Mount Vernon (63).
Franklin Heights does not have a swimming and diving program.
The boys team ended its season at sectional, where it finished last (4) of 11 teams behind champion Westerville South (216).
The Warriors finished sixth (77) in the league meet, behind New Albany (335), Olentangy (274), Delaware (254), Orange (166) and Mount Vernon (77) and ahead of Big Walnut (74).
Boys basketball team opens postseason
The boys basketball team was 6-16 overall before playing 13th-seeded Newark in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23.
Watkins Memorial was seeded 35th of 42 teams.
The winner plays 17th-seeded St. Charles or 19th-seeded Darby in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the site of the higher seed.
The Warriors have not played either team this season. Darby was 14-8 entering the tournament and is led by guards Taylor Van Winkle, David Dennis and Caleb Day and forward Nic Baker. St. Charles entered the postseason 15-5 and is led by guards Bryce Spees and NiQuille Bell and forward Sean Hennessey.
The second-round winner plays second-seeded Westerville North, 39th-seeded Logan or 40th-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal March 6 at Westerville Central.
Watkins Memorial concluded the regular season Feb. 14 with a 53-50 win over visiting Orange to finish 3-11 in the OCC-Capital.
Forward Kevin Crawford led the Warriors with 15 points. Guard Aarmanni Garnett had 10 points and guard Thomas O'Sickey scored nine.
Watkins Memorial tied Mount Vernon for sixth in the OCC-Capital, behind New Albany (14-0), Delaware (11-3), Olentangy (10-4), Orange (8-6) and Franklin Heights (5-9) and ahead of Big Walnut (2-12).
Girls basketball team falls in district opener
The girls basketball team lost to second-seeded Gahanna 55-33 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 20.
The Warriors, who were seeded 41st of 43 teams and had a first-round bye, finished 7-16.
Post player Brittany Bronder had eight points to lead Watkins Memorial and guard Lou Nickel scored seven.