The Watkins Memorial High School wrestling team won three of its last four matches against Lancaster in the first round of the Division I state team tournament.
That made the Warriors, who were seeded sixth in Region 5-A, feel a little better about their 48-22 loss to the third-seeded Golden Gales on Jan. 22 at Pickerington North.
"We're young and inexperienced because even some of the older guys don't have much experience," coach Mark Kurth said. "But overall, I thought we wrestled pretty well against a team that has a lot of depth. We battled hard against a team that was tough top to bottom. The way things ended gave us a boost."
The Warriors won five of the 14 weight classes against Lancaster. Among the winners was junior Andrew Lieb, who won by technical fall, 16-1, at 132 pounds over Isac Gatwood to post his 100th career victory.
"I'm pretty proud of it," Lieb said. "I've been working hard and 100 is a pretty big number, so I'm happy with it. It would've been nice (to get a pin for the 100th win). I was working toward it and was close a few times. He had just enough strength to keep me from getting it."
Also winning for the Warriors were freshman Dante Fair at 145 (14-10), sophomore Dean Marek at 120 (technical fall, 18-3), sophomore Logan Morrison at 138 (pin in 3 minutes, 21 seconds) and senior Simon Ponce at heavyweight (8-4). Morrison's win came in the final match of the contest.
"For a sophomore to get a pin at 138, that was a nice way to end the night," Kurth said. "(Morrison) wrestled a pretty tough kid (Zach Diaz) and he caught him on his back."
Kurth also was pleased with the effort turned in by freshman Andrew Cornelius, who lost 8-5 to Kane Freeman at 126.
"Cornelius was sick all week and he really battled hard," Kurth said. "I saw some good things (against Lancaster) despite the score."
Lancaster went on to beat second-seeded Pickerington North 36-30 in the second round and will face Teays Valley in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Jan. 29.
The Warriors, who played host to the Watkins Memorial Invitational on Jan. 25, will spend this week preparing for the LCL meet Saturday, Feb. 1, at Licking Heights.
"I think that will be a pretty competitive tournament," Kurth said of the league meet. "I heard Utica is the team to beat, but we know most of the teams have some great wrestlers at certain weights. I'm hoping we go out and wrestle our best.
"This is the first LCL meet and we didn't see many of the teams in the regular season. We saw Licking Heights early in the year and Granville and Licking Valley were on our dual schedule. A lot of these teams have been in the Licking County Invitational in past years, but this is the first time we're all back together. I think our guys will be ready and excited."
Boys basketball team upends Green Wave
The boys basketball team pulled off an upset against Newark Catholic in an LCL game, winning 63-52 on Jan. 22.
Hunter Holton had 16 points and Clay Gray scored 14 to lead Watkins Memorial, which was 7-7 overall and 5-6 in the LCL before playing Johnstown on Jan. 24.
The Warriors won two of their previous three games before facing the Johnnies.
Entering play Jan. 24, Johnstown sat atop the LCL at 11-1, followed by Granville at 10-2 and Newark Catholic at 9-3.
The Warriors beat Heath 70-46 in a league game Jan. 17, as Ricky Frey (16), Holton (14) and Clay Gray (13) scored in double figures, but lost to Logan 58-52 on Jan. 18.
Watkins Memorial missed 14 of its first 15 shots against Logan, which scored the game's first 11 points. Gray scored 20 points and Jared Clark had 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Warriors and 6-foot-8 forward Kevin Fisher led Logan with 27 points and 15 rebounds.
Girls basketball team struggling for wins
The girls basketball team lost its fifth game in a row when it fell to Johnstown 76-25 in LCL play Jan. 23.
Watkins Memorial was 4-14 overall and 3-11 in the LCL before playing Licking Valley on Jan. 25.
The Warriors lost to Newark Catholic 48-27 in a league game Jan. 18 and fell to Grove City 60-41 on Jan. 21.
Emma Hock had 12 points and Lexi Denison scored nine against the Greyhounds and Hock and Vicki Smith both scored six against the Green Wave.