Although the New Albany High School wrestling team might not have competed in any elite tournaments like the Medina Invitational during the regular season, coach Marc Cofer reminded the Eagles that they were well-prepared for postseason competition.

Although the New Albany High School wrestling team might not have competed in any elite tournaments like the Medina Invitational during the regular season, coach Marc Cofer reminded the Eagles that they were well-prepared for postseason competition.

Cofer put together a regular-season schedule he thought would get his young wrestlers as many matches as possible but still get the competition necessary to be ready for the Division II sectional, district and state tournaments.

With the sectional over and district set for Friday and Saturday at Heath, it seems the plan is working.

"The thing we kept telling them, and pretty much the message all year, is that we wrestled a real tough schedule in preparation," Cofer said. "We go against some of these kids with 30-plus wins and we end up beating them, just because we wrestle tough competition all year."

The Eagles finished third last Saturday in the sectional at Licking Heights with 199 points, behind DeSales (259) and Licking Valley (210). It was New Albany's best team finish at sectional since it was second in 2006.

New Albany advanced nine to district, the most it has had since moving up to Division II in 2006. The Eagles also had two district alternates, and all 13 wrestlers who competed placed in the top six.

The top four in each weight class at district will advance to state March 5-7 at Ohio State.

The Eagles had no individual champions, but two wrestlers reached the final. Alex Vichinsky finished second at 189 pounds, losing to Chris Taylor of Licking Heights 4-2 in the final, and Kody Doyle finished second at 160, losing to Reno Bernardo of DeSales 16-0 in the final. Doyle and Vichinsky reached district last season.

Doyle said he was pleased with the way he wrestled last Saturday, and he said the experience of having success at sectional last year made things easier the second time around.

"Last year was my freshman year and I didn't know what to expect going in there," Doyle said. "It was a little scary. This year it was more relaxed."

The Eagles also had five wrestlers finish third and two finish fourth. John Korth qualified for the district for a fourth consecutive season, taking third at 215. Korth pinned Howard Fowler of Hamilton Township in the third-place match.

Mike Kaufman reached the district tournament for the third year in a row, pinning Michael McCarthy of Watterson to finish third at 130. Drew Auld made the district for a second consecutive season, pinning Andy Congos of Lakewood to finish third at 125.

Reaching the district for the first time were Nate Peck (112, third), Cody Kehres (171, third), Frankie Odierno (135, fourth) and Nate Park (140, fourth). Odierno and Peck were district alternates last season.

Josh Park (119) and Mac Ferguson (145) finished fifth at sectional and are district alternates.

Even though New Albany doesn't have any particular wrestlers who are heavy favorites to make state, Cofer said all nine wrestlers have to believe they've got a shot to make it out. The Eagles have had at least one state qualifier for eight consecutive years.

"There will be some kids that, on paper, should definitely make state but don't make state because maybe they're not wrestling their best," Cofer said. "There are a lot of factors, just because it's kind of a long and grinding season. There will be some kids who come out of nowhere and step up and make it to state. From here on out, it's what you make of it."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the New Albany wrestling team:

Last Saturday -- Finished third (199) behind DeSales (259) and Licking Valley (210) at Division II sectional at Licking Heights. District qualifiers were Nate Peck (112, third), Drew Auld (125, third), Mike Kaufman (130, third), Frankie Odierno (135, fourth), Nate Park (140, fourth), Kody Doyle (160, second), Cody Kehres (171, third), Alex Vichinsky (189, second) and John Korth (215, third).

Saturday -- At district at Heath. The Eagles were 29th (16.5) behind champion DeSales (175.5) last season. The top four in each weight class will advance to state March 5-7 at Ohio State.