Olentangy High School wrestling coach Matt Hammons believes his team is stronger than a year ago when it scored 135.5 points to win the Division II district tournament at Uhrichsville Claymont ahead of runner-up Lisbon Beaver (119.5).

Olentangy High School wrestling coach Matt Hammons believes his team is stronger than a year ago when it scored 135.5 points to win the Division II district tournament at Uhrichsville Claymont ahead of runner-up Lisbon Beaver (119.5).

But with the Braves finishing behind Claymont in two regular-season tournaments this season, Hammons said it will be difficult for his squad to defend its title at district on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26, at Columbus East.

Olentangy finished ninth (101) in the Medina Invitational Tournament on Dec. 28-29 behind sixth-place Claymont (126) and fifth (136.5) in the Alliance Top Gun Invitational on Jan. 14-15 behind fourth-place Claymont (139).

"It was tough to win our first district title and it's going to be even tougher to stay on top, because we're going to get everyone's best shot since we're the defending champion," Hammons said. "Claymont has a solid team top to bottom and they've already beat us twice this year, so it boils down to what each of us has done since then."

Hammons said each of his 13 district qualifiers will need to score to give his team an edge over the Mustangs.

The top four placers in each weight class will advance to state March 3-5 at Ohio State.

"We're going to be neck-and-neck with Claymont," Hammons said. "We both have studs who should do well, so it will come down to our supporting cast. We need our second-tier guys to step up and wrestle like our first-tier guys, because there's not much of a difference between our first-tier and second-tier guys anyway. It was fun to win our school's first district title last year, but it would be even more meaningful to do it two years in a row."

The Braves scored 292 points to win the 13-team sectional at Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 19 ahead of runner-up Jonathan Alder (199) for their second consecutive sectional title and third in four years.

Placing first for Olentangy were Al Caserta (4-0, 130 pounds), Trevor Fiorucci (4-0, 119), Andrew Torti (4-0, 103) and Bryan Young (3-0, heavyweight).

"Having a blowout victory for another sectional title is a fun moment and a nice springboard, but it's just a stepping stone on the way to district," Hammons said.

Liberty scored 239.5 points to win the 13-team Division I sectional at Pickerington Central on Feb. 19 ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (187) for its second consecutive sectional title.

Placing first for the Patriots were Jarrod Boone (4-0, 125), Nick Kaczkowski (4-0, 160), Anthony Michael (3-0, 135), Ethan Snyder (3-0, 145) and Craig Thomas (4-0, 152).

"The kids have been working hard in practice and we've been wrestling real well the past couple of weeks," coach Mark Marinelli said.

With 10 district qualifiers in his lineup on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26, at Hilliard Darby, Marinelli hopes the Patriots can win their first district title.

The top four placers in each weight class will advance to state March 3-5 at Ohio State.

Last year, Liberty finished eighth (52.5) in the 44-team Division I district at Darby behind champion Marysville (188.5). Snyder went 3-2 at 145 to place fourth and become the Patriots' first Division I state qualifier.

"I think we've got as good a chance as anybody to win it," Marinelli said. "We don't have as many big hammers as some of these other teams like Springboro, Beavercreek and Hilliard Davidson have. But we have some guys who have the potential to make the finals and every one of our guys are capable of scoring points for us."

AT A GLANCE

Below are the sectional results for the Liberty, Olentangy and Orange wrestling teams:

LIBERTY

Feb. 19 - Finished first (239.5) in 13-team Division I sectional at Pickerington Central ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (187). District qualifiers were Jarrod Boone (125, 4-0, first), Luke Fleming (heavyweight, 3-1, third), Ken Hamre (171, 3-1, third), Nick Kaczkowski (160, 4-0, first), Anthony Michael (135, 3-0, first), Giuseppe Penzone (112, 2-1, second), John Pfleiderer (119, 2-1, second), Jake Ryan (130, 2-2, fourth), Ethan Snyder (145, 3-0, first) and Craig Thomas (152, 4-0, first). Others competing were Matt Casey (215, 1-3), Matt Cubberly (189, 3-2), Mitch Himmelstein (140, 1-2) and Josh Snider (103, 1-2).

Feb. 25-26 - District tournament at Hilliard Darby. The top four in each weight class advance to state March 3-5 at Ohio State.

OLENTANGY

Feb. 19 - Finished first (292) in 13-team Division II sectional at Hilliard Bradley ahead of runner-up Jonathan Alder (199). District qualifiers were Eric Bridges (140, 3-1, third), Al Caserta (130, 4-0, first), Ryan Dean (171, 3-2, fourth), Trevor Fiorucci (119, 4-0, first), Anthony Fosco (135, 3-1, second), Joey Gadd (160, 3-1, third), Caleb Hetterscheidt (152, 2-1, second), Ryan Lucas (125, 3-1, second), Travis Massey (112, 4-1, third), Brandon Sheppard (189, 2-1, second), Alex Stinemetz (215, 2-1, second), Andrew Torti (103, 4-0, first) and Bryan Young (heavyweight, 3-0, first). Also competing was Ryan Brady (145, 2-2).

Feb. 25-26 - District tournament at Columbus East. The top four in each weight class advance to state March 3-5 at Ohio State.

ORANGE

Feb. 19 - Finished sixth (120.5) in 13-team Division I sectional at Westland behind champion Lancaster (180). District qualifiers were Dan Dawson (135, 3-2, fourth), Lenns Kamba (189, 3-2, fourth), Mike Moore (152, 1-1, second), Jacob Selbe (215, 3-2, fourth) and Josh Toprani (145, 3-0, first). Others competing were Hayden Fath (130, 1-2), J.J. Jurcisek (119, 3-3), Jordan King (112, 0-2), Yun Kang (heavyweight, 2-2), Matt Kiplinger (160, 1-2), Waylen Simpson (125, 2-2), Grant Stewart (103, 1-2), Dakota Taylor (171, 1-2) and Dante Ventresca (135, 3-3).

Feb. 25-26 - District tournament at Darby. The top four in each weight class advance to state March 3-5 at Ohio State.