Olentangy High School wrestling coach Dennis Lyberger had mixed emotions after his team competed in a Division I sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Watkins Memorial.
He felt bad that nine of his 14 competitors failed to advance to district Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hilliard Darby because they didn't finish in the top four of their weight classes.
But Lyberger also was thrilled that three Braves who weren't seeded in the top four of their weight classes -- Kyler Slade (2-2, fourth at 126 pounds), Ahmed Hussein (2-1, third at 160) and Chris Crumb (3-0, first at 220) -- qualified for district for the first time, while Cody Pollitt (145) and Nate Hall (182) joined Crumb as sectional champions.
The Braves scored 134 points and placed sixth in the 10-team tournament behind champion Hilliard Bradley (205).
"As a coach, you're never happy unless you send everybody through because you feel bad for the kids who worked so hard all year and didn't make it," Lyberger said. "Overall it was a good day, though, because we were hoping to get at least four or five kids to district even though only a couple of our guys were projected to make it and we got (five, including) three guys through who weren't seeded."
At district, the top four in each weight class advance to the state tournament Feb. 28 through March 2 at Ohio State.
Pollitt went 3-0 at sectional, pinning Canal Winchester's Nick Hammond in 40 seconds in a final. Hall went 4-0, beating Thomas Worthington's Andrew Shackelford 3-1 in a final. Crumb beat Canal Winchester's Max Lacey 18-10 in a final.
"I'm not as strong as a lot of the other kids at this weight class, so I used my technique and speed to my advantage," Crumb said. "(Lacey) tried to use his strength to overpower me so I worked on finishing my shots and wrestling well on the ground."
Connor Slade (3-2 at 170) and Blake Young (2-2 at 195) placed fifth and are district alternates.
Also competing but failing to advance were Josh Nagel (106, 0-2), Andrew Fleischer (113, 0-2), Isaiah Griffith (120, 0-2), Austin Fajardo (132, 0-2), Javier Razo (138, 0-2), Jake Didion (152, sixth, 1-3) and Quinn Tucker (heavyweight, 0-2).
Last year, Olentangy finished second (116) at district behind Marysville (174).
Hall went 3-2 and placed fifth at 170. Pollitt wasn't allowed to compete after he failed to make scratch weight at sectional and former coach Matt Hammons was unable to produce a valid document showing Pollitt had been certified to wrestle at 132 earlier in the season.
"Our kids need to wrestle this well or even better to make it through the next round of the tournament," Lyberger said. "Cody's just happy to have the chance to wrestle at district after what happened last year."
Seven Pioneers qualify for district
Orange placed fourth (174) in the Watkins Memorial sectional as seven Pioneers qualified for district and two won titles in Artem Timchenko (120) and Lenn's Kamba (195).
"We thought we could win this tournament, so I'm a little disappointed in that, but we're treating it more like a qualifying tournament than one we need to win as a team," coach Brian Nicola said. "We had two champions, seven district qualifiers and three alternates, so it was a pretty good day."
Kamba went 3-0, beating Reynoldsburg's Jordan Reed 7-3 in a final. Timchenko went 3-0, defeating Thomas' Kasey Ackley 22-6 in a final.
Timchenko, who is 29-0 as a senior, placed seventh at state as a freshman at Orange and fifth at state as a sophomore at Massillon Perry, both at 112. He started 5-0 at 120 as a junior at Orange before he was ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season for transferring school districts for a second time in two years.
"This is the first time I've wrestled down at 120 in a while, but I felt good and had a lot of energy," Timchenko said. "I thought my shots were good, especially my low singles.
"I've never won district before, so that's my goal."
Also qualifying for district were Michael Hines (3-1, third at 113), Ben Dodson (2-2, fourth at 152), Ben Heilman (2-2, fourth at 170), Nick Lee (2-2, fourth at 220) and Alec Hertz (3-1, third at heavyweight).
Michael McQuenney (2-2 at 106), Chad Farmer (2-2 at 126) and Hayden Fath (3-2 at 138) placed fifth and are district alternates.
Also competing but failing to advance were Anthony Spriggs (132, sixth, 1-3), Waylen Simpson (1-2 at 145), Brandon Mariotti (160, 0-2) and Mitchell Florence (182, sixth, 2-3).
Last year, Kamba went 2-2 at 195 and Heilman went 1-2 at 170 at district.
"We're going to try to put all seven of our guys in a position where they can handle their business and qualify for state," Nicola said. "Timchenko, Kamba, Hines and Heilman all should win matches at district and be in the mix to go to state if they wrestle well."
Ten Patriots qualify for district
Liberty advanced 10 competitors to district while finishing fifth (163) in a 10-team sectional Feb. 16 at Pickerington Central behind champion Darby (212.5).
Jake Ryan went 4-0 at 145. He pinned all four of his opponents, including Mount Vernon's Lucas Staten in 3 minutes, 21 seconds in a final.
Also qualifying for district were Jon Furnas (2-1, third at 106), Connor Thomas (2-1, second at 113), Giuseppe Penzone (2-1, second at 120), Nick Thrasher (2-2, fourth at 132), Matt Snyder (2-2, fourth at 138), Andrew Eschleman (1-1, second at 152), Zeke Aziz (2-2, fourth at 160), Kyle Arcaro (2-2, fourth at 170) and Mitch Deruy (2-1, third at 220).
Brandon Miller went 2-2 and placed fifth at heavyweight to become a district alternate.
Also competing but failing to advance were Brandon McHugh (126, 0-2) and Jake Hale (182, sixth, 1-3).
Last year at district, Penzone went 4-0 at 120 and Ryan went 4-1 and placed third at 138.
"We got 10 of the 13 guys who competed for us through, so I'm happy with that," coach Mark Marinelli said. "All of our guys are wrestling well right now. I don't expect any of our guys to be easy outs at district."