Cody Pollitt was eager to square off against Sean Black in the 160-pound final of the Division I district wrestling tournament.
The Olentangy High School senior had gone 0-3 against Black over the last two seasons, including a 5-3 loss to the Hilliard Darby senior in a sectional final Feb. 15 and a 5-3 setback in a state-qualifying match last year.
When the pair clashed again at district Feb. 22 at Darby, Pollitt finally was able to get a measure of revenge, defeating Black 5-2 to win his first district title.
"I had a lot of motivation in this match because Sean Black knocked me out of the tournament last year and he cost me the sectional title last week, so I just had to beat him," said Pollitt, who qualified for state for the first time. "In this match, I was a lot more focused on myself than what he was doing and I was able to take him down early. Even though I didn't get awarded points for my first takedown, it gave me confidence and I continued to repeat the process with two more takedowns to beat him."
The top four placers in each weight class at district advanced to the state tournament Thursday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 1, at Ohio State.
Pollitt said he won't be satisfied with anything less than placing in the top eight to reach the podium.
"I want to be a state placer and to do that I just need to wrestle exactly the same way I did (at district)," he said. "I need to wrestle my style and score on my feet. I need to focus on me and not what my opponent is doing."
Olentangy advanced three wrestlers to state and finished eighth (83 points) at district behind champion Marysville (147.5) as 37 teams scored.
Junior Nate Hall went 3-1 and placed second at 182 to qualify for state for the second consecutive season. He beat Delaware's Shawn Johnson 10-5 in a semifinal before losing to Mount Vernon's Matthew Lybarger 5-3 in the final.
Hall went 1-2 at 182 at state a year ago.
Sophomore heavyweight Chris Crumb went 4-1 and placed third to qualify for state for the first time.
Also at district, senior Chase Carter went 2-2 at 220 and junior Connor Slade went 1-2 at 195.
"Our guys wrestled well overall," coach Dennis Lyberger said. "Our goal for state is to get them all on the podium. They just need to believe in themselves and stay positive throughout the tournament."
Patriots send three to state
Liberty had three wrestlers place in the top four at district to qualify for state.
Junior Jonathan Furnas went 4-0 and won the title at 120 by beating Teays Valley's Cameron Lathem 5-3 in a final.
Senior Giuseppe Penzone went 3-1 and placed second at 126. After pinning Pickerington Central's Tyler Hogue in 47 seconds in a semifinal, he was pinned by Central Crossing's Josh Wimer in 2:24 in the final.
Freshman Trey Grenier went 3-1 and placed second at 132. After defeating Pickerington Central's Joseph Terry 7-6 in a semifinal, he was pinned by Hilliard Davidson's Bobby Smith in 1:30 in the final.
Liberty finished ninth (81.5) at district. Freshman Brakan Mead went 1-2 at 106, junior Matt Snyder went 0-2 at 145, senior Nick Thrasher went 1-2 at 152, junior Keith Clark went 0-2 at 160, senior Kyle Arcaro went 1-2 at 182 and junior Jake Hale went 1-2 at 195.
"Everyone tried their best, but we thought we were going to get more people through," Penzone said. "Jonathan, Trey and I drill together in practice every day and we always push each other to get better. I think that's a big reason that all three of us made it."
Last year at state, Penzone went 4-2 and placed fifth at 120 and Furnas went 3-2 and placed seventh at 106.
"I'm a senior and obviously my goal is to win state," Penzone said. "I need to use a lot of offense and put pressure on my opponents by wrestling at my own pace.
"If Jonathan wrestles at 100 percent of his abilities, there's no doubt he can be a state champion. Trey has the potential to place, but this will be his first time there and it all depends on how he's going to react to being in such a big environment."
Orange's Kamba going back to state
Orange senior Lenn's Kamba is heading back to state for the second consecutive season after going 5-1 and placing third at 195 at district.
After losing to Delaware's Colton Richard 10-9 in the second round, Kamba won four consecutive matches, including 4-2 in overtime against Richard in the consolation final.
"I'm glad I got to face (Richard) again to get some revenge and prove the first match was a fluke," Kamba said. "In the first match, I relaxed on the edge and he was able to throw me for five points. In the second match, I came in with a better game plan and wrestled a much smarter match."
Kamba, who went 0-2 at 195 last year at state, is confident he will fare better this time.
"My goal is to be a state champion," Kamba said. "I learned a valuable lesson that I can never relax during a match and I just need to wrestle the way I've been coached to wrestle. I need to shoot a lot and score as many points as possible on the mat."
Orange finished 25th (22.5) at district. Senior Michael Hines went 2-2 at 126, junior Michael McQueeney went 0-2 at 113, junior Hayden Knapp went 0-2 at 152, sophomore Connor Ryan went 0-2 at 160 and junior Nick Lee went 1-2 at 220.
"Lenn's showed a lot of heart by coming back and winning four matches in one day to go back to state," coach Brian Nicola said. "He's put a ton of time into the sport and he's very talented, so he's got a chance to do well at state if he has his head right."