Pickerington High School Central wrestler David Spence made the most of his belated inclusion in the Division I sectional tournament.

Pickerington High School Central wrestler David Spence made the most of his belated inclusion in the Division I sectional tournament.

He was given clearance by the OHSAA just three days before the event was held at Pickerington North on Feb. 19. A clerical error made by officials at Central regarding Spence's alpha hydration test in December prevented the senior from competing during the regular season.

Spence won an appeal. Now he's heading to the district tournament after placing fourth at 152 pounds in the sectional. He won three matches and qualified by beating Teays Valley's Brendon Ferrell 7-6 in overtime in a consolation semifinal.

It hardly seemed to matter that he dropped the fourth-place match 3-0 to Gahanna's Justin Strohschein.

"I was ready the whole time," Spence said. "I maintained my weight, worked on my grades and kept practicing, hoping I'd get a chance."

Spence will be joined by seven other Tigers at the district meet on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26, at Hilliard Darby. He'll face Hilliard Davidson's Alex Mickley in the opening round.

"I'm not satisfied," Spence said. "I'll keep working (this) week and see how far I can take it."

Josh Hunter (119) and Garrett Foster (189) won sectional titles for the Tigers. In the finals, Hunter defeated John Pfleiderer of Olentangy Liberty 15-6 while Foster topped Ryan Steiner of Dublin Coffman 8-5.

Hunter, a returning state qualifier, is 32-6 entering his district match against Mount Vernon's Dakota Riley. Foster, who is 22-6, will oppose Olentangy Orange's Lenn Kamba.

Also qualifying were sectional runners-up Isaiah Brunner (125) and J.J. Chowoe (215), who defaulted his final to New Albany's Matt Odierno. Brunner lost 8-5 against Liberty's Jarrod Boone.

Central's other qualifiers are Ason Sunkle (145), Tyler Hammond (160) and Ryan Schmeltzer (heavyweight). Hammond placed third while improving to 11-6. Sunkle and Schmeltzer placed fourth while improving to 29-10 and 18-11, respectively.

Brunner, who is 25-9, will face Worthington Kilbourne's Nick Varazashvili in his first district match. Chowoe, who is 23-7, will oppose Troy's Chris Williams. Sunkle will meet Orange's Josh Trapini, Hammond will face Clayton Northmont's Terence Hoff and Schmeltzer will square off against Lancaster's Kevin Miller.

Thirteen of Central's 14 wrestlers won at least one match and a dozen placed. They also included Aaron Yarger (130, fifth), Jordan Piecynski (135, fifth) and Anthony Bondurant (140, fifth) in addition to Tyler Hogue (103, sixth).

•Pat Elflein won a championship at heavyweight for North in its home sectional. He stopped Walnut Ridge's Travis Gusan in the second period of the final to set a single-season school record with his 26th pin while improving to 31-6.

Elflein, who already has received football scholarship offers from Northwestern and Indiana, will face Dublin Scioto's Yoshi Akutsu in his district opener.

Perhaps the most stunning victory of the tournament was recorded by junior Ahmad Taylor, who defeated Brad Kakos of Franklin Heights 8-7 in overtime in a championship semifinal at 103. Kakos was 35-0 at the time. Taylor, who lost 14-5 to Coffman's Chris Mullucey in the final, is 9-5 entering his district match against Troy's Brandon Stradling.

Four other Panthers, including runners-up Brandon Howes (140) and Eli Corder (145), also qualified for district. Howes pinned his way into the final, where he lost to Teays Valley's Travis Luft 6-0 to slip to 32-10. Corder is 27-12 after losing to Liberty's Ethan Snyder 18-2 . They'll face Northmont's Nick Duncan and Lancaster's R.J. Funk, respectively, in the first round at district.

North also advanced Jacob Hinze (135) and Max Orr (112). Facing elimination, Hinze beat New Albany's Drew Auld 7-4 in a consolation semifinal before topping Coffman's Jake Cline 5-2 to place third. Orr won three consolation matches, then lost to Franklin Heights' Jon Bloss 8-6 to earn fourth.

Hinze, who is 21-10, will face Miamisburg's Kyle Schmidt in the first round while Orr, who is 14-15, will oppose Westerville North's Joe Herrera.

"Sometimes, having your back to the wall makes you step up," Hinze said. "I like performing under pressure."

North had four other placers, including Grant Snyder (119, fifth), Jake Snyder (125, fifth), Joe George (160, fifth) and Brandon Anderson (189, sixth).

Half of North's six qualifiers - Orr, Corder and Elflein - will be competing at district for the first time.

"It'll be a new experience for them," coach Brad Harris said. "I think they'll handle it pretty well, though. They'll be ready to go."

AT A GLANCE

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Pickerington Central and North wrestling teams:

CENTRAL

Feb. 19 -Finished third (180.5) at 13-team Division I sectional at Pickerington North behind champion Olentangy Liberty (239.5).

District qualifiers were: Isaiah Brunner (125, 3-1, second), J.J. Chowoe (215, 3-1, second), Garrett Foster (189, 3-0, first), Tyler Hammond (160, 3-1, third), Josh Hunter (119, 4-0, first), David Spence (152, 3-2, fourth), Ryan Schmeltzer (heavyweight, 2-2, fourth) and Ason Sunkle (145, 2-2, fourth).

Also competing were: Anthony Bondurant (140, 3-1), Tyler Hogue (103, 1-3), Wesson Hunter (171, 1-2), Jordan Piecynski (135, 1-2), Rockey Santilli (112, 0-2) and Aaron Yarger (130, 2-2).

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

NORTH

Feb. 19 -Finished fourth (158.5) at home sectional.

District qualifiers were: Eli Corder (145, 3-1, second), Pat Elflein (heavyweight, 4-0, first), Jacob Hinze (135, 4-1, third), Brandon Howes (140, 3-1, second), Max Orr (112, 3-2, fourth) and Ahmad Taylor (103, 2-1, second).

Also competing were: Brandon Anderson (189, 1-3), George Dial (171, 0-2), Joe George (160, 2-2), Matt Kitchen (215, 1-2), Dillon Pinter (152, 0-2), Grant Snyder (119, 3-2) and Jake Snyder (125, 3-2,).

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