A mixed bag of a day in the Division I sectional tournament Feb. 18 at Watkins Memorial ended up producing a bountiful harvest for the Pickerington High School North wrestling team.

A mixed bag of a day in the Division I sectional tournament Feb. 18 at Watkins Memorial ended up producing a bountiful harvest for the Pickerington High School North wrestling team.

Three match losses in the final five seconds might stick in coach Brad Harris' craw for a few days, but long-term he and other members of the program likely will remember winning three championships and advancing eight wrestlers to the district tournament Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at Hilliard Darby.

Junior Payton Gutierrez won the 106-pound weight class, senior Matt Kitchen won 195 and senior Pat Elflein was first at heavyweight and improved to 28-0 on the season. The Panthers scored 182.5 points in the 10-team sectional to finish third behind OCC-Ohio Division rival Lancaster (220.5) and Hilliard Bradley (216.5).

The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advanced to district.

The Panthers got runner-up finishes from senior Max Orr (113) and freshman Nick Notestine (132), a third-place finish from junior Josh Snyder (120) and fourth-place finishes from senior P.J. Cleary (182) and freshman Cody Notestine (138).

Harris said Cleary's performance was a bit of a surprise.

"Those (last-second) losses were tough, but other than that, the day went according to form," Harris said. "P.J. has struggled at times this year and he was in a car accident just a few weeks ago. He had to get 13 stitches in his forehead, but he's put his mask on and gotten after it."

In the championship matches, Gutierrez defeated Westerville Central's Michael Hines 16-1, Kitchen edged Reynoldsburg's Jordan Reed 2-1 and Elflein won a 9-1 major decision over Dublin Scioto's Yoshi Akutsu.

Elflein missed three weeks in January after receiving a headbutt that fractured the orbital bone beneath his right eye. Like Cleary, he has worn protective gear ever since. Harris does not think Elflein was negatively affected by his layoff.

"He's looking great," Harris said. "I've wrestled him at practice a few times and he's a bear. He is peaking at the right time and always expanding his arsenal of moves."

The top four finishers in each weight class at district qualify for the state tournament March 1-3 at Ohio State.

North's best district showing came in 2010, when it advanced six to state and three - Alec Marsico (140, fourth), Nick Justus (189, fifth) and Matt Ferguson (171, seventh) - went on to place in the top eight at state.

With Gutierrez and Kitchen not far behind Elflein's perfect record at 36-2 and 29-7, respectively, the Panthers' odds of getting a few wrestlers to state appear favorable.

"The district seems pretty spread out as far as teams are concerned," Harris said. "I think we have a few guys who have a pretty good shot at state."

•Led by senior J.J. Chowoe, Central advanced 11 wrestlers to district from its 10-team home sectional on Feb. 18.

Chowoe went 3-0 at 195, pinning Olentangy's Brandon Sheppard in five minutes to complete a 3-0 day and improve to 25-4 on the season.

"I kept my head up all day and just got after my opponents like I knew I had to," said Chowoe, who went 1-2 at district last year. "There are some things I need to work on, but I'm pretty happy with how things went."

The Tigers had four runners-up in sophomore Tyler Hogue (113), junior Ason Sunkle (145), junior A.J. Bondurant (152) and senior Garrett Foster (182).

They also had three third-place finishers and three fourth-place finishers at sectional and scored 194.5 points to place third behind Olentangy (249.5) and Teays Valley (214.5).

Hogue, Sunkle and Foster all lost to wrestlers from Teays Valley in their respective finals, with Hogue losing 9-8 to Kyle Dooley, Sunkle losing a 10-2 major decision to Travis Luft and Foster losing 4-2 to Brocky Leidecker.

Bondurant was pinned in 3:24 by Olentangy Liberty's Roy Daniels in his final.

Heading into district, Hogue has a 27-10 record, Sunkle is 30-9, Foster is 27-4 and Bondurant is 24-10.

The sectional was a refreshing turnaround for Central, which lost its chance at an OCC-Ohio Division championship by losing its last two league duals, 27-26 to North on Feb. 2 and 42-28 to Lancaster on Feb. 9.

"Our goal was to get the whole lineup to districts, and we almost did that," Chowoe said. "It didn't happen, but we saw improvement from everybody. The whole team has been working hard all season."