Geno Rollo wasn't wrestling, and he had to expend his energy somehow.
Pickerington High School North's senior heavyweight had the night off Jan. 16 as the Panthers competed against Lancaster and Newark in OCC-Ohio Division duals at home. He was healing from some bumps and bruises and fellow heavyweight Adam Notestine wrestled two matches in Rollo's place.
Rollo instead paced back and forth throughout the matches, counseling and encouraging his teammates like an extra coach.
"I was pretty nervous, to be honest. No way I could sit down," Rollo said. "I just do it because, I mean, as a captain I feel like it's my duty. I am sure the wrestlers don't always want to hear things from the coaches, so it's probably easier hearing it from a teammate. I just try to tell guys if they do mess up, it's not that big a deal if they are trying hard."
Trying hard hasn't been a problem for Rollo, who is 16-2 overall. His only losses were in championship matches of the Solon Comet Classic on Dec. 7 and the Pioneer Invitational on Jan. 4 at Olentangy Orange.
Rollo, a Division I football recruit as an offensive lineman, was second in a Division I sectional tournament last year and third at district before going 1-2 at state.
"I think his performance this year is solely based on last year's postseason," coach Brad Harris said. "Football has always been his main sport. He's done wrestling to help football, and it's even been a question every year of whether he'll wrestle or not. Last year, he had an OK season and right at the end of the year, he kicked it into gear. He had a great sectional and an awesome district and I thought put together a pretty nice state tournament from where he was at. All of that just really kind of opened his eyes to all the possibilities for this year."
Rollo called his run to state unexpected.
"I didn't finish the way I wanted even though that was unexpected," he said. "This year, I am expecting a lot more. That's why I have more of a drive to do better."
Other top performers for the Panthers have included Jared Ferguson (22-6 at 132 pounds entering the week), Cody Notestine (25-5 at 138) and Nick Notestine (20-8 at 145).
North is 4-1 in the league, a match behind leader Pickerington Central. The Panthers, who defeated Newark 72-9 and lost to Lancaster 35-29, play host to Gahanna on Jan. 30 and visit Central on Feb. 6 in their regular-season finale.
The Panthers and Tigers shared the OCC-Ohio championship last year.
"What we're looking toward now is wrestling Central and beating them," said Ferguson, who won the title at 132 in the James Horning Memorial Invitational on Jan. 18 at Mason. "It was a tough loss (to Lancaster) either way, but overall we're pretty solid. We believe in our abilities."
North also competes Saturday, Jan. 25, in the Cruiser Invitational at Groveport.
Tigers, Panthers earn high seeds in tourney
Central earned the top seed and North the second seed in Division I, Region 5-A for the state team tournament, which began Jan. 22.
Central competed at home against eighth-seeded Logan or ninth-seeded Newark in the first round, with that winner advancing to face fourth-seeded Teays Valley or fifth-seeded Gahanna.
The second-round winner will face North, third-seeded Lancaster, sixth-seeded Watkins Memorial or seventh-seeded Hamilton Township in a Region 5 semifinal at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at a site to be determined.
The site is scheduled to be announced Friday, Jan. 24.
North opened at home against Hamilton Township, with that winner taking on Lancaster or Watkins Memorial in the second round.
The regional final will take place 20 minutes after the conclusion of the semifinals. The regional champion will advance to the state tournament Feb. 8 at St. John Arena.
Central won the Division I, Region 6 title last year before losing to Lakewood St. Edward 66-4 in a state quarterfinal.