Upper Arlington High School wrestling coach Grant McCormick didn't hide his disappointment after the 13-team Division I sectional tournament on Feb. 19 at Marysville.

Upper Arlington High School wrestling coach Grant McCormick didn't hide his disappointment after the 13-team Division I sectional tournament on Feb. 19 at Marysville.

The Golden Bears scored 48.5 points to finish sixth behind champion Marysville (105.5), and they advanced only two athletes to district on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26, at Hilliard Darby. The top four in each weight class advanced.

"This was absolutely terrible. It was the worst day of coaching I've ever had," McCormick said. "This was an epic collapse for us."

Sophomore Kenji Gerhardt, who was 24-4 at 103 pounds entering sectional, suffered a thumb injury in his second match and lost by injury default. Gerhardt returned to pin Grove City's Cole Capehart in 3 minutes, 51 seconds in the third round of consolation matches, but was unable to finish his next match because of the pain. Gerhardt was taken to the emergency room after he attempted to wrestle a fourth match.

"I think Kenji had an excellent shot at reaching the finals and maybe even winning his bracket if he wouldn't have blown out his thumb," McCormick said. "He made a heroic effort by trying to wrestle his way back through the consolation bracket, but he was in excruciating pain and couldn't keep going."

UA's returning district qualifiers failed to advance. Senior Patrick O'Neill (135) went 3-2 to finish fifth and senior Michael Kilstrom (160) went 1-2. Senior Connor Pitman, who qualified for district as a sophomore, wasn't able to compete in the postseason for a second consecutive season because of a concussion.

"Some of our guys came out flat and didn't wrestle with a sense of urgency," McCormick said.

While he was disappointed in his squad's overall performance, McCormick was thrilled with Vito DiBenedetto (130), who went 3-1 to place third, and James Lowrey (189), who went 2-2 to place fourth.

"Both of them are second-year wrestlers, but they're two of our hardest workers in the wrestling room, so it isn't a coincidence that they both made it through," McCormick said. "They wrestled great."

Lowrey opened by pinning Hilliard Davidson's Alex Backenstoe in 3:49. He then lost to Mount Vernon's Nate Fry 12-8, pinned Thomas Worthington's Max King in 0:51 and was pinned by Marysville's Morgan Miller in 4:07.

DiBenedetto opened with a 9-7 win over Darby's Tyler Perkins. He then lost to Whetstone's Marcus Moore 16-8, pinned Mount Vernon's Teddy Hagans in 3:33 and defeated Davidson's Nick Lawler 7-4.

"I'm happy I made it, and I want to give thanks to my coaches and parents for supporting me," DiBenedetto said. "I'm going to work on fixing as many of my flaws as possible, and I'm going to listen to my coaches and keep trying hard."

The top four placers in each weight class at district qualify for the state tournament March 3-5 at Ohio State.

Last year, the Golden Bears scored five points to place 39th in the 44-team Division I district tournament at Darby behind champion Marysville (188.5).

"I want both of them to have fun and wrestle their best," McCormick said of DiBenedetto and Lowrey.

"We're going to work on cleaning up some little stuff such as positioning, and more importantly, I want them to be aggressive and trust themselves to do the right things out there. This experience should be a nice springboard for their careers moving forward."

AT A GLANCE

Below are the sectional results for the Upper Arlington wrestling team:

Feb. 19 - Finished sixth (48.5) in 13-team Division I sectional at Marysville behind champion Marysville (105.5)

District qualifiers were Vito DiBenedetto (130, 3-1, third) and James Lowrey (189, 2-2, fourth).

Others competing were Riley Bivens (152, 0-2), Peter Devillebichot (119, 0-2), Kenji Gerhardt (103, 2-2), Michael Kilstrom (160, 1-2), Joe Mascari (125, 2-2), Taylor Neely (140, 1-2), Patrick O'Neill (135, 3-2), Blake Reid (145, 3-2), Andrew Steedman (112, 2-3) and Danny Watson (171, 1-2).

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