Upper Arlington High School wrestling coach Matt Stout felt cautiously optimistic heading into the Division I district tournament held Feb. 24 and 25 at Hilliard Darby after his team placed second in the sectional at Central Crossing the previous weekend for its highest sectional finish since 1990.

Upper Arlington High School wrestling coach Matt Stout felt cautiously optimistic heading into the Division I district tournament held Feb. 24 and 25 at Hilliard Darby after his team placed second in the sectional at Central Crossing the previous weekend for its highest sectional finish since 1990.

But after the Golden Bears scored 21 points at district to tie Dublin Jerome and Northland for 23rd behind champion Marysville (174) as 37 teams scored, the first-year coach said the event turned out to be a humbling experience.

"I'm very disappointed because we just didn't wrestle well here," Stout said.

"This shows that we need to take things to another level, because we're not a very good team yet. Becoming a good team will come through hard work and getting more experience during the offseason."

All nine of UA's district qualifiers lost in the first round and were unable to place in the top four of their weight classes to qualify for the state tournament, which runs Thursday, March 1, through Saturday, March 3, at Ohio State.

"I thought we could win eight of those first-round matches, if everyone wrestled well, so it was really disappointing to lose all nine of them," Stout said. "When you lose your first match, it's that much more difficult to work your way back through the bracket to place in the top four."

Junior Vito DiBenedetto went 3-3 and placed sixth at 138 pounds. He lost to Hilliard Bradley's Austin Johnston 5-4 in the first round and lost to Olentangy's Jake Ryan 9-6 in a state-qualifying match.

"I should have had my head in the right place for my first match, but I didn't," DiBenedetto said. "I had to come back to wrestle four matches (on Feb. 25) and I was just three points away from making it through. I'm going to work hard to get better and come back to try again next year."

Sophomore Jared Drake went 2-2 at 182, and senior Skyler Sowry (170), junior Danny Watson (160) and freshmen Thomas Cooper (106) and Keith Neely (132) each went 1-2.

Senior James Lowrey (195), junior Cameron Gardner (220) and sophomore Blake Reid (152) each went 0-2.

"Vito and Jared both wrestled OK, but I'm not sure any of our guys had a great tournament," Stout said. "But if I were to take the glass-half-full approach, we have seven of our district qualifiers coming back, and just making it here won't be such a big deal for them next year. Jared didn't come out for the team until Dec. 1 and he was able to win two matches here, and two of our freshmen won matches here, which is important for their future. I expect all of our kids to work hard to improve so that they can come back and do better here next year."