Blake Reid of the Upper Arlington High School wrestling team hasn't forgotten where he came from.
The junior missed six weeks of this season with a stress fracture in his back, a year after a broken wrist cost him about the same amount of time. And in a Division I sectional tournament last year, he admitted that he let up after clinching a district berth at 152 pounds. He lost the final, then went 0-2 at district.
"I was satisfied," Reid said. "I shouldn't have been because it matters when it comes to being set up good at districts. I took taking second for granted and it certainly didn't work out for me."
It appears Reid has learned his lesson.
He went 4-0 at 170 in a sectional Feb. 16 at Westland, pinning Delaware's Chris Martinez in 3 minutes, 57 seconds to win the title and improve to 22-0 on the season. His was one of three sectional championships for the Golden Bears, who scored 190.5 points to finish third of 10 teams, behind champion Hilliard Davidson (224.5).
Reid was injured Dec. 13 in a dual match against Olentangy Orange and didn't return until Jan. 28. He was 9-0 before his injury, and won the 170 title in the All-North Invitational on Feb. 2 at Dublin Jerome upon his return.
"I was a little hesitant in the beginning because I was afraid to take another shot and possibly hurt my back, but as I eased my way back in I started learning my back is completely healed and I can start taking my shots," Reid said. "I feel pretty much back to normal now."
Part of his new "normal" is a wiser mental approach.
"My freshman and sophomore years, I was hesitant, I was more of a headcase," Reid said. "If I saw somebody that was intimidating, I'd give up right before the match. This year, I've been working with some of my coaches. (Assistant) Steve Luke was a national champion at Michigan (in 2009 at 174). (Assistant) Kevin Drake was a state placer here (finishing fourth at 145 in 2009). I've been really wrestling hard trying to get back to form. I have a lot of confidence."
Seniors Vito DiBenedetto (145) and Danny Watson (160) also won sectional titles. DiBenedetto defeated Worthington Kilbourne's Kyle Wahl 9-4 in his final, and Watson beat Davidson's Galen Moore 5-1 to win the title.
Placing second were sophomores Thomas Cooper (113) and Keith Neely (152) and junior Taylor Neely (138). Sophomore Sam Beam was fourth (132).
The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advanced to the district tournament Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hilliard Darby. At district, the top four placers in each weight class advance to the state tournament Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State.
Also competing at sectional were sophomores Collin Burt (106, fifth, 3-2), Luke Fetch (120, 0-2) and Nick Pavoni (182, fifth, 1-2), freshman Danny Tomaszewski (126, 1-2) and junior Drew Sarno (195, 1-2).
Boys basketball team preparing for Braves
The boys basketball team anticipates a fast pace when it visits 21st-seeded Olentangy in a first-round Division I district tournament game at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.
The winner plays ninth-seeded Gahanna or 38th-seeded Teays Valley in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the home of the higher seed.
UA did not play Olentangy, Gahanna or Teays Valley during the regular season.
"They're a very fast and aggressive team, and they're pressure-oriented," assistant coach Gregg Allocco said of Olentangy. "They use multiple defenses and they throw a lot at you. You look at where we were at, (seeded) 22nd, no matter where we went, we were going to see a good, quality opponent. Olentangy fits that bill."
Olentangy was 13-8 entering its regular season finale Feb. 19 at Marysville. Senior guard Seth Clark was averaging a team-high 17.3 points and had 38 3-pointers through 20 games. Senior forward Craig Matthews was averaging 9.9 points and senior guards Erik Brandt and Tyler Sobieray and senior forward Joe Morycz each was averaging 7.5 points.
UA is 11-10 overall and finished 8-6 in the OCC-Central Division after a 62-53 loss at Dublin Coffman on Feb. 15 in its league and regular-season finale. The Bears tied Thomas Worthington for fourth in the league, behind Olentangy Liberty (13-1), Coffman (12-2) and Westland (9-5) and ahead of Marysville (4-10), Davidson (2-12) and Central Crossing (0-14).
The second-round winner plays eighth-seeded Reynoldsburg, 26th-seeded Kilbourne or 37th-seeded Whetstone in a district semifinal March 6 at Westerville Central.
Girls basketball team wins tourney opener
Junior forward Andi Norman had 17 points and eight rebounds to help the girls basketball team shake off an early eight-point deficit and defeat 10th-seeded and host Pickerington Central 45-42 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 16.
Junior guard Annika Wachtman added 11 points for the 23rd-seeded Bears, who won their fourth consecutive game and improved to 12-11. UA outscored Central 16-6 in the second quarter and led from there.
"We did a nice job of matching their physicality in the second quarter and that helped turn things around," coach Chris Savage said.
"The referees were consistent, letting both teams use their hands and be physical. We didn't come out right away and match that. Once we started matching that and being more physical and aggressive to the rim, that was huge."
UA played 29th-seeded Westerville South in a second-round game Feb. 20.
The winner will play eighth-seeded Davidson or 14th-seeded Newark in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 at Bloom-Carroll.
The Bears were swept by Davidson in OCC-Central play, losing 36-28 on Dec. 21 and 58-43 on Feb. 1, and lost to Newark 38-35 on Jan. 26.
Hockey team reaches third round in district
The hockey team opened the district tournament with two wins this past weekend at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, defeating Oxford Talawanda 10-2 in a first-round game Feb. 15 and Cincinnati St. Xavier 6-0 in a second-round game Feb. 16.
Senior forward Derrick Galantowicz had two goals against Talawanda and sophomore defenseman Brian Lee scored two against St. Xavier, as eighth-seeded UA improved to 18-10-1-1 and will face top-seeded Liberty in a third-round game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Ice Haus.
The third-round winner will play fourth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller or fifth-seeded St. Charles in a district semifinal at 3:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Ice Haus, with the winner advancing to the district final March 2 at the Ice Haus.
UA lost twice to Liberty in the regular season, falling 3-1 on Dec. 7 and 3-0 on Jan. 13. The Bears went 0-1 against both Moeller (a 5-1 loss on Jan. 5) and St. Charles (a 3-1 loss on Dec. 21).