Westland High School wrestling coach Bret Busby is hoping that competing in the inaugural Division I state team tournament will serve as a valuable learning experience for his team.
Seeded fifth in Region 6-A of the dual-format tournament, the Cougars lost to fourth-seeded Grove City 42-30 in the first round Jan. 23 at Hilliard Davidson. Grove City advanced to face top-seeded Davidson in a second-round match Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Davidson.
"It's another match," Busby said. "More experience, mat time. I'm proud of our kids. They keep plugging away. Our day will come."
Westland won six of the 14 weight classes against Grove City, including pins by Blake Rece at 106 pounds (1 minute, 35 seconds), Devyn Van Handel at 145 (2:22) and Tommy Delgado at 160 (3:09).
Also winning were Greg Rummel at 126 (11-4), Romero White at 132 (10-4) and Jacob Ball at 120 (forfeit).
The Cougars lost 182 by forfeit.
"I truly believed that we were going to win this one," Van Handel said. "It's just a couple bad things and that's how wrestling is. You get going good and then sometimes it just falls apart. We had a couple tough losses, but we should have been able to pull out the match."
Westland also lost to Grove City in the championship match of its home meet, the Joe Stora Duals, falling 53-21 on Dec. 8.
"I'm proud of my kids," Busby said. "(Grove City) clobbered (us) in the finals of (our) tournament and we came back."
Westland, which competed in the Wildcat Duals on Jan. 26 at Westerville South, will play host to Central Crossing in an OCC-Central Division match on Thursday, Jan. 31. Last season, the Cougars defeated Central Crossing 44-34.
Westland fell to 0-5 in the league with losses to Marysville (58-15) and Davidson (60-12) on Jan. 17.
Boys basketball team preparing for Wildcats
The boys basketball team had won six consecutive games before playing Thomas Worthington in an OCC-Central game Jan. 25.
The Cougars will play host to Davidson on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and will travel to Olentangy Liberty on Friday, Feb. 1, in league contests. They defeated the Wildcats 51-37 on Dec. 18 and beat the Patriots 70-62 on Dec. 21.
Entering play Jan. 25, Westland was third in the OCC-Central at 6-2, behind co-leaders Coffman (7-1) and Liberty (7-1).
The Cougars defeated Marysville 79-68 in a league contest Jan. 18, beat Dresden Tri-Valley 65-54 in the Route 40 Classic on Jan. 21 at West Muskingum and beat Delaware 79-47 on Jan. 22.
J.J. Smith, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward, had a team-high 20 points against Marysville with guards Cory Beesler and Kersey Long scoring 17 and 12 points, respectively. Against Delaware, Long had 23 points, Smith scored 18, forward Devan Williamson scored 15 and guard KyJuan Grace scored 12.
"The team is playing well mainly due to three things," coach Todd Parker said. "First, great leadership from J.J. and Kersey. Second, very unselfish play. The ball moves like crazy. And third, we've played very good defense and limited (our) fouls. We still need to improve our ability to finish teams and we will always continue to work on rebounding."
Dixon, Simpson lead way for girls team
The girls basketball team had won three games in a row before playing Thomas Worthington in an OCC-Central game Jan. 25.
Westland defeated Marys-ville 43-28 in a league game Jan. 18, beat Columbus South 57-24 in its home tournament, Erin Crenshaw Classic on Jan. 19 and beat Whetstone 39-33 on Jan. 22.
Against Marysville, guard Tanesha Dixon had 16 points and forward Christina Simpson scored 11.
"The game against Marys-ville, the defense was unbelievable," coach Hugo Quint said. "Any time a defense holds somebody under 40 points, you're playing well. It was a very highly-contested game. They pushed us to the max and the kids responded."
Dixon had 19 points and post player Camryn Moreno scored 16 against South, and Simpson had a team-high 18 points against Whetstone.
Simpson is playing with a dislocated finger on her shooting hand, Quint said. The injury was sustained in a 47-44 loss to Kilbourne on Jan. 15.