Westland High School wrestling coach Bret Busby wants to expose his team to the sport as much as possible.
With the postseason approaching, the Cougars have a busy week ahead of them, as they will compete in three events in a span of four days, starting with the Division I state team tournament Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Hilliard Bradley.
Westland then will travel to Olentangy Orange on Thursday, Jan. 23, for a dual before competing in the Wildcat Duals on Saturday, Jan. 25, at Westerville South.
"Some teams don't get in the state dual tournament," Busby said. "They don't want a night of wrestling. They'd rather practice. Our kids need as much as they can get. We go everywhere. It's matches, it's regional. The more my kids can go out, get on the bus (and) see the world, the better it is."
Westland could compete in as many as three duals on the opening day of the state team tournament. Seeded eighth in Region 6-A, the Cougars face ninth-seeded Columbus West in the preliminary round, with the winner then facing top-seeded Bradley in the first round. The winner of that match will face fourth-seeded Central Crossing or fifth-seeded Grove City in the second round.
The second-round winner advances to a Region 6 semifinal Jan. 29 at a site to be determined.
This is the second year for the state team tournament. Last season, the Cougars lost their opening dual, falling to Grove City 42-30 in the first round.
In the Wildcat Duals last season, Westland won three of five matches, defeating Liberty Union (50-23), Walnut Ridge (78-6) and Columbus South (48-27) and losing to St. Charles (40-34) and Westerville South (43-33).
"That tournament is like all of our buddies wrestling," Busby said. "Last year, it was St. Charles, Westerville South and us that were all real competitive. You hate (to have) winners and losers when everybody is having fun."
Westland was 0-3 in the OCC-Central Division before competing against Hilliard Davidson and defending league champion Marysville on Jan. 16.
In league action Jan. 9, the host Cougars lost to both Dublin Coffman (64-15) and Olentangy Liberty (57-18).
Before competing Jan. 16, senior Tommy Stone was 15-6 at 170 pounds, including 3-0 against league opponents. Blake Rece was 15-6 at 106 and Devyn Van Handel was 12-5 at 145.
"Every match gets you ready for the postseason," said Stone, a district qualifier the past two seasons. "It's all practice until the sectionals."
Van Handel, a district qualifier last season, was expected to be out of the lineup at least 10 days because of a concussion, Busby said.
Boys basketball team shows improvement
The boys basketball team lost to visiting Grove City 72-60 on Jan. 14, marking its second loss to the Greyhounds this season.
While the outcome in the second meeting was the same as the first, the Cougars were much more competitive against Grove City in the rematch. The Greyhounds had won the first matchup 107-48 in the Grove City Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 29.
In the rematch, Westland trailed 30-21 at halftime and cut its deficit to 32-27 early in the second half before Grove City pulled away. The Greyhounds stretched their lead to 19 points at 68-49 early in the fourth quarter before a late rally by the Cougars lowered the final margin.
Toury Freeman scored a career-high 35 points to lead the Cougars, who were 4-9 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on Jan. 17. Javon Watson added 14 points.
"We came in with a game plan and I thought the guys executed it pretty well," coach Seth Martin said. "The effort was there. We always talk about playing hard for 32 minutes and usually guys do. The mental lapses when we play the good teams have been what's really got us."
Westland defeated host Central Crossing 71-62 in an OCC-Central game Jan. 10 behind 25 points from Watson, 18 from Freeman and 15 from Jaquan Henry.
The Cougars lost to host Marysville 77-64 in a league game Jan. 11, getting 29 points from Freeman and 16 from Watson.
"We're getting better each and every game, but we have to eliminate the mental mistakes," Martin said.
Girls basketball team ends losing streak
The girls basketball team ended a four-game losing streak by defeating visiting Central Crossing 53-28 on Jan. 10.
Christina Simpson and Camryn Moreno each scored 10 points to lead Westland, which was 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on Jan. 17.
Entering play Jan. 17, the Cougars were tied with Coffman and Liberty for second in the league behind Upper Arlington, which was 7-1.
"If we can win out in the OCC and beat UA (Feb. 7), we can win the league," said Simpson, a senior guard and forward. "It would be a good feeling because a lot of people doubt us if we go to Westland. If we win the OCC against Coffman and UA, which are expected to win every year, it would be a good day for our school. People would open their eyes and respect us."
Westland defeated host Tree of Life 51-22 on Jan. 11 behind a team-high 14 points from Madison Evans.