Bret Busby has been a part of the Westland High School wrestling program for the past 14 years.
He was an assistant under former coach Roger Branham for 10 seasons before taking over the program before the start of the 2010-11 season after Branham retired. Branham was inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
Citing health reasons, Busby, 46, resigned Feb. 25 after four seasons as head coach. He said he continues to feel the effects of a pinched nerve in his neck since being diagnosed with the ailment five years ago.
"That was the worst pain I felt," he said. "It just doesn't go away until you get therapy. Every year during wrestling, there's so much stress on me (that) it affects my nerve and it's crushing down. It's been really hurting bad. The neck specialist told me I had to change my life because this thing is coming back."
Busby, who includes the rebirth of the both the Westland Youth Wrestling Club and the Joe Stora Duals among his proudest accomplishments during his tenure as coach, plans to continue to work with the program as a volunteer.
After a three-year hiatus, the Joe Stora Duals were restarted in the 2012-13 season. The Cougars finished second of six teams in their home event that season and finished third of eight teams this season.
"I still love (coaching), but the day-to-day grind I can't handle anymore," Busby said. "It was a very tough decision. It was very emotional."
The season ended for the Cougars in the Division I district tournament held Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby, as neither of their two qualifiers advanced to state, which concluded March 1 at Ohio State.
Senior Tommy Stone (170 pounds) and sophomore Fernando Lagunas (220) both went 0-2 at district. Stone, who wrestled the final three weeks of the season with a rib injury sustained during the All-North Tournament on Feb. 1 at Dublin Jerome, finished 24-14 on the season and Lagunas finished 9-7.
Westland did not score at district. Marysville (147.5) won its third consecutive district title as 37 teams scored.
"I'm pretty happy with my career," said Stone, who transferred from Madison Plains, a Division III team, prior to his junior year. "I thought I had a pretty decent two seasons. I couldn't help the fact about the injury that I had, but other than that, I felt like I had a pretty good season."
Stone credited Busby for his development.
"He was a great coach, excellent," Stone said. "He had really good philosophies."
Stone, who made first-team all-OCC-Central Division, and Lagunas both finished fourth in the 11-team sectional Feb. 15 at Pickerington Central to secure the final district-qualifying berths in their respective weight classes.
Also at sectional, junior Blake Rece (106, 17-16 on the season) placed fifth and junior Greg Rummel (132, 7-4), sophomore Ethan Laver (113, 9-13) and freshman Jack Little (138, 7-14) each placed sixth.
Westland scored 59 points at sectional to finish ninth behind champion Teays Valley (229).
The Cougars finished eighth in the OCC-Central at 0-7 behind champion Marysville (7-0) and, seeded eighth in Region 6-A, lost to top-seeded Hilliard Bradley 73-0 in the first round of the state team tournament Jan. 22 after beating ninth-seeded Columbus West 59-20 in the preliminary round that same day.
Others expected to return include juniors Scott Davies (160, 5-22), Brian Foster (126, 7-12) and Steven Park (120, 9-19), sophomore Josh Brown (152, 15-22) and freshmen Noah Green (182, 5-6) and Jacob Lewis (195, 4-10).
Girls basketball team played Raiders
The girls basketball team was 13-10 before playing top-seeded Reynoldsburg in a Division I district semifinal Feb. 27 at Bloom-Carroll.
The winner played 11th-seeded Gahanna or 12th-seeded Bradley in a district final March 1 at Ohio Dominican University. The district champion plays Northland, Mount Vernon, Pickerington North or Westerville North in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 4, at Otterbein University.
The regional final is Friday, March 7, at Otterbein.
Boys basketball team loses at Newark
The boys basketball team lost to fifth-seeded Newark 79-51 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 26.
The Cougars, who were seeded 37th of 45 teams and had a first-round bye, finished 5-18.
Westland trailed 23-6 after one quarter and 47-16 at halftime. Javon Watson led the Cougars with 22 points and Jaquan Henry scored 12.
"Early on we had some good looks," coach Seth Martin said. "In the first quarter, we had some stops, we had some clean looks and then we missed a couple bunnies, some wide-open looks and they were able to extend the lead."
Gymnasts conclude season at district
The gymnastics team finished the season in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The Cougars finished 25th (104.3) behind champion Dublin Coffman (143.85) as 26 teams scored. The top three teams and top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the state meet held Feb. 28 and March 1 at Bradley.
Freshman Avery Mills finished 72nd (29.35) of 103 competitors in the all-around.
Also competing in the all-around were senior Brenna Nutini (28.3, 84th) and freshmen India Alston (23.475, 101st) and Kailee Little (23.175, 102nd).
Westland scored 110.875 points in the six-team OCC-Central meet Feb. 8 to finish last behind champion Kilbourne (141.975), Olentangy Liberty (132.55), Hilliard Davidson (122.95), Delaware (120.25) and Dublin Scioto (115.5).
The Cougars, which went 0-5 in league duals, finished sixth in the overall OCC-Central standings with four points, behind Kilbourne (24, 5-0), Liberty (20, 4-1), Davidson (16, 3-2), Delaware (12, 2-3) and Scioto (8, 1-4).