The season didn't start or finish as planned for Delaware Hayes High School senior wrestler Max Wright.
Still, he finished 33-2 overall, placed third at 195 pounds in the Division I state tournament held March 9-11 at Ohio State and defeated the state champion earlier in the season.
"Max recognizes that third place is an amazing accomplishment, but his eyes were on that title," coach Josh Heffernan said. "So, his finish is bittersweet. And that is the way it is with elite wrestlers. They are rarely satisfied with anything less than first place. It's part of what makes Max so great."
Wright went 4-1 at state. He pinned Michael Drobnick of Cleveland St. Ignatius in 56 seconds in the opening round and defeated Elyria's Cameron King 12-2 before losing to eventual champion Anthony Perrine of Macedonia Nordonia 5-3 in a semifinal.
Wright bounced back to beat Brunswick's Aaron Naples 5-1 to reach the third-place match, where he defeated Springfield's Joe Cochran by default.
"Not only did Max have a great season, but he also wrestled a great state tournament," Heffernan said. "He is tremendously improved from last year. In fact, he beat Perrine 3-1 earlier in the season in the semifinals at Top Gun (Jan. 14 at Alliance)."
The season didn't start well for Wright, a two-time state qualifier who finished 53-5 last season but did not place at state. Slowed by a knee injury, he won his first match in a dual against Dublin Jerome on Dec. 15. Two days later in the Delaware Duals, he suffered the only blemish on his record until state.
Leading Big Walnut's Max Lentz 8-1, stitches in his knee burst and he was forced to default. He did not participate again until the Top Gun, where he went 5-0 to win the title.
Wright went 153-35 in his career, with 94 pins and 338 takedowns. He ranks fourth in all-time wins at Delaware, behind 2016 graduate Greg Brusco (167), 2004 graduate Kevin Rieman (166) and 2016 graduate Chris Martinez (160), and shares the program record for wins in a season with Brusco, as both had 53 last season.
Wright, who will officially accept an appointment Wednesday, March 22, to continue his studies and wrestle at the Air Force Academy, also ranks second in program history in pins behind 2014 graduate Andrew Sierawski (96) and fourth in career takedowns behind 1992 graduate Dan Mohr (480).
Also competing at state for the second year in a row was sophomore Zach Williams, who went 0-2 at 126 to finish the season 33-18. He lost to Wadsworth's Michael North 20-3 in the first round before falling to Cincinnati Princeton's Jovan Fuqua 7-2. North went on to finish third.
Last season, Williams went 0-2 at state at 106 to finish 39-12.
"The fact that Zach jumped up three weight classes in one year and made it to state as a sophomore for his second time was awesome," Heffernan said. "He's a big-tournament wrestler, the kind that seems to wrestle better against better competition. He loves the sport and trains year round. He has big goals for himself, and I know that he'll be busting his butt to have an even better finish next year."
The Pacers totaled 19 points at state to finish 25th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (151) as 68 teams scored.
Delaware tied Olentangy for seventh (64) in the district tournament March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby behind champion Olentangy Liberty (236.5) as 42 teams scored, and finished third (154.5) in the 11-team sectional Feb. 25 at Marysville behind the host Monarchs (244.5) and Dublin Coffman (217.5).
Wright won a district title and Williams placed second, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Also competing at district were senior Carter Davidson (182, 36-14), junior James White IV (138, 31-8) and freshmen Corbin May (152, 23-18) and Brystin Coldiron (106, 11-15). Davidson placed fifth and was a state alternate. He finished with 104 career wins, which ranks ninth in program history.
At sectional, Wright and Davidson won titles, White, Williams and May all placed third and Coldiron was fourth as the top four in each weight class advanced to district.
Also competing at sectional were junior Zane Hypes (160, 16-17) and freshmen Tristan Burton (113, 13-14), Emmett Cain (132, 21-13), Zach Raquepaw (120, 10-13), Mason Sutander (145, 2-2) and Tyler David (220, 16-14).
Delaware went 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Hilliard Bradley and Dublin Scioto for second, behind Darby (6-0) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (2-4), Dublin Jerome (1-5) and Thomas Worthington (0-6).
Girls bowling team
losing top performer
Senior Alicia Halstead of the girls bowling team tied for 12th of 94 competitors in the Division I state tournament March 10 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl as the Pacers placed 14th of 16 teams.
Halstead bowled a 583 (170-187-226) series and made honorable mention all-state.
"For the most part, I had some ups and downs, but in the end, I guess it worked out," said Halstead, who placed 20th (598) at state a year ago competing as an individual. "I kind of relaxed. Last year I came (to state) by myself, so having the other girls here to keep you up really helped."
In the qualifying round, the Pacers totaled 2,943 pins as Kettering Fairmont (3,086) earned the eighth and final spot in the championship round. Delaware rolled 2,425 in the three regulation games and posted the seventh-best score (518) in the three Baker games.
Stow-Munroe Falls, which was fourth in the qualifying round, went on to win the state title.
"It was a fun experience," said coach Darin Halstead, Alicia's father. "The girls were excited and I just kept trying to keep them in the moment. It was the first time we've had a team advance this far. I told them 14th is just fine. You can't go from 0 to 100 mph in one gear. You rarely find a team that can get into the championship (round) in their first season. Everybody wants to do better, but it was a great experience. We're only losing one senior."
Junior Jenna VanGundy rolled a 557 (201-153-203) to finish 23rd. Juniors Emma Wasielewski (453, 73rd) and Reagan Olson (443, 74th) also competed in three games.
Delaware finished third (3,740) behind Briggs (3,888) and Whitehall (3,811) in the 20-team district tournament March 3 at Sawmill Lanes as the top four teams advanced to state.
Halstead placed third (657) of 133 competitors at district, behind Whitehall's Madison Stiffler (760) and Eastmoor Academy's Averi Brown (663).
Wasielewski placed seventh and VanGundy was 12th (565). Also competing were Olson (496, 42nd) and freshman McKenzie Cooke (458, tied for 63rd).
Delaware finished fourth (3,329) of 38 teams in the sectional Feb. 24 at Sawmill Lanes.
The Pacers finished 15-2 overall, including 12-2 in the 15-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division to place second behind Gahanna (14-0). They won the OCC-Cardinal title, going 5-0 to finish ahead of Bradley (3-2), Darby (3-2), Newark (3-2), Kilbourne (1-4) and Thomas (0-5).
"Although we're losing Alicia, who was very solid in Baker games, we'll have five or six girls coming back with experience after setting the bar high this year," coach Halstead said. "We're still going to have high goals."
Junior D.J. Cocherl represented the boys team at district March 3 at Sawmill Lanes, where he rolled a 570 (186-183-201) to place 51st of 127 competitors.
The Pacers finished 26th (3,381) of 42 teams in the sectional Feb. 25 at Sawmill Lanes. Cocherl finished 36th (564) of 245 competitors and earned the ninth of 20 individual district-qualifying spots.
Junior Dylan Jebode was 114th (459). Sophomores Shaun Bendele (359) and Dillon Murfield (356) both rolled two games, and senior Nathen Shrum (165) and junior Caleb Carroll (162) both rolled one game.
Delaware finished 7-12 overall, including 7-8 in the 16-team COHSBC-North to tie New Albany for eighth behind champion Westerville Central (15-0) and 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Bradley and Thomas for fourth behind Groveport (6-0), Kilbourne (5-1) and Newark (4-2) and ahead of Darby (0-6).
"This was a building year (for the boys) and we lose one starter in Nathen Shrum," coach Halstead said. "We should have everyone else back in terms of starters. I think we'll have some guys come on strong next year."