Big Walnut High School wrestling coach Luke Moore believes his team's performance in the Ron Thomas Sr. Invitational should be a confidence builder.
The Golden Eagles scored 247 points in the 10-team tournament Jan. 20 at Jonathan Alder to finish ahead of West Jefferson (220), Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan (206), Bexley (171), Kettering Alter (105), West Liberty-Salem (83), the host Pioneers (77), Centennial (47), Johnstown (34) and Columbus West (26).
"It was a good weekend," said Moore, whose team was 1-1 in the OCC-Capital Division entering a match against Groveport on Jan. 25. "We've had a pretty brutal schedule the first month of the season. You could probably call it a mid-level tournament. There were some good teams there. West Jefferson always has a strong program, and Benjamin Logan came over. Bexley also has some good wrestlers, and Jonathan Alder always has a good program."
Winning titles were Christian Jodrey (113 pounds), Bailey Munday (132), Ryan Coletta (152) and Josh Halbakken (160), while Cole Foster (138), Luke Apple (182) and Max Lenz (195) each placed second.
Jodrey, who was 8-14 before Jan. 25, surprised coaches by pinning Benjamin Logan's Jourdian Mckeen in 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Coletta, who was 14-10 before Jan. 25, defeated a returning district qualifier in West Jefferson's Mark Woodard 4-0.
Halbakken also has made great strides this season, moving up to 160 from 145. He improved to 19-5 with a victory over Kettering Alter's Jack Forschner.
"He's a completely different animal this year for us," Moore said of Halbakken. "I think it's just confidence. He would wrestle a lot and win matches against maybe not the best competition last year. This year, he's facing good kids and good competition and really going out and wrestling with confidence."
Other top records for the Golden Eagles before Jan. 25 included Munday (23-1), Foster (23-6) and Lenz (16-8).
Big Walnut, which competed in the Watkins Memorial Invitational on Jan. 27, has two league matches remaining: Feb. 8 at Franklin Heights and Feb. 15 at home against New Albany. It also has a home tri-match against Granville and Northridge on Feb. 10.
The postseason begins Feb. 24 with a Division I sectional tournament.
In their first two league matches, the Golden Eagles defeated Canal Winchester 41-27 on Jan. 18 and lost to Newark 36-28 on Jan. 11.
"We're focused on the OCC, but we always have the postseason on our mind a little bit," Moore said. "We've been amping up the training a little bit and getting after it."
Girls basketball team ends skid vs. Braves
The girls basketball team ended a skid against Olentangy with a convincing 47-33 victory on Jan. 23.
It was the Golden Eagles' first victory over the Braves in five games.
Stacey Walters made a 3-pointer to start an 11-1 run in the first quarter. She and Erin Boehm both scored nine points to lead Big Walnut.
The Golden Eagles were 10-5 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Capital before playing host to New Albany on Jan. 26. They entered the contest having won their previous three games and five of their previous six.
Big Walnut defeated Groveport 57-27 on Jan. 16 and Canal Winchester 53-40 on Jan. 19 before beating Olentangy.
Against Canal Winchester, Katie Cochran had 14 points, Boehm scored 13 and Abby Facemyer scored 10.
Win streak ends for boys basketball team
A 49-44 loss to Olentangy on Jan. 23 snapped a three-game winning streak for the boys basketball team, which was 8-6 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing at New Albany on Jan. 26.
Jordan Koebel led Big Walnut with 13 points, while Nathan Montgomery and Kegan Hienton each scored 11.
The Golden Eagles defeated Groveport (62-51 on Jan. 16), Canal Winchester (60-55 on Jan. 19) and Centerburg (74-32 on Jan. 20) during their winning streak.
Against Canal Winchester, Montgomery made 15 of 20 free-throw attempts and finished with 21 points.
Swimmers, divers prep for postseason
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams will compete against Westerville South on Friday, Feb. 2, at Westerville Community Center as a final tuneup for the postseason, which begins Feb. 10 with a Division I sectional at Thomas Worthington.
Big Walnut was swept by Gahanna in a dual meet Jan. 19, with the boys losing 113-57 and the girls losing 121-35.
According to coach Becky Brigham, 14 swimmers set personal-best times in the meet against the Lions.
Doing so for the boys team were Ethan Brant in the 50-yard freestyle (31.33) and 100 free (1:11.39), Coltrane Matos in the 50 free (31.61) and 100 free (1:18.84), Camden Andrian in the 200 individual medley (2:39.74) and 100 free (1:03.14), Charlie Jaeger in the 100 backstroke (1:14.29) and 50 free (29.43), Derek Stacy in the 200 free (2:26.69) and 100 back (1:20.24), Angelo Contugno in the 50 free (29.81) and 500 free (6:35.82), Braden Keck in the 50 free (38.97) and 100 free (1:09.02) and Jatan Pokar in the 50 free (30.48) and 100 free (1:08.51).
Setting personal records for the girls team were Kate Vandekieft in the 200 free (2:33.29) and 500 free (7:02.51), Megan Baldy in the 200 IM (2:54.03) and 100 back (1:22.66), Meredith Seiple in the 50 free (34.75) and 100 free (1:18.1), Leksi Murnieks in the 100 free (1:03.67) and 100 back (1:13.57), Jillian Salmon in the 100 back (2:01.39) and 50 free (42.09) and Mary Gray in the 50 free (44.28).
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet Jan. 26 and 27 at New Albany.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
Jan. 30 -- At Lancaster
*Feb. 2 -- Home vs. Newark. The Golden Eagles lost to the Wildcats 63-39 on Dec. 22.
Jan. 30 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*Feb. 1 -- At Newark. The Golden Eagles lost to the Wildcats 63-44 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 3 -- At Loudonville
Jan. 30 -- Grandview at AMF Sawmill Lanes
*Jan. 31 -- Olentangy Orange at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 2 -- Olentangy at Delaware Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 2 -- Westerville South at Westerville Community Center