Whitehall-Yearling High School senior wrestler Assante Ndongo will look to ride the momentum of a comeback victory and sectional title into the Division I district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Perrysburg.
Ndongo rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the second period and edged Franklin Heights' Day'Myrin Jones 7-5 in overtime in the sectional heavyweight final Feb. 24 at home.
Ndongo used a takedown and two back points to pull even at 5 and force overtime. He then recorded a match-winning takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the one-minute extra session.
"They always tell us (to) push no matter how much we're down," Ndongo said. "I was gassed, I was tired and I couldn't turn him. I had to push myself in overtime."
Ndongo, who improved to 37-6 overall, competed in the final despite injuring his left knee earlier in the tournament. He opted not to tell his coaches or trainer about the injury but added he should be ready to compete at district.
"I sat down during the whole break we had because it was hurting," Ndongo said as he treated the injured knee with ice after the win. "I don't think it's that serious. It hurts right now. I hope it's just sprained. A little bit of ice, a little bit of heat and I should be good."
Last year in a Division II district tournament, Ndongo went 1-2 at 220 pounds to finish 35-14. He's looking to better that effort even though the Rams have moved up to Division I.
"One of my coaches said don't worry about the singlet, don't worry about the name, just wrestle the body that is front of you, so I'm not worrying about who I have," Ndongo said. "Right now I don't look at the bracket, I don't see who I have (in the first round) and I don't want to know what seed I am. I just want to go out there and wrestle whoever I have."
Coach Steve Pennington said Ndongo has used that mentality all season, and he's not surprised by his success.
"Assante has come a long way," Pennington said. "He never stops working and when you get into a match like that and it's that tight, you always know in the back of your mind we're going to pull this out."
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Ndongo will be joined at district by sophomore Andrew Dickens (27-14) at 195, sophomore Steven Fancelli (21-16) at 106, junior Luke Gibson (20-10) at 138 and freshman Jace Peck (18-18) at 113. Dickens and Gibson were second at sectional, Peck was third and Fancelli finished fourth.
"If you want to be the best you have to beat the best," Pennington said. "The best in Division I will be at this district tournament, so I'm willing to take our kids in and battle. I'm OK with that."
Senior Justin Peck, who was the top seed at 170 at sectional, was edged by Thomas Worthington's Josh Keese 3-2 in a semifinal and decided not to compete in a consolation match because of an injured ankle.
The winner of that match was guaranteed a berth at district. Peck finished the season 26-9.
The Rams finished fourth (119.5) in the nine-team sectional behind champion Ashland (304).
Bowling teams advance to district
The boys and girls bowling teams turned in strong efforts at sectional to earn berths to the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 3, at HP Lanes.
The girls finished second (3,617) of 37 teams Feb. 24 at HP Lanes behind Gahanna (3,642) as the top 16 teams advanced to district.
Madison Stiffler earned medalist honors, finishing first of 208 bowlers with a 677 three-game series. She easily beat runner-up Emma Wasielewski of Delaware, who had a 616.
Alexis Stiffler was 10th with a 529, followed by Makayla Barber (489, 22nd) and Khylie Hardy (484, 24th).
The boys finished fifth (3,439) of 38 teams at sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes behind champion Westerville Central (3,836) as the top 16 teams advanced to district.
Jason Kefauver was third of 220 bowlers with a 589, followed by Charles Clark (519, 34th), Austin Gilbraith (500, 42nd), A.J Stiffler (498, 43rd) and Brandon Shaw (428, 101st).
At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The boys compete March 9 and the girls compete the next day.
Boys basketball team to face Warhawks
The boys basketball team opens the Division I district tournament Thursday, March 1, when it visits 11th-seeded Westerville Central for a second-round game.
Central advanced with a come-from-behind 47-39 win over 32nd-seeded Delaware in the first round Feb. 24. The Warhawks are led by senior point guard Thomas Hickman, who scored a game-high 21 points to surpass 1,000 for his career.
Central coach Donovon Barrett said his team will be challenged by the 24th-seeded Rams, who are 13-9.
"They are very athletic," Barrett said. "It's the second round, so you're going to play a good team. We'll be prepared. We're just very fortunate and we're happy that we've earned a home game."
The winner plays 10th-seeded Reynoldsburg or 37th-seeded Watkins Memorial in a semifinal Wednesday, March 7, at a neutral site to be determined.
The district final is March 10 at Ohio Dominican.
Whitehall lost at Hartley 51-49 on Feb. 19 as Reiko Bagley scored 20 points, Tyjaun Childers had 11 and Taylon Cofer added 10.
Gymnast competes at district meet
Sophomore gymnast Rebekah Revadelo closed her season in the district meet Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne, tying for 58th in the all-around with a 30.2.
She tied for 28th on vault (8.2), tied for 70th on uneven bars (7.15), tied for 78th on floor exercise (7.95) and tied for 109th on balance beam (6.9).
The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advanced to state Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Bradley.
Revadelo trains and competes with Westerville Central.
Girls basketball team closes season
The girls basketball team finished 1-22 under first-year coach Darrin Green.
After a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament, the 49th-seeded Rams lost at fourth-seeded Reynoldsburg 77-13 in the second round Feb. 23.
Sophomore guard Izzy Simmons led the Rams with five points.
Sophomore guard Kiara Bagley was named second-team all-MSL-Ohio Division, and freshman guard Desira Henderson was honorable mention all-league.
Whitehall defeated Hamilton Township 40-29 on Dec. 19 and went 0-10 in the MSL-Ohio to finish sixth behind Bexley (9-1), London (8-2), Worthington Christian (6-4), Grandview (5-5) and Columbus Academy (2-8).
"I'm extremely proud of the girls who finished the season," Green said.
"We went through a lot of changes and the ones who stuck it out until the end will benefit greatly from this season. I believe we had a successful season from a program perspective."
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
*Record: 1-22 overall, 0-10 (sixth) in MSL-Ohio
*Seniors lost: None
*Key returnees: Kiara Bagley, Desira Henderson and Izzy Simmons