A gauge for Mark Niemann's success in his first year as Westland High School wrestling coach is how many Cougars advanced in the postseason.
With three wrestlers qualifying for the Division I district tournament March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby and another being a district alternate, Niemann considers his first season a positive step for the program.
"If I could put myself in my mindset (at the beginning of the season), I think I would have been happy with three (district qualifiers)," Niemann said. "I know I am now giving ... what it took to get those three kids there."
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to state Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
Junior Andrew Sherman helped lead the Cougars in the Marysville sectional Feb. 24, reaching the final at 182 pounds before losing to Dublin Scioto's Deron Pulliam 11-5.
Sherman, who is friends with Pulliam, was pinned by the Irish wrestler in the Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament on Jan. 6 at Scioto.
"I'm really happy I took second," Sherman said. "I wrestled my friend and he's really hard competition for me. Coach told me I could only get better from the first time I wrestled him and this time I lasted all three periods."
Sherman was 32-13 entering his first district tournament. He went 0-2 at sectional last season at 170.
"I met my goals," he said. "My goals this year were to place in all the tournaments and wrestle in district."
Sophomore Edgar Cruz earned his second district berth after going 0-2 last year at 106. He entered district with a 20-10 record.
Cruz reached the sectional final at 113 before losing to Marysville's Michael Jones 10-0.
Junior Kyle Newman also competed in his first district tournament after placing fourth at sectional at 195. He was 13-16 entering district.
"Making district was a goal because last year I took sixth at sectional (at 195), so either being an alternate (by placing fifth) or qualifying was the next step," Newman said.
Newman secured his district berth with a 6-2 win over Westerville Central's Ian Manahan in a consolation semifinal. He had been pinned by Manahan in the Canal Winchester Invitational on Feb. 3.
"We knew I could win that match," Newman said of his rematch with Manahan. "Coach had me work on preparing just in case I would have to wrestle him again."
Senior Steve McPeek was a district alternate after finishing fifth at sectional at 138. He pinned Teays Valley's Connor McIntire in 3 minutes, 45 seconds to place fifth.
"All three, along with Steve McPeek -- even the kids who were unable to qualify or be an alternate -- they all got better as the season went on," Niemann said. "I talked to each of them after they wrestled their last match and I told them they did a great job."
The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advanced to district.
Westland finished eighth (66 points) in the 10-team sectional behind champion Marysville (279).
Boys basketball team opens postseason
The boys basketball team played at third-seeded Hilliard Bradley in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 1.
The 46th-seeded Cougars had a first-round bye and entered the game 2-20.
Bradley defeated 42nd-seeded Marion Harding 61-27 in the first round Feb. 24.
The second-round winner plays 17th-seeded Chillicothe or 19th-seeded Olentangy in a semifinal Wednesday, March 7, at a neutral site to be determined, and that winner plays eighth-seeded Westerville South, 12th-seeded Logan, 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange or 28th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district final Saturday, March 10, at Ohio Dominican.
Gaige Holbrook recently was named second-team all-OCC-Central Division and honorable mention all-district. DeShawn Evans was special mention all-league and Zach Winegardner was honorable mention all-league.
Budd leads gymnasts at district meet
Sophomore Kennedy Budd led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 24 at Kilbourne, finishing 41st in the all-around (31.425).
She was 26th on floor exercise (8.675), tied for 43rd on vault (8.05), tied for 77th on uneven bars (7.05) and tied for 84th on balance beam (7.65).
"Kennedy wanted to score her highest on floor this meet and the all-around as well," coach Brittany Maynard. "She definitely reached her floor goal, leaving her in a great place to start her junior year."
Junior Ines De La Fuente finished 69th in the all-around (28.9) and freshman Heaven Manbevers was 89th (24.075).
Westland finished 20th (105) of 24 teams behind state-qualifiers Thornville Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Bradley (135.425).
The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around also advanced to state.
"Westland had its best meet of the season at district and that's always the coaches' goal," said Maynard, who shares coaching duties with her mother, Lavon. "We were very proud of the hard work they put in leading up to the meet and the new skills and more difficult routines and elements that the girls individually pushed themselves to add in order to better their team score."
The Cougars went 3-4 in OCC-Central duals and finished fifth in the overall league standings with 16 points, behind Upper Arlington (32, 7-0), Hilliard Davidson (28, 6-1) Marysville (24, 5-2) and Grove City (18, 3-4) and ahead of Central Crossing (14, 3-4) Dublin Coffman (8, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (4, 0-7).
"With no seniors on this year's team, all the girls are expected to return next season and we are looking forward to a great year -- knowing how we finished this season -- with more difficult routines, harder skills, higher individual and team scores and great leadership from our seniors next year, who will have had multiple years of experience under their belts," Brittany Maynard said.
Also eligible to return are junior Vanessa Evans, sophomores Geralan Barnette and Christina Zanish and freshmen Isabelle Rodriguez and Kaylee Seabolt.
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
*Finishes: Fifth in OCC-Central, 20th at district
*Seniors lost: None
*Key returnees: Kennedy Budd, Ines De La Fuente and Heaven Manbevers