Members of the Whetstone High School wrestling team ran into some tough matchups in the Division I district tournament March 3 at Perrysburg.
Seniors Ibrahim Sesay (160 pounds) and Daniel Kasprovic (heavyweight) and sophomores Johnny Kincaid (120) and Jack Zimmerman (126) all went 0-2 for the Braves.
The top four finishers for each weight class advanced to the state tournament Thursday, March 8 and runs through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
"I was disappointed for Ibrahim and Dan that they didn't at least win one match," coach Tom Jones said. "I'm a little shocked Ibrahim didn't win one because I think he could have won his first one. But I think the nerves got to them all.
"Wrestling is no joke up north. I think the young guys had their eyes opened. They saw the top of the mountain and they know how much work they have to do to compete against strong kids that come from tradition-rich programs."
Sesay lost to Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Isaac Sell 15-5 in the first round and Fremont Ross' Jackson Weissinger 12-4 in his second match to finish the season 27-9.
Kasprovic, who missed the first half of the season recovering from a football injury, finished 7-12 after getting pinned by Matt Lee of Amherst Steele and Ryan Stadler of Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
Kincaid was pinned by Julian Tagg of Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Zak Anderson of Grafton Midview to finish 10-21, and Zimmerman was pinned by Bryce Hepner of Lakewood St. Edward and Mike Daly of Oregon Clay to finish 4-31.
"Jack faced the defending state champion (Hepner) in the first round, and I think all of our guys were a little shocked and in awe," Jones said.
Sesay finished first at a sectional Feb. 24 at Whitehall to become the program's first sectional champion since Matt Tuttle won back-to-back titles in 2007 and '08. Kasprovic, Kincaid and Zimmerman all placed fourth at sectional, as the Braves finished sixth (87.5 points) of nine teams, behind champion Ashland (304).
Placing fifth at sectional and serving as district alternates were senior Kenneth Thompson (152, 14-15), junior Mike Woodard (195, 22-12) and sophomores Preston Buterbaugh (138, 9-8) and Hassan Sesay (145, 21-17). Sophomore Ford Buterbaugh (132, 11-23) placed sixth, while senior Kalman Buterbaugh (170, 15-15) also competed.
Freshman Darric McClinton (138), who won a City championship, did not compete in the postseason because of a family situation, according to Jones.
In the City League tournament Feb. 17 at Mifflin, the Braves placed fourth (141.5), behind Mifflin (186.5), East (174) and West (162) and ahead of Walnut Ridge (136), South (98), Linden-McKinley (76), Marion-Franklin (60), Northland (31), Centennial (25), Beechcroft (24) and Independence (6).
The Braves are losing six seniors, led by Ibrahim Sesay.
"(Ibrahim) finished with over 100 career victories, was a two-time district qualifier and a three-time City League champion, which is impressive because he never wrestled before his freshman year," Jones said. "That shows you the type of athletic talent, hard work and tenacity he has. He's also a three-sport athlete, so it's not like he concentrated on wrestling only these past four years.
"Dan got a late start due to his injury and he still achieved his goal by placing fourth in the City League. We have some promising young guys coming back."
Bowling teams cap strong seasons
The girls and boys bowling teams both were represented in the Division I district tournament March 3 at HP Lanes.
The girls team finished 13th (2,762) of 16 teams, as Gahanna (3,596), Whitehall (3,438) and Westerville Central (3,360) advanced to the state tournament Saturday, March 10, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Senior Abbi Swank led the Braves, finished 19th of 102 competitors with a 487 (155-165-167). Delaware's Kelsey Rohrer (550) was the third and final individual state qualifier.
Also competing in three games for Whetstone were sophomore Alea Millington-Fuqua (42nd, 430) and juniors Lindsay Arnold (62nd, 399) and Noa Leslie (79th, 327). Senior Sabrina Vedovato and junior Allison Weeks also competed.
The boys team was represented at district by junior Nathan Vokac, who finished 52nd of 105 competitors with a 475 (157-153-165). Olentangy Liberty's Daniel Valz (596) was the third and final individual qualifier for state Friday, March 9, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The girls team finished 11th (2,945) of 37 teams in the sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes as the top 16 advanced to district.
The Braves went 15-4 overall and won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-C Division with a 9-0 record. The Braves beat Eastmoor 1,675-1,470 on Feb. 14 to win the City League championship.
Also on the postseason roster were junior Carrie Mullins and sophomore Assiatou Diallo.
"We won the (COHSBC) title for the fourth year in a row and advanced to district as a team for the fifth year in a row," coach Larry Howell said. "In fact, we've made it to district in every year of this program. So this was another good year, especially considering we had one returning starter.
"But Abbi is a standout. Unfortunately, she struggled and left a lot of single pins. But she's done everything we could ask of her and been a leader for us for four years. The good news is that I think we'll see a big improvement with all of the young girls who had their first varsity experience this year."
Vokac advanced to district by rolling a 493 in the boys sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, where the Braves placed 23rd (3,108) of 38 teams, behind champion Westerville Central (3,836).
Also competing at sectional were sophomore Amein Diallo (82nd, 452), senior Davis Kleen (88th, 445), senior Dalton Daugherty (tied for 105th, 425) and junior Victor Waitkus (tied for 126th, 378).
The Braves finished 13-6 overall, including 8-2 in the COHSBC-C to tie Worthington Christian for second place behind Northland (10-0). The Braves beat Eastmoor 2,047-1,929 on Feb. 14 to win the City championship.
Boys basketball team falls to Golden Bears
Seeded 47th in the Division I district tournament, the boys basketball team lost to second-seeded Upper Arlington 69-26 in a second-round game March 2.
The Braves, who had a first-round bye, finished 2-21 overall.
The host Golden Bears outscored Whetstone 31-5 in the second quarter to take a 45-12 lead into halftime. Sophomore forward Jaden Arledge had eight points to lead the Braves.
Whetstone finished 2-12 in the City League-North Division to place seventh, behind Beechcroft (14-0), Northland (10-4), East (9-5), Centennial and Linden (both 7-7) and Mifflin (6-8) and ahead of International (0-14).
Both of the Braves' victories came against International, 73-50 on Feb. 1 to snap a 25-game losing streak and 62-27 on Feb. 6.
Whetstone is losing two seniors in forward Lincoln Mullins and guard Rayshon Walker. Walker averaged 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds and Mullins averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. Both were named honorable mention all-league.
"We finished the season with two seniors...," first-year coach Rickie McClanahan said. "I have a lot of respect for Rayshon and Lincoln because they stuck it out through a very tough season."
Expected returnees include Arledge, juniors Antwan Allen (forward), Sam Barrett (guard), Elijah Benson (guard), Keneddy Katumwa (guard) and Mason Minor (forward), sophomores Rashaun Broomfield (guard) and Aljondre Grace (forward/center) and freshman Caleb Brigle (guard).
Allen averaged 8.2 points and 8.1 rebounds and Arledge averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds.
"Late in the season, our guys started understanding how to value offensive possessions," McClanahan said. "That helped us limit turnovers and be patient enough to take high percentage shots against mostly zone defenses. On defense, guys started to understand that as a team we have to want to defend to be good at it. We definitely saw progress."
@Brad_ThisWeekAt a glance
*Record: 2-21 overall, 2-12 (seventh) in City-North
*Seniors lost: Lincoln Mullins and Rayshon Walker
*Key returnees: Antwan Allen, Jaden Arledge, Sam Barrett, Rashaun Broomfield, Aljondre Grace, Keneddy Katumwa and Mason Minor
*Record: Boys -- 13-6 overall, 8-2 (tied for second) in COHSBC-C; Girls -- 15-4 overall, 9-0 (first) in COHSBC-C
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Dalton Daugherty and Davis Kleen; Girls -- Unique Diallo, Abbi Swank and Sabrina Vedovato
*Key returnees: Boys -- Amein Diallo, Nathan Vokac and Victor Waitkus; Girls -- Lindsay Arnold, Alea Millington-Fuqua and Allison Weeks
*Finishes: Fourth in City, sixth at sectional, did not score at district
*Seniors lost: Kalman Buterbaugh, Gerardo Gutierrez, Daniel Kasprovic, Ibrahim Sesay, Chase Thompson and Kenneth Thompson
*Key returnees: Preston Buterbaugh, Darric McClinton, Hassan Sesay and Mike Woodard