Devin Wood will make his first trip to the Division I state wrestling tournament, and he knows who led him there.
The Central Crossing High School senior made just his second appearance in the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby. That limited district experience came as a result of the tough competition in front of him in the Comets' practice room.
Wood placed third at district at 138 pounds as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
"I have been working for four years to get (to state) and this is only my second time (at district)," said Wood, who enters state with a 36-9 record. "There were stacked lineups here my freshman and sophomore years with (2016 graduates) Jackson Lakso, Ethan Leapley, James Wimer, J.D Woods (and) Derek Wurzauf, (2017 graduate) Zach Collins and (senior) Jaden (Mattox). Working hard with them for my first couple of years really paid off."
The 160-pound Mattox will join Wood at state after winning his fourth district championship.
Wood reached a district semifinal before losing to Olentangy's James White IV 6-5. He defeated Teays Valley's Jacob Williams 2-1 in a consolation semifinal before winning by forfeit over Big Walnut's Cole Foster in the third-place match.
"Losing the semifinal was tough, but I only reached the quarterfinal last year so I had already stepped up one more (spot on the bracket)," Wood said. "The coaches are always telling me to just take one match at a time and never look ahead. That's what I did (after the semifinal loss). I just got ready for the next match."
Coach Jamie Ramirez was happy with the mettle shown by Wood in the late stages of the tournament.
"Devin didn't let his guard down," Ramirez said. "He lost a tough semifinal match by one and it takes lot of composure to lose a close match like that and come back in a little over an hour and wrestle again. But Devin was able to do that and punch his ticket to state."
Mattox cruised through district, recording three pins before defeating Marysville's Tyler Bates by a 19-2 technical fall in the final. He is 41-1 overall and will be looking for his second state championship.
Last season at state, Mattox finished second at 152, losing to Massillon Perry's David Carr 7-1 in the final. Carr also is returning to state, but he still competes at 152.
"It's my first time at state and I'm sure I'll be like, 'Wow,' but Jaden has told me a lot about it," Wood said. "I normally don't get too nervous. I'm just going to work hard with Jaden this week and see what happens. I want to be up on the podium as well (by finishing in the top eight)."
The Comets finished 11th (56.5 points) at district behind champion Lancaster (170) as 38 teams scored.
Senior Noah Ross went 3-3 and finished sixth at 106. Seniors Ryan Fahy (132) and Mason Morris (170), sophomore Derek Layne (145) and freshman Eddie Roberts (113) all went 0-2.
Boys basketball team led by senior class
A talented senior class helped lead the boys basketball team to an 11-12 record and had the Comets on the cusp of winning their first postseason game.
The 31st-seeded Comets lost at 22nd-seeded Walnut Ridge 67-64 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Division I district tournament. They are 0-16 in postseason games, playing in Division II in their first two seasons before moving up to Division I.
Central Crossing tied Marysville for fourth (3-7) in the OCC-Central Division behind Upper Arlington (10-0), Dublin Coffman (8-2) and Hilliard Davidson (6-4) and ahead of Westland (0-10).
"This is my third year with these seniors and they meant a lot to us," coach Neil Hohman said. "A lot of them started all three of those years and they are a great group of guys. They did a lot of scoring for us and were very good leaders for the underclassmen. Obviously, we'll miss them a lot."
Senior forward Mike Woods (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) led the Comets in scoring (14.5 points per game), blocks (1.3) and free-throw percentage (71-for-91, 78.0 percent). He also was 48-for-144 on 3-point attempts (33.3 percent) and averaged 4.4 rebounds.
Senior Keason Lowe, a three-year starter at point guard who was second-team all-league, averaged 7.5 points with team highs in assists (3.8) and steals (1.4). Senior forward Nic Miller (honorable mention all-league) averaged 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds and led the team with 12 charges taken.
Senior guard Eddie Ferguson averaged 8.9 points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds. Guard Austin Kehl rounded out the senior class.
The top expected returnees are junior forward Dan Ewald (4.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 10 charges taken) and sophomore guards Logan Green and Anthony Lowe (8.0 points).
"We have some good kids coming back," Hohman said. "Anthony did well and improved a lot, and Dan Ewald battled some injuries and hopefully will come back strong next year inside.
"Logan Green is a good shooter and hit some 3s late against Walnut Ridge. Hopefully all of them kept learning from the seniors and will continue to get better."
@ThisWeekHennenAt a glance
*Record: 11-12 overall, 3-7 (tied for fourth) in OCC-Central
*Seniors lost: Eddie Ferguson, Austin Kehl, Keason Lowe, Nic Miller and Mike Woods
*Key returnees: Dan Ewald, Logan Green and Anthony Lowe