Kuric Buell of the Worthington Kilbourne High School wrestling team may have gained some respect with his recent performances.
After winning a sectional title Feb. 24 at Upper Arlington, the sophomore finished fourth at 145 pounds in the Division I district tournament held March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby. A year after being a district alternate, Buell will compete in the state tournament, which runs Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
"I was looking at all the projections in the district and most had me losing my first two matches at district and I saw one that had me going 1-2," Buell said. "I never thought I'd go 0-2, but I also didn't know if I could get to state this year. So I surprised myself a bit, too."
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advance to state.
Kilbourne's lone district competitor, Buell won his first two matches, beating Central Crossing's Ryan Fahy 5-2 and Westerville North's Blake Wright 6-5. He then lost 9-6 to eventual runner-up Bailey Munday of Big Walnut to drop to a consolation semifinal, where he defeated Upper Arlington's Joey Orlando 5-0 to qualify for state.
"I had beaten (Orlando) twice this year, once 1-0 in the regular season and then 6-1 in the sectional final," Buell said. "I was pretty nervous about having to do it a third time and didn't really know what to expect or if he would change some things this time.
"But (assistant coach Lucky Shaut) calmed me down and told me it was OK and usual to be nervous. After my first takedown, it relaxed me. Lucky (a 2014 Kilbourne graduate who competed at Rutgers University) has been a big help to me this year."
Buell then lost to Marion Harding's Mason Sparks 5-3 in the third-place match.
"My goal at state is to win a few matches," Buell said. "It'd be nice to win the first two and secure at least eighth place to get on the podium, but I plan to take it step by step. Whatever I do at state, I will improve on in the next two years."
Buell is 25-7 on the season and will face Brecksville-Broadview Heights junior Gabriel Tagg (32-5) in the first round at state.
"I think Kuric turned the corner mentally in the second half of the season and bought into what we've been teaching," coach Brett Shaut said. "He's athletic and talented and his mental growth is starting to catch up with that. He has exceeded his expectations. At the beginning of the year, he just wanted to qualify for district. Now he's a sectional champion and state qualifier. And he's only going to get better."
Boys basketball team ousted by Wildcats
The boys basketball team couldn't contain eighth-seeded Westerville South for four quarters and lost to the host Wildcats 79-67 in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 2 to finish 9-14.
Jake Hirschy's 3-pointer gave 28th-seeded Kilbourne a 40-39 lead with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left in the third quarter, but South responded with a 15-2 run to close the quarter and entered the fourth quarter with a 54-42 lead.
The Wolves got as close as 60-50 with 5:47 remaining, but the Wildcats responded with a 12-3 run to seal the outcome.
"That's (South's) style," coach Tom Souder said. "They get the ball up the floor in a hurry and really make turnovers, quick shots and long rebounds hurt you. We worked so hard to take a third-quarter lead, then they hit a long 3-pointer and we had several turnovers that led to layups on the other end. We never recovered."
Gavin Baker led Kilbourne with 18 points, Hirschy scored 15, Zach Wilson scored 14 and Thomas Wilson added 10.
Bowling teams cap season at district
Although neither the girls nor boys bowling team will be represented in the Division I state tournament this weekend at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, both produced their best records in program history this season.
The girls team finished fifth (3,050) of 16 teams at district March 3 at HP Lanes, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament March 10. Gahanna (3,596), Whitehall (3,438) and Westerville Central (3,360) advanced and Delaware (3,220) finished fourth.
Junior Kasey Knuth led the Wolves with a 479 series (166-152-161) to place 25th of 102 competitors. Also competing were junior Aleks Tavella (28th, 468), senior Meghan Gaines (29th, 466), senior Taysia Curry (59th, 403) and junior Maddie Mullen (72nd, 366).
Delaware's Kelsey Rohrer (fourth, 550) was the final individual state qualifier.
"The girls finished 37 pins better than they did at sectional and were competing at district for the first time," coach Susan Bond said. "They had their best-ever record in the (Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division) at 8-3, and it was just a great season. Unfortunately, we lose two seniors."
The Wolves qualified for district by placing seventh (3,013) in the 37-team sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes behind champion Gahanna (3,642), as the top 16 teams advanced.
Kilbourne finished 8-7 overall, 8-3 in the COHSBC-B Division to place fourth behind champion Darby (11-0) and 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Newark for fifth behind champion Delaware (6-0).
Representing the boys team at district was senior Michael Barnewall, who finished 24th of 105 competitors with a 531 (136-180-215). Olentangy Liberty's Daniel Valz (fifth, 596) was the final individual state qualifier.
Barnewall advanced to district by rolling a 538 (135-192-211) at sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, where he placed 23rd and secured the seventh of 16 individual qualifying berths.
The Wolves finished 21st (3,132) of 38 teams at sectional, behind champion Westerville Central (3,836) as Groveport was 16th (3,208). Also bowling all three games were seniors Evan Place (67th, 466), Zach Legue (83rd, 450) and John Catanzarite (129th, 372).
Also on the roster were senior Jarrett Shuey, junior Colby Sutherland and freshman Donovan Rossette.
The boys team finished 11-4 overall, 9-2 in the COHSBC-B to place second behind Pickerington North (11-0) and 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Darby for second behind Delaware (5-1).
"The boys had an absol-utely phenomenal season, but were disappointed to not get to district as a team," Bond said. "Plus, we had five seniors, so we're going to need some guys to be ready to step in next season."
Gymnastics team losing two seniors
The gymnastics team is losing two seniors in Tania Craig and Marissa Giordano.
Kilbourne ended its season Feb. 24 at the home district meet, where it placed 12th (126.125) of 24 teams.
Thornville Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Hilliard Bradley (135.425) advanced to the team state meet March 2 at Bradley. The top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the individual state meet March 3 at Bradley, but the Wolves did not have any qualifiers.
Craig finished 68th of 93 competitors in the all-around with a 28.95.
Freshman Emily Mosic led the Wolves at district, finishing 18th in the all-around (33.425), 18th of 134 competitors on vault (8.5), 20th of 138 competitors on floor exercise (8.775) and 44th of 136 competitors on uneven bars (7.775).
Sophomore Trinity Leo (34th, 31.875) also had a strong performance in the all-around, and freshman Sophie Seculov had a team-best 8.65 on balance beam to place 17th of 141 competitors.
Other expected returnees include juniors Jenaiya Burrell and Nuriza Kochkonbaeva, sophomore Abby Deitrick and freshmen Sophie Baker and Mackenzie Stevens. Deitrick missed most of the season because of injury.
The Wolves finished fifth in the overall OCC-Cardinal standings (12 points, 1-5 record), behind Darby (28, 6-0), Bradley (24, 5-1), Jerome (20, 4-2) and Delaware (14, 3-3) and ahead of Thomas (10, 2-4) and Scioto (4, 0-6).
@Brad_ThisWeekAt a glance
*Record: Boys -- 11-4 overall, 9-2 (second) in COHSBC-B, 4-2 (tied for second) in OCC-Cardinal; Girls -- 8-7 overall, 8-3 (fourth) in the COHSBC-B, 2-4 (tied for fifth) in the OCC-Cardinal
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Michael Barnewall, John Catanzarite, Zac Legue, Evan Place and Jarrett Shuey; Girls -- Taysia Curry and Meghan Gaines
*Key returnees: Boys -- Donovan Rossette and Colby Sutherland; Girls -- Casey Knuth, Maddie Mullen and Aleks Tavella
*Finishes: Fifth in OCC-Cardinal, 12th at district
*Seniors lost: Tania Craig and Marissa Giordano
*Key returnees: Abby Deitrick, Trinity Leo, Emily Mosic and Sophie Seculov