Delaware Hayes High School wrestler Mason Sutandar accomplished his goal of qualifying for the Division I state tournament.
The sophomore is hoping it's the first of three appearances at state, which was held March 8-10 at Ohio State.
"It was my biggest goal entering this year because I wanted to experience it this year and go back and improve on what I do in the next two years," said Sutandar, who qualified for state by placing fourth at 170 pounds in the district tournament held March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby. "I went and watched the (state) finals last year and it was a magnificent atmosphere."
Sutandar, who was one of four district qualifiers for the Pacers, went 3-2 at district and was 28-17 entering state.
Junior Zach Williams (132) and sophomore Corbin May (160) both went 2-2 and placed sixth and junior Jacob McCloskey (182) went 0-2, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Williams finished the season 31-15. May finished 32-15 and McCloskey finished 20-17.
"Mason is peaking at the right time," coach Josh Heffernan said. "He was having a great year, but took his wrestling to another level these past few weeks. He was a bit unsatisfied when he placed fourth at sectional. However, the same four who placed and advanced from the sectional at Newark are the ones who placed in the top four at district and are advancing to state."
May defeated Chillicothe's Joseph Hilliard 7-4 in the first round and edged Groveport's Jake Nelson 5-4 in the second.
"Placing fourth at sectional meant that Mason was paired with a sectional champion at district and (Hilliard) boasted a perfect 24-0 record," Heffernan said. "We didn't have a great scout on him, but we used what information we had and Mason did the rest. He was simply relentless all weekend."
Sutandar was pinned by Olentangy Liberty's Carson Kharchla, the eventual champion who was the projected state champion by borofanohio.net, in a semifinal. He then beat Marys-ville's Nathan DeWitt 3-2 in the qualifying match before getting pinned by Westerville North's Mitch Potterf in the third-place match.
"Mason was in the very difficult position of being up by just one point with 45 seconds left in his (qualifying) match," Heffernan said. "That is a position of panic for some wrestlers, especially with so much on the line, but Mason wrestled ferociously and simply would not be denied. We are very proud of him."
Sutandar said the qualifying match couldn't end soon enough.
"There was a clock malfunction and they kept adding seconds," he said. "They interrupted the match two or three times in the final minute to add more time. The coaches just kept yelling at me that it was no big deal and to remain focused and wrestle. That's what I tried to do."
Like Sutandar, Williams and May also won their first two matches before losing in a semifinal to the eventual champion of their weight classes.
Williams lost to Olentangy Liberty's Blake Saito 7-5 in a tiebreaker in his semifinal. He then lost 6-0 to Marion Harding's Mason Sparks in his qualifying match and fell to Upper Arlington's Joey Orlando 13-4 in the fifth-place match.
"Williams wrestled very well," Heffernan said. "He came close to an (overtime) takedown against Saito, but his effort was ruled out of bounds."
May lost 11-9 in overtime to projected state champion Jaden Mattox of Central Crossing in his semifinal. He then lost 7-4 to Mount Vernon's Max VanFossen in his qualifying match and 9-4 to Dresden Tri-Valley's Emmanuel Johnson in his fifth-place match.
McCloskey's losses both came in tiebreakers. He lost 4-3 to Darby's Rodney Beneker in the first round and 5-3 to UA's Holden Freeman in the second.
"(Williams and May) were still in a position to win and punch their tickets to state in the consolation blood round and both faced guys they had beaten before," Heffernan said. "Williams beat Sparks 3-2 in the first round. May had beaten Johnson twice before in close matches (including 11-9 in overtime in the second round). Sparks and Johnson both made good adjustments."
The Pacers scored 28 points at district to finish 23rd behind champion Lancaster (170) as 38 teams scored.
Rohrer qualifies for state in bowling
The girls bowling team had two of the top six finishers in the Division I district tournament March 3 at HP Lanes.
But it wasn't enough for the Pacers to qualify as a team for the state tournament March 10 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, as they finished fourth of 16 teams with 3,220 pins, behind the three state qualifiers in Gahanna (3,596), Whitehall (3,438) and Westerville Central (3,360).
Junior Kelsey Rohrer, who finished fourth overall of 102 competitors with a 550 series (150-178-222), earned the third and final individual state-qualifying spot, while senior Emma Wasielewski fell short with a 533, finishing sixth overall.
"Kelsey consistently got better with each frame and game," coach Darin Halstead said. "She throws a nice, controlled ball, not real hard. She doesn't get overwhelmed and stays within herself and picks up spares. I'm excited for her."
Rohrer had averaged 153.3 during the regular season, which equates to a 459.9 series average.
"I bowled better than I normally do and I think the shot was better for me and the way I bowl than it was for other bowlers," Rohrer said. "I tried to be consistent and my scores kept improving all day. I'm very excited to go to state and represent our school, but I really wish we made it as a team. I wanted to make it to state and bowl with my friends."
Wasielewski had games of 199, 165 and 169. She had averaged 189 during the regular season, which equates to a 567 series average.
"Emma was devastated because she was crushing the pocket solidly all day, but she left a lot of single pins and then overcorrected a handful of times and had open frames," Halstead said. "It was one of those days for her, and it really is a shame because she wanted to get to state so bad and she worked so hard for it."
Sophomore McKenzie Cooke (395) also rolled three games for the Pacers. Also competing were senior Reagan Olson and junior Alyssa Williams.
The Pacers were in fourth place (2,295) entering the six Baker games, behind third-place Westerville Central (2,357). They cut into their 62-pin deficit by 23 pins with a 171 in the first Baker game, but the Warhawks rolled a 205 and a 210 in their next two games and had a 151-pin advantage with three Baker games left.