Eric Crane of the Bexley High School wrestling team admits he can be his worst enemy before a match begins.

Eric Crane of the Bexley High School wrestling team admits he can be his worst enemy before a match begins.

"Sometimes, I psyche myself out," the junior co-captain and 152-pounder said. "I need to attack more and not be so defensive and be a more aggressive wrestler."

It's the mentality coach Chris Bragg is trying to instill as the Division II state team tournament and individual postseason approaches.

"We're good, but we've got to get better," said Bragg, whose team finished third behind champion Versailles and West Jefferson on Jan. 2 in the Mechanicsburg Duals. "You've got to win the matches you're supposed to win, but you've also got to win some you're not supposed to win."

Bexley won matches against Mechanicsburg (36-27), Monroe (60-12) and Blanchester (48-6) and lost to Versailles (66-9) and MSL-Ohio Division opponent West Jefferson (41-30). The Lions forfeited four weight classes with injuries to Mike Porter (120) and Hunter Hilgeman (126) and no competitors at 106 and 113.

The Lions were 12th (79 points) behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (216.5) in the 36-team Marion Harding Classic on Dec. 28 and 29.

Grant Robinson (220) earned a fourth-place finish to lead the way. Crane was fifth, followed by Eliot Clark (170, sixth), Zak Welsh (132, sixth), co-captain Perrin Ruff (138, seventh) and Jon Clark (145, eighth).

Robinson and Ruff held the team's top records at 16-4, followed by Jalen Hatton (15-4, 195), Welsh (14-5), Jon Clark (12-5), Crane (14-6) and Eliot Clark (12-8) before the Lions competed Jan. 6 at home against Columbus West and Columbus South.

All have expectations of increasing Bexley's numbers in the postseason. Crane, a two-time district qualifier, was the only Lions wrestler to win a district match a year ago. Ruff also competed at district.

"If we can get some guys to state, I think younger guys are going to realize this program is doing very well," Crane said. "We've got more guys coming to practice and we can keep that number growing if we can get to that next level."

Relays leading girls swimming team

With the postseason set to get underway Jan. 30 with the MSL meet at Columbus Academy, swimming and diving coach Sandy Sliwowski realizes time in the pool becomes critical in January.

That effort has been paying off for the girls team, which took first (274 points) ahead of runner-up Wellington (146) in the five-team Wellington Holiday Meet on Jan. 2 at Columbus Aquatics Center.

"We've been training really hard over the break," Sliwowski said. "A lot of them were out of the pool with exams. I've been hinting that we only have a little bit of time until sectionals (Feb. 13) are here."

In the coming weeks, the girls team hopes to refine its relays, which earned four first-place finishes in the Wellington meet.

Winning titles were the 200-yard freestyle relay of Annie Politi, Alexis Turner, Sofia Kuspan and Bryn Harding (2 minutes, 1.03 seconds), the 400 free relay of Lily Rosenthal, Libby Brown, Tyler Mansfield and Harding (4:16.92), the 200 medley relay of Mansfield, Kuspan, Politi and Harding (2:05.1) and the 300 medley relay of Frieda Liu, Turner and Rosenthal (1:02.15).

"When I've looked online and compared them to other (relays), they're right up there," Sliwowski said. "Right now it's about figuring out where the girls fit best in each event. They're all very strong competitors."

Mansfield also took first in the 50 free (26.72) and 50 backstroke (30.31).

The boys team had just five individuals competing, and Andy Carper finished first in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.35).

"A lot of them are swimming their best times in practice, not meets," Sliwowski said. "I've told them we need to open Pandora's box and get out there and race."

The boys team finished third (111) behind champion Wellington (180) in the four-team meet.

Boys basketball team returns to league play

The boys basketball team plays host to MSL-Ohio opponent Grandview on Friday, Jan. 8, as it looks to snap a two-game losing streak.

Bexley fell to Watterson (44-42 on Dec. 29) and Circleville (62-59 on Dec. 23) over the holiday break to drop to 3-4 overall.

Grandview was 9-1 overall before playing Amanda-Clearcreek on Jan. 5 and is 4-1 in the MSL-Ohio, tied with Whitehall and a game behind first-place Worthington Christian.

Bexley is 3-2 in the league.

Watterson held off the Lions in the fourth quarter to give veteran coach Vince Lombardo his 400th career victory.

With Bexley down by a point, Alex Gable made one of two free throws with 10 seconds left. Watterson did not allow the Lions, who were led by Simon Kroos with 14 points, to attempt a final shot. Cole Heilman also finished in double figures for Bexley with 11 points.

Girls basketball team remains in league race

Entering its contest Jan. 5 against visiting Academy, the girls basketball team was a game behind MSL-Ohio co-leaders London (5-1) and West Jefferson (5-1) at 4-2 in the league and 6-4 overall.

The Lions begin second-round play in the league Saturday, Jan. 9, when they play host to a Madison Plains team that lost to Bexley 45-40 on Dec. 3.

Brie Toney had 17 points for Bexley in a 40-37 loss to Watkins Memorial on Dec. 30. The Lions were outscored 14-6 in the fourth quarter.