There is something Bexley High School wrestling coach Chris Bragg has been harping on throughout the season.

There is something Bexley High School wrestling coach Chris Bragg has been harping on throughout the season.

He speaks about it daily, and his team sees the message on a board in the training room.

"We came in day one and said our goal is to win (the MSL-Ohio Division) tournament," said Bragg, whose team finished first in the Mount Gilead Duals on Jan. 30. "This is the most important tournament for us."

Bexley was fourth (147.5 points) of eight teams in the league tournament last season behind champion Whitehall (195.5). And the Rams, according to Bragg, are the team to beat again this season Saturday, Feb. 6, at Madison Plains.

"We already beat West Jefferson at another tournament, so I think it's going to be down to us and Whitehall," Bragg said. "It's up in the air. I think if all my kids come out and wrestle strong, we definitely have a chance. The goal is to win it."

To have a chance, Bexley will need wins from Zak Welsh (25-6 overall) at 132 pounds and Perrin Ruff (30-8) at 138 -- weight classes where two of Whitehall's top wrestlers compete, Bragg said.

The Lions have a number of wrestlers with more than 20 victories, including Jon Clark (26-5) at 145, Eric Crane (30-5) at 152, Eliot Clark (24-12) at 170, Jalen Hatton (27-5) at 195 and Grant Robinson (32-5) at 220.

At Mount Gilead, Bexley earned victories over Willard (59-12), Centennial (63-12), Bucyrus (51-27) and Mifflin (50-24). It also defeated Westland, a Division I program, 38-37.

The performance at Mount Gilead followed a 39-28 loss to fourth-seeded Hartley in a second-round Region 14-A match in the Division II state team tournament Jan. 27 at Whitehall.

"We had a couple of unfortunate losses with some of our younger, inexperienced guys who got pinned," said Bragg, whose team was seeded fifth. "I think that's what got them going (last) week and coming back. They came back (at Mount Gilead) and seemed pretty determined."

Swimming teams take third in MSL meet

Both the boys and girls swimming and diving teams collected top-five finishes in the MSL meet Jan. 30 at Columbus Academy.

Senior Tyler Mansfield was the only Bexley competitor to win an event. She took first in the 50-yard freestyle in 25.65 seconds, a time that nearly matched her school record of 25.64 set earlier this season.

Mansfield also placed fourth in the 100 butterfly (1:04.38), helping the girls team to third place (195 points) behind Academy (310) and Grandview (279.5).

"We had some really great swims," coach Sandy Sliwowski said. "I really enjoyed how everyone supported each other through every race. We are all excited to see how we do at sectionals."

The Lions will compete in a Division II sectional Feb. 13 at Columbus School for Girls.

The boys team also took third (119) in the MSL behind Academy (438) and Teays Valley (207).

Aaron Rothchild had the best individual finishes for the boys, as he was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.81) and fifth in the 100 fly (1:04.12) -- an event that included Andy Carper (fifth, 1:13.17) and Benjy Davis (sixth, 1:15.29).

Rothchild, Carper, Davis and Casey Spangler produced Bexley's top finish in the relay events, placing second in the 200 free (1:48.98).

Three of the girls relays placed in the top four. The 200 medley of Lily Rosenthal, Bryn Harding, Libby Brown and Sofia Kuspan was third (2:03.77), the 400 free of Brown, Maggie Jones, Harding and Mansfield was third (4:10.35) and the 200 free of Kuspan, Rosenthal, Zoe Ziegler and Frieda Liu was fourth (2:00.1).

Boys basketball team hits rough stretch

Entering its Feb. 1 contest against visiting Hartley, the boys basketball team had lost five of its last six games to drop to 5-12 overall.

At 4-6 in the MSL-Ohio, fifth behind co-leaders Worthington Christian and Whitehall (10-1), Bexley finishes the regular season against four league opponents as it seeks to build momentum for the postseason.

First up Friday, Feb. 5, is a host Madison Plains team that the Lions defeated 65-47 in the season-opener Dec. 4. A day later, London visits Bexley, which won the first meeting 66-42 on Dec. 22.

Dorian Widener-Love scored 16 points and Hudson Wagenbrenner and Cole Heilman each added 15 in a 67-61 loss to Worthington Christian on Jan. 30.

Worthington Christian's Jay Joseph scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.