Taylor Smith of the Hilliard Davidson High School wrestling team had a lot to feel good about after the Wildcats' 41-20 win over DeSales on Jan. 22.

Taylor Smith of the Hilliard Davidson High School wrestling team had a lot to feel good about after the Wildcats' 41-20 win over DeSales on Jan. 22.

The Wildcats were proving to be one of the top dual teams in the area and had proved it by soundly defeating the top-ranked Division II team in the area. Smith, a Division I state alternate last year, was given a sign that all the work that he had put in over last summer meant something. He defeated Sal Carfagna, a Division II state qualifier a year ago, 4-2 in overtime at 152 pounds.

"We're gaining confidence," said Smith, whose team will compete Saturday at Westland in the OCC-Central Division tournament. "We know we can beat these good teams."

Smith is expected to be one of the anchors in the lineup Saturday, but for him the OCC-Central tournament are another shot to prove his mettle to one team -- Hilliard Darby.

Davidson and Darby both can claim they were the better team last year. They faced each other at the Central Ohio Duals, with Davidson winning 40-20. But Darby had the last laugh in the sectional at Westland as the Panthers scored 200 points to finish second, one spot better than Davidson (192). Both trailed Central Crossing (255), which also is in the OCC-Central along with Dublin Coffman, Thomas Worthington, Upper Arlington, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne.

A string of five OCC titles is on the line for Darby. The Panthers haven't lost a league dual during that run, which started in 2002-03. Davidson won the OCC-Buckeye title last year, ahead of eventual district champion Reynoldsburg.

Central Crossing was the OCC-Central champion last year and has been ranked higher than Darby and Davidson in each Division I area coaches poll this season, including the one that came out the day Davidson defeated DeSales. Central Crossing was third. Davidson was seventh, and Darby was tied with Coffman for 10th.

"It's going to come down to us, Central Crossing, Darby and Coffman," Davidson coach Domenic DiSabato said. "We're all four going to see each other."

After the weigh-ins Saturday, the coaches will seed the teams and divide those teams into two groups of four. The top two seeds will go into separate groups. Seeds three through seven will choose their pool in the order in which they were seeded. After a round-robin, the top two teams from group A will face the top two teams from group B and the team or teams with the overall best record will win the league championship.

Darby coach John Riggs was quick to point out that the Worthington schools as well as UA and Westland have histories of success. Westland was runner-up to Darby for the OCC-Ohio championship the past two seasons.

"The overall depth of our new league alignment will certainly bring some exciting new challenges," Riggs said. "It is going to be a great day of wrestling for the teams as well as the fans alike."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules of the Darby and Davidson wrestling teams:


Jan. 22 -- Defeated Pickerington North31-29

Last Friday-Saturday -- Finished third (167.5) behind Oregon Clay (205.5) and Lorain Southview (180.5) in Mary E. Kerr Memorial Invitational at Toledo Waite

Saturday -- At OCC-Central tournament at Westland

Of note: The Panthers are tied with Dublin Coffman for 10th in the Division I area coaches poll.


Jan. 22 -- Def. DeSales 41-20

Last Saturday -- Finished second to Teays Valley in Lion Duals at Gahanna. The Wildcats were 4-0 in their pool and lost to Teays Valley 44-22 in the championship.

Saturday -- At OCC-Central tournament

Of note: The Wildcats are seventh in the Division I area coaches poll.