Coach Bill Perry has worked with a young Northridge High School wrestling team this season, but just how young became more apparent in the postseason.

Coach Bill Perry has worked with a young Northridge High School wrestling team this season, but just how young became more apparent in the postseason.

The Vikings advanced three wrestlers -- all freshmen -- from the Division III sectional tournament Feb. 20-21 at Utica, but Perry could see his team still needed to mature both on and off of the mat.

Thomas Williams was third at 125 pounds for Northridge and Andrew Mullen (112 pounds) and Anthony Verhovec (189) were fourth to qualify for the district tournament, which was last Friday and Saturday at Heath. The top four in each weight division advanced to the state tournament, which is today through Saturday at Ohio State.

"You really see the difference in maturity between a ninth-grader as compared to a junior or a senior," Perry said. "You can see the difference that they have been around awhile and wrestled more matches, plus they have three years difference in growing. It's the difference between men and boys a lot of times."

Bradley Verhovec (145) was fifth for the Vikings and was an alternate for district for a second consecutive season. He placed higher than any other Northridge wrestler last year during the postseason.

At Utica, Northridge finished 13th with 56 points Feb. 20-21 in the 15-team Division III sectional at Utica behind champion West Jefferson (285).

"We didn't do too badly, considering the number of freshmen we had wrestling," Perry said. "I was looking and there were only six freshmen advanced to district from our sectional and we had three of them, so that shows how well our kids wrestled."

Williams reached a championship semifinal before losing 6-5 to John Beltz of East Knox. Beltz won the championship match over Tyler Reichle of West Jefferson by pin in 1 minute, 54 seconds.

"Thomas wrestled extremely well. He wrestled as well as anyone in that class," Perry said. "Mullen wrestled pretty well, but the kid he wrestled for third and fourth (Newark Catholic sophomore Nate Ohl) was just better than him. You could really see a difference in the maturity (in the 11-3 loss)."

•The swimming teams made great strides, including the first district qualifiers for the boys program.

Paul Hager advanced as an individual to the Division II district, which was Feb. 19 at Ohio State. The sophomore finished 21st out of 30 competitors in the 100-yard breaststroke in a program-record 1 minute, 9.34 seconds, breaking his own record of 1:09.93 in the sectional meet on Feb. 13 at Columbus Academy.

"I told Paul that he has so much potential and that he needs to swim throughout the year," said coach Long Tan, who completed his sixth season with the program. "I told all of my swimmers that in order to be ready for next season, they have to start thinking about it now."

Also for the boys at district, the 200 medley relay of Hager and sophomores Eli Philpott, Joe Larson and Beau Hammock were 29th (2:04.87). The 200 freestyle relay of the same four swimmers was 30th (4:15.53).

Senior Genevieve Hager qualified for two individual events at district, finishing 19th (26.85) in the 50 free. She was disqualified in the 100 free.

The girls competed in all three relay events. Genevieve Hager was joined by senior Kelli Bonnette, sophomore Kendra Bonnette and sophomore Mickellea Tennis to finish 21st (1:56.26). The 400 free relay of Tennis, Kendra Bonnette, sophomore Allison Everhart and Genevieve Hager was also 21st (4:24.88).

The 200 medley relay of senior Marcie Boyce, sophomore Ali Herbert, Tennis and Kendra Bonnette was 30th (2:22.06).

The boys team did not score as Columbus Academy won the event with 270 points. The Northridge girls did not score and Hartley (331) won the title.

"Overall, they did wonderful as a team, but eight of our 17 are first-season swimmers," Tan said. "If you compare us to Granville or New Albany, we're not in the same class as they are. They have been swimming all year and they have been swimming for many years. That's the difference."

At sectional, the boys team finished 11th of 17 teams scoring with 33 points behind champion Academy (270). The girls were 10th (28) of 18 teams scoring behind champion Hartley (261).

The Vikings did not compete in the SEOSL Meet on Feb. 5 at Ohio University because of bad weather.

The girls team will lose three seniors in Kelli Bonnette, Genevieve Hager and Herbert. The boys team had one senior in first-year participant Matt Herbst.

Expected to return for the girls team are juniors Brittany Hupp and Dana VanDervort as well as sophomores Karen Aston, Remy Bennett, Kelli Bonnette, Boyce, Leah Cook, Maria Dellapina, Everhart, Aubrey Monroe, Tennis, Erin West and Carly Wilson.

The boys have sophomores Jake Choberka, Paul Hager, Hammock, Larson and Philpott expected back.