The Westerville North High School wrestling team finally has broken through to reach St. John Arena.
The Warriors won the Division I, Region 5 championship Feb. 1 at home after losing in a regional semifinal the past three seasons. They defeated Lancaster 43-28 in the regional final to break that streak and earn a berth in the state team tournament Feb. 12 at St. John Arena.Video •Watch an interview with Westerville North wrestler Cameron Jenkins.
"We finally made it after missing three years in a row," coach David Grant said. "The guys believe in the team environment, the team culture. They love each other and went out there and fought for each other."
The Warriors are seeded seventh of eight teams at state behind top-seeded Lakewood St. Edward. They open at 1:15 p.m. against second-seeded Elyria, and the winner advances to a semifinal at 3:30 p.m. against third-seeded Cincinnati La Salle or sixth-seeded Massillon Perry.
The championship dual is at 7:30 p.m.
"This is a new chapter in the history of our program," said Josh Grant, a senior 132-pounder who is the coach's nephew. "It's going to be a new experience for us, but we're ready for it. We're looking forward to going there."
Senior Cameron Jenkins won a pivotal 160-pound match in the regional final after going into overtime tied at 3. He took down Lancaster's Jordan Deluse only 20 seconds into the extra period to seal the regional championship for North.
"This shows that we're a team to be reckoned with," Jenkins said. "We worked hard and did this for each other. We'll be able to walk through the halls (at North) and know we were the first to do this."
Bodi Bien (182), Grant, Lucas Seibert (106) and Blake Wright (126) won by pin against Lancaster, and Liam Alicardi (138), Jacob Grant (145), Jenkins and Jack Williams (152) won by decision.
"We have a great coaching staff who gets us ready for matches like this," coach Grant said. "These kids were rewarded for their hard work."
North reached the regional final by defeating Watkins Memorial 38-27 in a semifinal Feb. 1. Josh Grant and Davis Gaylord (heavyweight) won by pin.
The semifinal had a closer score than the final, but coach Grant gave the Warriors a rousing pep talk that made the difference against the Golden Gales.
"I told them to go out and fight for their brothers," he said. "I said, 'Let's go out there and get that first-place trophy,' and that's what they did."
The Warriors were tied with Olentangy Liberty for first in the OCC-Buckeye Division at 3-0 before competing against Olentangy on Feb. 8. On Feb. 16, North goes head-to-head against the Patriots, who faced Westerville Central on Feb. 8 in league competition.
Girls basketball team
battling for title
The girls basketball team was part of a three-way tie for the OCC-Buckeye lead entering its game Feb. 7 against Liberty.
The Warriors were tied with Liberty and South at 6-2. They play Friday, Feb. 10, at South, which won the first meeting 53-50 on Dec. 2.
North had won 12 of 13 games and was 16-4 overall before playing Liberty. It had not lost in 2017, winning 10 consecutive games in January and February.
The Warriors are seeded seventh for the Division I district tournament and open Feb. 20 at home against 38th-seeded Walnut Ridge.
North defeated Watterson, which is the fifth seed, 47-33 on Feb. 4. Bethany Worm scored 19 points and Anisja Harris added 18. The teams could meet again in a district semifinal March 1.
Harris scored 18 points and Gabby Hutcherson added nine in a 55-44 win over Olentangy on Feb. 3 in league play.
Boys team wins
another close call
The boys basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating Olentangy for a second time with a winning shot in the final 30 seconds.
Julius Brown hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to give North a 52-50 win over the host Braves on Feb. 3 in OCC-Buckeye play.
North defeated Olentangy 60-58 on Dec. 16 as Jeremiah Keene drove for a basket with 3.5 seconds remaining.
Brown connected on four 3s in a 14-point effort in the rematch for the Warriors, who were 12-6 overall and 5-2 in the league before playing Liberty on Feb. 7. Keene added 10 points and Austin Bennett scored nine.
Five North athletes
make college choices
Five senior student-athletes announced their college decisions Feb. 1.
Derek Downs will play football at Bowling Green, Abby Gruber will play women's soccer at Capital, Cami Lykins will play women's soccer at Otterbein, Karli Royer will play women's soccer at Cincinnati and Adie Preston will play women's soccer at Mount Vernon Nazarene.