David Grant had not seen anything like it.
The 13th-year coach of the Westerville North High School wrestling team could only wonder about his squad's misfortune as seven competitors lost state-qualifying matches in the Division I district tournament.
The Warriors took nine wrestlers to district March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby and wound up with five state alternates and two sixth-place finishers. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state Thursday, March 9, through Saturday, March 11, at Ohio State.
"It was just a bizarre ending and I have never seen anything like it," Grant said "We had seven guys in the go-to (state) round and all of them lost. We were in position to possibly finish runner-up (at district) and then it wasn't going to happen. It was a great tournament except for that round."
The Warriors finished fifth (89.5 points) behind champion Olentangy Liberty (236.5) as 42 teams scored.
"I don't know if I have ever seen a team finish in the top five at district and not get anyone out (to state)," Grant said. "Everyone won a match and contributed to our team score."
Two of North's top wrestlers were nursing injuries and finished fifth. Josh Grant competed at 132 pounds with a dislocated shoulder. The senior won his first two matches, but was pinned by Dublin Scioto's Daniel Segura in 3 minutes, 24 seconds in a semifinal before losing to Hilliard Davidson's Demetri Monroe 6-1 in the consolation semifinal. He pinned Thomas Worthington's Chase Haimerl in 3:29 in the fifth-place match to improve to 33-4.
Blake Wright, a 126-pounder coming off knee surgery, reached a semifinal before losing to eventual champion Derek Sharp of Marysville 6-1 and falling to Marion Harding's Mason Sparks 10-6 in the consolation semifinal. He improved to 33-4 by defeating Pickerington North's Brandon Hassel 10-3 in the fifth-place match.
"We had two of our best guys go down with injuries," coach Grant said. "I think that might have been a distraction for the other wrestlers. I think they were wondering if they were going to be next."
Also finishing fifth to become state alternates were seniors Mason Hay (220, 3-2) and Cameron Jenkins (152, 4-2) and junior Lucas Seibert (106, 4-2). Senior Liam Alicardi (138, 2-2) and junior Body Bien (182, 3-3) both placed sixth.
"The goal going into the week is to practice like we normally would," said Josh Grant, who is the coach's nephew. "It's not ideal (being a state alternate), but it's better than having no opportunity at all."
Coach Grant echoed that sentiment.
"It's nice to have the opportunity to still wrestle at state, but we would have liked to earn it," he said. "We don't want to benefit from someone else's misfortune."
Seniors Jackson Blackstone (195, 1-2) and Jonathon Hutson (heavyweight, 2-2) also competed.
season at district
The bowling teams did not advance anyone to state from the Division I district tournament March 3 at Sawmill Lanes.
The girls team finished 16th (2,925) of 20 teams behind state-qualifiers Briggs (3,888), Whitehall (3,811), Delaware (3,740) and Gahanna (3,611). Sophomore Kaitlyn Sturgell (485, 49th of 133 bowlers) led the Warriors, followed by senior Kaylee Joseph (471, 54th) and juniors Soumoya Wright (396, 89th) and Livie Stanton (386, 90th).
Big Walnut's Kaitlyn Morrison (571) was the fourth and final individual state qualifier, and Whitehall's Madison Stiffler (760) was medalist.
Joseph averaged 207.1 per game during the regular season, second in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference behind Stiffler's 224.6.
"It's a good season any time that half of your team is rookies and you make it through sectional to district," said coach Dean Dabe, who completed his ninth season. "Sometimes there's a point when the lightbulb clicks on, and we had that happen for us. They started throwing the ball the way they should."
For the boys team, the Sturgill brothers, senior Drew and sophomore Jason, competed at district. Drew Sturgill rolled a 589 to tie for 35th of 127 bowlers, and Jason Sturgill rolled a 549 to place 66th.
Zanesville's Omar Scott (728) was medalist, and Logan's Austin Huffines (646) was the fourth and final individual state qualifier.
"Kaylee and Drew were our only two seniors and did a great job of working with all of the young kids," Dabe said. "That says a lot about their character."
The boys went 0-16 overall, placed 16th (0-15) in the COHSBC-North behind co-champions Westerville Central and Westerville South (14-1) and were eighth (0-7) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Central (7-0).
The girls went 7-8 overall, placed ninth (7-7) in the COHSBC-North behind champion Gahanna (14-0) and tied Olentangy Orange for fourth (4-3) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion South (6-1).
Girls basketball team
falls in district semi
The girls basketball team lost to fifth-seeded Watterson 41-34 in a Division I district semifinal March 1 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Junior guard Anisja Harris scored 15 points to lead the seventh-seeded Warriors, who finished 19-6 overall. Senior guard Karli Royer and freshman forward Gabby Hutcherson both had eight points.
"We had our chances, but we didn't hit our free throws and missed too many lay-ups," said coach Lamont Tillman, who completed his third season.
"They played great man defense, but we were stagnant and made things easier for them."
The Warriors defeated 38th-seeded Walnut Ridge 52-26 on Feb. 20 in the first round and 40th-seeded Teays Valley 52-17 on Feb. 24 in the second round.
North tied South for second (7-3) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Liberty (8-2) and ahead of Olentangy (6-4), Orange (2-8) and Central (0-10).
Harris was first-team all-league, and junior guard Bethany Worm and Hutcherson both received second-team honors. Royer was honorable mention all-league.
"This (district semifinal loss) ends our season, but it doesn't define us," Tillman said. "We need to learn from this, work hard in the offseason and get ready for next year."