Eliot Clark wondered what might have been.
The junior 182-pounder was the Bexley High School wrestling team's first state competitor in 10 years, but his stay at the three-day Division II tournament was over after one day.Video •Bexley's Eliot Clark competes against Alliance's Duce Johnson in their opening-round match in the Division II state wrestling tournament.
The lights. The crowd noise. The expansive 10-mat setup. It can be a lot to take in when stepping out of the tunnel to the competition floor at Ohio State for the first time.
Clark went 0-2 at state March 9, finishing 47-7 after losing to Ashland's Devin Goshinski 8-4 in the first round of consolation. He wasn't pleased with the outcome.
"Everyone was here expecting me to do a lot," he said. "I should have done better.
"It was good to get here and get this experience. It will help me next year, but I just should have done better."
Jake Weisman was the last Bexley wrestler to compete at state, placing eighth at 112 in 2007.
Clark was fortunate just to be competing at state. He finished fifth in the district tournament March 3 and 4 at Heath, making him a state alternate, but had his name added to the brackets after fourth-place district finisher Billy Cooper of Jackson withdrew because of injury.
"I think we wrestled in the toughest district in the state and we were just lucky to get here," coach Chris Bragg said. "Experience is the most important thing that we got here. We would have liked to have won (a match), but getting here was great and the support we received from everyone was incredible."
Clark opened state against Alliance's Duce Johnson, who won 9-5 and went on to place third.
"Going out against a No. 1 seed, I think he was a little unsettled in his first match," Bragg said. "He was much more focused in the second match."
Clark said his first state appearance will serve as motivation to take the next step a year from now.
"It's great to have another year to be able to come back here," he said. "Hopefully I can get back here, finish in the top eight (to reach the awards podium) and bring some of my teammates here with me."
The Lions had a banner season, winning their first league title since 1998.
They scored 196 points in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament Feb. 4 at London to finish ahead of West Jefferson (191.5), two-time defending champion Whitehall (138.5), London (116.5), Grandview (79.5) and Columbus Academy (39.5).
Clark was a league champion along with his senior brother Jon Clark (152), senior Perrin Ruff (145) and junior Grant Robinson (220).
On Feb. 25 at Whitehall, Robinson became Bexley's first sectional champion since Weisman in 2007. The Lions finished fourth (127.5) of 13 teams behind Carrollton (251), Millersburg West Holmes (162) and Granville (130).
Eliot Clark was the lone Bexley placer at district, where the Lions tied Bloom-Carroll for 22nd (22) behind champion Uhrichville Claymont (155.5) as 41 teams scored.
Jon Clark (160) went 2-2 at district, and senior Eric Crane (152), Robinson, Ruff and sophomore Hunter Hilgeman (138) all were 1-2. Freshman Carter Brenner (106) went 0-2.
"We had a great group of seniors and a lot of great kids (are expected to be) coming back," Bragg said. "This is just a start for us. We want to get more kids back here (to state) and get some on the podium."
Girls basketball team
continued to improve
The girls basketball team overcame the loss of its best player to post a .500 season.
Bexley had won four of its previous five games before losing at fourth-seeded Lakewood 32-25 on Feb. 22 in the second round of the Division II district tournament.
The 15th-seeded Lions finished 12-12 overall despite 6-foot-1 senior guard Brie Toney, a Marshall University signee, missing the season with a right foot injury.
"We were a much different team without (Toney)," said coach Joshua Price, whose team defeated 12th-seeded Linden-McKinley 43-40 on Feb. 20 in the first round. "We were obviously very young and had a lot of girls step up and lead for us.
"They came together really well by the end of the season. They really were playing for each other."
Toney's absence left guard Lauren Woodford as the lone senior for Bexley, which finished fifth (5-7) in the MSL-Ohio behind London (11-1), Worthington Christian (9-3), West Jefferson (8-4) and Grandview (7-5) and ahead of Whitehall (2-12) and Academy (0-12).
Woodford (second-team all-league) averaged just 3.4 points but led the Lions in rebounding (4.1), assists (2.9) and steals (2.6).
"Lauren will be missed more than anyone knows," Price said. "She brought a lot to the court and was making plays to get the ball to other people."
Sophomore guard Maddy Vincent (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) averaged a team-best 10.1 points along with 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Junior guard/forward Amanda Frey averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.1 steals, and sophomore guard/forward Emma Dressel (honorable mention all-league) averaged 7.1 points. 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals.