The Westland High School wrestling team is set for its first postseason under coach Mark Niemann, who hopes the lessons he taught this winter make a difference in a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 24, at Marysville.
The sectional includes OCC-Central Division opponents Central Crossing, Hilliard Davidson and Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby.
"Many of the wrestlers have made strides over the last three to four weeks in implementing the things that we've been teaching, so that's a plus," Niemann said.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Sophomore Edgar Cruz is seeking a return trip to district after going 0-2 at 106 pounds last season to finish 26-18.
"With the time that I put in over the summer, I like what I've seen out of my performance," said Cruz, who has been competing at 113.
Junior Andrew Sherman is another district contender. He was 31-12 at 182 before the Cougars faced Upper Arlington on Feb. 15.
Niemann said other district hopefuls include Bryson Palmer at 120, Steve McPeek at 138 and Kyle Newman at 195.
"I like our chances to get anywhere from three to five guys through (to district)," Niemann said. "With the teams that are there, we have a chance to get three to five guys. The problem is I don't know what three to five are going to show up and be ready to go and make their way through the tournament."
Westland was 0-4 in the OCC-Central before facing UA.
The Cougars lost a league match to Central Crossing 62-12 on Feb. 8 as Palmer won by pin in 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
Sherman received a solid test in preparation for the postseason when he was pinned by the Comets' Jaden Mattox in 1:43.
Mattox, who was 33-1 before his team faced Marysville on Feb. 15, won the state title at 132 as a sophomore and finished second at 152 last season.
"Most of our kids are first-year wrestlers and they've shown a lot of growth and improvement throughout the season," Cruz said.
Gymnasts to compete at district meet
Sophomore Kennedy Budd is expected to lead the gymnastics team in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 24, at Worthington Kilbourne. The top nine individuals in each event and the all-around advance to the state meet March 3 at Hilliard Bradley.
Last season at district, Budd placed 20th of 90 gymnasts in the all-around (33.125). She tied for 12th on balance beam (8.825), tied for 20th on uneven bars (8.125), tied for 41st on vault (7.925) and tied for 43rd on floor exercise (8.25).
Also at district, the top three teams advance to compete at state March 2 at Bradley. Last season, Westland finished 22nd (111.675) of 23 teams behind champion Thornville Sheridan (138.65) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (94.225).
"We are working to improve our score going into district by minimizing mistakes and improving confidence levels during performance," said Brittany Maynard, who shares coaching duties with her mother, Lavon.
The Cougars finished fifth (106.275) in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 10 at Davidson behind UA (131.325), Davidson (129.875), Marysville (126.65) and Grove City (109.05) and ahead of Central Crossing (106.1), Coffman (73.675) and Franklin Heights (49.85).
Budd finished fourth on floor (8.775) and sixth in the all-around (31.95).
Boys basketball team seeded 46th in tourney
The boys basketball team is seeded 46th of 48 teams for the Division I district tournament and will play at third-seeded Bradley or 42nd-seeded Marion Harding in the second round March 2.
"We will likely see Hilliard Bradley in the tournament after a first-round bye," coach Rob Hayes said. "Obviously they are a very talented team that can beat you in numerous ways. Stylistically they appear to be a similar beast to Upper Arlington, which can be exhausting and demands execution and perseverance. I am looking forward to putting together that game plan when the time comes."
The Cougars were 2-19 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Central before playing Central Crossing on Feb. 16.
Westland lost to Granville 81-66 on Feb. 10 as DeShawn Evans scored 22 points and Zack Winegardner had 19.
Winegardner scored 13 points and Mitch Burns added 10 in a 71-40 loss to Davidson on Feb. 9.
Through 21 games, Gaige Holbrook was averaging a team-high 12.5 points, followed by Winegardner (11.4), Evans (8.9) and Burns (7.7). Winegardner led in rebounding at 4.9 per game.
Girls basketball team opens postseason
The 45th-seeded girls basketball team was 5-17 overall before facing third-seeded Pickerington Central in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 17.
The winner plays 48th-seeded Hamilton Township in the second round Friday, Feb. 23, at the home of the better seed.
Westland lost to Davidson 78-27 on Feb. 9 as Trinity McClure scored 17 points.
The Cougars went 0-10 in the OCC-Central to finish sixth behind champion Coffman (10-0).
Swimmers end season at sectional meet
The boys and girls swimming teams closed their seasons in a Division I sectional Feb. 10 at UA.
For the girls, sophomore Fatima Aquino was 39th in the 200-yard freestyle (2:55.22) and 49th in the 100 free (1:18.77), freshman Peyton Madden was 41st in the 50 free (29.62) and sophomore Rachel Binion tied for 45th in the 50 free (30.07).
Also, junior Makaili Long was 40th in the 100 backstroke (1:24.88) and 48th in the 100 free (1:18.63), freshman Brenna Gilliam finished 45th in the 200 free (3:11.77) and 52nd in the 50 free (32.16) and sophomore Laura Ornelas was 49th in the 200 free (3:33.29) and 61st in the 100 free (1:37.1).
Westland was 14th in the 200 free relay (2:03.5). It finished 15th in the 200 medley relay (2:17.51) and 400 free relay (4:47.41).
Tim Wotring, the lone boy in the program, finished 34th in the 100 free (1:06.77) and 40th in the 50 free (28.77).
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
SWIMMING & DIVING
*Finishes: Boys -- Did not score in league meet; did not score at sectional; Girls -- Sixth in OCC-Central, did not score at sectional
*Senior lost: Boys -- None; Girls -- Kaela Ponce
*Key returnees: Boys -- Tim Wotring; Girls -- Fatima Aquino, Rachel Binion, Brenna Gilliam, Makaili Long, Peyton Madden, Porter Madden and Laura Ornelas