Columbus Academy senior wrestler Josh Pearson is ready to kick off his final push for state supremacy.
Pearson is hoping to earn his second Division III state tournament berth, with the ultimate goal of reaching the podium for the first time with a top-eight finish.
Pearson and his teammates will compete in a sectional Saturday, Feb. 24, at Madison Plains. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Heath, where the top four in each weight move on to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
"I didn't expect (my prep career) to go this fast," Pearson said. "Everybody was telling me enjoy your time because it flies. It really does. I love this school. ... It would mean a lot to me (to advance to state) because I haven't made it since my sophomore year. It would be great to go again."
Coach Paul Bukky expects Pearson to compete at 195 pounds or 220 in the postseason. Final determination on weights had to be submitted by Thursday, Feb. 22.
"I think he can win at 220, but he has to give up a lot of weight to wrestle guys who are coming down from 230 (or) 240 to 220," Bukky said. "There's a lot of muscle mass, a lot of different things. The final choice is in his hands."
Last season, Pearson saw his season end at district, where he went 2-2 at 182 to finish 35-7. As a sophomore, he went 0-2 at state at 182.
Pearson was 32-5 before competing in the Orange Pepper Pike Tournament on Feb. 17.
Pearson's season included reaching 100 career wins during the Kevin Michael Invitational on Jan. 20 at home.
"I knew it was my 100th win, but I didn't want to make a big scene," he said. "It's 100 wins, but I have bigger goals."
He also won the MSL-Ohio tournament title at 220 on Feb. 3 at Whitehall.
Pearson wrestled at Gahanna as a freshman before transferring to Academy.
Bukky believes several other members of the team have a chance to qualify for district, including Tom Jones at 160. He was 28-15 before competing at Pepper Pike.
Other district contenders are Angus Soderberg (170, 21-13), Chris Sugar (132, 18-9), Philip Soderberg (heavyweight, 19-18), Ethan Halpern (120/126, 10-11), Ethan Stahl (182, 7-6), Eric Menq (182, 10-11) and Keiren Gorospe (120, 13-21).
"We're looking for placement (in the top four)," Bukky said. "Josh is probably the only guy who can win depending on what weight he's at, but we're looking for the other guys to finish second, third or fourth. I think we can get five guys through (to district). It depends on the draw."
Bukky said the top threats at sectional should be Grandview, North Union and West Jefferson.
Swimming teams set for state meet
Coming off its third consecutive Division II district title, the boys swimming team competes in the state meet Thursday, Feb. 22, and Friday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The Vikings scored 324 points at district Feb. 16 at Ohio University to easily top a 31-team field ahead of runner-up Watterson (213).
Jacob Eismann led the way, finishing second in the 100-yard freestyle (45.97 seconds) and third in the 100 backstroke (meet-record 50.08) to earn state berths in both events.
He also was part of two state-qualifying relays -- the 200 medley relay that won a district title in 1:37.16 and the 400 free relay that finished first in a meet-record 3:13.01.
Also qualifying for state were Max Dreisbach in the 200 free (second, 1:43.22) and 100 butterfly (third, 51.83), Mike DeAscentis in the 500 free (second, 4:47.6) and 200 free (third, 1:43.29) and Jack Campbell in the 100 back (second, 53.67) and 100 fly (fourth, 53.2).
DeAscentis, Campbell and Dreisbach joined Eismann on the 400 free relay, while DeAscentis, Campbell and Eric DeVore also were part of the 200 medley relay.
Dreisbach, DeVore, Jacob Beck and James Cao finished second on the state-qualifying 200 free relay (1:32.07).
"I take them one at a time and focus on today and enjoy the moment," coach Craig Yakscoe said of winning a third consecutive district title. "The boys did a great job. We had time drops in just about every event. The girls were phenomenal as well. They had a majority of time drops as well."
The girls finished third (267.5) behind champion Columbus School for Girls (356) as 32 teams scored.
Samantha Kass earned state berths by placing second in the 100 free (53.08) and third in the 50 free (24.63).
Also earning state berths were Sarah Cabre in the 200 free (third, 1:54.86) and 100 fly (fourth, 58.48), Abby Yakam in the 100 breaststroke (second, 1:07.15), Cabre, Kass, Jane Li and Annalise Grammel in the 400 free relay (second, 3:38.16) and Kass, Yakam, Li and Wendy Hannallah in the 200 medley relay (third, 1:50.88).
Divers Esther Lawrence (551.4) and Jordan Skilken (544.1) earned return trips to state after finishing first and second, respectively, at district Feb. 13 at Dublin Community Recreation Center. They competed Feb. 21 in Canton.
Boys basketball team prepares for tourney
The boys basketball team was 17-4 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 20 against Northside Christian.
The Vikings are seeded sixth for the Division III district tournament and play host to 16th-seeded North Union on Monday, Feb. 26, with the winner playing 10th-seeded Marion Elgin or 12th-seeded Northridge in the second round March 3 at the home of the better seed.
Academy went 6-4 in the MSL-Ohio to tie Bexley for third behind co-champions Grandview and Whitehall (both 8-2).
The Vikings lost at Whitehall 60-45 on Feb. 16 as Addis Boyd scored a game-high 16 points.
Dorrian Moultrie scored 23 points, Boyd and Chris Boyle each had 13 and Hayden Compton added 10 in a 72-68 overtime win over Watkins Memorial on Feb. 13.
Girls basketball team to face Mount Gilead
The 18th-seeded girls basketball team visits 16th-seeded Mount Gilead in the first round of the Division III district tournament Thursday, Feb. 22.
The winner plays 17th-seeded Johnstown in the second round Saturday, Feb. 24, at the home of the better seed, with that winner likely playing top-seeded Africentric in a semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 27, at a neutral site to be determined.
The Vikings are 10-12 overall and finished 2-8 in the MSL-Ohio.
Academy lost at London 67-27 on Feb. 15 as Tori Abell scored nine points.
Shelemiah Crockett and Lexis Hughes each scored 12 points in a 48-23 win at New Hope Christian on Feb. 13.
Boys bowler advances to district tournament
Senior bowler Michael Reagan will compete in the Division II boys district tournament Friday, Feb. 22, at HP Lanes after qualifying from sectional Feb. 16 at HP Lanes.
Reagan tied for 34th (480 three-game series) of 185 bowlers as the top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.
At district, the top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Academy did not have enough bowlers for a team score at sectional. Alexander Wood (399, tied for 82nd), Cole Leis (352, 104th) and Michael Hoffman (328, 109th) also competed.
The girls team did not compete at sectional.
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
Below are the members of the Academy boys and girls swimming & diving teams who competed at district but did not qualify for state:
Boys -- David Barren: 100 breast (1:09.99, 20th); Jacob Beck: 200 IM (2:17.5, 10th), 100 free (53.17, 17th); Zac Beck: 200 IM (2:28.76, 26th); James Cao: 200 free (1:54.42, eighth), 500 free (5:14.35, fifth); Eric DeVore: 50 free (22.46, fourth), 100 free (50.34, ninth); Christopher Heermann: 200 free (2:00.81, 15th), 500 free (5:33.69, 11th); Ethan Nankervis: 50 free (24.04, 13th), 100 free (53.36, 18th); Luke Tiberi: 100 breast (1:07.96, 13th)
Girls -- Sarah Edwards: 50 free (26.23, 19th), 100 back (1:08.14, 19th); Annalise Grammel: 200 IM (2:21.12, ninth), 100 breast (1:12.42, 11th); Whitney Hannallah: 100 fly (1:01.41, 13th), 100 breast (1:08.71, third); Inji Kang: 100 fly (1:08.75, 23rd), 100 back (1:04.00, 12th); Jane Li: 100 fly (1:00.01, eighth), 100 back (1:04.94, 13th); Callista Popp: 50 free (26.5, 22nd), 100 free (58.61, 21st); Rachel Raque: 100 free (59.03, 24th), 100 breast (1:13.33, 15th); Taylor Warren: 100 free (59.25, 26th), 100 back (1:05.49, 16th); Abby Yakam: 50 free (26.7, 26th); 200 free relay (1:44.13, sixth)