As the season winds down, Central Crossing High School wrestling coach Jamie Ramirez knows there is a thin line between winning and losing matches.
The competition gets stiffer this weekend, as the pool of opponents has been whittled down for the Division I district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby.
Ramirez said this is when the Comets have to be at their best. They'll have six competitors at district, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Seniors Ryan Fahy (132 pounds), Jaden Mattox (160), Mason Morris (170), Noah Ross (106) and Devin Wood (138) and sophomore Derek Layne (145) advanced from a sectional Feb. 24 at Marysville, where Central Crossing finished fifth (121 points) of 10 teams behind the champion and host Monarchs (279).
"The difference when you get to district is you have to keep wrestling your way and not let your opponent dictate the match," Ramirez said. "We talk in the (practice) room all the time that some people are happy just to be a district qualifier. If you put those kids in a tough position, they might just break because it has been such a long season.
"That's why we have to go out to the mat mentally focused. They have to go out and score first, wrestle until the end of every period and have good mat management."
Mattox improved to 37-1 while winning a sectional title with a 16-3 major decision over Marysville's Tyler Bates.
Ross was pinned by Dresden Tri-Valley's Sky Wisecarver in 5 minutes, 1 second in the final. He settled for a runner-up finish after leading the match 7-0 after two periods.
"In the final, I lost a match I should have won," said Ross, who is 24-8. "I was up by seven and got caught in a roll and he pinned me.
"(At district), I have to minimize my mistakes because the kids there will capitalize on them more and I have to be aggressive. I think I also need to drill bottom more so I can get up quicker and work to take down (my opponent)."
Wood (32-8) was third and Fahy (25-15), Layne (11-22) and Morris (26-15) placed fourth. The top four at each weight advanced to district.
Junior Hudson Leapley (120), sophomores Lance Blackwell (heavyweight) and Omari Green (220) and freshman Eddie Roberts (113) finished fifth and are district alternates.
"I thought we might be able to get Hudson out, but he's been sick for about eight or nine days and just wasn't back where he needed to be," Ramirez said. "We had the four alternates and they all had close matches."
Last season at district, Mattox won a title at 152 and Collins was third at 106 to qualify for state. Fahy (132) and Wood (126) also competed, but did not advance.
Boys basketball team loses to Walnut Ridge
The boys basketball team came up short in its attempt to earn the program's first postseason victory, falling at 22nd-seeded Walnut Ridge 67-64 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The 31st-seeded Comets finished 11-12. They are 0-16 in postseason games, playing in Division II in their first two seasons before moving up to Division I.
Central Crossing trailed 56-47 with 2:45 to play and cut the deficit to 66-64 with 5 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by Logan Reed, but it wasn't enough. It was Reed's second 3 in the final 30 seconds.
"All year ... our team kept battling," coach Neil Hohman said. "We never laid down or gave up no matter who we are playing."
Eddie Ferguson led the Comets with 13 points. Anthony Lowe, Keason Lowe and Mike Woods all scored 11 points and Nic Miller added 10.
Season concludes for gymnasts at district
The gymnastics team finished 19th (105.825) of 24 teams in the district meet Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne, but did not advance anyone to state.
Thornville Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Hilliard Bradley (135.425) advanced to the state team meet Friday, March 2, at Bradley.
The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around qualified for the state individual meet Saturday, March 3, at Bradley.
Heather Watkins led the Comets, finishing 75th (27.25) of 186 competitors in the all-around behind champion Bethany Hurt (37.0) of Dublin Coffman. The senior had the top floor exercise for Central Crossing, finishing 94th (7.6). She also tied for 114th on uneven bars (6.0), tied for 117th on vault (7.4) and placed 124th (6.25) on balance beam.
Senior Katlyn Wooten was 82nd in the all-round (26.475), leading the Comets with performances on bars (6.3, 109th place) and vault (7.45, tied for 113th). She also was 121st on floor (6.7) and 130th (6.025) on beam.
Sophomore Jasmyn Phillips was 85th in the all-around (25.85) and led the Comets on beam (6.55, 118th). She also was 120th in both bars (5.8) and vault (7.25) and tied for 126th on floor (6.25).
In the OCC-Central Division, Central Crossing was sixth (14, 3-4) behind Upper Arlington (32, 7-0), Hilliard Davidson (28, 6-1), Marysville (24, 5-2), Grove City (18, 3-4) and Westland (16, 3-4) and ahead of Coffman (8, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (4, 0-7).
Also expected to return are sophomore Shelby Klinger and freshman Megan Reedy.
Girls basketball team increases win total
The girls basketball team finished 7-16 overall, improving on last season's 5-17 mark.
The 41st-seeded Comets lost at ninth-seeded Gahanna 78-22 on Feb. 17 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
They finished fifth (2-8) in the OCC-Central behind Coffman (10-0), UA (8-2), Davidson (6-4) and Marysville (4-6) and ahead of Westland (0-10).
"I think the season went well, and I thought we could have won as many as 12 games," said coach Michel Cheney, who completed her second season. "I think we got a little more dedication from the kids this year and had a few more kids who played with AAU teams in the offseason."
The senior class featured guards Bailee Davis (honorable mention all-league) and Sam Poor (special mention all-league; 8.5 points) and forward Apryl Negron.
Sophomore guard Haley Cox (second-team all-league) averaged a team-best 17.2 points. Juniors Kennedy Edwards (point guard) and Abriana Mann (guard) also started.
@ThisWeekHennenAt a glance
*Record: 7-16 overall, 2-8 (fifth) in OCC-Central
*Seniors lost: Bailee Davis, Apryl Negron and Sam Poor
*Key returnees: Haley Cox, Kennedy Edwards and Abriana Mann
*Finishes: Sixth in OCC-Central, 19th at district
*Seniors lost: Cori Dotters, Mackenzie Turner, Heather Watkins and Katlyn Wooten
*Key returnees: Shelby Klinger, Jasmyn Phillips and Megan Reedy