Dublin Scioto High School sophomore wrestler Deron Pulliam still has bitter memories of last season, which ended prematurely after he broke his left hand during a late-season match.
His goal of advancing in the postseason ended with the injury.
Now healthy, Pulliam again is striving to make a deep run in the postseason, and his quest for a berth in the Division I state tournament began with the 182-pound title in a sectional Feb. 24 at Marysville.
"(The injury) really motivated me to come back and wrestle hard," Pulliam said. "I just have to go out there and wrestle hard and wrestle my match and see what happens."
The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advanced to the district tournament Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at Hilliard Darby. At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Pulliam went 3-0 at sectional, defeating Westland's Andrew Sherman 11-5 in the final to improve to 34-5 on the season. He will face Chillicothe's Nick Erslan (21-5) in the first round at district.
Pulliam is one of eight district qualifiers for the Irish. Also winning a sectional title was sophomore Daniel Segura, who went 2-0 at 138 and pinned Marysville's Sam Shroyer in 4 minutes, 30 seconds in the final to improve to 36-0.
Segura, a state qualifier a year ago, will face New Albany's Michael Zussman (23-12) in the first round at district.
"It's amazing how far along he is as a sophomore," coach Adam Huddle said of Segura. "It's like coaching a college kid because mentally he's almost at a college mindset. It's not about wins and losses. He's very workmanlike."
Last year, Segura went 1-2 at state at 132 and finished the season 39-12.
"Last year, I was kind of nervous at district, especially in the final," said Segura, who lost to Dresden Tri-Valley's Luke Hernandez 16-7 in last year's district final. "I didn't wrestle my best because I was nervous, but that made me realize it's fine and not to be nervous anymore."
Earning district berths by placing second at sectional were Kemyon Pannell at 126, Bernie Duran at 220 and Donovan Hardin at heavyweight. Also qualifying for district were Dylan Le (106), Gage Hannan (145) and Hamza Dhashi (120). Le and Hannan both placed third and Dhashi finished fourth.
In the first round at district, Pannell (19-10) will face Westerville North's Andrew Scherer (20-10), Duran (26-12) will face Olentangy's Ethan Hand (18-12), Hardin (20-10) will face North's Davis Gaylord (22-8), Le (30-9) will face Gahanna's Charles Williams (21-4), Hannan (22-11) will face Mifflin's Mountaga Sy (25-7) and Dhashi (23-14) will face Upper Arlington's Jesse Bowers (31-9).
"Eight is what I thought was possible," Huddle said. "We're pleased."
The Irish finished third (172.5 points) in the 10-team sectional, behind champion Marysville (279).
Boys basketball team falls in overtime
The boys basketball team saw its season end in the first round of the Division I district tournament with a 59-58 loss in overtime at 16th-seeded Mount Vernon on Feb. 24.
Junior forward Dapreis Owens had 25 points to lead the 26th-seeded Irish, who finished 12-11 overall.
Scioto trailed by 11 points with 3:47 left in regulation before rallying to tie the game at 55 to force overtime.
"We never quit, we continued to battle. We just weren't quite as consistent making free throws and layups at the end of the game as we needed to be to win," coach Mike Moler said.
Junior forward Victor Mwamba averaged a team-best 11.3 points and was named second-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division. Owens (10.5 points per game) was special mention all-league and senior guard Jacob Jones (8.4 ppg) was honorable mention all-league.
Senior guard Noah Brechbuhler also averaged 8.4 points.
Other players who are eligible to return are junior Zach Gawronski (guard) and sophomores Benjamin Lombardo (guard) and Jayden Prince (guard).
The Irish went 4-8 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish sixth, behind Hilliard Bradley (12-0), Darby (7-5), Jerome and Worthington Kilbourne (both 6-6) and Delaware (5-7) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (2-10).
"It's a hard moment for the (six) seniors," Moler said of the season-ending loss.
"I hope they remember the positive moments and not that lasting moment of losing their last game."
OCC title highlights girls team's season
The girls basketball team's season was highlighted by a share of the OCC-Cardinal title.
The 21st-seeded Irish lost to 26th-seeded Davidson 54-52 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 17 at home to finish 12-11 overall.
Scioto and Thomas both went 9-3 in the league to finish ahead of Jerome and Bradley (both 7-5), Darby (5-7), Kilbourne (4-8) and Delaware (1-11).
Junior guard Natalie Hutras averaged 11.5 points and was first-team all-league.
Senior post players Madison Heasley (7.1 ppg, 7.0 rebounds per game) and Kennedi Lomax (6.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and sophomore guard Lauren Erickson (11.3 ppg) were second-team all-league, and junior guard Brianna Jordan (6.8 ppg) was honorable mention all-league.
Jen Music shared league Coach of the Year honors with Thomas' Laurie Barr.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Emily Dinan (guard), Haley Gibson (forward) and Sabrina Veliev (guard), sophomores Marlae Davis (guard/forward), Folu Olujide-Ajibade (center) and Fola Olujide-Ajibade (center) and freshmen Ashleigh Rothe (forward) and Karleigh Rothe (forward).
Rennie competes at state swim meet
Sophomore swimmer Ema Rennie capped her season by competing in the Division I state meet Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Rennie finished 18th in the 50-yard freestyle in 24.2 seconds.
Gymnasts end season at district
The gymnastics team ended its season in the district meet Feb. 24 at Kilbourne.
The Irish, whose team consisted of four freshmen, finished 22nd (87.275) of 24 teams, as Thornville Sheridan (145.425), Olentangy (139.5) and Bradley (135.425) advanced to the team state meet Friday, March 2, at Bradley.
The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advanced to the individual state meet Saturday, March 3, at Bradley.
Sara Sun led the Irish at district, finishing 73rd (27.825) of 93 gymnasts in the all-around.
Anna Leonard was 79th (26.725) and Alex Gordon was 80th (26.625).
Tricia Klosterman competed only on balance beam.
The Irish went 0-6 in OCC-Cardinal dual meets and finished seventh in the overall league standings with four points, behind Darby (28, 6-0), Bradley (24, 5-1), Jerome (20, 4-2), Delaware (14, 3-3), Kilbourne (12, 1-5) and Thomas (10, 2-4).
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
*Record: 12-11 overall, 4-8 (sixth) in OCC-Cardinal
*Seniors lost: Noah Brechbuhler, Jacob Jones, Max Mitchell, Armani Nanthavong, Judd Wandabwa and Ryan Wolters
*Key returnees: Victor Mwamba and Dapreis Owens
*Record: 12-11 overall, 9-3 (tied for first) in OCC-Cardinal
*Seniors lost: Brooke Anderson, Madison Heasley, Domini Lombardo and Kennedi Lomax
*Key returnees: Lauren Erickson, Natalie Hutras and Brianna Jordan
*Finishes: Seventh in OCC-Cardinal, 22nd at district
*Seniors lost: None
*Key returnees: Alex Gordon, Tricia Klosterman, Anna Leonard and Sara Sun