Hartley High School junior wrestler Griffin Rathburn has had opportunities in the past to attend the state tournament, as his older brother was a state qualifier.
Sophomore Michael Petrella also has watched the biggest event in his sport in person multiple times.
However, both are excited for the chance to attend the state tournament for the first time as competitors. The event runs from Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
"I've been there every year for a while, and definitely I can't wait to go through the tunnel and go down to the state floor," said Rathburn, whose brother Grant, a 2014 Hartley graduate, was the program's first three-time state qualifier and placed sixth at 138 pounds as a senior.
Rathburn, who was runner-up at 195 in the Division II district tournament March 2 and 3 at Uhrichsville Claymont, is 43-9 on the season and will open state competition against Norton senior C.J. Williams (38-6).
Rathburn beat East Liverpool Beaver's Sam Lowe 6-3 in a semifinal before losing to Thornville Sheridan's Owen Loughman 5-0 in the district final.
"I'm excited," he said. "I felt good in my semifinal. My goal is to place at state."
Petrella placed fourth at district at 106 and is 47-5 heading into his state opener against Goshen's Chase Huff (35-5).
Petrella's older brother is Hartley coach Kevin Petrella.
"It's great," Michael Petrella said. "I've watched a lot of friends (at state) and I'm just going to go out and be a part of something I've been waiting for for a long time."
Michael Petrella lost to eventual district champion Peyten Kellar of Vincent Warren 13-2 in a semifinal but beat New Lexington's Blake Sheppard 12-5 in the fourth round of consolation to qualify for state. He then lost to East Liverpool's Howard Williams 2-0 in the third-place match.
Also placing at district were Nate Jackson, who finished fifth at 220, and Joe Petrella, who took sixth at 152.
Jackson lost to Amanda-Clearcreek's Austin Smith 4-3 in the fourth round of consolation but beat Beaver's Daniel Wirth 2-0 in overtime to be a state alternate.
Joe Petrella lost to Carrollton's Justin Shaw 3-2 in a semifinal and fell to Sheridan's Jarrett Munyan 5-3 in overtime in the fourth round of consolation before losing to Claymont's Briar Cadle 5-0 in the fifth-place match.
Also at district, Keegan Moran went 2-2 at 145, losing in the third round of consolation.
Hartley finished 10th (59 points) behind champion Steubenville (159) as 46 teams scored.
Boys basketball team wins tourney opener
The fourth-seeded boys basketball team played 10th-seeded Columbus East in a Division II district semifinal March 6.
The winner plays top-seeded Beechcroft or 15th-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Africentric. The district champion faces Parma Heights Holy Name, LaGrange Keystone, Bay Village Bay or Fairview Park Fairview in a regional semifinal March 15 at Bowling Green.
Hartley opened the district tournament by beating 12th-seeded Centennial 69-46 in the second round March 3.
The Hawks led 35-23 at halftime and held the Stars to eight third-quarter points.
Payton Collins had 21 points and Morgan Safford scored 17 for the Hawks, who were 18-5 before playing East.
Hartley had won four games in a row heading into the district semifinal.
Girls basketball team falls to Lions
The girls basketball team built a 10-point halftime lead and continued to have the advantage in rebounding when one short sequence in the third quarter against ninth-seeded Gahanna in a Division I district semifinal Feb. 28 at Pickerington North seemed to change the momentum.
Senior guard Kennedy Taylor, a Miami University signee who averaged 15 points and made third-team all-district, tweaked an ankle early in the third quarter but continued to play for the eighth-seeded Hawks.
Then with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter, Taylor hit her head on the floor and was unable to return.
The Lions, who were trailing 35-29 when Taylor left the game, got within 41-37 by the end of the quarter, took a 49-47 lead with 3:47 remaining and held on for a 56-53 victory to advance to a district final.
Hartley finished 17-5 overall.
"We wanted to take away the driving lanes and make them shoot jump shots, and just control the basket," coach Donald Dennis said. "We thought we had a little bit of an advantage on the inside and we were right where we wanted to be. Unfortunately, Kennedy went down in the second half and we had to put some kids in some positions they weren't comfortable with. We had a series of turnovers that changed the momentum of the game."
The Hawks won the CCL championship, going 6-1 in the league to finish ahead of Watterson (5-2), DeSales (3-4), Ready (2-5) and Columbus School for Girls (0-4).
Hartley is losing four seniors in Taylor, guards Amaiah Jones and Lindsay Dunlap and forward Jordan Kaylor. Jones averaged 6.5 points and Kaylor averaged 6.0.
"I'm really proud of my seniors and my team," Dennis said. "I thought they gave us everything they had. (Taylor) had a great career, and with all of my seniors, we had a good run."
Junior forward Chiamaka Nwokolo, who scored 12 points against Gahanna, averaged 10 points and was named honorable mention all-district. Junior guard Israel Strickland also averaged 10 points.
Freshmen Milayna Williams (guard) and Kami Kortokrax (guard/forward) also were key contributors. Others eligible to return include sophomores Sa'haia Clark-Lee (forward), Azure' Lewis (forward) and Abigail Rhodes (guard).
"We're excited about Hartley basketball and where the program is going," Dennis said.
@UlreyThisWeekAt a glance
*Record: 17-5 overall, 6-1 (first) in CCL
*Seniors lost: Lindsay Dunlap, Amaiah Jones, Jordan Kaylor and Kennedy Taylor
*Key returnees: Kami Kortokrax, Chiamaka Nwokolo, Israel Strickland and Milayna Williams