Jacob Sherman of the Olentangy High School wrestling team was all smiles after he assured himself of placing in the Division I state tournament last weekend.
Teammate Xander Gore was a bit more reserved once he was guaranteed a top-eight finish and a spot on the awards podium.
"I'd like to say yes, it takes the pressure off because I've been here a few times and have reached one of my goals ... but you have to take the same attitude every match," said Gore, the program's second four-time state qualifier and first to accomplish that feat entirely in Division I. "Seeing Jacob win pushed me, I guess. It helps everybody be successful."
Sherman placed fourth at 113 pounds in the tournament, which concluded March 10 at Ohio State. He went 3-2 and was pinned by Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Andrew Perelka in 2 minutes, 36 seconds in the third-place match to finish 41-6 overall.
Gore went 2-3 at 145 and finished eighth, losing to Huber Heights Wayne's Austin Mullins 4-2 in the seventh-place match to cap a 37-7 season.
Gore and Sherman became the Braves' 45th and 46th all-time placers and their first since 2015, when Chris Crumb was runner-up at heavyweight and Nate Hall was second at 182.
"It's definitely a lot of pressure off, I would say," said Sherman, who was at state for the second year in a row. "It's good to know all my hard work was worth it.
"Just match management and taking the environment out of it (were keys this year). I was a little (overwhelmed) when I got here last year. A lot of kids get that but this year, being a hammer on top and taking the turns to make tight matches not so tight helped me quite a bit. It helps to get a win in that first round and move on to the second day, but it's definitely easier said than done to take everything else out of it here."
Olentangy scored 21 points to finish 22nd behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (170.5) as 70 teams scored.
By becoming a four-time state qualifier, Gore followed in the footsteps of someone he called the school's greatest wrestler in Trevor Fiorucci, who reached state every year from 2009-12. Fiorucci finished second at 103 as a sophomore and 126 as a senior before competing at Ohio State.
"My favorite thing about (last weekend was) during the (championship) finals when they called down to the floor everybody who placed and you're able to stand there with the elite," said Gore, who finished with a career record of 132-48 and has not committed to wrestle in college. "This meant a lot. I set my goals. Even as a freshman, I never thought I would do this well. I achieved almost every goal when it came to wrestling. It's cool to be in the same class as probably the greatest wrestler to ever walk through our school."
Senior James White IV went 1-2 at 138 in his first state appearance and finished 22-10.
Sherman, a junior, headlines a large group of expected returnees for Olentangy, which went 3-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish third behind Liberty (5-0) and Westerville North (4-1) and ahead of Orange (2-3), Westerville South (1-4) and Westerville Central (0-5).
All 13 of the Braves' competitors in a sectional Feb. 24 at Watkins Memorial advanced to district, leading the team to 259.5 points and first place. Senior Avery Flanagan (152), Gore, Sherman and junior Nick Varanelli (126) won their respective weight classes.
At district March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby, Gore and Sherman won titles as the Braves finished fourth (111) behind champion Lancaster (170) as 38 teams scored. White was second at 138.
Varanelli went 30-15. Flanagan and sophomore Corey Hill (170) each finished 25-15, and two other wrestlers also got to 20 wins in juniors Colton Doup (182, 23-17) and Brady Pethtel (132, 21-11). All were district qualifiers.
Other expected returning district qualifiers are freshmen Ben Hall (120), Ethan Hand (220) and Jackson Moses (106).
Marks hit mark for boys team
The boys basketball team improved by one win from coach John Feasel's first season to his second, but he saw other strides that showed him the team is trending in the right direction.
Sitting at 8-9 after a 79-75 double-overtime loss to Westerville Central on Feb. 2, Olentangy won six consecutive games -- including its Division I district tournament first-round game -- before losing 86-77 at 17th-seeded Chillicothe in a second-round game March 2 to finish 14-10 overall.
"I'm never pleased when we're done, but I thought having a better record than last year and improving as a team playing in maybe the toughest league in Columbus (the OCC-Buckeye) was what stood out," Feasel said. "We played tough. We were 8-9 and I told them there were two ways the season could go, and we ended up winning six games in a row. We stopped short of where we wanted to go. I am not upset, but there are ways we can be better for next year."
Junior guard Sean Marks led the Braves in scoring (22.1 points), assists (3.6) and steals (2.0) and also averaged 3.1 rebounds as he became the program's all-time leading scorer in a season with 541 points. The previous record of 502, from Scott Donnelly, had stood for 28 years.
Marks, who was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district, enters his senior year 65 points away from 1,000 for his career.
Senior forward Jerred Kinnaird, a Bluffton recruit who was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds. Junior guard Alex Sieve averaged 11.3 points and 4.1 rebounds and was named honorable mention all-league and all-district.
Olentangy averaged 65.2 points per game, scoring 70 or more 10 times.
The Braves were 3-7 in the league to finish sixth behind North (8-2), Central (6-4), South (5-5) and Liberty (4-6) and Orange (4-6).
Other expected returnees include junior guard Luke Riedel (3.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 12 games) and sophomore guard Austin Brown (4.0 points, 3.2 rebounds).
Seeded 19th in the 48-team district tournament, the Braves won at 18th-seeded Darby 58-55 in a first-round game Feb. 24.
Girls bowling team losing top scorers
The girls bowling team loses five of its top six scorers after winning the OCC-Buckeye championship and falling short of a Division I state tournament appearance, while the boys team expects to return most of its top contributors.
Senior Erika Brehm's 191.8 pins per game led the girls, who went 13-3 overall, 7-0 in the OCC-Buckeye to edge runner-up Central (6-1) and 11-1 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A to finish second behind Gahanna (12-0). Junior Addison Starr averaged 177.5, ahead of seniors Olivia Hupp (161.6), Anna Reardon (150.5), Abby Chubb (148.1) and Sydney Perry (142).
Olentangy finished 11th (3,331) of 37 teams in the sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes behind champion Gahanna (3,642) to advance to district March 3 at HP Lanes, where Starr was 11th (506) and the Braves placed sixth (3,000) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (3,596).
While the boys finished 8-8 overall, 7-5 in the COHSBC-A -- tied for sixth with Big Walnut behind champion Central (12-0) -- and 4-3 in the OCC-Buckeye, tied with Big Walnut, Liberty, Orange and South for second behind Central (7-0), their top bowlers are eligible to return.
Junior Tyler McMaster had a team-best 196.3 average, ahead of classmates Michael Lamar (192.1) and Nick Madaris (181.1) and sophomore Eli Cumbo (171.9). Senior Garret Ross averaged 167.
Lamar was fourth (587) at sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes as Olentangy finished seventh (3,414) of 38 teams behind champion Central (3,836). McMaster was 14th (563) at district, leading Olentangy to 11th (3,331) of 16 teams behind champion Central (3,907).
@ThisWeekDaveAt a glance
*Record: 14-10 overall, 3-7 (sixth) in OCC-Buckeye
*Seniors lost: Jerred Kinnaird, Kyle Milliron and Adam Wiff
*Key returnees: Austin Brown, Sean Marks, Luke Riedel and Alex Sieve
*Record: Boys -- 8-8 overall, 7-5 (tied for sixth) in COHSBC-A, 4-3 (tied for second) in OCC-Buckeye; Girls -- 13-3 overall, 11-1 (second) in COHSBC-A, 7-0 (first) in OCC-Buckeye
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Chris Brown; Girls -- Erika Brehm, Abby Chubb, Olivia Hupp, Adrienne Moorman, Sydney Perry and Anna Reardon
*Key returnees: Boys -- Eli Cumbo, Michael Lamar, Nick Madaris and Tyler McMaster; Girls -- Ariana Oliverio and Addison Starr
*Finishes: Third in OCC-Buckeye, first at sectional, fourth at district, tied for 22nd at state
*Seniors lost: Avery Flanagan, Xander Gore, Brice Kade, Malcolm Mitchell and James White IV
*Key returnees: Colton Doup, Corey Hill, Brady Pethtel and Nick Varanelli