Mitch Potterf was rolling around on the mat and laughing while instructing middle-school wrestlers Jan. 2. His demeanor was much different from when he steps onto the mat for Westerville North High School.
The senior displays an air of confidence and a deep focus when he competes for the Warriors. This dichotomy works well for Potterf, who finished seventh at 170 pounds in the Division I state tournament last year and recently captured the title at 182 in the Medina Invitational Tournament.
"Mitch loves being around kids and he helps out with the middle school all of the time, so he also has a kind heart to go with what he does in matches," coach David Grant said. "Mitch is very tenacious. Once he sets his mind on something, he gets there.
"He's definitely a pinning wrestler, but he can take people down and let them up. He's just mean and he has a big toolbox to work with. He's intense and goal-oriented."
Potterf doesn't mess around in his matches. He's ready to be the aggressor and get the upper hand.
"I'm aggressive. I guess I'm slick and mean," said Potterf, who is 14-1 this season. "I really like to pin and get the six (points) right off the bat and put some points on the board for the team.
"I think I control the upper body and the hips. I can work with my legs and my upper body in tandem. I'm not just attacking an arm, but I'm also attacking the opposite leg."
Potterf was in control in the Medina tournament, which was held Dec. 27 and 28, going 5-0 with one pin and two technical falls. He defeated Dublin Coffman's Lennox Wolak by a 11-3 major decision in the final, and his toughest match was a 3-2 victory over Cal Stefanko of Davison (Michigan) in a semifinal.
"I have had a lot of disappointment at Medina in the past," Potterf said. "As a sophomore and junior, I injury-defaulted down to sixth place. I was always getting injured in the consolation semifinal.
"My sophomore year, I tore an ACL there and missed the rest of the season. Last year, I injured a meniscus (in a knee). ... After placing sixth two years in a row, it was good to finally win it."
Potterf said because of the ACL injury as a sophomore, he wasn't able to train that offseason. He made up for lost time last summer, buoyed by the success at state. He competed in numerous Greco-Roman and freestyle tournaments to prepare for high-school wrestling, which is referred to in wrestling circles as folkstyle.
"Greco-Roman really helps with the upper body and in tie-ups on the mat, and I also learned some big throws," he said. "Freestyle helped my speed on the mat. I love freestyle and Greco. America is the only country that does folkstyle in high school. I like the other two better."
Potterf's lone loss this season came in the championship match of the Olentangy Liberty Classic, which was held Dec. 14 and 15. He lost to Culver (Indiana) Academy's Andrew Donahue 3-2, a setback that spurred Potterf to success at Medina.
"I don't like to lose," he said. "When I lost at Liberty, I wasn't aggressive enough. I should have shot more, but (Donahue) was running away from me. He was too far away from me to get a good shot on him and I wasn't as aggressive as I would have liked. That shouldn't have stopped me.
"I think that helped at Medina. I didn't come into things aggressive enough (at Liberty) and I realized that. At Medina, I was shooting a lot more and collecting more points on top. I attacked my way through it."
Potterf started 2019 with a championship in the Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament on Jan. 5 at Dublin Scioto. He went 4-0 with three first-period pins before defeating Cody Wilson of Licking Heights by a 12-2 major decision in the final.
Not one to settle for success only on the mat, Potterf has a 3.7 GPA and will continue wrestling at Army next season.
"Since I was a kid, I always have wanted to go to West Point," said Potterf, who plans to study mechanical engineering. "I like the wrestling there and I like the coaches. They have really high-intensity wrestling and their program is going up."
Boys basketball team hopes to get on track
The boys basketball team had lost three consecutive games and four of five to fall to 4-6 overall entering its contest Jan. 8 against Marysville.
The Warriors dropped to 0-4 in the OCC-Buckeye Division with a 69-57 loss to Westerville South on Jan. 4. Jeremiah Keene scored 17 points, Philip Alston had 15 and Charles Perkins added 10.
Alston had 16 points and seven rebounds as the Warriors lost to Northland 55-54 on a free throw in the final seconds in The Challenge on Jan. 5 at Africentric. Perkins had 13 points and Keene added 12.
Girls basketball team set for Orange rematch
The girls basketball team went 2-3 in the first round of OCC-Buckeye play.
The Warriors were 5-6 overall before playing Marysville on Jan. 8. They play host to Olentangy Orange on Friday, Jan. 11, after defeating the Pioneers 39-36 on Dec. 4 in league action.
North defeated Logan 57-51 in the Phil Brown Classic on Dec. 27 at Otterbein and DeSales 49-36 on Jan. 2. Charia Smith scored 19 points to lead the way against DeSales.
Buttermore resigns as boys soccer coach
Drew Buttermore resigned Dec. 19 after three seasons as coach of the boys soccer team.
Under Buttermore, the Warriors were 5-35-11 overall and 1-9-5 in the OCC-Buckeye. This fall, North finished 1-12-4 overall and 0-2-3 in the league.
"Drew resigned because of personal reasons," athletics director Wes Elifritz said. "He is an absolute class act."