As a leader in National Honor Society and Young Scholars Pursuing Knowledge at Dublin Coffman High School, senior Lennox Wolak rarely takes the lazy way out when pursuing his educational objectives.
He also doesn't like to settle for anything but the best when he's on the wrestling mat.
Finishing fourth at last year's Division I state tournament at 182 pounds and being dealt a pair of losses early this season only has hardened his resolve to close his prep career with a state championship a few weeks from now.
"My goal is a state title," Wolak said. "(Being at state twice) helped a lot. Every match at state is a dogfight. Just knowing that I'm right there even with the top kids, it's cemented in my mind that I can (win state) this year."
Wolak, who has committed to wrestle for Columbia University from the Ivy League, has hit his stride at 182 during the 2019 portion of Coffman's schedule.
The Shamrocks improved to 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division with a 75-6 victory over Westland on Jan. 24, with league duals remaining Feb. 7 at Upper Arlington and Feb. 14 at home against Hilliard Davidson.
Coffman also competes Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament at Marysville. The Shamrocks are the No. 1 seed and will face eighth-seeded Big Walnut or ninth-seeded New Albany in a quarterfinal, with the winner to face fourth-seeded Delaware, fifth-seeded Olentangy, 12th-seeded Reynoldsburg or 13th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a semifinal that same day. The regional final also is that day, with Marysville being the second seed.
On Jan. 17, Coffman beat the Monarchs 43-15 as Wolak was one of nine wrestlers to win matches for the Shamrocks. Wolak, Seth Shumate (195), Eric Feng (heavyweight), Rupert Moore (106) and Davante Cooper (126) all won by pin.
Wolak went 5-0 to capture the championship in the Rieman Invitational on Jan. 26 at Delaware and improve to 28-2 on the season.
After winning the title at the Big Walnut Classic on Dec. 8, Wolak lost 7-4 to Scioto's Deron Pulliam at 195 on Dec. 15 in the championship match of the North Canton Hoover Invitational.
Wolak pinned Pulliam in the third round of consolation at the state tournament last season when Pulliam was also was competing at 182, but Pulliam had a size advantage when they met this season.
After deciding that 182 would be his best weight for the season's remainder, Wolak made it to the final of the Medina Invitational Tournament held Dec. 28 and 29 but lost to Westerville North's Mitch Potterf 11-3.
Potterf took seventh at state at 170 last season before moving to 182 this winter, and Wolak is convinced the result might be different if the two match up in the postseason, which begins Feb. 23 with a sectional tournament.
"I lost to (Potterf), who's going to be a state title contender, but I feel confident I'll make the adjustment," Wolak said. "It was my first time down to 182 from 195. The style's a little different, and I was making some dumb mistakes that I could get away with at the heavier weight. Down at 182, I need to be more disciplined."
Wolak has gone 8-0 since losing to Potterf and is 132-32 for a career that included being a district qualifier as a freshman, going 41-9 with one state win at 170 as a sophomore and finishing 39-7 last winter.
Last June, a right knee injury kept Wolak from competing for Team Ohio during national freestyle competition, but he was healthy enough to finish fourth at 182 on July 20 in the U.S. Marine Corps Junior Greco-Roman competition in Fargo, North Dakota.
"He's working hard, you can't fault him for that," coach Chance Van Gundy said. "He's run into some buzz saws (this season) and when you're fourth in the state the year before, you've got a target on your back. He's always risen to the occasion."
Swim teams earn OCC runner-up finishes
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams both earned runner-up finishes in the OCC-Central meet Jan. 26 at Upper Arlington.
The girls team scored 340 points to place behind the host Golden Bears (484) and the boys finished with 291 as UA also was first (456).
Capturing titles for the girls team were Kristyn Sabol in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 55.77 seconds) and 100 butterfly (57.5), Ellie Andrews in the 200 individual medley (2:12.39) and 100 breaststroke (1:06.2) and the 400 free relay of Andrews, Sabol, Hannah Bailey and Ryoka Nishibori (3:34.11).
Placing second were Bailey in the 50 free (24.24) and 100 free (52.73), Ava Warren in the 100 backstroke (1:03.81), the 200 medley relay of Andrews, Bailey, Sabol and Warren (1:48.28) and the 200 free relay of Cameron Das, Aislin Rogers, Nishibori and Warren (1:45.17).
For the boys team, winning were Joseph Nadur in the 200 IM (2:01.36), Zak Birnbrich in the 100 fly (51.27) and the 400 free relay of Birnbrich, Will Randall, Ethan Shaw and Andy Shepard (3:12.87).
Finishing second were Brendan Oshida in the 200 IM (2:04.98) and 100 breast (1:02.04), Shaw in the 200 free (1:46.76) and 500 free (4:48.46), Shepard in the 100 fly (53.36), the 200 medley relay of Birnbrich, Oshida, Cole Northup and Zac Stump (1:40.35) and the 200 free relay of Northup, Randall, Shaw and Shepard (1:30.87).
Hockey team taking big steps forward
The hockey team has moved into contention to earn a spot in the Blue Jackets Cup Varsity Division tournament, which will be held Feb. 7-10.
After beating Gahanna 7-0 on Jan. 25 and Cincinnati Moeller 5-3 on Jan. 26, the Shamrocks were 9-18 overall but 7-7 in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division.
The Varsity Division of the Blue Jackets Cup consists of eight teams, with the other seven competing in the consolation tournament.
The Shamrocks have won four of their past five CHC games.
"It's just about finishing strong and developing a few more good habits," coach Justin Taber said. "They're doing better in moving the puck, getting out and getting chances at the net instead of trying to make the extra pass. We're just keeping it simple."
Alexander Willis, who scored one goal against Moeller and two against Gahanna, has 24 goals on the season. Nick Schepflin and Thiago Jeronimo also have been key players on offense.
"We had two of our defensemen out for a while, but we've got the whole crew back now," Taber said. "I'm not usually too worried about who we're playing. It's about how we play."
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 1 -- At Marysville. The Shamrocks beat the Monarchs 96-58 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Marysville. The Shamrocks beat the Monarchs 88-41 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- At Westerville North
Feb. 5 -- At Thomas Worthington with Jerome, Scioto and Westerville Central
*Feb. 1 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton. The Shamrocks lost to the Eagles 8-0 on Nov. 25.
*Feb. 3 -- Columbus Academy at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Feb. 2 -- Division I, Region 5 dual tournament at Marysville. The quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds will be held, with the regional champion advancing to the state team tournament Feb. 10 at Ohio State's St. John Arena.