The Westland High School wrestling team will begin its postseason road by competing in a 10-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Newark.
The top four finishers in each weight class will advance to district March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby. At district, the top four finishers in each weight class qualify for state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
"I just want to see us go out there with confidence and leave it all out on the mat," coach Brent Allerding said. "It is the end of the year, so we should be wrestling better than we ever have. I really just want to focus on wrestling confident and hungry and not let nerves or fear get in the way of wrestling our best.
"That is the mentality I had when I made my run in high school, so that is the idea we will try to instill in the wrestlers."
Allerding, a 2010 graduate of Loudonville, finished fourth at 215 pounds in the Division III state tournament as a senior.
The Cougars, who were 2-2 in the OCC-Central Division before closing the regular season Feb. 14 against Upper Arlington, continued to prepare for the postseason by defeating league-rival Central Crossing 45-33 on Feb. 7 and finishing second in the Canal Winchester Invitational on Feb. 9.
Winners by pin against Central Crossing were Tyler Jude at 106 (36 seconds), Trent Jude at 113 (31 seconds), Bryson Palmer at 126 (1:48), Jakob Hurley at 138 (16 seconds), Darius Lightfoot at 160 (1:59) and Jacob Mullens at 170 (3:36).
"We had some young guys step up big in the win over (the Comets), which was crucial in the win," Allerding said. "I thought we came out with a much tougher, more resilient and confident mentality than we did the previous week, which was good to see. We had a good week of practice and it paid off."
Westland totaled 164 points at Canal Winchester to finish five points behind champion Groveport as 18 teams scored.
Palmer finished first at 126 while Trent Jude (113), Edgar Cruz (120), Hurley (138) and Kyle Newman (220) placed second. Tyler Jude (106) finished third and Lightfoot (152) was fourth.
Before competing against UA, Hurley was 31-4 to lead the Cougars in wins. He was followed by Andrew Sherman (29-4, 195), Tyler Jude and Trent Jude (both 27-7), Palmer (25-5), Cruz (21-11) and Lightfoot (20-14).
Boys basketball team defeats New Albany
The boys basketball team turned in its "best effort of the season" in a 75-67 win over visiting New Albany on Feb. 12.
Eric Panning led the Cougars with 20 points. DeShawn Evans scored 18 and Gaige Holbrook added 14.
"We had our best effort of the season," coach Rob Hayes said. "We've talked a lot about how winning basketball is played inside-out as well as the need to play aggressively, and when those things happened it opened up room for Holbrook and (Hunter) Corwin to hit some shots. We are starting to figure out that you have to move body and ball to score and that's big."
Westland was 4-17 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Central before playing Central Crossing on Feb. 15 in its regular-season finale.
The Cougars are seeded 45th in the Division I district tournament and visit third-seeded Pickerington Central on Saturday, Feb. 23. The winner plays 44th-seeded Columbus West in the second round March 1.
Through 21 games, Evans was averaging 15.1 points and 4.8 rebounds, Panning was averaging 8.9 points and 7.3 rebounds and Holbrook was averaging 8.6 points.
Girls basketball team preps for postseason
The girls basketball team will prepare for the Division I district tournament by playing host to Mifflin on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
The Cougars are 4-17 overall and finished 0-10 in the OCC-Central.
Westland snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 39-32 win over visiting Horizon Science on Feb. 9. Shukri Abdikadir and Hannah Kershaw each scored eight points to lead the Cougars.
Westland is seeded 40th in the district tournament and has a first-round bye. It plays a second-round game Wednesday, Feb. 20, likely at third-seeded Dublin Coffman, with the winner likely facing eighth-seeded Gahanna in a district semifinal Feb. 27.
The Cougars lost to the Shamrocks 93-20 on Dec. 14 and 88-8 on Jan. 24 in OCC-Central play.
Gymnasts compete in OCC-Central meet
The gymnastics team finished sixth (98.7) in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington behind Hilliard Davidson (129.8), UA (129.1), Marysville (126.7), Grove City (114.05) and Central Crossing (106.925) and ahead of Coffman (96.45) and Franklin Heights (47.925).
Ines De La Fuente finished 16th (28.425) and Heaven Manbevers was 24th (25.0) in the all-around to lead the Cougars.
Westland will compete at district Saturday, Feb. 23, at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to state March 1 and the top nine individuals in each event and the all-around compete at state March 2. Both state meets are at Hilliard Bradley.
Swim teams close season at sectional
The boys and girls swimming teams concluded the season in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at UA.
Juniors Rachael Binion and Laura Ornelas, sophomore Brenna Gilliam and freshman Caramela Louden finished 13th in the 200-yard medley relay (2:39.44) to lead the girls, who did not score.
Other swimmers on the team were seniors Makaili Long and Porter Madden, sophomore Peyton Madden and freshman Estrella Reyna.
Senior Tim Wotring, the lone competitor on the boys team, did not score at sectional. He was 24th in the 100 breaststroke (1:20.42) and 43rd in the 50 freestyle (27.81).