The Whetstone High School wrestling team had 10 participants in the City League tournament Feb. 16 at Mifflin and eight placed, with three reaching finals.
The Braves finished fourth (106 points) behind Walnut Ridge (238), Northland (128) and East (122) and ahead of South (96), Mifflin (89), West (86), Marion-Franklin (78), Linden-McKinley (69), Beechcroft (54), Centennial (27) and Briggs (7).
"I thought we would battle for second with Northland and East, but we came up short because we have some holes in the lineup," coach Tom Jones said. "We didn't have as much as Northland and without a senior on our roster, we weren't as experienced as East. But it was a good experience for our guys."
Sophomore Darric McClinton pinned South's Christopher Stanford in 5 minutes, 44 seconds to win the title at 145 pounds, while juniors Johney Kincaid (126) and Abdourahman Sallah (170) both placed second.
"Darric has been wrestling very well lately and he did what he needed to do (to win)," Jones said. "He paid attention, listened to his coaching and got the job done.
"I expected Johney to get in the finals if he could get past a tough kid from Linden (Shawn Blount) and he did that, but then got caught by the top seed (Yaniel Castillo) from Walnut Ridge in his final. I didn't expect Sallah to get to the finals, especially in his first year competing in the sport. So that was a plus."
Hassan Sesay (160) placed fourth, Jack Zimmerman (120), Felix Prewitt (138) and Mikayla Al-Damen (220) all finished fifth and Preston Buterbaugh (152) placed sixth.
"Hassan was the top seed, but he made a mistake in his semifinal (against East's Terrion Thompson) and it really cost him," Jones said. "He led 9-4 in the third period and got pinned (in 5:00). He won his next match, but then in the third-place match (against Northland's Olman Najar-Ayala) he led 4-2 and got caught on his back again and trailed 7-4. He was down 8-6 in the third period and had to start taking shots and wound up losing 16-6. He was really upset with himself."
Thompson went on to win the title.
The Braves are preparing for a 10-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Marysville.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
Ave led way for girls swimming team
Olivia Ave represented the girls swimming and diving team in the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State.
The junior placed 27th in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:41.4 and did not qualify for the state meet, which is Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"Olivia broke her season-best time by 2.17 seconds," coach John DeRing said. "She was seeded 27th going in and finished 27th. She was pretty disappointed after the race. She went out in 58 seconds, which was five seconds faster than the pace we wanted to be and it cost her in the end.
"But she's been battling some health issues all season and she's got nothing to be ashamed of."
Ave had qualified for district by placing ninth in the 500 free (5:43.2) in a sectional Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington.
Led by Ave, Whetstone earned its sixth consecutive City title, scoring 125 points Feb. 2 at Columbus Aquatics Center to finish well ahead of runner-up Centennial (81).
Ave won league titles in the 200 free and 500 free. Also winning titles were senior Hannah Schaefer in the 50 free, junior Alyssa Proudfoot in the 100 backstroke, junior Leah Schaefer in the 200 individual medley and all three relays.
Other expected returnees are juniors Catie Flanagan and Emilie Johnson, sophomore Lydia Schaefer and freshmen Nezzie O'Malley, Emma Schaefer and Rebecca Schaefer.
"The girls didn't miss a beat this season and I think next year we'll be even better," DeRing said. "We're going to expect to extend our league championship streak and get more girls to district."
The boys team had no district qualifiers and saw its six-year reign as City champion come to an end, as it placed second (88) in the league meet behind Centennial (119).
Winning league titles were senior Jake Marshall in the 200 free, junior Alex Marcum in the 100 back, sophomore Javier Cruz in the 100 butterfly and sophomore Matthew Conroy in the 500 free.
Other expected returnees include juniors Connor Gott and Kai Hoenshell and sophomore Will Ave.
"I thought the boys had a very successful season despite the lack of depth, which is what held them back the most," DeRing said. "I've heard we have three or four freshmen coming in, so I think we'll be able to score more points next season."
Boys basketball team to begin postseason
The boys basketball team came up just short in its regular-season finale, falling to visiting Briggs 55-54 on Feb. 12.
The Braves are 4-18 and seeded 46th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament. They will play at top-seeded Dublin Coffman in the first round Saturday, Feb. 23. The Shamrocks are 19-1 after losing to visiting UA 55-53 on Feb. 15.
Jaden Arledge led the Braves with 18 points against Briggs and Antwan Allen and Sam Barrett both scored nine.
Bowling teams set for sectional
The bowling teams begin the Division I postseason this week at HP Lanes.
The girls will be among 38 teams in the sectional Friday, Feb. 22, and the boys will be in a 43-team field Saturday, Feb. 23. In each tournament, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Alea Fuqua-Millington leads the girls team with a 156.1 average, followed by Noa Leslie (141.9), Lindsay Arnold (139.9), Eva McCarter (133.6) and Allie Weeks (131.9).
Nathan Vokac leads the boys team with a 166.9 average, ahead of Victor Waitkus (164.6), Josh Jones (164.5), John Longar (159.8) and Will Stevens (155.7).