Hudson Leapley is healthy and ready to tackle the competition at district.
The senior for the Central Crossing High School wrestling team entered last year's postseason battling the flu and did not advance from a Division I sectional. He won the sectional championship at 132 pounds on Feb. 23 at Marysville to advance to district Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.
It will be Leapley's second appearance at district, and he's aiming to come away with his first state berth. The top four finishers in each weight class will advance to state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
"It's a confidence-booster after last season," said Leapley, who went 1-2 at district at 120 as a sophomore. "I'm feeling much better. I'm definitely wrestling a lot better than I was at the beginning of the season."
Leapley will be joined at district by Abel Garantche (220), Omari Green (heavyweight) and Nathan Vanhouten (195). Leapley is 30-9 after going 3-0 at sectional with three pins, including beating Dublin Coffman's Niko Gonzalez in 3 minutes, 50 seconds in the final.
"It was especially rewarding because we were here (at Marysville) last year (for sectional) when he was battling the flu and he didn't get out (to district)," coach Jamie Ramirez said. "You hate to use that as an excuse, but we knew he wasn't himself. He has started to wrestle well, and he is wrestling well at the right time."
Green and Vanhouten finished as runners-up at sectional. Green lost to Coffman's Eric Feng 6-3 in the final to enter district at 32-6, and Vanhouten is 19-13 after losing to Coffman's Lennox Wolak by a 19-1 technical fall in the final.
"Vanhouten had a big win in the semifinal (3-2 over Dresden Tri-Valley's A.J. Collins) to get to the final," Ramirez said. "Omari Green has been having a great season for us. He has beaten several kids in our area in close matches, but that doesn't mean anything. They were close matches and that could be easily reversed. (The loss in the sectional final) could be a good wake-up call for him."
Garantche is 17-21 after losing to Coffman's Riley Ucker by pin in 41 seconds in the third-place match.
"I'm really happy with Abel getting out to district as a sophomore," Ramirez said. "Sometimes getting a young kid to district is what gets them over the hump. Everyone is motivated right now, but this sometimes makes sure that they come to open mats in the offseason and prepare for next year. It makes them a little hungrier."
Freshmen Patrick Hughes (126), Uniah Neville (113) and Max Webb (195) all are district alternates after placing fifth at sectional.
"I'm proud of my guys because we're a young team and we have struggled all year," said Ramirez, whose team finished fifth (105.5 points) of 10 teams behind champion Coffman (291.5). "We really preached (last) week about fighting, and I thought my kids came out (at sectional) and fought.
"We talk about one man fighting and one man quitting in every match, and we want to be the one that fights. It's based on their will. I was proud of their effort."
Boys basketball team falls in first round
The boys basketball team lost a defensive struggle at ninth-seeded Newark, falling 39-24 on Feb. 21 in the opening round of the Division I district tournament.
The 32nd-seeded Comets finished 8-15 overall and have never won a postseason game.
"It was a slow-moving game," fourth-year coach Neil Hohman said. "I thought our defense did a good job. We didn't finish on the shots we needed to give us a chance to win it. You're not going to win a lot of games where you only score 24 points."
Junior forward Devon Miller led with 10 points and six rebounds. Senior forward Dan Ewald and junior guard Logan Green both scored five points.
The Comets finished fourth (4-6) in the OCC-Central Division behind champion Coffman (9-1).
Junior guard Anthony Lowe was second-team all-league and Miller was honorable mention.
"With Anthony, Devon and Logan, we look to return about 70 to 80 percent of our offense," Hohman said. "We just have to find ways to replace the leaders that we will lose."
Groves leads gymnasts in district meet
Hope Groves led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The freshman finished 73rd of 92 athletes in the all-around with a 29.225. Her effort was led by her performances on vault (8.0, tied for 56th) and uneven bars (7.2, tied for 69th).
Freshman Taylor Redden was 80th in the all-around (28.55), led by her effort on bars (6.55, tied for 95th). Junior Haylee Snodgrass was 85th in the all-around (27.725) with a 6.65 on bars (tied for 90th).
Central Crossing finished fifth (16 points, 3-4) in the OCC-Central behind champion Upper Arlington (30, 7-0).