Westerville South High School junior wrestler Aaron Morton was thankful to return to the sport he loves.
Originally expected to miss a Division I sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville because of a suspension, Morton was reinstated Feb. 20 and responded by winning the 160-pound title. He went 3-0, defeating Dresden Tri-Valley's Dylan Hines 12-3 in the final.
Morton, Brian Tennant (113) and Jacob Shalvey (182) advanced for the Wildcats to the district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each weight class at district qualify for state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
"I'm just happy to wrestle," Morton said. "It doesn't matter what happens. I'm just so happy to wrestle."
Morton was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct during the 160 final in the All-North Tournament on Feb. 9 at Dublin Jerome. That carries a two-event suspension, according to Ohio High School Athletic Association policy.
Morton missed a match against Westerville Central on Feb. 14 and the sectional was expected to be the second event, ending his season. However, a late addition to the schedule allowed the Wildcats to compete in the Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 16 at St. Charles.
Originally, the St. Charles tournament was not expected to count as the second event because it officially was added to the schedule after the incident.
Athletics director Josh DeVoll, however, said that since the tournament was a tentative event before the incident, a committee comprised of school administrators opted to count it as the second event.
"(Administrators and coaches) gave me a second chance," Morton said. "They gave me ways to better myself. I'm thankful."
Morton is the program's first sectional champion since 2014 when Marcus William-son won a title at 160.
"With the situation that we had, (Morton) put a lot pressure on himself," coach George Crooks said. "As bad as that was, people involved made some good decisions and it's really going to help him out for the rest of his career and certainly this year. It doesn't look like he feels the pressure he was feeling. He went back to some basic wrestling. He was outstanding shooting those single legs.
"His attitude is in the right place and we just appreciate the administration for helping him have a second chance. I think we're going to do some special things (at district) and see how it goes."
Last year, Morton went 1-2 at 152 at district to finish the season 36-12.
"This means a lot," he said. "My first district I had a golden draw, but I let it fall through my hands. I'm motivated more than ever to get a district title."
Tennant and Shalvey each finished third at sectional.
"We were hoping for four or five (district qualifiers), but Brian at 113 is unbelievable the way he has come on," Crooks said. "This could be the turning point for him. Jacob wrestled his best match of the year (in a consolation semifinal) ... shooting those single legs that we preach and we preach and we preach. He could surprise people if he keeps doing that."
Fuanyi Fobellah finished fifth at 106 and is a district alternate.
South finished sixth (86 points) in the 10-team sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (291.5).
Bowling teams advance to district
The boys and girls bowling teams will compete in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.
The girls finished sixth (3,307) at sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes behind champion Central (3,777). Maggie Van Scyoc led the Wildcats, finishing 38th of 222 bowlers with a 494 three-game series.
"It means so much to me," said Van Scyoc, who will compete in her fourth district tournament. "My freshman year we made it to state when my sister (Sydney) was on the team, so that was really special. The last two years it really meant something to get to district and we're really hoping to get to state."
Kenzie Gearheart (335), Taylor Hughes (332), Sophie Hand (327) and Emily Grise (321) each rolled two games.
The boys finished 11th (3,790) at sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes behind champion Marion Harding (4,336). Callan Van Scyoc had a 626 series to finish 15th of 242 bowlers.
Colton Rice (539), Montana Svoboda (357, two games), Cameron Voigt (345, two games) and Ethan Gary (201, one game) also contributed.
The top 16 teams at sectional advanced to district, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. The girls compete March 8 and the boys compete March 9.
Girls basketball team reaches district semi
The sixth-seeded girls basketball team opened Division I district play with a 56-35 win over 15th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Feb. 22 at home.
Gabby Hutcherson led South with 21 points and Aja Austin scored 17.
The Wildcats were 17-5 before playing 14th-seeded Tri-Valley in a semifinal Feb. 27 at Heath.
The winner plays third-seeded Coffman or eighth-seeded Gahanna in a district final Saturday, March 2, at Ohio Dominican. South defeated Gahanna 63-55 on Dec. 17 and lost to Coffman 72-68 on Jan. 29, but the Wildcats beat Coffman 68-58 in a district final last season.
The district champion plays Dublin Scioto, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Liberty or Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 5, at Otterbein. The regional final is March 8 at Otterbein.
Boys basketball team to visit Reynoldsburg
The 27th-seeded boys basketball team will look to end an 11-game losing streak when it visits seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg for a second-round Division I district tournament game Friday, March 1.
South lost to Reynoldsburg 61-53 on Jan. 22.
The winner plays eighth-seeded Upper Arlington or 35th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at a neutral site. The Wildcats lost to UA 53-46 on Feb. 5.
The district final is March 9 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
South, which had a first-round bye, closed the regular season with a 72-70 loss to visiting Thomas on Feb. 19. Jordan McMillian scored 40 points and Ryan Greggs added 12.