An overtime loss in his opening match at 152 pounds in the Division I district tournament proved to be only a temporary setback for Dublin Coffman High School senior wrestler Antonio Gonzalez.
He followed the 7-5 loss to Pickerington Central's Marcus Zullo by winning his next three matches to set up a rematch with Zullo. Gonzalez won the rematch 10-3 to earn a berth at the state tournament that runs Thursday, March 7, through Saturday, March 9, at Ohio State.
The district tournament held March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby was filled with positive moments for the Shamrocks, as they advanced eight wrestlers to state and scored 170 points to capture their first team title since 2001. Olentangy Liberty (133) was second as 36 teams scored.
"Last year we only got two (to state) and this year we have multiple guys, so that's really exciting," Gonzalez said. "Our program is just going to keep on going up. Making it was great. It's my senior year so I just had to push. I lost my first match so it was a tough fight. I was kind of down after that match, but I fought through it and got mentally ready."
Gonzalez placed fourth at district and takes a 40-13 record into his opening match at state against Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Victor Voinovich, who is 35-5 and was the state champion last season at 145.
Earning a district title for the Shamrocks was Seth Shumate (195), who is 46-1 heading into his state opener against Medina's Blake Chrisman (44-9).
Jimmy Baumann (113) was a district runner-up and is 36-6 as he prepares to face Berea-Midpark's Pino Dipierro (40-5).
Finishing third at district were Ismael Ayoub (126), Lennox Wolak (182) and Riley Ucker (220), while Davante Cooper (120) and Corey Crawford (106) were other fourth-place finishers.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to state.
Ayoub (30-7) opens state against Brunswick's Logan Heil (37-4), who was third at 120 last season. Wolak (43-3) will face Oregon Clay's Josh Nagy (39-12), Ucker (39-11) will wrestle Clayton Northmont's Bryan Heyward (39-7), Cooper (18-6) will face Cincinnati LaSalle's Lucas Byrd (42-1) and Crawford (33-14) will open against LaSalle's Cole Skinner (27-0). Byrd is a three-time state placer who won the title at 113 a year ago.
Wolak placed fourth at state last season.
Crawford also lost his district opener before winning his next four matches to advance.
"It's been awesome," said Ayoub, a freshman who moved in from the Jonathan Alder school district last summer.
"(Coffman has) an amazing team. It's nice to have people you can rely on and help you with moves, partners to push you in the room."
Also at district, Nick Copley (170) placed sixth, Niko Gonzalez (132) and Jacob Hamed (145) each went 2-2, Eric Feng (heavyweight) finished 1-2 and Erik Arndt (138) and Leo Alvarez (160) both went 0-2.
Boys basketball team reaches district semi
With an 80-20 victory over 47th-seeded Franklin Heights on March 1, the boys basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal March 6 against 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange at Worthington Christian Middle School.
The winner plays 12th-seeded Walnut Ridge or 14th-seeded Newark in a district final Saturday, March 9, at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion faces Hilliard Bradley, Thomas Worthington, Canal Winchester or Pickerington North in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 13, at Ohio Dominican.
The regional final is March 16 at ODU.
Coffman led Franklin Heights 49-13 at halftime on its way to improving to 22-1. Keaton Turner had 19 points and Will Hunter scored 16.
Girls basketball team finishes with 22 wins
The girls basketball team earned at least 20 wins for the eighth consecutive season.
The Shamrocks went 22-3 overall, including 10-0 in the OCC-Central Division to win their fourth consecutive league title. They have won 36 consecutive league games dating to the 2015-16 season.
Senior guard Jacy Sheldon, an Ohio State commit who was named Division I district Player of the Year for the third consecutive season, helped the Shamrocks go 94-12 the last four seasons.
On Feb. 27 in a district semifinal at Olentangy Orange, the third-seeded Shamrocks rallied from a 16-point deficit to take the lead but ended up falling 75-72 to eighth-seeded Gahanna.
"We knew (Gahanna was) a good team," coach Bryan Patton said.
"I knew coming in that we had our hands full, but that if we played well, we'd win the game. We had a really good third quarter and that was kind of how I thought we could play for an extended period of time. The fourth quarter, we ran out of gas and made some fatigue plays that we don't normally make. I'm disappointed for our kids, but you've got to give (Gahanna) credit. They shot it probably as well as they're capable of shooting it and that they've shot all year."
Coffman, which gave up 14 3-pointers against the eventual district runner-up Lions, must replace a trio of senior starters in Sheldon (28.2 points per game), forward Riley Wagoner (4.5 ppg) and wing player Kaitlyn Kopyar (7.0 ppg).
Sheldon finished with 2,347 career points to rank among the top 15 all-time scorers in OHSAA history. The only player from the Central District to score more career points was Jonathan Alder's Lauren Prochaska (2,695).
Against Gahanna, Sheldon scored 20 of her 31 points in the third quarter.
Coffman's second-leading scorer was freshman Imarianah Russell, who averaged 17 points and joined Sheldon on first-team all-league while also earning second-team all-district honors.
Junior guard Juliana Burris averaged nine points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Kopyar was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district and Wagoner was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return include juniors Ally Machulski (wing player) and Kendra Siefker (forward), sophomore Megan Breen (forward) and freshmen Tara Flynn (guard/wing player) and Cassidy Lafler (wing player).
"We had a freshman team that went undefeated and a j.v. team that lost two to three games, so we've got a lot of good young players in the program," Patton said. "Imarianah's going to be back, Juliana was a junior and we've got some girls that are going to be pretty good varsity players. It'll be a different team where you'll see eight, 10, 11 girls see minutes next year."