There will be a strong contingent of black-and-silver clad bowlers at this weekend's Division I state tournaments at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

The Westerville Central High School boys and girls teams both qualified for state by winning district championships March 2 at HP Lanes.

"This is special and I told them it doesn't happen to every school every year and for them to enjoy it and be proud of it," coach Tony Gonzalez said of sweeping the district titles.

The girls will compete at state Friday, March 8, and the boys will compete Saturday, March 9.

"If both teams make it through qualifying and get to match play, we have as good a chance as anybody (to win it all)," Gonzalez said.

The boys are looking to repeat their performance from 2017, when they won the program's first state title.

Both teams also qualified for state last season, with the boys finishing seventh during championship play and the girls placing 13th during qualifying play.

On March 2, the boys totaled 4,243 to win the 16-team district tournament ahead of fellow state-qualifiers Marion Harding (4,216) and Westerville South (4,015).

Wesley Minke finished third of 106 bowlers with a 678 series to lead the Warhawks. Devon Richardson (604), Malik Curry-Brown (574), Zach Gonzalez (549) and Nick Owsiak (213, one game) also contributed.

"I don't think in the four years I've been on this team we've been able to have this kind of success as a group, so it's awesome," Owsiak said.

The girls rolled a 3,785 to finish first of 16 teams as Big Walnut (3,629) and South (3,465) also advanced to state.

Reace Gonzalez was third of 104 bowlers with a 628 series to lead Central. Mackenzie Halloy (552), Sammy McLaughlin (540), Jenna Owsiak (540) and Jocelyn Grimsley (162, one game) also contributed.

"The girls came out strong and the boys fought their way, which I think will be good for them going into (state) to have that little bit of pressure for them to reflect back on and build from," coach Gonzalez said.

Coach Julie Wells, who stepped down following last season after 12 years with the program, returned to help guide the boys earlier this season when Jeff Robinson was forced to step away because of medical reasons.

"I missed the kids and the coaching," Wells said. "I'm back in a limited capacity. We're going to take it one frame at time (at state) like we always do and see how far we can get."

DeRose earns 100th win in final event

In his final event for the wrestling team, senior heavyweight Nick DeRose earned his 100th career win during the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.

DeRose reached the milestone with a 3-1 win over Marion Harding's Mitchell Gruber in the first round.

"It was euphoric, it really was," DeRose said. "It was something that freshman year I didn't think I would even scratch close to. It was a good night when that happened."

DeRose, who is the team's lone senior, went 1-2 at district. He finished 31-9 for the season and 100-71 for his career.

"I'm proud of myself," DeRose said. "I'll go home proud, I'll go to sleep proud, I'll wake up proud. I gave it my all. I'm proud of everything I've done."

Central did not qualify a wrestler for state as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced.

Gary Steele went 1-2 at 132 to finish 24-16 and Zeke Healy went 0-2 at 170 to finish 21-14. Both are sophomores.

Central tied Dublin Jerome for 32nd (5 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (170) as 36 teams scored.

Other wrestlers eligible to return include juniors Xavier Allen (220) and Parker Wilson (152), sophomores Jack Bond (120), Luis Gonzalez (106), Bsharah Hejazin (170), Evan Kienle (152), Josiah Mair (195), Logan Moore (18-9, 160), Caleb Scheideger (126), C.J. Spinosi (182), Tate Sterling (16-16, 145) and Braden Weimer (195) and freshmen Blake Doran (152), Reign Solosa (113) and Jack Traudt (138).

"These kids will need to stick together, train in the offseason and become great leaders for the future of Warhawk wrestling," coach Jerry McSwords said.

Girls basketball team falls to Newark

The girls basketball team's season ended with a 67-34 loss to second-seeded Newark in a Division I district semifinal Feb. 27 at Pickerington North.

Junior forward/guard Karmen Long led 27th-seeded Central with eight points. The Warhawks, who lose eight players to graduation, finished 10-14 overall.

"They take advantage of mistakes you make and they shoot the ball so well," coach Jim Morgan said of Newark. "They're a really good, solid team. We competed, we're just not at that level yet."

Junior guard Mabinty Kebe averaged 9.7 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds and was first-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division and honorable mention all-district.

Senior forward Najayah Shepherd averaged 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Long, who averaged a team-best 10.1 points along with 7.6 rebounds, also was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Senior point guard Michayla Brenning, who led the team in assists with 93, was honorable mention all-league.

Central went 3-7 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish fifth behind champion South (10-0).

"We accomplished a lot and we've put the program back on some solid ground," Morgan said.

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