The Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team had a program-best five members competing in the Division I state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State.
Seniors Jacob McCloskey (195 pounds) and Zach Williams (138) and juniors Emmett Cain (160), Corbin May (182) and Mason Sutandar (170) all placed in the top four in the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby to qualify for state.
"Five is the most state qualifiers our program has ever had in a season and it is really exciting that three of these athletes are underclassmen," co-coach Kevin Rieman said. "(March 2) was a great day for our program. The boys have worked hard and really bought into our training and the district tournament really showed that.
"Corbin made the finals and the other four lost semifinals and had to drop down to must-win matches to make the state tournament. We went 4-0 in those matches and all of the wins were pretty dominant. They were poised and ready for the moment. That's a testament to their hard work, dedication and buy-in. They built off one another and rolled through that round."
May went 3-1 and was pinned by Westerville North's Mitch Potterf in the championship match. He was 34-7 entering state.
"Corbin dominated his way to the championship finals," Rieman said. "He won his first two matches by technical fall and came back being down a few points to handle a tough opponent in his semifinal."
Cain went 4-1 and placed third. He was 42-13 entering state.
"Emmett rolled through the first day of competition, but was extremely sick Saturday morning and we were worried how he might compete," Rieman said. "After losing his semifinal, he responded with two dominant wins to finish third. He has shown tremendous growth this year and we're so excited for him."
McCloskey, Williams and Sutandar all placed fourth, with McCloskey and Williams both going 3-2 and Sutandar going 4-2. Entering state, Williams was 37-5, McCloskey was 37-12 and Sutandar was 22-7.
"I cannot say enough about Jacob," Rieman said. "It is always exciting when an athlete reaches state, but with Jacob it was more than that. So many athletes that struggle in the sport give it up after a year or two. Jacob did the opposite. He trained and worked relentlessly. He sacrificed so much. He deserved this more than anyone. That moment when he qualified was one of the best feelings I have ever had as a coach or even as a competitor."
After losing his semifinal, Williams beat Hilliard Bradley's Zander Ellison 10-5 in a state-qualifying match.
"Zach wanted to win a district title, but he dropped a very close match in his semifinal and had to reset his mind to win the qualifying match," Rieman said. "He had a very tough and familiar opponent and they had intense battles throughout the year. Zach responded with a big win."
Sutandar was making his second state appearance after going 0-2 at 170 last year.
"Mason missed a month of the season with his meniscus tear," Rieman said. "Missing an entire month really hurts your conditioning and preparation. The fact that he made it back to the state tournament shows a ton about his character and dedication to the sport."
Also competing at district were juniors Nathan Robinson (220) and Zach Pokorny (heavyweight) and sophomores Tamas Eder (106) and Ryan Chupko (132). Robinson went 2-2 and Pokorny, Eder and Chupko all went 0-2.
The Pacers finished seventh (91 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (170) as 36 teams scored.
Murfield, Rohrer bowled at state
Seniors Dillon Murfield and Kelsey Rohrer represented the boys and girls bowling teams in the Division I state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Rohrer competed in the girls tournament March 8 and Murfield was in the boys tournament March 9. Both advanced from the district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes.
Murfield had the second-high series among 106 competitors, rolling a 685 series (249-200-236), and Rohrer finished sixth of 104 participants with a 580 (177-201-202). At district, the top three individuals not on one of three qualifying teams advanced to state.
Murfield competed at district as an individual, while Rohrer competed with her team.
The Pacers just missed advancing to state as a team, as they placed fourth (3,441), just 24 pins behind third-place Westerville South (3,465), which joined Westerville Central (3,785) and Big Walnut (3,629) at state.
Also competing for Delaware were Alyssa Williams (28th, 500), Hannah Halstead (30th, 495), McKenzie Knodell (48th, 459) and McKenzie Cooke (65th, 422).
White competes in state gymnastics meet
Freshman Rachel White of the gymnastics team scored 9.25 points to tie for eighth of 36 competitors on balance beam in the state individual meet March 2 at Bradley.
"Rachel had a great beam that allowed her to make all-state in her only routine at state," coach Heather Besselman said. "That capped a great freshman season for her. I was very, very pleased with her progress this year."
White advanced to state by placing third (9.1) in the district meet Feb. 23 at Kilbourne, where the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around qualified for state.
White finished 12th (34.5) in the all-around and also led the Pacers on uneven bars (26th, 8.15) and vault (tied for 18th, 8.5).
Senior Elise Mays was 11th on floor exercise with a team-high 8.975, tied for 22nd (8.3) on vault and was 40th (3.1775) in the all-around. Also competing in the all-around were juniors Elizabeth White (42nd, 31.7) and Caitie Lipps (50th, 31.175).
The Pacers finished 12th (129.425) of 24 teams, behind champion Thornville Sheridan (145.205).
"Elise Mays had a great career and was on the brink of qualifying to state every year, but always came up just short by placing anywhere from ninth to 12th in district events," Besselman said. "She was our lone senior. This is the strongest and deepest team we've had in many years, or maybe ever. We had a program-best team score of 130.25 this season."
Other expected returnees include juniors Malia Britton, Chelsey Co and Payje Wilson, sophomore Jeorgia Turturice and freshmen Morgan Johns and Julia Mayer.
Season ends for boys basketball team
The boys basketball team lost 66-59 at 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 1 to finish 17-7 overall.
The 20th-seeded Pacers trailed 36-18 at halftime but rallied to pull within four points with 1 minute, 28 seconds remaining.
"We were not pleased with how we played in the first half," coach Jordan Blackburn said. "The attention to detail (on the scouting report) and the belief we could do it were not there. Our kids didn't start believing they could do it until the second half and that's when we made the 27-12 run to make it a ballgame. Belief is a huge part of it.
"As a coach, you have to get your kids to believe and I didn't do a very good job with that, initially. The second half showed the character of our group. They battled. Play 32 minutes like that, and we would have liked the result."
Junior point guard Nate Griggs had 27 points, junior forward Paul Burris scored 18 and senior forward Terin Kinsway scored 10 points for the Pacers, who edged 24th-seeded Westerville Central 56-55 in a first-round home game Feb. 23.
"Anytime you have the same group of guys back from a year ago and make a seven-win improvement, it says a lot about your guys," said Blackburn, whose team finished 10-13 last season. "Last year, we lost several close games and this year we went 10-1 in games decided in the final four minutes, where it was a one-possession game or leads were exchanged. That's what's supposed to happen with experience, if you are doing it right."
Delaware, which went 9-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place third behind Bradley (14-0) and Dublin Jerome (11-3), is losing three seniors in Kinsway and forwards J'wan Lyles and Jack Weller.
Kinsway averaged 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds and shot 62 percent from the field and was named first-team all-league and third-team all-district. He finished with 1,195 career points, which is third on the program's scoring list.
Lyles averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds and Weller averaged 3.3 rebounds.
"Our three seniors are incredible young men who have been pillars for our program," Blackburn said. "Jack's leadership and willingness to put the team first have stood out. He never had a problem calling out teammates who needed pushed. Jwan's compassion for others and Terin's authenticity also stood out to their teammates and coaches. All are very special young men who will be missed."
Among the expected returnees are Burris, Griggs, junior guard Addison Harvey and sophomore guard Ryan Smudz.
"We are excited to have those three juniors coming back," Blackburn said. "They can really shoot it. Ryan Smudz is a two-year letterman who will be an integral part of our group coming back as well."
Griggs averaged 15.2 points, 4.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Burris averaged 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and Harvey averaged 7.5 points and 4.4 assists and was honorable mention all-league and all-district.
Smudz averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 assists.
Other expected returnees include junior Nabil Abdus-Salaam (forward) and sophomores Ben Madden (guard), Jack Rodgers (guard) and Armond Rose-Miles (forward).
"Ben battled health issues and injuries or he would have likely been a full-time varsity contributor," Blackburn said. "He can really shoot it. Nabil is expected to improve a lot and have a good year next year and we're looking for Jack and Armond to step up, too."