Cole Potts of the DeSales High School wrestling team pinned his first opponent in the Division II state tournament in 43 seconds, and if that did not tell the junior heavyweight he could place, his next win did.

Potts became the 119th state placer in program history and the first in six years March 9 at Ohio State, going 3-2 in his first state tournament and finishing fourth to cap a 38-5 season.

Potts opened state by pinning Eaton's Seth Bowman in the first round March 7, and the next day beat Akron Hoban's Jacob Petit 8-1 in the second round before being pinned in 25 seconds by eventual state champion Alex Coleman of Hamilton Ross.

On March 9, Potts pinned Wapakoneta's Brenan Knueve in 59 seconds in a consolation semifinal before being pinned by St. Paris Graham's Johnny Shafer in 4:18 in the third-place match.

"The second match was big and after I won that pretty good, I knew I was in good shape," Potts said. "My coaches told me not to overthink stuff or underestimate anybody, just go out and take care of what I could. This will help me know I am capable of doing things I didn't think I was able to. I have a higher standard, a better reputation and a higher goal to beat."

Ian Ferguson had been DeSales' most recent state placer, finishing sixth at 182 pounds in 2013.

Potts earned 16 points and the Stallions finished 33rd behind champion Graham (123.5) as 80 teams scored. Graham won its 19th consecutive title and 21st overall.

"I figured (Potts) would be able to come in here and definitely get a couple wins under his belt for confidence for next year," coach Collin Palmer said. "I wanted him to know he had the ability to get on the podium (and) it was nice to see him actually get the job done. We just tried to find him as many partners as we could (in preparation) and get some good workouts in. I just tried to help him stay positive and build that confidence going into these bigger matches."

Palmer's own pedigree came in handy last week, as he was a four-time state champion at Lakewood St. Edward from 2006-09.

"There is some unnecessary pressure you put on yourself (going into state) and I was trying to keep that at a minimum for him so he could come out and do his thing and have some fun," Palmer said.

Although DeSales had a small team and fielded only six wrestlers in the postseason, five of them are eligible to return in Potts, junior Josh Morse (126, 23-13), sophomore Romiaun Speed (120, 5-12) and freshmen Evan Campbell (113, 1-7) and Kody Goffin (120, 32-12). Goffin and Potts were the Stallions' only district qualifiers.

Palmer coached the Stallions for the final seven weeks of the season after Nick Preston resigned Jan. 15.

"A coaching change doesn't happen too often in the middle of the season, but it is what it is. We grabbed the reins and took off with it," Palmer said. "It might take a few years to rebuild the program and restructure some of the junior high stuff, but we're confident."

Boys basketball team loses in district final

Despite erasing an 11-point deficit in the last three minutes of a Division II district final March 9 at Ohio Dominican and even briefly taking the lead, the boys basketball team fell to CCL rival Hartley 50-48 on Colby Rankin's buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Third-seeded DeSales led 25-24 at halftime and trailed 44-33 with just more than three minutes to play before going on a 15-3 run. Sophomore forward Desmond Watson gave the Stallions a 48-47 lead with 18.9 seconds left after putting back a missed free throw by sophomore forward Obed Achirem.

Hartley's Morgan Safford was stripped of the ball going for a layup that would have given the Hawks the lead with eight seconds left, but sophomore guard Jayden Hawkins-White missed two free throws and Safford made an outlet pass to Rankin, who was alone just outside the arc and hit the winning shot.

DeSales went 0-for-4 from the foul line in the final 20 seconds.

"We applied some pressure late and they didn't handle it well. We made some plays," coach Pat Murphy said. "Morgan made a great pass and Rankin knocked it down. Give them credit."

Safford had a game-high 22 points for fourth-seeded Hartley, which split two games with DeSales during the regular season. The Stallions finished 17-9 overall and 6-2 in the CCL, tying Watterson for their first league championship since 2010 but falling short of their first district title since 2016.

Watson led the Stallions with 16 points. Senior forward Kayin Derden, a second-team all-district honoree, added 14 points and finished his career with 1,015 points.

Derden, who averaged 12.4 points, passed the 1,000-point mark during the Stallions' 39-28 win over fifth-seeded Gran-ville in a district semifinal March 5 at Pickerington Central.

Watson and sophomore guard Kobe Righter, who averaged 10.8 and 10.5 points, respectively, were honorable mention all-district.

Forward Anthony Sciarroni, one of three senior starters along with forward Danny Bogue and Derden, averaged 9.3 points.

Among other players eligible to return is junior center/forward Chris Fleisher, who alternated playing time inside with Bogue.

"This (district final loss) doesn't define who they are or what they did," Murphy said. "Our seniors set a huge foundation for this team. They know the best is yet to come. Our younger guys will remember what this feels like and come back stronger and better. Things just didn't go our way at the end. ... Unfortunately, failure is the biggest teacher."

Blumenscheid competes at state bowling

Two of Skyla Blumenscheid's final three rolls of the season were strikes, prompting the sophomore for the girls bowling team to laugh at her luck during the Division I state tournament March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Blumenscheid bowled a 448 series with games of 136, 176 and 136, placing 71st of 104 individuals in her first state tournament.

"I had trouble reading the lanes (March 8). My second game was good, but I just had a hard time," Blumenscheid said. "I did really hit my mark there at the end, though. It wasn't my best. It was OK. I honestly didn't expect to be here at state anyway. Even though I didn't finish strong, I think I had a fantastic season."

Blumenscheid was DeSales' first state qualifier since current boys coach Miranda Singer advanced in 2013.

"I had to keep my momentum going (from finishing fifth at district March 2 at HP Lanes)," said Blumenscheid, whose sister, Blair, competed at state in 2008. "I can only go up from here. Now that I've gotten here as a sophomore, I know I can make it back. One of the reasons I bowl is to make my sister proud. She's the one who inspired me to get better."

The boys and girls teams both are losing just one senior each in Shawn Corkrean and Tam Ordonez, respectively.

The boys team went 16-2 overall, won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division championship at 12-0 and shared the CCL title with St. Charles at 7-1. Junior Andrew Swift led the Stallions with a 195.1 average, followed by sophomore Bryan Ritzler (191.2), junior Isaiah Thomas (183.6), sophomore James Jackson (179.6) and junior Will McAfee-Weatherspoon (171.1).

Jackson was the team's only Division II district qualifier, placing 33rd at sectional Feb. 16 at HP Lanes to earn the last of three individual district-qualifying berths and tying for 36th (546) at district Feb. 21 at the same site.

Blumenscheid had a 156.5 average to lead the girls team, which went 5-9 overall. She was followed by juniors Audrey Nave (119.9), Olivia Houlihan (118.6) and Catharina Le (92.1) and sophomore Ella Otu-Danquah (85.5).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

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