The New Albany High School wrestling team keeps making more noise in the postseason, and next season coach Larry Reichard hopes the Eagles will be represented in the Division I state tournament for the first time in what will be almost a decade.
Senior heavyweight Billy Lee was a state alternate by virtue of his fifth-place finish in the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby, although he did not compete at state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
Lee, who went 32-14, had hoped to be New Albany's first state competitor since Matt Odierno in 2011.
"We are going in the right direction each year," Reichard said. "My first year (2014-15), we didn't have anybody (at district). Now, we're starting to get people here. Jack Wilson placed last year (sixth at 195). Billy Lee is a state alternate.
"Hopefully, next year people make it farther. The culture is huge. Everybody is family. It's an amazing time right now."
New Albany loses two other district qualifiers to graduation in Peter Ackley, who led the team in wins with a 37-15 record at 170, and Wilson (195, 29-11). Two more are eligible to return in junior Michael Zusman (145, 27-10) and sophomore Colin Swincicki (120, 33-13).
Reichard also has several freshmen he expects to contribute next season, including Alex Chattos (160, 12-27), Owen Perry (126, 21-17) and Jack Sauter (138, 12-20).
New Albany went 3-2 in the OCC-Capital Division to tie Big Walnut and Newark for second place behind Groveport (5-0).
Hammond's season paced bowling teams
Senior Adriane Hammond will graduate as arguably the top competitor in the bowling program's five-year history, although the Wright State recruit fell just short of becoming New Albany's first Division I state qualifier.
Hammond averaged 193.4 per game, third in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference, while leading the girls team to a 5-7 record. She bowled a 572 three-game series in the district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes to place seventh overall, one spot and eight pins behind the third and final individual qualifier to state in Delaware's Kelsey Rohrer.
Hammond set a program record regardless of gender with a 787 series Feb. 3 in the Central District Preview at Columbus Square Bowling Palace.
"If you ask her, she's probably disappointed that she didn't make to state and win a state championship," said coach Damian Hammond, Adriane's father. "We got to district for the first time (as a team) on the girls side and that was a great accomplishment. We were young and we kept growing throughout the year. With young kids, you can't practice match situations; you have to learn on the spot. They continued to get better."
Junior Grant Kresina led the boys team with a 180.6 average, ahead of freshman Elliot Greer (166.0), freshman Noble Conn (147.8), senior Ryan Ho (147.5) and sophomores Jacob Cohen (147.4) and Damon Jolly (137.4). Conn was the boys team's only district qualifier, tying for 74th place (495) to cap the Eagles' 3-9 season.
Freshman Jada Biller averaged 172.2 for the girls, followed by juniors Codey Mockler (130.2) and Riley Langdale (111.0) and freshman Abby Phelps (107.2).
"We have a bright future," coach Hammond said. "I'm excited about what we can do."