Olentangy High School wrestling coach Dennis Lyberger didn't hide his disappointment after the season came to an abrupt end March 8 at Ohio State.
Despite qualifying three wrestlers to the Division I state tournament for the second consecutive season, the Braves did not experience as much success as a year ago, when they had two competitors reach the podium.
Senior Jacob Sherman, who was fourth at 113 pounds in 2018, went 1-2 at 120 last week. He opened with a 15-6 loss to Cincinnati Princeton's Josue Dawson on March 7, edged Toledo Whitmer's Jason Cascadden 6-5 in a first-round consolation match later that night and was pinned by Fairfield's Moustapha Bal in 4 minutes, 55 seconds in the second round of consolation action March 8.
Sherman, a Kent State recruit who missed the first two months of the season because of a right knee injury, finished 14-2. He was the eighth wrestler in program history to make state three years in a row.
"I'm just disappointed from the standpoint that we didn't do better," Lyberger said. "We lost a few close matches that a takedown would have won. We just seemed tentative sometimes and that would have made a difference."
Seniors Brady Pethtel (145) and Nick Varanelli (132) both went 0-2 in their only state appearances, and Olentangy scored one point to tie for 66th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (194.5) as 72 teams scored.
Pethtel, who finished 30-9, dropped close matches against Clayton Northmont's Andrew Knick (5-2) and Cleveland St. Ignatius' D.J. Huff (4-1).
Varanelli was pinned by Perrysburg's Blake Saito in 4:53 and lost to Macedonia Nordonia's Jaivon Jones 6-0 to finish 33-14.
Pethtel, Sherman and Varanelli increased Olentangy's all-time number of state qualifiers to 98.
"We've been going at it since eighth grade. I'd say we got each other here," Pethtel said. "Obviously a lot of people helped us but we definitely helped each other."
Despite falling short of placing, Sherman felt his previous state experience was advantageous.
"It helps with the mental part of it and just having been there before to experience it. Sometimes, you get a little wide-eyed going in there so it's nice being a returning placer and knowing you don't have to deal with that extra pressure," Sherman said. "(This season has) been pretty good. Getting three guys to state, I am happy for everybody."
Other top records on the Braves belonged to senior Colton Doup (182, 27-14) and freshman Vaughn Fowler (113, 17-8). Junior Nick Boyarko went 9-12 at 170.
Affected all season by injuries, Olentangy went 2-3 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish fourth behind champion Liberty (5-0).
"(Sophomore) Ethan Hand missed all season because he was injured. Brady Pethtel was out for a month because of mono and Jacob missed a lot of time," Lyberger said. "We faced a lot of adversity and I'm proud of the way they stood together."
Boys basketball team falls in semifinal
Sixth-seeded Hilliard Davidson made its last shot of a Division I district semifinal March 6, edging the boys basketball team 57-55 at Marysville.
Senior guard Sean Marks capped a record-setting career by scoring a game-high 17 points for the Braves, who were seeded 16th of 47 teams and finished 14-10. Davidson's Caleb Stimmel made a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left, and Marks was blocked by Jacob Drees with 1.2 seconds to go to seal the win.
"(Davidson is) long and they just run us off the line all the time and that's fine. We did a great job of just scratching and clawing at the free-throw line and doing everything we needed to do to try to win the game," coach John Feasel said. "They hit the last shot. I told the guys there's nothing to be ashamed about. We played our butts off and they just made the last shot. It's what happens sometimes."
Olentangy had been seeking its first district championship since 1991, when it was in Division III.
Despite the loss, Marks -- a senior who was named first-team all-league and all-district -- became the school's all-time leading scorer regardless of gender during the game. The Ohio Dominican recruit finished his career with 1,419 points, nine more than Kelly Meade, a 2016 graduate who played for Feasel when he coached the girls team.
Marks averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals.
Olentangy's top five scorers, who combined to average 49.9 of the Braves' 65.2 points per game, will graduate in Marks and fellow guards Noah Gossett (8.9), Alex Sieve (7.8), Luke Riedel (6.5) and Caleb Steele (6.5).
Gossett was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Junior guard Austin Brown (5.9 points, 3.4 rebounds) was honorable mention all-league.
Other contributors eligible to return are junior guard Jake Elmore and sophomore guard Tavian James.
"Our underclassmen played pretty well. They gave us good minutes when they got in and played hard," Feasel said. "They're starting to understand what it takes to play at this level of basketball. That's what they have to do all the time."
Bowling teams look to reload next season
The girls bowling team expects to return three of its top five contributors after going 14-6 and finishing sixth in the Division I district tournament, while coach Jim Brehm is tasked with overhauling the boys lineup as its top six scorers are graduating after the team finished 13-2.
Olentangy loses two of the area's top bowlers in girls senior Addison Starr, whose average of 191.9 was fourth in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference, and boys senior Michael Lamar, who was seventh in the COHSBC with a 202.7 average.
"I wanted this (season) to keep going because the kids were so enjoyable to be around," Brehm said. "I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the boys. Michael Lamar's enthusiasm and (senior) Tyler McMaster's steady influence really set the tone. ... Seeing Tyler, Michael (and seniors) Nick Madaris, Noah Johnson and Ahmed Mohiuddin all individually medal in dual matches this year is unprecedented. ...
"The girls being so young and doing well was a welcome surprise and a tribute to (senior) Ana (Oliverio) and Addison's leadership as well as the exceptional coaching they received from (assistants) Larry Starr, Tony Claar and Biz Brehm."
McMaster averaged 193.5, followed by Madaris (184.0), Mohiuddin (181.2), Johnson (177.4) and senior Jacob Rhinehart (168.8). The only two boys bowlers who saw time this year and are eligible to return are junior Chandler Green and sophomore Derek Rather.
Freshman Savannah Claar was second in average on the girls side at 156.0, ahead of junior Kristen Mullins (155.2), freshman Hannah Lamar (144.7) and Oliverio (141.4).
"We'll retool like we always have," Brehm said.