With another season in the books, Westerville North High School wrestling coach David Grant already is looking toward next winter.
The Warriors had two seniors -- 182-pounder Mitch Potterf and 220-pounder Jacob Goldsmith -- place sixth in the Division I state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State. However, Grant doesn't linger in the past.
North also had a freshman compete at state in 132-pounder Connor Euton, who went 1-2 to finish 31-10 overall.
"We had 11 kids qualify for district (March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby) and eight of them can come back next year with a leader (Euton) who had been (to state) before," said Grant, who completed his 15th season. "In the years that we have had a person coming back from state, we have had great seasons. Our kids came and supported their guys (at state) and got to watch. Hopefully that pays some dividends."
The Warriors had a state returnee this season in Potterf, who placed seventh at 170 a year ago. Both he and Goldsmith reached semifinal matches, but lost close bouts in that round.
After cruising through the first two rounds with a 16-1 technical fall over Olmsted Falls' Caiden Fetterman and a 32-second pin of Cincinnati Elder's Austin Belcher, Potterf ran into problems. He lost to Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Ben Vanadia in a 10-8 sudden-victory match and then dropped consolation matches to Dublin Coffman's Lennox Wolak (11-7) and Lakewood St. Edward's Hudson Hightower (default) to finish 31-4 overall.
"Mitch's hamstring started bothering him in district and we had to piece it together and get him through," Grant said. "It hurts a lot less when you're winning than if you are losing. In wrestling, something always hurts. You have to be a tough kid to come in and put a tournament together like that when you're hurt."
While Potterf was dealing with injury, Goldsmith had weight as an obstacle throughout the season. He competed at 199 pounds in a class with a weight limit of 220.
Despite the discrepancy, Goldsmith reached a semifinal by pinning Kettering Fairmont's Jaeden Crowe in 5:03 and defeating Barberton's Paul Zentiska 2-1 in sudden victory. He lost to eventual champion Paul Bever of Ashland 5-3 before losing consolation matches to Crowe (3-0) and Zentiska (5-2) to finish 30-9 overall.
"We saw (wrestling at 220) as a better alternative for Jacob, and he made it to state and placed," Grant said. "He was 20 pounds underweight, wrestling the best guys in the state. ... It was fun to watch him, and he joins his brother as a state placer. Brandon Goldsmith placed sixth (at 170 as a senior in 2016)."
Euton defeated Mentor's Nate DeBoe 4-3 in the first round. He had lost to DeBoe 6-4 in the Medina Invitational Tournament in late December.
Euton then was pinned by Cincinnati La Salle's Casey Wiles in 5:52 and fell to Macedonia Nordonia's Jaivon Jones 6-1.
"I need to control my nerves. I was a little bit nervous," Euton said. "It's a big difference from (the) junior high (state tournament) to being here. At the beginning of the season, I didn't think so, but now that I'm here I see that it is a big switch.
"One of the other biggest things I can do is work in the things that I'm bad at and not just on what I'm good at. I need to work on the hard stuff, and not the stuff that comes easy."
Grant was pleased with Euton's effort and the experience he was able to gain.
"Connor didn't just come to state but he came to state and won a match," said Grant, whose team finished 20th (21.5 points) behind champion St. Edward (194.5) as 72 teams scored. "That's great experience."
The Warriors won a sectional title Feb. 23 at Watkins Memorial. Then at district, Potterf and Euton won titles and Goldsmith placed second.
In the OCC-Buckeye Division, North was second (4-1) for the third consecutive season behind Olentangy Liberty (5-0).
Nine starters are expected to return in juniors Jacob Grant (145) and Eli Williams (160), sophomores Sylvester Bockarie (138), Nico Candido (170), Jake Gooding (120), Nate Morse (126) and Gabe Ohle (113) and freshmen Euton and Nick Smith (106).
"We had a lot of sophomores in the lineup and we have nine guys coming back, and it's not just nine guys but nine hard-workers," coach Grant said. "There are guys behind these guys who love to work out and they will be ready for next year, too."
Boys basketball team falls in district semi
The boys basketball team lost to fourth-seeded Liberty 73-57 on March 6 in a Division I district semifinal at Centerburg.
Senior guard Jeremiah Keene had 23 points to lead the 22nd-seeded Warriors, who finished 13-11 overall. Senior forward Philip Alston scored 14 and junior forward Charles Perkins added eight.
"I wish we would have played a little faster in the first half, but we got out there and didn't play fast enough," said sixth-year coach Shan Trusley, whose team trailed 13-5 after one quarter and 31-17 at halftime. "Maybe there was something I could have done to speed up the game, but it would have been nice to play the pace we played in the second half."
The Warriors tied Westerville South for fifth (3-7) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Liberty (9-1).
Keene was second-team all-district and first-team all-league after leading North in scoring (19.0 points), assists (4.7) and steals (1.1). He will play at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, where he will join 2018 graduate Julius Brown.
Alston was second-team all-district and first-team all-league after averaging 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and a team-high 2.4 blocks. He has not selected a college.
"Coach (Patrick) Acocks, one of our assistants, said it best, 'The program is in a better place now than when they started,'" Trusley said. "With anything in life, that's a good thing to say. No matter what it is, if you can put your stamp on something and leave it in a better place, that's a good thing. That's what those two did for us."
Perkins (honorable mention all-district, special mention all-league) averaged 10.9 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds. Sophomore guard Cam Ledford (honorable mention all-league) averaged 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Junior guard Chace Perkins averaged 5.6 points and freshman guard/forward Noah Lawrence averaged 6.2 points.