Big Walnut senior wrestler Ryan Coletta knows February and March matter most in the season.
Not only are the Golden Eagles preparing for the coming Division I team dual tournament as well as the individual tournament, but they also have the OCC-Capital Division championship in their sights.
"We've got to finish strong and keep wrestling the way we've been wrestling," Coletta said. "We've just been keeping the same attitude throughout, and that's 1-0 in the OCC every week."
Big Walnut was 3-0 in OCC-Capital duals prior to facing Franklin Heights on Jan. 30. The Golden Eagles finish the league schedule Feb. 14 at New Albany, where they could win their first OCC title since 2008.
"I had a long talk after practice the other night about not letting your guard down," coach Aaron Renner said. "There's a reason why we wrestle the matches. I asked them, 'Who in here has either beaten somebody with a higher seed in a tournament or lost to somebody with a lower seed?' Every single one of them raised their hands."
The Golden Eagles will be up against some of the area's top teams in the Region 5 team dual tournament Saturday, Feb. 8, at Marysville. The region champion advances to a state quarterfinal Feb. 16 at Ohio State.
Big Walnut's success has come despite having only two returning district qualifiers, including Coletta, who was 30-7 at 152 pounds before Jan. 30.
The other returning district qualifier, senior Max Lenz, recently returned from a shoulder injury suffered in December. He was 17-1 at heavyweight before Jan. 30.
Lenz finished first to lead Big Walnut in the Mason Boyd Memorial Tournament on Jan. 25 at Watkins Memorial. The Golden Eagles finished seventh (143 points) of 14 teams, behind champion Springboro (298.5).
Other top performers on the season for Big Walnut include senior Christian Jodrey (16-11 at 120 before Jan. 30), sophomores Andrew Parker (27-8 at 106), Austin O'Malley (19-14 at 195) and Wyatt Lenz (23-14 at 182) and freshman Vince Giordano (22-11 at 113).
"I think they've realized since we only have one junior, they're basically upperclassmen," Coletta said of the sophomores and freshmen. "They realize their role just got a lot bigger. We've had some tight duals where guys have gotten a pin or won a match they weren't supposed to win."
"Guys have been stepping up," Renner said. "I keep telling our freshmen and sophomores that it's time you beat someone who on paper you shouldn't beat. And we've gotten some of those wins and that's been huge for us."
Swimmers getting ready for sectional
After turning in strong performances in the OCC-Capital meet, the boys and girls swimming and diving teams are preparing for a 15-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 8, at Thomas Worthington.
The winner of each swimming event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Feb. 13 at Ohio State. There is no diving at sectional.
Both teams finished runner-up in the league meet Jan. 25 at Kenyon College.
The boys team scored 490.5 points to finish behind New Albany (594.5) and ahead of Canal Winchester (293), Newark (138) and Groveport (91).
The 200-yard medley relay of Zander Murnieks, Micah Tillar, Braden Buckler and Roy Roberto (1 minute, 54.58 seconds), the 200 freestyle relay of Christopher Lee, Roberto, Nathan Wion and John Grumney (1:39.45) and the 400 free relay of Wion, Charlie Jaeger, Buckler and Lee (3:49.12) all placed second, and Murnieks finished third in the 100 backstroke (1:02.63).
The girls team totaled 363.5 points to finish behind New Albany (616) and ahead of Canal Winchester (317), Groveport (253.5) and Newark (218).
In diving, Mackenna Ames placed second (294) and Macy Roberto was third (256.7).
Also placing third were the 200 medley relay of Eva Lane, Jordan May, Sam Blackburn and Karli Murnieks (2:09.93) and the 400 free relay of Taylor Wilson, Jamie May, Simone Huff and Lane (4:44.82).
Girls team suffers back-to-back losses
The girls basketball team's seven-game winning streak came to an end with a 42-37 overtime loss to New Albany on Jan. 24.
The Golden Eagles then lost to Westerville North 48-33 on Jan. 28 and were 13-4 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing Newark on Jan. 31.
Abby Brown had 11 points and Alyssa Tarney scored 10 against North, which outscored Big Walnut 17-5 in the second quarter.
Against New Albany, Brown had 11 points and Alexis Schone and Avery Schone added 10 and nine points, respectively.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Feb. 7 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights. The Golden Eagles defeated the Falcons 65-49 on Jan. 3.
Feb. 8 -- At River Valley
Feb. 4 -- At Marysville
*Feb. 7 -- At Franklin Heights. The Golden Eagles defeated the Falcons 47-6 on Jan. 3.
Feb. 8 -- At Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan
Feb. 3 -- Morral Ridgedale at Blue Fusion
*Feb. 4 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
Feb. 8 -- Coach's Challenge at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 9 -- Division I sectional at Thomas Worthington
Feb. 8 -- Division I team dual tournament at Marysville