Even with one of its top competitors unavailable because of injury, the Dublin Jerome wrestling team earned two victories, including an upset, to reach the semifinal round of the Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament Feb. 8 at Marysville.
Senior Jack Viola was a district qualifier last season at 106 pounds and was expected to be one of the favorites from the area to contend for a state tournament berth, but his status is uncertain going forward because of a knee injury sustained in mid-January.
One of the Celtics' mainstays throughout the season has been senior Joe Huber (220 pounds), who was one of only two competitors along with junior Austin Wagner (113) to win a match during a 69-12 loss to Coffman in a regional semifinal.
Huber was a district alternate last season at 195.
"(Huber) has really put in a lot of work in the offseason," coach Matt White said. "He's really slimmed down and kind of bulked up. He's another guy who is wrestling at a really high level right now. He's beaten some quality guys, wrestling state-caliber kids and going toe-to-toe with them."
Jerome was seeded fifth in Region 5 and opened the team tournament by beating 12th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 46-28. The Celtics then edged fourth-seeded Watkins Memorial 36-33 in a quarterfinal before losing to the top-seeded and eventual champion Shamrocks.
Huber was one of four Celtics to win by pin against Watkins Memorial, with the others being Eli Vilkinofsky (120), Salim Haqq (138) and Anthony Sarosi (152).
Huber, who plans to walk on to the University of Cincinnati football team, is following a similar wrestling trajectory to his older brother.
John Huber, a 2019 graduate, went 0-2 at 195 at the Marysville sectional in 2018 but dropped to 170 as a senior and ended up placing third at the Upper Arlington sectional.
Last season, Viola and John Huber both went 1-2 at district while another senior who has been a key contributor this season, Drew Kavinsky, went 0-2.
Joe Huber went 0-2 at sectional at 182 as a sophomore before placing fifth at sectional last season.
"I've put in a lot more work in the offseason with lifting and just training a lot harder, going to wrestling camps," Joe Huber said. "I wrestled at 195 last year and now I'm at the top of 220 so I gained weight, but it's been good weight. It's been going a lot better (as a team) than in previous seasons."
Jerome is 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division entering its league finale Thursday, Feb. 13, at home against Scioto. The Celtics then will play host to the All-North Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The individual postseason begins Feb. 29.
"John, my brother, got to district last year and my goal is to make it to state this year," Joe Huber said. "I'll be conditioning a lot more to try to keep my endurance up. Other than that, I'll just keep working hard. There's a lot of good 220-pounders this year. So far, it's been fun."
Gymnasts share OCC championship
The gymnastics team settled for a runner-up finish in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 6 at Worthington Kilbourne but still had reason to celebrate that night.
The 139.575 score the Celtics posted was just behind Olentangy Berlin (139.725) but was good enough for a program record.
In addition, it gave Jerome a share of the overall league title with the Bears after going 7-0 in the league duals. The Celtics and Berlin, which went 6-1 in league duals, both totaled 30 points in the overall standings.
"A win is a win and I think anyone who is a sports fan will tell you that tying or having a share kind of stinks, but all in all, we really did everything we could," coach Kristen Willms said. "(Berlin is) a tough team and they've got really good kids. I can't pinpoint one event or one thing we really could have been better on. Obviously, there are things we can come back and fix and improve upon, but I'm happy with (the girls). They literally had the best meet Jerome has ever had."
Raegan Ernst defended her league title in the all-around with a 37.35. She won floor exercise (9.45), vault (9.3) and uneven bars (9.45) and was second on balance beam (9.15).
"It was pretty good," Ernst said. "We started on beam and it definitely wasn't my best, but all the other events I did really well on, so it kind of caught me up after my beam score."
Izzy Willms was sixth in the all-around (34.65), seventh on vault (8.45) and eighth on bars (8.5) and tied for sixth on floor (9.0), while Grace Krouse was ninth in the all-around (34.05) and sixth on beam (9.05) and tied for seventh on bars (8.6). Carrie Gosky added an eighth-place finish on vault (8.25).
The Celtics next compete Feb. 22 in the district meet at Kilbourne, where the top three teams advance to the state team meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley.
Willms expects the host Wolves, who scored 138.55 in the league meet, to be among the teams battling for a state berth, along with Jerome, Berlin and defending district champion Thornville Sheridan.
"Sheridan's going to be tough to beat, Berlin is going to be tough to beat, Kilbourne's tough to beat, so we're just going to have to see how it plays out," Willms said.
Swimmers set for district meet
Members of the swimming and diving teams are competing in the Division I district meet at Ohio State, which began Feb. 12 with boys diving and concludes Thursday, Feb. 13, with boys and girls swimming and girls diving.
The top six boys divers, the top four girls divers, the top two finishers in each swimming event and 16 at-large berths in each event at district based on times statewide advance to the state meet Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In a sectional Feb. 8 at Kenyon College, the boys team finished first (420.5) of 11 teams and the girls were second (349.5) of 11 teams behind Coffman (398).
Capturing titles for the boys were Reno James in the 100-yard butterfly (51.4 seconds), Ian Smith in the 100 freestyle (46.81) and the 400 free relay of James, Carson Smith, Austin Davis and Ian Smith (3:11.06), while James tied for second in the 200 individual medley (1:54.85). Also placing second were the 200 free relay of Ian Smith, Davis, Carson Smith and James (1:27.48) and Ian Smith in the 100 breaststroke (58.11).
For the girls team, Maya Geringer won both the 200 free (1:51.4) and 500 free (4:57.04), Libby Grether was runner-up in the 100 backstroke (58.16) and the 200 free relay of Macy Weeks, Zoe Musselman, Michelle Yang and Geringer placed second (1:40.76).
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, girls basketball and hockey teams:
*Feb. 14 -- At Scioto. The Celtics lost to the Irish 46-39 on Jan. 10.
Feb. 22 -- At 20th-seeded Olentangy Orange in first round of Division I district tournament. The Celtics are seeded 31st.
Feb. 14 -- Home vs. 35th-seeded Thomas Worthington in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 11th-seeded Big Walnut in second round Feb. 21. The Celtics are seeded 19th.
Feb. 13 -- Fourth-seeded New Albany in first round of Blue Jackets Cup tournament at OhioHealth Ice Haus. Winner plays top-seeded Upper Arlington or eighth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller in second round Feb. 15 at Ice Haus. Final is Feb. 16 at Ice Haus. The Celtics are seeded fifth.