It was a night of redemption for the Westerville North wrestling team against OCC-Buckeye Division nemesis Olentangy Liberty.
Not only did the Warriors snap a three-year losing streak to the host Patriots and clinch the league title with a convincing 41-29 victory Feb. 13, but in the dual, North got a pair of key victories by wrestlers who avenged past losses.
North won three consecutive OCC-Cardinal championships from 2014-16 before finishing second to the Patriots in the teams' first three seasons in the OCC-Buckeye. It lost to Liberty 56-9 in 2017, 35-25 in 2018 and 34-32 last season.
"Everybody collectively did their job," said coach David Grant, whose team finished 5-0 in the league as Liberty went 4-1. "I told them to just be calm and trust their training. I felt that if we got too emotional, that's where we failed in the past."
The Warriors received key victories from Sylvester Bockarie at 152 pounds and Nico Candido at 160. Bockarie defeated Ethan Stamp 4-1 after being pinned in 2 minutes, 16 seconds in their first meeting Dec. 14 in the Liberty Classic.
"(Stamp) caught me with double-boots, arm-barred me and then turned me to my back," Bockarie said. "Over time this year, we worked on defending that and how to escape it and work out of it. I applied that tonight and we got that done."
Candido pinned Jayce Fitzpatrick in 2:45 after losing to him 4-2 in the Liberty Classic and 8-6 in the Medina Invitational Tournament two weeks later.
"After losing to him twice, it was really good to come back and get the pin," Candido said. "I went for a dump and he tried to cradle me off it. I stuck my head out and caught his head and legs and kept squeezing. He tried to get up, but I was able to hook his foot."
Brennan Albertini sealed the victory -- and the league championship -- by pinning Chase Kuhl in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 14 seconds at 220.
"I really was trying not to think about anything," Albertini said. "I just was trying to work as hard as I could and try to get it done early and be physical. I hipped him and I threw him down with an over-under throw, and he went right to his back."
Nate Morse (132) and Eli Williams (170) also won by pin, and Connor Euton (138) and Edwin White (126) won by major decision. Jake Gooding (120) and Gabe Ohle (113) won by decision.
The Warriors next compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 29 at Watkins Memorial.
"It's something to build on," Grant said. "We'll enjoy this tonight and tomorrow and then wipe the chalkboard and get back to work. That's what we do whether we win or lose. We celebrate it or mourn it, and then we get back to work and get after it."
Yeager leads boys swimmers at district
Hayden Yeager led the boys swimming and diving team in the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State, placing third in the 100-yard butterfly in 50.99 seconds.
North finished 18th (32.5 points) behind champion Upper Arlington (381.5) as 23 teams scored.
The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to the state meet Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded in each swimming event based on district times statewide.
Here's a list of area state qualifiers.
Yeager also finished 12th in the 200 individual medley (1:56.99) and was a member of the 13th-place 400 freestyle relay (3:26.53) with Paul Buckley, Gabriel Charles and Joshua Dewey.
Christy Harper led the girls team, finishing seventh in the 100 backstroke (57.32) and swimming on the 12th-place 200 medley relay (1:52.43) with Alaina Bernsdorf, Abigail Bosler and Allie Thompson.
Bernsdorf was 13th in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.94).
The Warriors finished 14th (41) behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored.
Boys basketball team preps for postseason
The 28th-seeded boys basketball team opens the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 22, at 21st-seeded Marysville.
The Warriors are 9-13 overall. They defeated the Monarchs 51-45 on Jan. 7 as Chace Perkins scored 14 points and Noah Lawrence added 13.
The winner plays at 16th-seeded Chillicothe on Feb. 28 in the second round.
North finished 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye after losing to Olentangy Orange 60-55 on Feb. 14. Perkins and Dalton John both scored 14 points, and Charles Perkins had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The boys and girls bowling teams will open their postseasons this week.
The boys team will compete in the Division I sectional Friday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes. The girls will compete the following day at the same site.