Coming off a strong regular season that included winning the OCC-Cardinal Division title, the Delaware Hayes wrestling team is brimming with confidence entering the postseason.
The Pacers finished 7-0 in the OCC-Cardinal, securing the outright championship with a 61-10 win over Olentangy Berlin on Feb. 13. They had finished second in the league behind Hilliard Darby last season after sharing the title with Hilliard Bradley two years ago.
"That was goal No. 1, to win a conference title. And now we're looking to win sectional titles, district titles and getting state medals," coach Kevin Rieman said. "We got that first step and now we're going to build off of it."
"I think we ended pretty well on a nice win against Berlin to get the OCC title," said senior Corbin May, who is 36-3 at 170 pounds. "In my four years of being here, we've never gotten the OCC title to ourselves ... it was pretty nice getting that title."
Delaware will spend this week preparing to compete in a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Marysville, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Darby.
"It's been a great season. This group really bought into our offseason training ... and I think that hard work is showing," Rieman said. "It's a really big senior class and they're a tight-knit group, and they follow each other. That's really been a key to these guys' success.
"When they're practicing, it's not just going through the motions. You could walk in our room and pick out who those guys are, because it looks different. Their focus, their intensity ... it's elite. They're very well versed and it stands out."
May is among the Pacers' top performers heading into the postseason. Others include seniors Nate Robinson (heavyweight, 37-7), Mason Sutandar (182, 35-3), Emmett Cain (160, 29-9) and Tristan Burton (145, 26-12) and juniors Clay Ours (195, 35-7) and Tamas Eder (113, 22-11).
May, Sutandar and Cain were state qualifiers last season.
"I think everyone's conditioning is there," May said when asked about preparations for the postseason. "I think it's just sharpening what you've got and what we have."
The girls team spent last week preparing for the inaugural state tournament, which began Feb. 22 and concludes Sunday, Feb. 23, at Hilliard Davidson.
Ari Avant went 12-2 in the regular season and was seeded third at state at 137. Freshman Kelcey Dew was seeded fourth at 121 and senior Chloe Diehl was seeded sixth at 143, while junior Jordan Rutherford (106) and freshmen Madelyn Graham (111) and Meredith Milligan (126) also were expected to compete at state.
"We're all so excited," Avant said of the state tournament. "This is the first time this is happening and we get to be a part of it for the first time. We're excited to see what we can do."
Swimmers compete at state meet
The swimming and diving teams were represented in the Division I state meet held Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Competing for the boys team were divers Sam Sulek and Mark Sulek. In the district meet Feb. 12 at Ohio State, Sam Sulek placed fourth (516.25 points) as the top six qualified for state. Mark Sulek finished eighth (409.45), but advanced to state because district champion Jordan Rzepka of New Albany (state-record 684.15) and third-place Jack Matthews of Olentangy Liberty (659.8) skipped state to compete in an international diving meet in Germany.
Competing at state for the girls team were Mackenzie Carter in the 50-yard freestyle and the 200 free relay of Carter, Elizabeth Abahazi, Kailyn Smith and Rena Ouyang.
At district Feb. 13 at Ohio State, Carter placed ninth in the 50 free (23.85 seconds) and the 200 free relay was fifth (1:38.52). Both Carter and the relay earned at-large state berths.
Also at district for the girls, Carter placed ninth in the 100 free (52.97), the 200 medley relay of Abahazi, Carter, Smith and Ouyang finished 10th (1:50.84), the 400 free relay of Emilie Abahazi, Katie Amrine, Lauren Ertz and Hannah Sturman finished 15th (3:54.19), Smith was 15th in the 100 butterfly (58.18) and 16th in the 50 free (24.96) and Elizabeth Abahazi was 23rd in the 500 free (5:29.16) and 25th in the 200 free (2:04.15).
Also for the boys at district, the 200 free relay of Aidan Stojkov, Caleb Bucher, Kaden Gannon and Max Etheridge placed 10th (1:30.95), the 400 free relay of Gannon, Etheridge, Bucher and Stojkov finished 14th (3:28.14), Bucher was 19th in the 200 free (1:49.71) and 20th in the 100 free (49.58), Stojkov finished 18th in the 100 backstroke (55.38) and 27th in the 50 free (22.65) and the 200 medley relay was disqualified.
Girls team falls in district opener
The 18th-seeded girls basketball team lost 60-42 at home against 29th-seeded Marysville in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 15 to finish 14-9 overall.
Junior guard Alexis Amabile led the Pacers with 12 points and junior post player Jordan Lantz scored 10.
Delaware finished 14-9 overall and went 7-7 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Berlin for fifth behind co-champions Bradley and Worthington Kilbourne (11-3). Last season, the Pacers finished 11-12 overall and 3-1 in the league.
"Obviously, the tournament was kind of a letdown, but we were happy that we moved forward," coach Lou Tiberi said. "Having a winning record for the first time in a long time was an important goal for the girls, and we hope we can build on that next year."
Expected key returnees include Amabile and Lantz, sophomore guard Chloe Jeffers, junior forward Alyssa Griner and junior guard Karli Theis.
Amabile and Jeffers were named first-team all-league, Griner was second-team all-league and Theis was honorable mention all-league.
The boys basketball team opens its postseason this week, while the postseason is underway for the gymnastics and bowling teams.
The 18th-seeded boys basketball team had a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament and will play at 12th-seeded St. Charles or at home against 25th-seeded Big Walnut in the second round Friday, Feb. 28.
The gymnastics team competed in the district meet Feb. 22 at Kilbourne.
The boys bowling team competed in the Division I sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes and the girls team competed at sectional Feb. 22 at the same venue.