Building mental toughness is the focus of Hilliard Bradley wrestling coach John Riggs in preparing his team for the postseason.
The Jaguars will compete in a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Watkins Memorial, with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Darby.
"There aren't too many people who go through sectional, district and state undefeated," Riggs said. "There are four qualifying spots in each tournament and everyone but the champion has to endure a loss and refocus and harden themselves.
"They need to learn what they can from that match, but there is a quick turnaround to face the next opponent. That's the reality of postseason wrestling. It requires as much mental discipline as it does physical discipline."
Seniors Alex Schmidt (145 pounds) and Mason Wood (152) are looking to qualify for district for the first time.
"I think that in the postseason it's important not to lose focus, but just chase after the same goals that you were the first week," Schmidt said. "The postseason is pretty much what you have been working on all year. It's a chance to show everyone what you have been working on in the practice room."
Wood sees this postseason as a culmination of what he has learned over the course of his career.
"I think it's important to look back on everything you have come through when assessing how you are going to do in the postseason," he said. "The amount of work you have put in as a senior and being here for four years, it all builds up into one final run. Everything you ever learned, everything you have ever worked for and all of the skills you have acquired over the years, you can put all of that toward one final goal."
Wood said it's also important to be in peak physical condition heading into sectional.
"I think that conditioning at this point in the year is a really big factor," he said. "There are a lot of matches that I have been in where I have been on the receiving end of it and others where I was the one that was more conditioned.
"The guy that you are wrestling, if everything is even in the end, it's going to come down to who is better conditioned. It's about whoever wants to push the pace and whoever wants to win it more. That matters more than seeding if you are outworking a guy."
Senior Logan Germaine (160), junior Deacon Sawchuk (132) and sophomore Matthew Cooper (195) were district qualifiers last season.
Riggs said when his wrestlers compete at sectional, they receive a reward for a long season.
"It's something that you prepare for all season long," Riggs said. "The postseason is the crown jewel of any wrestling season. You have mentally and physically harden yourself to the intensity, pace and the demands of the postseason.
"It's an exciting time of the year, but it's also something that's part of our preparation all season long. There is certainly a different feel in the air and a certain intensity for the sectional, district and state tournaments than for any other time of the year."
Girls bowling team advances to district
The girls bowling team will compete in a Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
The Jaguars finished seventh (3,151) of 42 teams in the sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).
Olivia Johnson (582 three-game series) was third of 192 bowlers to lead Bradley. Katie Yabroff (531, 12th), Callie Hribar (459, 38th) and Marisabel Aguilar (403, 88th) also rolled three games for the Jaguars.
The top 16 teams and the top 16 individuals not on those teams at both sectionals advanced to district.
Brandon Dever of the boys team qualified for district as an individual. He rolled a 544 in the sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes to finish 40th of 270 bowlers and earn the 11th individual district berth.
Bradley finished 22nd (3,405) of 47 teams, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991). Groveport (3,498) was the 16th qualifier.
Nick Caruso (491, 83rd) and Nick Curran (472, tied for 104th) also rolled three games for the Jaguars.
At district, the top three boys teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams as well as the top four girls teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 6 and 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Girls basketball team reaches district semi
The 10th-seeded girls basketball team played seventh-seeded Gahanna on Feb. 26 in a Division I district semifinal.
The winner faces fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman or 19th-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district final Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The Jaguars split with Jerome in OCC-Cardinal Division play, winning 47-29 on Dec. 20 and losing 46-44 on Feb. 4.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at Otterbein.
Bradley had a first-round bye before defeating 29th-seeded Marysville 36-32 in the second round Feb. 21. Chloe Callahan had 18 points and Macy Chapman scored eight.