Despite its 1-6 finish in the OCC-Cardinal Division, the Thomas Worthington wrestling team plans to show what it's capable of in the postseason.
The Cardinals, who beat Kilbourne 34-30 on Feb. 13 for their league win, are feeling optimistic heading into a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class from the Marysville, Newark, Upper Arlington and Watkins Memorial sectionals advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
"As a team, I think we've been doing pretty well recently," said sophomore Michael Blain, who competes at 132 pounds.
"I think we're doing pretty well. I'm feeling pretty confident going in," said senior Nick Harris, who competes at 145.
Thomas has five district qualifiers back from last year in sophomores Majed Ahmad (160), Blain, Charlie Erickson (126) and Channing Thornton (120) and two-time district-qualifier Mason Gates (220), a junior.
Assistant coach Ross Sandridge said Erickson has come the furthest this year, coming off a tough freshman season that ended on a high note with a district berth.
"He's the most improved on the team," Sandridge said. "He's pulling wins out left and right."
Erickson and Thornton are two wrestlers who will be entering the postseason with high expectations.
"(Thornton is) coming in ready to go. We're looking for big things from him," Sandridge said. "(With Erickson it's the) same thing. He's a returning district qualifier as a freshman. Obviously, he's looking solid there."
Multiple wrestlers have winning records going into postseason competition, including Ahmad (21-15), Blain (22-8), Gates (29-8), Harris (17-15), sophomore Brayden Jamison (170, 24-9) and Thornton (26-13).
"The biggest thing right now is just making sure we're on point as far as our technique goes," Sandridge said. "Basically just drilling as well as really getting after it.
"As far as conditioning goes, I haven't seen any flaws there. We're right where we want to be as far as that goes. Technique-wise, we need to get a little better, and I think that just comes with having a young team."
Boys swimmers compete at state
One individual and one relay from the boys swimming and diving team competed in the Division I state meet Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The 200-yard medley relay of freshman Matt Fralic, junior Eli Short, junior Grant Simeone and senior Sam Steele finished 14th in 1 minute, 36.46 seconds. The relay entered as the 12th seed after placing sixth in the district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State in a school-record 1:35.55.
"From the first meet, I saw that relay had potential," first-year coach Keeler Callahan said. "We kept that relay together throughout the year, and they got better chemistry and they knew each other better. At districts, they had a chance to put it all together and they had just about the most perfect swim they could have."
Short also competed in the 50 freestyle, placing 22nd (21.76).
The Cardinals placed 43rd (6) at state behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 53 teams scored.
Bowlers move on to district tourney
The girls bowling team finished 11th (2,892) behind champion Westerville Central (3,653) in the Division I sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, earning a berth to the district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
Junior Hannah Innes led the Wolves with a 442, placing 50th of 192 bowlers and one spot ahead of junior Paige Stephens (441, 51st). Seniors Samantha Haunty and Ruby Matthews-Napper also rolled three games, finishing with 433 and 357, respectively.
Senior Nate Johnson will represent the boys team at district. At sectional Feb. 21, he rolled a 559 to finish 27th of 270 bowlers.
Senior Taven Holcomb-Green finished behind him with a 489, placing 88th.
The boys team finished 35th (2,955) behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991).
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district.
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.