Westerville South wrestling coach George Crooks treats each postseason as a new beginning for his team.
The Wildcats enter the 13-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Newark with hopes of several wrestlers qualifying for district. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight advance to state March 13-15 at Ohio State.
"No matter what happens during the year, it's a fresh start and you change direction," Crooks said. "It's almost like a new season. We try to get everybody pumped up. When things are getting stale, it's like switching gears into something positive."
Leading the way should be senior Aaron Morton, who will begin his pursuit of a second consecutive state berth. He placed fourth at 160 pounds last season to finish 41-5.
Morton is 36-3 this season while competing at 160.
"It's hard to believe (Morton's prep career) is almost over," Crooks said. "As we get older, time goes quicker. You try to reflect and think about how he was his freshman year. He was OK and then he started coming on. Now he's fabulous and has very high expectations, which I think he can achieve."
Junior heavyweight Frankie Achambeng is seeking his first district berth in his second year in the sport.
"People were saying last year was my first year and don't worry about it," said Achambeng, who is 24-16 on the season. "I did all the work. If you do all the work, you expect to win. I worked hard in the offseason with the Columbus Wrestling Club. I want to wrestle my best and hope for the best."
Junior Fuanyi Fobellah is 23-3 and a district hopeful at 113.
Juniors Nick Ifju (30-11, 145) and Andrew DeVictor (16-16, 138), sophomore Tyler O'Reilly (27-13, 220) and freshman Nikita Kitaev (18-14, 106) also are seeking district berths.
The Newark sectional features the district's top two teams in top-seeded Dublin Coffman and second-seeded Lancaster. The 24th-seeded Wildcats are the next highest-seeded team at Newark.
"Dublin Coffman and Lancaster are two of the best teams there, but for those third and fourth spots we might have some kids to battle and get out," Crooks said. "I'd like to see seven (qualify for district). That would have to be people who haven't been winning a lot stepping up and having a great day. You have to have high hopes and see how it all shakes out."
Ellsworth swims in first state meet
Sophomore swimmer Emily Ellsworth competed in her first Division I state meet Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, finishing 19th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, 6.42 seconds.
"Emily's first experience at state was exceptionally positive," coach CJ Morabito said. "She swam a superb race and was right in target for the first three lengths. She missed her target just a little on that fourth lap and fell short on her goal time, which would have landed her in the (consolation final Feb. 22).
"The field was extremely competitive, and it is a huge achievement to finish 19th overall. Her eyes are set on making the finals next year as a junior, which is certainly well within reach."
With just two seniors in the program -- Dakota Kivel for the boys and Lauriel Richards for the girls -- Morabito expects a bright future for both teams.
"The growth we have seen on our team this year has been incredible," Morabito said. "We brought in a lot of athletes that were pretty new to the sport and spent a lot of time building their skills. It's been exciting and impressive to see the growth, and I'm optimistic that we will continue to grow our numbers next year."
Girls team wins second-round game
The girls basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal with a 56-29 win over 30th-seeded Lancaster in a second-round game Feb. 21 at home.
Aja Austin led South with 14 points, followed by Nelia Guice with 13 and Tamara Ortiz with 11.
The third-seeded Wildcats were 19-4 before playing 15th-seeded Hartley in a semifinal Feb. 26. The winner plays sixth-seeded Westerville North or ninth-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district final Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion plays Dublin Scioto, Pickerington Central, Watterson or Worthington Kilbourne in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at Otterbein.
Bowling teams advance to district
The boys bowling team advanced to the Division I district tournament by finishing 15th (3,501) of 47 teams at sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991).
Henry Tran led the Wildcats by tying for 40th of 192 bowlers with a 544 three-game series.
The girls team also advanced to district by finishing 13th (2,847) of 42 teams at sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).
Alexzandria Stewart tied for 55th of 192 bowlers with a 433 series to lead the Wildcats.
The top 16 teams at sectional advanced to district Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.