The Division I postseason is the last hurrah for the seniors on the Worthington Kilbourne wrestling team, and they're looking to make the most of it.
The Wolves have a chance to make up for a 0-7 finish in the OCC-Cardinal Division in 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.
Senior Jay Thompson heads into the postseason with aspirations of winning the state title at 220 pounds. He was a state qualifier last season, going 0-2 at 220 to finish 37-9.
Thompson has enjoyed a similarly successful season this winter. He finished the regular season 33-4, including first-place finishes in the SWOWCA Coaches Classic on Dec. 21 and 22 at Harrison and the Top Gun Tournament on Jan. 17 and 18 at Alliance. Thompson earned his 100th career win in a 62-9 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 20 in the league finale.
Other seniors such as Andrew Rice (170) and Sean Hoffman (138) are looking to leave their mark on the program.
"I think for most of us seniors, the expectations are high," Rice said. "We're both nervous and excited because I think we know we have potential. But we have to fulfill that."
Rice has aspirations of making it to the district tournament.
"Last year I won a match at sectionals, and this year I'm trying to make it out, actually," he said. "I think that'd be a good way to cap off my career."
Coach Jose Martinez said qualifying for district would be a nice reward for the efforts they've made.
"Some of these seniors that have been around for a while, I know for a fact that last year some of them watched from the sideline ... I want them to feel what it's like to (compete at) district," Martinez said. "The challenge is big, but anything's possible."
While the Wolves have endured challenges this season and many of the young wrestlers in the program are still a work in progress, Martinez likes the effort and improvement he's seen.
"We're making progress," he said. "I'm hoping it shows down the road here, but I know they've been working hard. They've been learning technique, they've been working hard on lifting weights, doing conditioning, focusing on all the little aspects that we've been having trouble with throughout the season, breaking it down and trying to make corrections."
When the Wolves take to the mats for postseason competition, Martinez hopes his athletes don't overthink things and remember what they've learned this year.
"One of the main things I tell them is: 'just go out there and wrestle,' " he said. "Just focus on getting the next point, or getting the next takedown. Put what you've learned on the mat. Go out there and let it fly."
Girls relays swim at state
The girls swimming and diving team's 200-yard freestyle relay and 200 medley relay competed in the Division I state meet Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The 200 free relay of sophomores Nanami Campbell and Evie DeCarlo, freshman Paige Delma and junior Lauren Richner placed 17th in 1 minute, 38.65 seconds.
That relay, which also qualified for state last year, finished fourth (1:38.16) at district Feb. 13 at Ohio State and was the 18th seed at state.
Those four also swam on the 200 medley relay, which finished 18th (1:49.39) at state after placing sixth (school-record 1:47.57) at district. It also was the 18th seed.
First-year coach Keeler Callahan said the relay's three veterans -- Campbell, DeCarlo and Richner -- performed consistently well all season.
"They've been there before, they've done that," he said. "They were calm and cool under pressure. They knew what to do throughout the season. They knew what kind of work they had to put in."
But it was the addition of Delma that allowed the relays to pick up where they left off from the previous season.
"Really that big question mark was replacing (2019 graduate and former relay member) Haley Banner," Callahan said. "I had hopes for Paige Delma, but she exceeded all those hopes and she outperformed anything I could ever wish for. She was definitely the final piece, and we wouldn't be able to get to the state meet without her."
Girls team defeats Marion Harding
The 13th-seeded girls basketball team defeated 21st-seeded Marion Harding 47-36 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 21.
Sophomore guard Lauren Scott led the Wolves with 20 points, followed by senior guard Julia Taylor with 13.
"We have a lot of players stepping up right now and there is no better time for that," coach Stephanie Jones said. "Any time I have three or more players scoring in double digits I am happy. That is how you compete and beat good teams, and Marion Harding was a good team. I am proud of our girls."
Kilbourne lost to Harding in its season opener, 50-38 on Nov. 22.
The Wolves played at second-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal Feb. 26, with the winner to face fifth-seeded Pickerington Central or 17th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district final Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The district champion plays in a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at Otterbein.
Bowlers advance to district tourney
The girls bowling team and junior Connor Burke of the boys team will compete in the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
The girls advanced by finishing eighth (2,970) at sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).
Freshman Brenna Burrell led with a 512 three-game series to finish 15th of 192 bowlers. She was followed by junior Grace Meisel (473, 32nd), freshman Delaney Rossette (453, 41st) and sophomore Ellie Needleman (391, 100th).
Burke rolled a 607 to finish 10th of 270 bowlers in the boys sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes. He was followed by junior Cole Niemantsverdriet (509, 73rd).
The boys finished 19th (3,470) behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991), missing a district berth by 28 pins.
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.