As Aliya Martin prepared for the inaugural state girls wrestling tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson, she "made a deal" with herself.
"Just keep going 1-0, 1-0 and just take one step at a time," the senior said.
That mentality helped propel Martin to the 137-pound championship match, where she was pinned by a familiar opponent, Olentangy Orange's Taryn Martin, who had beaten Aliya twice during the regular season.
But there was plenty of success for Aliya Martin, who returned to wrestling this season after taking two years off.
She went 3-1 at state, which featured 234 wrestlers representing nearly 100 schools, and junior Cali Lang placed third at 106, as Big Walnut finished 10th (50 points) behind champion Casstown Miami East (149.5) and runner-up Orange (122.5).
"For us to finish 10th in total team points with two wrestlers was pretty awesome," coach Aaron Renner said.
Martin defeated Delaware's Ari Avant 5-0 in a semifinal after pinning her first two opponents.
Lang had a much stepper hill to climb after going 2-1 on first day. She returned the following day to win four consecutive matches, including a 17-10 victory over Hubbard's Kylee Bentley in the third-place match.
"It's always tough when you get beat and you jump down to that losers bracket. It's a long way back," Renner said. "But she just kept rolling and got stronger as the day went on."
Long finished the season at 12-3 and Martin finished 9-3.
The boys team competed in a Division I sectional Feb. 29 at Upper Arlington, where the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the district tournament Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, at Hilliard Darby.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament March 13-15 at Ohio State.
Seasons end for basketball teams
The 25th-seeded boys basketball team was held to its lowest point total of the season in a 49-29 loss to 12th-seeded St. Charles in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 22 at Pickerington North.
Jared Kreager had eight points and Jackson Podraza scored seven for the Golden Eagles, who finished 13-10.
Big Walnut had won three consecutive games entering the postseason.
The 11th-seeded girls team watched its 10-point halftime lead slip away in a 33-30 home loss to 19th-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district tournament second-round game Feb. 21.
Big Walnut, which finished 17-6, led 22-12 at halftime before being outscored 13-2 in the third quarter.
Avery Schone and Alyssa Tarney each scored eight points for the Golden Eagles, who had a first-round bye.
Bowlers conclude season at sectional
The bowling teams concluded their seasons at the Division I sectional Feb. 21 and 22 at HP Lanes, where the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district Feb. 29 at HP Lanes.
The girls team finished 28th (2,577) of 42 teams, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653), on Feb. 22.
Sophomore Casandra Sanders led the Golden Eagles, rolling a 421 three-game series to tie for 68th of 192 bowlers. Sophomore Ashleigh Westervelt (tied for 95th, 396) and senior Aubrey Koon (103rd, 387) also rolled three games, while sophomores Grace Gillispe (241) and Abi Larkin (238) and senior Lauren Thiergartner (213) each rolled two.
The boys team finished 33rd (2,984) of 47 teams, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991), on Feb. 21.
Junior Brayden Buchs tied for 109th (465) of 270 bowlers to lead the Golden Eagles. Senior Andrew Hettinga (tied for 123rd, 442) and sophomore Adam Wilhelm (tied for 145th, 387) also rolled three games, while seniors Jacob Gillispe (278) and Bryan Mengel (273) and freshman Tracy Connor (268) each rolled two.
Gymnasts end season at district
Sophomore Angelina McConnell led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
McConnell finished 103rd of 194 competitors in the all-around with a 26.1. Her top performance was on vault (120th, 7.3).
Also competing were senior Kelsey Ewing, who finished 107th in the all-around (25.45) with her top performances coming on balance beam (125th, 7.0) and vault (134th, 7.05), and junior Sydney Cornwell, who competed only on beam (149th, 4.05).
Senior Ekaterina Brammer and sophomore Kayla Farley did not compete because of injuries.
The top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to state individual meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley.
Big Walnut finished last (55.6) of 27 teams at district, as Thornville Sheridan (144.55), Olentangy Berlin (139.275) and Jerome (138.775) advanced to the state team meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.