Maggie Mann had to pay close attention to every match during two seasons as a statistician for the Pickerington North wrestling team.

Not only did Mann take notes on paper, but she continually learned the sport and became more excited to compete.

One season under her belt and an appearance in the inaugural Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association girls state tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson only has increased Mann's excitement about her future in the sport.

Mann, a sophomore, went 1-2 in the tournament at 143 pounds in her first season with the Panthers. Being one of 234 competitors in 14 weight classes was a long way from when Mann took up statistician duties at the same time her brother, T.J., began competing and as something to do between playing volleyball in the fall and softball in the spring.

"I did stats for (two years) and then my freshman year, everybody told me I ought to wrestle. I figured maybe I should try it out, so this year I did," Mann said. "I am not sure why people would tell me that, maybe because I was always there. I was really interested in the sport while I was taking stats. I was never bummed out to spend my weekend at a wrestling tournament. I was happy I'd get to watch wrestling."

Mann originally wasn't sure whether wrestling would fit into a busy schedule that also includes 4-H and band. But once she joined the team, she fit in right away.

"She works as hard as any of these guys. She is the prototypical kid you want to come out; she does everything asked of her and does it hard," coach Derek Oney said. "She's mean. I like that. She wants to be good. That's how she practices. If you ask any of our coaches, she wrestles us harder than some of these other guys wrestle us. She doesn't hold back and she's eager to learn."

All three of Mann's matches at state were decided by pin. She lost to Delaware's Chloe Diehl in 3 minutes, 7 seconds and defeated Marysville's Lauren Sloboda in 2:17 before falling to Casstown Miami East's Korrah Paton in 38 seconds.

"She does really heavy snaps and we've emphasized moving our hands," Oney said. "She can score from the top position. She needs to work on her takedowns and escapes, but I think that goes for everybody on the team."

One obstacle Mann has had to overcome is a hearing loss she described as "moderate to severe." She has worn hearing aids in both ears since seventh grade and, while she generally can hear Oney and her teammates during practice, sometimes has to rely on lip-reading to receive instruction in louder environments.

T.J. Mann, a freshman who competes at 132 and 138 and frequently spars with his sister in practice, said his sister's impairment does not hamper her performance.

"She's very competitive at everything," he said. "It's like wrestling anybody else. I just feel like I have to win no matter what. I don't think about the fact that I'm wrestling my sister."

Maggie Mann said the atmosphere of the girls state tournament was unique.

"All the girls talked to me more than the guys would," she said. "Guys wouldn't come up to me and ask me about my weight class or how long I'd been wrestling, but immediately (at state) people talked to you. Everybody clicked. They knew what it was like to be alone on a team so we all got along."

Boys team rolls into district semi

The fifth-seeded boys basketball team played 16th-seeded Chillicothe in a Division I district semifinal March 4, needing two wins to capture its second consecutive district championship and third in four seasons.

North was 20-4 before playing the Cavaliers, coming off a 51-34 win over 42nd-seeded Hilliard Davidson in a second-round home game Feb. 28. Hunter Shedenhelm had a game-high 15 points and five players added six points each as the Panthers raced to a 27-5 halftime lead.

North began the postseason with a 73-36 home win over 36th-seeded Logan in the first round Feb. 22. Dior Conners had 16 points and Casey George added 11 to lead the Panthers.

The North-Chillicothe winner will play seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington or ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a district final Saturday, March 7, at Ohio Dominican. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 12 at Ohio Dominican.

Girls team ends rough season

All but one player is eligible to return next year for the girls basketball team, which went 2-21 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio Division.

Coach Silas Williams believes that will help the Panthers' overall development next season.

"I tell them all the time that the best (learning) doesn't always come from wins and losses. It comes in practice and in the locker room," said Williams, whose 42nd-seeded Panthers lost 50-20 at sixth-seeded Westerville North in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 21. "What we want to do every single day is get better and that's exactly what we did. With four freshmen and four or five sophomores and three juniors, we got better every single day.

"They might not see it now. Sometimes it's hard to see it. Losing 21 games, you can't see it, but they'll see it the next time they step on the floor next season. That's what you want, progress."

Junior forward Drew Ultican was named special mention all-league and junior forward/center Jada Moultair was honorable mention all-league.

North finished sixth in the OCC-Ohio behind co-champions Gahanna and Pickerington Central (both 9-1).

The Panthers' wins came against Westland (75-28 on Dec. 10) and Groveport (52-37 on Jan. 21).

Other players eligible to return include junior guard Alsaysha Grant and sophomore guard Adi Dorman.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave