Joe Huber of the Dublin Jerome wrestling team didn't let a tough loss keep him from reaching his goal during the Division I district tournament March 7 at Hilliard Darby.

After winning his first two matches at 220 pounds, the senior lost to Groveport's Jake Nelson 7-3 in a semifinal to drop into the fourth round of consolation.

Huber responded during his state-qualifying match by beating Worthington Kilbourne's Jay Thompson 8-6 to advance to state for the first time. He then lost to Delaware's Nathan Robinson 7-5 in the consolation match to place fourth.

The state tournament runs Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State.

"I lost a tough match in the semifinals after getting caught on my back," Huber said. "I brought it back the next round against Jay Thompson ... and won, which got me into states."

Huber, who is 38-8 on the season, opened district March 6 by beating Marysville's Joseph Palmer 12-4 and then pinned Westerville South's Tyler O'Reilly in 1 minute, 21 seconds before losing to Nelson.

"Getting fourth at the district is tough because I'll have to wrestle a first-place finisher from another district, but I'll continue to work hard this week to make a run in states," Huber said.

Senior Jack Viola came up short of making it to state for the first time. He opened district at 106 with a 9-3 victory over Olentangy Liberty's Nick Rutsky but lost to eventual champion Corey Crawford of Coffman 22-7 in the second round. He then beat Franklin Heights' Jaiden Reed 5-3 in second round of consolation before losing to Olentangy Berlin's Evan Butcher 8-3 in the next round to finish 30-6.

Viola missed time in February with a knee injury but returned to place second Feb. 29 in a sectional at Upper Arlington.

"I went to the Sally George (Invitational on Jan. 24 and 25 at London) and got third place, but in one of my last matches, I bent my knee too far the wrong way and woke up (Jan. 26) and couldn't move it," Viola said. "I've been, of course, training in the offseason and I started going to weight-lifting training with a couple of my (club) teammates. It's been my ultimate goal to become a state qualifier and place at state."

Also competing at district were senior Drew Kavinsky (195) and sophomore Othman Taha (160), both of whom went 0-2.

Kavinsky was pinned by eventual champion Seth Shumate of Coffman in the first round in 43 seconds and was pinned by Central Crossing's Abel Garantche in 3:59 in the second round to finish 33-15.

Taha was pinned by Olentangy Berlin's Corey Hill in 3:06 and by Marysville's Colton Powers in 2:25 to finish 18-18.

Jerome finished 23rd (21.5 points) at district behind champion Coffman (174.5) as 40 teams scored.

Gymnasts hoping to increase numbers

Among the accomplishments this winter for the gymnastics team was recording a program-record 139.575 on Feb. 6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet at Worthington Kilbourne.

The Celtics followed by qualifying for the state meet for the second consecutive season, scoring a 138.775 on Feb. 22 at Kilbourne to finish third as the top three teams advanced. They then finished eighth (138.55) at state Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley a year after finishing 11th.

Those performances occurred despite a roster that had just six competitors, including two seniors in Grace Krouse and Sydney White.

"It's so sad to see this season end," coach Kristen Willms said. "We're very small, so if I can look forward to anything next year, it's hopefully adding some depth and taking some pressure off of my top six. There is no wiggle room for them. They have to be on. It would be nice to get more depth so we have some wiggle room so that when we get (to state) they haven't competed for 14 meets in a row all-around, because it's a lot.

"(White and Krouse are) two of those seniors you're really sad to see go. You can't ask for better kids, better people. They're hard workers, they're positive and they set a good example for the younger ones. I also know we should have more coming in and the ones returning have so much good gymnastics left in them."

All of Jerome's competitors, except for Krouse, competed in the all-around at district and Krouse competed in every event but vault.

Sophomore Raegan Ernst was district champion in the all-around (37.425) for the second consecutive season and placed ninth (36.725) at state after taking 12th last season. She also was district champion on balance beam (9.35) and uneven bars (9.45) and was district runner-up on floor exercise (9.425) and vault (9.2).

Junior Izzy Willms finished 14th in the all-around (34.575) at district.

Junior Carrie Gosky and freshman Kaylee Loper are the others eligible to return.

Krouse did not compete at state last season after suffering with an injury during the district meet.

"It was really good," Krouse said. "It felt really good to finally compete at state because it's such a big meet and it was really fun to be with all of my teammates."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek