Of the five competitors the Hartley wrestling team had at the Division II district tournament March 6 and 7 at Wilmington, three finished in the top four to advance to the state tournament that runs Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State.
Just as important to coach Kevin Petrella is what he saw performance-wise from state qualifiers Michael Petrella (120 pounds), Joey Petrella (182) and Dylan Newsome (160).
"We had a great (district) tournament," coach Petrella said. "Those three guys probably wrestled the best they have all year."
The Hawks finished sixth (72.5) at district behind champion St. Paris Graham (242) as 49 teams scored. They also finished sixth (121.5) at the 22-team sectional Feb. 28 and 29 behind champion and host Licking Valley (215).
Michael Petrella, a senior, will make his third state appearance after placing seventh each of the past two seasons. He followed his sectional title by going 4-0 and finishing first at district, beating Dayton Chaminade Julienne's Roman Jones 11-6 in the championship match to improve to 40-2 on the season.
His twin brother, senior Joey Petrella, enters state at 41-4 after winning both sectional and district championships. A four-time district qualifier, he will be making his first state appearance after going 4-0 at district, beating Urbana's Trevor Stewart 3-1 for the title.
Newsome, a freshman, was runner-up at sectional and went 3-1 and placed second at district, falling to Licking Valley's Dylan Dodson 6-3 in the final. He is 30-7 entering state.
"All of the semifinal matches were good matches (by the Petrella brothers and Newsome) and we came out on top," coach Petrella said. "I couldn't be more proud of those guys. They've done a great job.
"(Newsome) should make some noise this weekend at the state tournament. He's a great kid and a hard worker. Newsome finishing second, he keeps closing the gap on (Dodson, who is 47-0), who he also (lost to 10-8 at sectional)."
Also competing at district were junior Tony Thivener (195) and senior Kenyon Davis (220), both of whom went 0-2. Thivener finished 24-17 and Davis finished 21-15.
Boys team should return large group
On its way to an 8-14 overall finish, the boys basketball team lost to five teams that reached district finals, with two of those losses coming against Division II district champion DeSales in CCL action.
The Hawks, who finished 0-8 in the league, defeated Wellington, which won a Division IV district championship, as well as two teams that won at least a share of their respective league titles in Linden-McKinley (City League-North Division) and Upper Arlington (OCC-Central Division).
Hartley's 49-46 victory over UA on Jan. 14 was coach Randy Kortokrax's 300th career win.
The season proved to be a tough grind for the Hawks, who were a district champion last season but lost 37-26 to sixth-seeded Beechcroft in the second round of this year's Division II district tournament as the 13th seed.
Among the other positives from the season was the growth of junior guard Dejon Donnell, junior forward Will Miller and sophomore forward Amari Gaston, who were the team's top three scorers.
"I give (Gaston) a lot of props because he's really a forward playing center because we needed somebody," Kortokrax said. "He's had to go in there and he gives up several inches a night and he's a sophomore. He's going to be a good player down the road.
"Donnell has really come around. The neat thing about him is that he struggled early. We took some of his time from him, talked to him about it and he didn't get pouty about it and said he was all in. I like the kid, so I'm happy for him."
Gaston averaged 11 points and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Miller averaged 9.5 points and Donnell averaged 6.5.
Among the team's three seniors is the coach's son, Kylan Kortokrax, who averaged 7.5 points.
Junior guard Braden Blanchard, junior forward Nico Thomas and sophomore guard Alex Blain also were key contributors.
Others eligible to return include junior guards Jay Henson and Jack Tomlinson and junior forward Nate Rolwing.