For the second consecutive season, the Olentangy Liberty wrestling team is taking four competitors to the Division I state tournament.
The Patriots had 12 athletes in the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby and turned in a third-place finish (119) behind Dublin Coffman (174.5) and Delaware (127.5) as 40 teams scored.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State.
"Some of our kids could have stolen a couple wins, but other than that, I thought we wrestled really well (at district)," freshman Dylan Russo said.
Russo was runner-up at 195 pounds and will be joined at state by junior Lucas Uliano, who won the championship at 145, and by fourth-place finishers Hunter Ford (120) and Jadon Brownlee (heavyweight).
Uliano is the team's only returning state qualifier after he won district at 126 and placed seventh at state last season.
This year at district, Uliano won three matches by pin, including beating Delaware's Tristan Burton in 44 seconds in the final, and also picked up a win by default as he improved to 33-2.
"(I need to work on) staying in position and being offensive, doing my shots and keeping the pressure on these kids, trying to be aggressive and go out there and score my points," Uliano said. "I'm really proud of (Brownlee). It's his first year going to sectionals and district and he ended up winning sectionals and getting fourth (at district), so that's really awesome for him."
Russo is 38-5 entering his first state tournament after getting pinned by defending state champion Seth Shumate of Coffman in 2:40 in the district championship match.
"I thought I wrestled well," Russo said. "I had a tough finals match. You have to not be nervous, try to go out and have fun, do your best and see what happens."
Ford is 34-11 and Brownlee is 36-14 heading into state.
Seniors Ben Cox (182) and Kaden Tong (220) placed fifth at district and are state alternates.
Also competing were seniors Austin Bensman (1-2 at 138), Nick Rutsky (1-2 at 106) and Ethan Stamp (1-2 at 152) and juniors Jayce Fitzpatrick (2-2 at 160), Adam Gintert (0-2 at 126) and Josh Sutton (0-2 at 113).
Fitzpatrick, who was a state qualifier last season at 145, beat Coffman's Mitchell Broskie 2-0 in overtime in the third round of consolation but lost to Delaware's Emmett Cain 11-5 in the next round to fall short of advancing. Broskie and Cain both were state qualifiers last season.
Hockey team falls in district final
The third-seeded hockey team came up short of advancing to the state tournament for the fourth time as it fell to fourth-seeded New Albany 4-2 in the district final March 7 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Liberty, which lost its third consecutive district final and finished 25-6-5-1, also fell to the Eagles 3-1 on Jan. 4 and tied New Albany at 2 on Jan. 31.
The Eagles won their first district title. Korey Raymond scored both goals for the Patriots.
"They've got a fantastic goaltender," coach Kevin Alexander said. "We put 50 shots on them when they beat us 3-1, and they've got a really good forward line. There's nothing better (to be in a district final). We're pretty happy to be here."
Street bowls at state tourney
Sophomore Carter Street made his first appearance in the Division I state boys bowling tournament March 6 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
After rolling games of 212 and 210, he had a 175 for a 597 series left him tied for 32nd.
"It was a struggle," he said. "It's just a grind. I expected scores to be a little higher. I wasn't prepared enough, I guess, so it was a learning experience."
Street, who said he plans to compete in several offseason tournaments, was ninth (608) in the sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes and first (704) in the district tournament Feb. 29 at the same site.
Liberty finished 17th at sectional but Street and Nick Bateson, who placed 48th (538), advanced to district. Bateson then was 30th (542) at district.
During the regular season, Street led the COHSBC in average at 217.4.
Juniors Matthew Lawrence, Patrick McDowell and Brenden Sheehan, sophomore Ethan Shek and freshman Austin Warnecke also were key contributors.
"I'm excited for next year," coach Steve Nole said. "(Street) led the team and next year I expect him to do the same. I don't have any seniors this year on the boys team, so next year we ought to be in real good shape."
The girls team had three competitors in seniors Stefanie Greeno and Breanna Withrow and junior Emily Williams.
The Patriots did not post a team score at sectional but Withrow placed 44th (449) to qualify for district, where she placed 53rd (418).
Boys basketball team loses to Cardinals
A rough second quarter ended the boys basketball team's hopes of advancing to a second consecutive Division I district final.
Trailing seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington 19-17 after one period in a district semifinal March 4 at Westerville North, the ninth-seeded Patriots were outscored 15-2 in the second quarter on their way to a 70-50 loss.
"We had a game plan and were down two at the end of the first quarter," coach Greg Nossaman said. "Then we scored one basket (in the second quarter), and that was not in the game plan. We ran into a spot where we didn't score."
The Patriots went 18-7 overall and shared the OCC-Buckeye Division championship with Westerville South at 7-3 despite losing all five starters after reaching a state semifinal last winter.
Junior guard Henry Hinkle, who averaged five points last season, increased his average to 18.4 points and was first-team all-district and league Player of the Year.
Junior forward Andrew Wade averaged 12 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior guard Ty Foster averaged 10.4 points and was special mention all-league, and junior guard Cam Barcus averaged 9.2 points and was honorable mention all-league.
The Patriots lose a five-member senior class that was led by guards Tyson Chapman (4.2 ppg) and A.J. Rausch (2.7 ppg) and forward Kal Jayaraman (9.2 ppg).
Others eligible to return include junior guards Daniel Buehrer and Quinn Foster.
"These guys who did not hardly play at all (last season) kind of jelled together," Nossaman said. "We'll have our top four scorers back. Our goal every year is to win the league and get to districts and I think we can accomplish that again next year."