Diego Pitones wonders what might have been as well as what the future holds for the St. Charles hockey team.
The Cardinals had one final practice March 2 at OhioHealth Ice Haus, and the junior forward welled up with emotion.
Two days earlier, second-seeded St. Charles lost to sixth-seeded Olentangy Orange 4-1 in a district quarterfinal, ending the season sooner than the Cardinals expected. With the practice, Pitones got one last skate with his friends and mentors in the senior class.
"We had our last fun practice of the season and walking out of the locker room and seeing them come out on the ice, I broke down," said Pitones, who was first-team all-CHC after scoring 22 goals in league play. "I don't know what it will be like without them. I'm going to have to move past that because we have a lot of talent coming back."
Against Orange, senior forward Owen Zimmerman scored off an assist from sophomore forward Niko Fallieras as the Cardinals finished 24-10-3-1 overall.
"I thought we did really well despite a slow start," Pitones said. "We were playing well and working together. It was hard to see the season end the way it did because we thought we could have won it. But we couldn't find the back of the net or crash the net enough."
St. Charles outshot the Pioneers 38-17.
"It speaks to the level of competition that has really gotten better in this district," said eighth-year coach Rob Sangster, whose team finished second (24 points, 11-3-1-1) in the CHC-Red Division behind Upper Arlington (31, 15-0-1). "That was the message that I tried to communicate: Anyone can beat anyone on any given night.
"Orange was the top team in the (CHC-White), so they have a good team with some good goal-scorers. They buried their chances and we didn't."
Forwards Nick Currie (8 goals in league play), Jack DeVita, Marco Giambrone and Zimmerman and defensemen Nick Demers and Drew Dudas led an eight-player senior class.
"I really enjoyed the kids on this team because they were so close-knit and we took the loss pretty hard," Sangster said. "It started last summer with their hard work and we had guys that didn't have a lot of varsity experience coming in and they played well for us. This was a good group."
Along with Pitones, expected returnees include Fallieras, junior defenseman Alex Jimenez, sophomore defensemen Tristan Fahs (honorable mention all-league) and Erich Schoettmer and sophomore forwards Myles McKinney and Sam Mickey. The top two goaltenders also are expected to return in junior John Martin (.899 save percentage) and sophomore Grant Wolf (.909 save percentage).
"They say that you learn more from losing, and that's true because you tend to replay things over and over in your head," Sangster said. "You look at every detail and think so much about it. It makes you work harder."
Cooper wrestles at district tourney
Declan Cooper represented the wrestling team in the Division I district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
The senior went 0-2 at 170 pounds to finish 19-12. He lost to Hilliard Bradley's Kyle DeMoss 6-5 and Darby's Isaiah Beneker 11-2.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State.
Cooper advanced to district by finishing second in a sectional Feb. 29 at Newark. Junior George Cottrill placed fifth at 195 to finish 14-11.
The Cardinals finished second (3-1) behind Hartley (4-0) in the CCL.
Junior Brady Westin (132) and sophomore Cherod Bowens (220) also are expected to return.
Bowler falls short of state
Senior Vinnie Foresta competed in the Division I district bowling tournament Feb. 29 at HP Lanes but did not qualify for state Friday, March 6, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Foresta rolled a 499 three-game series to finish 56th of 109 bowlers. He had a 561 in the sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes, as St. Charles finished 26th (3,244) of 47 teams behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991).
The Cardinals went 14-3 in the regular season.
Junior Nick Bastaja led the team with a 177.3 average, followed by Foresta (170.1), senior John Melliere (169.8), junior Teague O'Brien (167.4) and senior Dino Colasurd (153.2).