Max Lenz's journey to the Division I state wrestling tournament began six years ago.
As a middle-schooler, the Big Walnut senior told himself he'd get there. He accomplished that goal by placing third at heavyweight at the district tournament held March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
Lenz went 3-2 at district and is 28-3 on the season. The state tournament was scheduled for March 13 through Sunday, March 15, Ohio State but was suspended until further notice by the OHSAA.
"Getting there really takes all the weight off my shoulders," Lenz said. "I've made it, and all the work was worth it."
Qualifying for state didn't seem likely earlier in the season when Lenz missed approximately five weeks because of a shoulder injury. However, he battled back and entered the postseason with just one loss.
At district, Lenz cruised to victory in his first two matches, pinning Whitehall's Andrew Dickens in 1 minute, 59 seconds in his opening match and defeating Olentangy's Ethan Hand 10-5 in a quarterfinal before losing to the eventual district champion, Darby's Bradley Weaver 6-5.
Lenz also lost to Weaver in a sectional Feb. 29 at Upper Arlington, falling 7-4 in a semifinal.
"I gave him four points in the first period, and he just came out quick and caught me with two takedowns," Lenz said of his district match against Weaver. "Looking back, my positioning was bad, and I really gave it to him."
Lenz bounced back to pin Teays Valley's Joey Thurston in 1:30 before beating Olentangy Liberty's Jadon Brownlee 7-3 in the third-place match.
Big Walnut had three other wrestlers at district, including sophomore Andrew Parker, who went 3-3 at 106 pounds and placed sixth. He is 36-12 on the season.
Parker lost to Teays Valley's Gunner Havens 5-1 in his opening match before winning his next three, pinning Grove City's Regan Mitchell in 2:09 and defeating Hilliard Bradley's Julien Kleiv 8-2 and Watkins Memorial's Gavyn Louks 8-3.
He then lost again to Havens, falling 4-2, before losing to Darby's Colt Ryan 1-0 in the fifth-place match.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Also at district, sophomores Wyatt Lenz (182, 30-18) and Lawrence O'Malley (160, 18-17) both went 0-2, as Big Walnut finished 21st (26 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (174.5) as 40 teams scored.
"(Wyatt Lenz and O'Malley) both lost matches by a point in their second matches and should've won," coach Aaron Renner said. "The biggest message that we gave them is that you belong here and you can compete here."