The Delaware Hayes wrestling team had a successful season despite its ending.
The Pacers went 7-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to earn the outright league championship. They had finished second in the league behind Hilliard Darby last season after sharing the title with Hilliard Bradley two years ago.
In addition, Delaware had a program-record six Division I state qualifiers. However, the state tournament, which had been scheduled for March 13-15 at Ohio State, was canceled March 26 by the OHSAA to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus after initially being postponed March 12.
"We definitely went above expectations," said Kevin Rieman, who shares coaching duties with Josh Lamb. "We knew this group was very capable, we knew what we were working towards, but I couldn't be more happy with the work we put in and the results that we had."
The Pacers' state qualifiers were seniors Tristan Burton (145 pounds, 33-14), Emmett Cain (160, 36-10), Corbin May (170, 42-4), Nathan Robinson (220, 45-8) and Mason Sutandar (182, 42-4) and junior Clay Ours (195, 41-10).
In the district tournament held March 6 and 7 at Darby, Burton and May placed second, Cain, Robinson and Sutandar placed third and Ours placed fourth, as the top four finishers in each weight class qualified for state.
Also at district, junior Tamas Eder (113, 27-15) placed sixth and junior Marshall Klingel (heavyweight, 17-25) went 1-2, as Delaware finished second (127.5 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (174.5) as 40 teams scored.
"I think we did really well," Sutandar said. "We came together as a team and worked really hard."
Delaware finished third (229) in a sectional Feb. 29 at Marysville behind Olentangy Liberty (261.5) and the host Monarchs (241) as 12 teams scored, with Cain, May, Robinson and Sutandar winning titles.
"(The team) bought into our system. We're a year-round program, and that group of guys really committed to that," Rieman said. "Not only that, it feels like a family. These guys were there for each other through it all, and that sense of family and buying into our year-round system really played a part in the results."
For the first time, the wrestling program also featured multiple girls on the roster.
"It was really exciting," Rieman said. "It was refreshing as a coach, honestly, to get that different aspect."
Freshman Kelcey Dew (121, 14-5) went 4-1 in the inaugural girls state tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson and placed third, while senior Ari Avant (137, 15-5) went 3-3 and placed sixth.
Also competing at state were senior Chloe Diehl (143), junior Jordan Rutherford (106) and freshmen Madelyn Graham (111) and Meredith Milligan (126).
Rieman said he anticipates having more girls on the team in the years ahead.
"I think (girls wrestling is) going to just keep getting bigger," Rieman said. "These girls took the jump, and now a bunch of girls are interested in trying it out, which I think is really cool."
The Pacers are losing 10 seniors from their boys squad, led by Burton, Cain, May, Robinson and Sutandar.
"You can't replace a class like this. It's going to be tough," said Rieman, who shared OCC-Cardinal Coach of the Year honors with Lamb. "These guys were great leaders. A lot of these young guys really looked up to them, and I think they realized what it takes to get to that level by watching what they did. I'm hoping that lead-by-example (mentality) really pays off."
Burton, Cain, May, Ours and Robinson earned first-team all-league honors. Eder and Sutandar made second-team all-league and Klingel and senior Ethan Rupp (126, 12-22) were third-team all-league.
Expected key returnees include Dew, Eder, Klingel, Ours and sophomore Thomas Ross (120, 13-24).