Joe Huber closed his high school career by being the first Dublin Jerome wrestler to qualify for the Division I state tournament since Seth Transue in 2016.

Three years ago, though, Huber didn't seem destined to become the first state qualifier under third-year coach Matt White, as he won only three matches as a freshman.

Yet, Huber, who has grown more than a foot taller since the 2016-17 season, was set to compete at state after placing fourth at 220 pounds in the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

However, the state tournament, which was to have been held March 13-15 at Ohio State, was indefinitely postponed March 12 by the OHSAA because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic before being canceled March 26.

"It means a lot (to qualify for state)," Huber said. "I worked really hard to get to this point. My freshman year, I won three matches and now I'm a state qualifier. It just goes to show that anybody can make it with effort and dedication. Making it to states was my goal all year long.

"Thanks to my team and parents for pushing me and encouraging me to get to where I am."

One of 16 seniors on Jerome's roster, Huber finished the season 38-8.

"I was just happy for Joe (to make state)," White said. "He's such a great kid and a hard worker and I knew how much it meant to him. He really deserved this. He's come such a long way from when I first got here three years ago."

Huber went 3-2 at district and qualified for state by defeating Worthington Kilbourne's Jay Thompson 8-6 in a consolation semifinal. He had lost to Thompson earlier in the season.

"He lost his semifinal match (7-3) to (Groveport's Jake Nelson) and his back was against the wall in the consolation rounds against a kid (Thompson) he'd already lost to earlier this year," White said. "When it mattered the most, he stepped up to the challenge and won. We worked on what he needed to be better from that loss and prepared him and it worked out in his favor."

Huber, who was a district alternate at 195 last season, plans to walk on to the University of Cincinnati football team.

The Celtics are losing two other seniors who were district qualifiers in Jack Viola (106) and Drew Kavinsky (195). Viola went 2-2 at district and finished the season 30-6 and Kavinsky went 0-2 at district and finished 33-15.

Also competing at district was sophomore Othman Taha (160), who went 0-2 to finish 18-18.

The only other seniors in the postseason lineup were Alex Boukheir (145), Konnor Gay (170), Jay Halsey (heavyweight) and Mason Lee (138).

Boukheir (26-17) and Gay (18-22) both placed fifth in the sectional Feb. 29 at Upper Arlington to be district alternates.

Junior Austin Wagner (120, 28-12) and sophomores Coleton Fleury (182, 27-19) and Luke Milanovich (132, 28-17) should be among the top returnees next season. All three placed fifth at sectional.

Junior Anthony Sarosi (152) and sophomore Eli Vilkinofsky (113), both of whom placed sixth at sectional, and sophomore Gabe Priar (126) are others eligible to return.

Jerome went 4-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place fourth behind champion Delaware (7-0), with Huber and Viola making first-team all-league, Kavinsky making second-team all-league and Wagner making the third team.

"The team is still continuing to improve each year and this is our best team finish in the last three years," White said.

"We had some new guys that got some postseason experience this year and I think it'll be valuable for them moving on to next year. They had the opportunity to see (Huber) and experience what it was like for him to make it to states and I think it created a desire for them to want to have that same experience."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek