Big Walnut Roundup: Friendly but fierce, Cali Lang excels on mat for Golden Eagles

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Big Walnut's Cali Lang qualified for the girls state wrestling tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson. She likes to talk to her opponents before matches and “is so nice to everybody,” coach Aaron Renner said. “But she knows when it’s time to go to battle.”

Wrestlers can spend hours studying an opponent’s technique.

Big Walnut’s Cali Lang adds something to that approach – greeting opponents with a smile and having a face-to-face conversation in the lead up to a match.

“I love talking to my opponents before I wrestle them,” said Lang, the Golden Eagles’ lone senior. “They’re not just a face. They’re a person, and they have their own experiences. I like to get to know them a little bit before I wrestle them.”

Lang, who finished second at 101 pounds in the girls district tournament Feb. 14 at Olentangy Orange, may be known as “one of the nicest people” off the mat, but she’s a fierce competitor, according to her coaches.

Her finish at district got her back to the girls state tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson, where she finished third at 106 in last season’s inaugural event.

The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to state.

“Cali is so nice to everybody,” coach Aaron Renner said. “But she knows when it’s time to go to battle. And when the match is over, she’s standing there smiling again. She’s very genuine about it when she’s talking to her opponents.”

In fact, Lang, who moved from California to Big Walnut her sophomore year, has built many friendships through her pre-match routine.

“It’s really a close-knit community,” she said. “Even though we’re wrestling against each other, that’s all on the mat. We’re still able to be kind, good people off the mat. However, I do remember trying to chat up a senior my freshman year, and she gave me one of the weirdest looks.”

At district, Lang expected to be in the final match, where she ran into defending state champion Hayley Snyder of Vincent Warren.

To get there, Lang defeated her first two opponents – Sarahsville Shenandoah’s Kyra Kunkle and Orange’s Emily Duval – by technical fall.

Snyder did the same to Lang at 3 minutes, 54 seconds to win the title.

“Cali was on fire her first two matches,” Renner said. “She was very aggressive. In that final match, she came out real aggressive, and her opponent just pushed the pace and got her off balance. But those are all correctable things.”

Lang was 19-9 overall this season, including 2-1 against girls, heading into state. For her varsity career, she was 50-36 overall and 20-6 against girls.

She also is expected to compete at 106 in a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

Lang competed in her final home match Feb. 12 and helped Big Walnut defeat Canal Winchester 59-18 to finish 3-2 in the OCC-Capital Division.

She and her teammates were all smiles after she pinned Canal Winchester’s Chase Crago in 21 seconds.

“I could hear my team being really loud,” Lang said. “I was able to get a half-nelson and successfully pin him. It was really nice to be able to do that.”

McKenna Ames finished 17th for Big Walnut in the Division I district diving meet Feb. 15 at Jefferson Country Club.

Wion advances to 

district swim meet

Boys swimmer John Wion will be the only Big Walnut competitor in the Division I district swimming meet Feb. 21 at Bowling Green.

The freshman earned the 22nd of 24 seeds in the 500-yard freestyle after finishing in 5:07.88 in a sectional Feb. 13 at Thomas Worthington.

In the district diving meet Feb. 15 at Jefferson Country Club, Zander Muirneks finished 14th (332.1 points) to lead the Golden Eagles boys and McKenna Ames finished 17th (218.95) to lead the girls.

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