Delaware Hayes Roundup: Pacers wrestlers ready for postseason battles

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Devin Halliday and Delaware Hayes open the postseason in a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Watkins Memorial. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

After its younger roster was tested throughout the regular season, the Delaware Hayes boys wrestling team is feeling confident heading into the postseason.

A year removed from winning a league title, the Pacers – despite having lost multiple contributors to graduation – went 6-1 in the OCC-Capital Division to finish second behind Westerville North (7-0). 

Delaware opens the postseason in a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Watkins Memorial. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

Kevin Rieman, who coaches the team with Josh Lamb, said the Pacers believe they can advance multiple wrestlers out of sectional and deeper into the rest of the postseason. Last year’s team qualified a program-record six wrestlers for the state tournament, which was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“Our big thing with that is always if you are in our varsity lineup, you are good enough to make the district tournament,” Rieman said. “That’s kind of become the expectation around here.

“Now, it’s not easy. We’re at a pretty difficult sectional. But we think anyone that’s in our lineup, if they come ready to compete on that day, has a good chance to be competing at the district tournament at Hilliard Darby.” 

Devin Halliday, a 160-pounder who is 16-6, said returnees such as Clay Ours (195, 21-3) and Marshall Klingel (heavyweight, 19-4) have helped their younger teammates develop and meet their potential. 

“They have been able to help the younger wrestlers improve and understand what is necessary to compete at this level,” Halliday said. “I think we should be pretty competitive at sectionals and be able to have a large number of district qualifiers.” 

Rieman said Halliday is one of the Pacers with high expectations entering the postseason, having made strides the last couple of weeks. 

“We’re really excited for him coming up (to sectional) to see what he can do,” Rieman said. 

Ours, Klingel and Tamas Eder (126, 15-8) are expected to be among those leading the pack in postseason competition. 

Rieman said Ours, a state qualifier last year, “has a great opportunity to beat anybody around Ohio when he’s on.” 

Klingel started 14-0 but has since lost four matches. Nonetheless, Rieman said he expects the senior to be ready for the postseason. 

“We’re trying to get him back on track mentally because we really think he can wrestle with anyone when he’s on,” Rieman said. 

The girls team competed at district Feb. 14 and finished second (156) behind host Olentangy Orange (258.5) while qualifying 12 wrestlers for the state tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson. 

The Pacers’ state qualifiers are Kasey Wells (106, first), Caiya Combs (121, fourth), Kelcey Dew (126, third), Aubrey Griner (131, third), Hailey Hatfield (116, fourth), Jackie Hernandez (235, third), Megan Keller (150, third), Meredith Milligan (121, second), Carman Pape (170, second), Serenity Perez (116, third), Ella Ries (189, third) and Molly Wells (111, fourth).

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

Maddie Richardson placed fifth at 150 and is a state alternate.

“It was exciting because we flipped a lot of matches that they lost during the year,” Rieman said. “They were experiencing a lot of frustration at first ... but they really bought into our system. 

“Our plan (for the girls) is the same as the boys. We don’t want them to peak in January or December, but to peak for these big tournaments at the end of the year, and I think it worked again, which is always exciting to see.” 

Kasey Wells said it felt “surreal” to win a district title. 

“I could not be happier,” she said. “I would have never thought I would have such a great accomplishment, as this in only my first year of wrestling. It’s been cool to look back and see how much I’ve improved over the season. It’s so great to see all that hard work pay off in the end.” 

Max Etheridge advanced to the Division I district meet Feb. 21 at Bowling Green as part of the Pacers' 200-yard freestyle relay.

Swimmers advance 

to district meet

The boys and girls swimming teams had a successful sectional Feb. 13 at Thomas Worthington, qualifying three individuals and five relays for the Division I district meet Feb. 21 at Bowling Green.

Also, boys diver Mark Sulek advanced to state Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

“We were pretty excited with the turnout and the performance (at sectional),” coach Jordan Nicol said. “Definitely a different meet than what the kids were used to, but they still showed up and did it in the pool so we were pretty happy with everybody’s performance.” 

For the girls team, Mackenzie Carter qualified for district in the 50-yard freestyle (24.52 seconds, first) and 100 free (54.13, first), and Kailyn Smith qualified in the 100 butterfly (1:00.01, second). 

All three girls relays advanced – the 200 medley relay of Natalie Fiant, Margaret Wolf, Smith and Carter (1:52.61, first), the 200 free relay of Smith, Fiant, Carter and Rena Ouyang (1:42.39, first) and the 400 free relay of Anna Lance, Abby Richardson, Wolf and Ouyang (3:56.54, first). 

On the boys side, Connor Green advanced in the 200 free (1:45.14, first) and 500 free (4:47.7, first). The 200 free relay of Kaden Gannon, Max Etheridge, Charles Abahazi and Green (1:33.24, second) and the 200 medley relay of Gannon, Green, Etheridge and Ryan Gray (1:44.03, second) also advanced. 

In the district diving meet Feb. 15 at Jefferson Country Club, Sulek placed fifth (450.5) as the top seven qualified for state.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve