Big Walnut Roundup: Five Golden Eagles wrestlers advance to district tournament

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Vince Giordano was one of five Big Walnut wrestlers who qualified for the Division I district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby. At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 13 and 14 at Darby.

Big Walnut wrestling coach Aaron Renner constantly stresses that every point matters, especially during the postseason.

For junior Lawrence O’Malley, nearly every second mattered in a crucial match at 152 pounds in a Division I sectional tournament Feb. 27 at Newark.

Trailing Dublin Coffman’s Connor Duvall by three points with 25 seconds left in a consolation semifinal, O’Malley was on his back and appeared to be defeated.

“All of a sudden, you could see Lawrence get a burst of energy and reverse him and pin (Duvall),” Renner said. “He was able to fight and turn it around.”

That victory ensured O’Malley, who finished third at sectional to move to 25-6 overall, would be one of five Big Walnut wrestlers competing at district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 13 and 14 at Darby.

“I was hopeful that we would come out with four to five qualifiers but to have four seconds and a third, I was extremely pleased with that,” Renner said. “I tell our guys that records don’t matter when you enter the postseason.”

Big Walnut finished fifth (123 points) in the 11-team sectional behind Coffman (277), Teays Valley (199), Newark (139.5) and Darby (130.5).

“You’re talking about 11 fairly solid teams, and I would say it was the toughest sectional (in central Ohio) without question,” Renner said. “I told them to end up finishing fifth, I was extremely proud, and it was higher than I expected.”

Juniors Andrew Parker (113, 25-4), Wyatt Lenz (170, 26-4) and Christian Takatch (195, 24-6) and sophomore Vince Giordano (126, 25-5) all lost in sectional finals.

Parker, who went 2-1 at sectional, defeated Newark’s Jibreel Smith 4-0 in a semifinal and then ran into one of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state in Coffman’s Omar Ayoub, who won 18-2.

Ayoub’s brother, Ismael, pinned Giordano at 3:15 in the championship match. Giordano earned a pin in his first match and scored a 15-0 win over Newark’s Eli Justice in a semifinal.

Lenz, who went 3-1, fell to Westerville Central’s Logan Moore 5-2 in a final, and Takatch finished 3-1 after losing to Coffman’s Seth Shumate 16-1 in a first-place match.

Junior Micah Tillar (160, 17-16) and sophomore Parker Williams (132, 16-14) each went 2-2 and finished fifth, making them district alternates.

“As a coach, you question things after a tough loss; are some of the things we’re doing working?” Renner said. “But when you have a day like we did at sectional, it tells you that they are working.”

Freshman Zelia Gieseler led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne, tying for 52nd of 122 competitors in the all-around with a 31.525.

Gymnasts end 

season at district

Freshman Zelia Gieseler led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne.

Gieseler tied for 52nd of 122 competitors in the all-around with a 31.525. Her top performance was on the balance beam (39th, 8.425).

Also competing were senior Kaley Farley, who tied for 89th in the all-around (28.775), junior Angelina McConnell (99th, 27.3) and senior Sydney Cornwell (109th, 25).

The top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the state individual meet March 6 at Hilliard Bradley.

Big Walnut finished 21st (112.6) of 24 teams at district, as Olentangy Berlin (141.125), Dublin Jerome (141.125) and Thornville Sheridan (139.875) advanced to the state team meet March 5 at Bradley.

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GYMNASTICS

OCC-Capital standings: Olentangy Liberty (26, 6-0), Worthington Kilbourne (26, 5-1), Hilliard Davidson (20, 4-2), Lancaster (16, 3-3), Dublin Scioto (12, 2-4), Delaware (8, 1-5), Big Walnut (4, 0-6)

Seniors lost: Sydney Cornwell and Kaley Farley

Key returnees: Zelia Gieseler and Angelina McConnell

Postseason: Finished 21st (112.6) at district behind co-champions Olentangy Berlin and Dublin Jerome (141.125)