Big Walnut Roundup: Golden Eagles wrestlers expect big things next season
What the Big Walnut wrestling team accomplished this season already has coach Aaron Renner thinking ahead.
Five Division I district qualifiers, including state alternate Andrew Parker at 113 pounds, are expected to return next season.
“It’s been a number of years since we had that many district qualifiers, but next year’s number should be higher,” Renner said. “Those five kids all had (at least) 25 wins.”
Parker, a junior who finished 27-5, went 4-2 at district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby, defeating Westerville South’s David Javier-Ozuna 6-0 in the fifth-place match.
Junior Christian Takatch (26-7, 195) finished 2-2, and sophomore Vince Giordano (25-7, 126), junior Lawrence O'Malley (25-8, 152) and junior Wyatt Lenz (26-6,170) all went 0-2.
“There are a number of kids who are just learning how to wrestle,” Renner said. “They win, but they win because they’re tough, and they win because they know a little bit of technique. I think with some offseason work, we’ll get these guys improving their technique and springboard us into next year.”
Big Walnut finished 3-2 in the OCC-Capital Division, behind champion Westerville North (7-0). Parker and Takatch earned first-team all-league honors, senior Cali Lang, junior Dominic Salazar (120, 13-7) and Lenz were second-team all-league and Giordano, O’Malley and sophomore Collin Gamble (14-14, 182) were third-team all-league.
The Golden Eagles, who went 16-8 in dual meets, did not compete against OCC-Capital opponents Dublin Scioto or Westerville South because of COVID-19 coronavirus protocols.
Lang, the team’s lone senior, reached the podium for the second consecutive season in the girls state tournament held Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson, finishing fourth at 101.
She was third at last season’s inaugural event.
Lang faced Bellefontaine’s Makayla Young in the third-place match, with Young winning 18-6.
She finished 2-2 at state with victories over West Union’s Scotlyn Adams in a quarterfinal and Jonathan Alder’s Sadie Napier (pin at 1:23) in her opening match. She finished her varsity career with a 22-8 record against girls.
Girls basketball team
While the girls basketball team jumped out to a 4-0 start, it struggled to string multiple victories together the rest of the way.
The 19th-seeded Golden Eagles finished 10-10 overall with a 50-35 loss at 12th-seeded Olentangy in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 19.
Big Walnut had a first-round bye.
“The girls played hard all season long, and some of those games were tight,” coach Jason Crawford said. “There were times that I thought we played really well and we could beat any team on any given night, and other times we didn’t play as well.”
Big Walnut, which finished sixth (6-8) in the OCC-Capital behind champion North (12-2), was led by senior guard Abby Brown, a first-team all-league and second-team all-district honoree who averaged 17.3 points.
Brown was the only player to average double figures. She was followed in scoring by junior guard/forward Jordan Walters (6.9), senior guard Annie Thomas (6.8) and senior guard Avery Maxeiner (6.1).
Maxeiner was special mention all-league, and Thomas was honorable mention all-league.
“At times, we struggled to score,” Crawford said. “It was just one of those things for whatever reason.”
Others who earned playing time and are expected to return include junior forward/center Andie Stewart and sophomore guard Abbey Coleman.
•Record: 10-10 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Westerville North (12-2), Westerville South (9-5), Delaware (9-5), Dublin Scioto (7-6), Worthington Kilbourne (7-7), Big Walnut (6-8), Canal Winchester (5-8), Franklin Heights (0-14)
•Seniors lost: Abby Brown, Avery Maxeiner and Annie Thomas
•Key returnees: Abbey Coleman, Andie Stewart and Jordan Walters
•Postseason: Lost to Olentangy 50-35 in the second round of the Division I district tournament
•OCC-Capital standings: North (7-0), Delaware (6-1), Big Walnut (3-2), Canal Winchester (4-3), Scioto and South (both 2-3), Kilbourne (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)
•Senior lost: Cali Lang
•Key returnees: Vince Giordano, Lawrence O’Malley, Wyatt Lenz, Andrew Parker, Dominic Salazar and Christian Takatch
•Postseason: Fifth (123) at sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (277); tied for 26th (18) at district behind champion Coffman (228.5)