Columbus Academy Roundup: Vikings' Gyvnn Mendenhall achieves goal by reaching state wrestling tournament
Columbus Academy junior wrestler Gyvnn Mendenhall waited patiently during the offseason for another chance to qualify for the Division III state tournament.
He seized his opportunity in the district tournament March 5 and 6 at Coshocton, finishing fourth at 220 pounds to advance to state March 13 and 14 at Marion Harding. He entered state with a 16-3 record.
Mendenhall qualified for state last season at 195, but the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“This shows you he’s a pretty good wrestler,” coach Paul Bukky said. “He’s a quick study. You show him something and he usually goes out and does it.”
Although it wasn’t the finish he had hoped for at district, Mendenhall was pleased to earn a state berth.
“The main goal was to get to state, so I’m just happy I qualified for that,” he said. “I definitely could have wrestled better (at district), probably the second day.”
In a semifinal, Mendenhall was pinned by Magnolia Sandy Valley’s Wyatt Moyer in 3 minutes, 8 seconds.
He later lost to Martins Ferry’s Zakary Dobson 6-4 in the third-place match to finish 3-2 for the tournament.
“He qualified (for state and) that’s all we were worried about,” Bukky said. “We like the kids to perform at a little higher level, but for whatever reason he was a little bit out of sync.”
Bukky was looking forward to the state tournament, which was moved from Ohio State to Harding mainly because of the pandemic.
“Going down to Ohio State, there’s so many people, everything is so crowded, everybody is so jammed,” he said. “This is a really nice, refreshing look at it. I think they should have the state tournament all over the state and let everybody have an opportunity to share in that experience.”
Competing in his first district tournament, sophomore Tiko Bdoyan went 1-2 at 152. He defeated Newcomerstown’s Devin Thompson 6-1 in his first consolation match and finished the season 13-6.
“Tiko is a tough kid and he’s going to get better,” Bukky said. “He’s just a sophomore.”
Bukky said even though Bdoyan’s season ended, he helped Mendenhall prepare for state.
Academy tied for 38th (15) at district behind champion Barnesville (175) as 52 teams scored.
Basketball players earn
Members of the boys and girls basketball teams received Division III all-district recognition.
For the boys, Tanner Compton made the third team and Brady Hess and Kevin Reeves were honorable mention.
For the girls, Claire Cahall, Kayla McClendon and Sophie Spolter were honorable mention.
boys soccer coach
Jaden Lunger has enjoyed soccer success at the prep and collegiate levels, playing for the Gahanna boys and Otterbein men’s programs.
Lunger, 25, plans to share his knowledge and experience in the sport as the new boys coach at Academy. He succeeds Ron Leach, who stepped down after 17 seasons.
“It’s pretty wild,” Lunger said. “I’ve played soccer my whole life, so now that I’m on the other side of it, it’s bringing more appreciation for what all my coaches have done for me in the past. I’m definitely very pumped up.”
Lunger is a 2014 graduate of Gahanna and a 2018 graduate of Otterbein. He was a central defender for both programs.
He was a junior varsity coach at Olentangy Liberty last season.
Academy captured 10 district titles, five league championships and one regional title during Leach’s tenure. He finished with a 188-93-46 record.
“It’s definitely been a wonderful opportunity and time to be able to coach here,” Leach said. “I’ll have wonderful memories – just really nice players to work with and families to work with. Seventeen years, it’s just been wonderful.”