Notebook: Olentangy Liberty Patriots wrestlers prep for postseason tests

Jarrod Ulrey
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Lucas Uliano, a senior who competes at 152 pounds, won 22 of his first 24 matches this season for Liberty. The Patriots are preparing for the Division I postseason, which begins with sectional competition Feb. 27 at Marysville.

With a limited number of tournaments being held this winter because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Olentangy Liberty wrestling team has attempted to stay as busy as possible with duals and tri-matches.

The fact that the Patriots should finish with 28 duals is something senior Jayce Fitzpatrick (170 pounds) doesn’t take for granted as he continues to prepare for what he hopes is a long postseason. 

Fitzpatrick was a Division I state qualifier as a sophomore but had his season end at district last winter. 

“I feel like coach (Mark) Marinelli did a really good job of putting together a tough season so we can get tough matches against teams from the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas,” Fitzpatrick said. "We’re going to get that high-level competition.” 

Fitzpatrick, who missed time in December with illness, was 15-2 after his team’s 55-16 loss to Ashland on Jan. 30. The setback dropped the Patriots’ record to 16-8 overall. 

Liberty was 3-1 in the OCC-Central Division after beating Hilliard Davidson 52-21 on Jan. 28. 

“The big thing is focusing and making sure everybody is good to get to practice and is on time,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have hybrid (learning) so we have to make sure everybody has rides on the days we’re not in school and making sure people are wearing their masks in practice. We’ve gotten used (to wearing them in practice) but it’s definitely nice not wearing them in matches because you get that fresh oxygen feel.” 

Through 24 matches, senior Lucas Uliano (152) was 22-2 and seniors Hunter Ford (126/132) and Adam Gintert (126/132) both were 18-6. Sophomore Dylan Russo (220) was 21-3 and freshmen Jaxson Rosselli (106/113) and Broc Fitzpatrick were 17-5 and 17-6, respectively. 

The Patriots are preparing for the postseason, which begins with sectional competition Feb. 27 at Marysville. 

“It’s been going well,” Marinelli said. “We’re wrestling a lot of matches and getting in a lot of different lineups, moving guys around and giving guys chances. We’re happy we’re able to wrestle at a high level. We have a mask on the whole practice and we do a good job with that. It affects our conditioning somewhat in the matches so we can’t go as much live as we’d like to, but on the other side, we’ve been really healthy. 

“All the seniors have been phenomenal. Our parents have been great. We’re having a great year and besides some of the hassles, it’s been enjoyable.” 

•The Olentangy gymnastics team has made a habit of peaking late in recent seasons, given its four consecutive state team meet appearances from 2016-19.

While the only member of those teams who remains with the Braves is senior Caroline Hise, their relative inexperience is one reason coach Misty Lloyd-Matthews is especially optimistic that they scored a season-high 130.7 points Feb. 1 in a five-team meet at Dublin Coffman. Olentangy finished fourth (130.7) behind the Shamrocks (138.25), Dublin Jerome (137.75) and Upper Arlington (131.15) and ahead of Grove City (122) and Watkins Memorial (33.5).

The loss to Jerome meant the Braves, whose previous best point total was 129.66 on Jan. 20 at Marysville, finished 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.

“They’ve been more consistent and we’ve just been getting healthy. We haven’t had our full lineup because someone has been out (every week). It’s been a mixture of everything,” Lloyd-Matthews said. “We’re hoping we’ll be lucky enough at the end of the season to finish off with our best. We’re still a young team. We have one senior and no juniors. They’re learning and building.”

–Dave Purpura

•The Olentangy girls bowling team lost its first match of the season Feb. 3, falling to Big Walnut 2,091-2,083, but still was 8-1 overall and in the COHSBC-A entering a Feb. 5 match against Berlin. Olentangy finished 5-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.

The Braves’ average of 819.5 pins per game was second in the 36-team COHSBC before Feb. 5, behind Gahanna (899.5) and ahead of Hilliard Bradley (812.9).

The boys team was 2-8 overall and in the COHSBC-A before Feb. 5 and finished 1-6 in the OCC-Buckeye.

The girls will begin pursuit of their second consecutive Division I state tournament berth Feb. 17 when they participate in a sectional at HP Lanes. The boys’ sectional is three days later in the same facility.

For both boys and girls, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.

–Dave Purpura

•Junior guard Cooper Davis hasn’t struggled to fit in during his first season with the Liberty boys basketball team. 

After growing up in the Olentangy school district and competing with many of his current teammates at younger levels, Davis attended Reynoldsburg during the past two seasons. 

He was averaging 10.5 points through 16 games, including scoring 19 in a 57-44 victory over Olentangy on Jan. 30 in which senior guard and leading scorer Henry Hinkle did not score. 

“My teammates are great and with our chemistry we’re really clicking,” Davis said. “I’ve been playing with these guys for a while and I missed it and am glad to be back with them.” 

The Patriots were 13-3 overall after beating Jerome 42-33 on Feb. 2 and 5-2 in the OCC-Central after beating Upper Arlington 59-45 on Jan. 29. 

Hinkle was averaging 14 points, with senior post player Andrew Wade averaging 13.5 and senior forward Ty Foster averaging 12.5. 

Liberty returns to league action Feb. 12 at Davidson before Davis faces his former teammates with the Raiders on Feb. 13 at home. 

“They’re a veteran group,” coach Greg Nossaman said. “We won 18 games last year and with Cooper Davis added in, it makes a pretty good five. He’s a good shooter but everybody thinks you come over to a program that you’ve never been a part of and everybody thinks you’re going to be great. (Davis) is getting there.” 

–Jarrod Ulrey 

Ellie Beck hit a 7-foot jumper and a free throw in the final seconds to help Orange defeat Thomas Worthington 51-49 on Feb. 2.

•The Orange girls basketball team started February with a pair of victories to improve to 3-14 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Central before playing Liberty on Feb. 9.

Kayla Delmore scored on an 8-foot floater from the baseline in the final seconds for a 50-49 win over Davidson on Feb. 1 in league play. Emma Delmore had 15 points with four 3-pointers.

One night later, the Pioneers defeated Thomas Worthington 51-49 as Ellie Beck hit a 7-foot jumper and a free throw in the final seconds. Mairin O’Brien was 8-for-8 from the field, including one 3, to total 17 points.

“We were down 14 at half against Davidson and down 10 in the fourth against Thomas Worthington,” coach Brian Cromwell said. “The girls have seen that they have the capability to battle back and win.”

Orange closes the regular season with a pair of league games, Feb. 12 at Bradley and Feb. 15 at home against Upper Arlington. 

The Pioneers are seeded 39th in the Division I district tournament and open against top-seeded Newark or 41st-seeded Mifflin on Feb. 19 in the second round.

“Our girls are talking about finishing strong,” Cromwell said. “We’re the third coaching staff in three years for these girls and it can take some time. They realize that they can be successful.”

–Scott Hennen

•Jacoby Oliverio came up big for the Berlin boys bowling team, rolling a program-record 500 series in a 2,098-1,996 loss to Newark on Jan. 26 in OCC-Cardinal play.

Through 16 matches, Oliverio had an average of 185.7, just behind team-leader Aaron Shoaf (189.7). Mason D’Amore (169.6) and Andrew Sherman (157.4) were next.

The Bears were 3-13 overall and 2-8 in the COHSBC-A before facing Olentangy on Feb. 5 and 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Delaware on Feb. 9.

Bella Bland (160.6) and Michele Starner (158.4) led the girls team, followed by Megan Roubinek (150.6) and Stephanie Burkhart (135.7).

Berlin was 12-3 overall and 8-1 in the COHSBC-A before facing Olentangy and 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Delaware.

–Scott Hennen

•The Berlin gymnastics team had three of the top four all-around finishers during a three-team home meet Jan. 30.

Elise Hedrick (33.65) and Paige Dargatz (33.6) took the first two spots and Abby Marks tied for third (32.55). The Bears won with 136.3 points, followed Marysville (1126.1) and Mechanicsburg (45.9).

Hedrick tied for second on uneven bars (8.4), tied for third on floor exercise (8.9) and vault (7.9) and placed fifth on balance beam (8.45). Dargatz won floor (9.15), tied for second on bars (8.4), tied for third on vault (7.4) and tied for eighth on beam (8.15).

Marks won bars (9.0), placed fifth on floor (8.7) and tied for eighth on beam (8.15).

Kennedy Jesenovec won beam (9.15), and Isabelle Borgstrom and Alex Hinton tied for first on vault (8.0).

The Bears compete in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 20 at Thomas.

–Scott Hennen

•Grace Ritterspach finished first in the all-around for the Orange gymnastics team Jan. 30 against visiting Grove City.

Ritterspach scored 32.85 in the all-around and also won floor (8.85) for the Pioneers, who defeated the Greyhounds 129.95-120.75.

Emma Wood was runner-up in the all-around (32.7), and Amira Welch won beam (8.3) and vault (8.1).

Orange competes in the OCC-Buckeye meet Feb. 20 at Thomas.

–Scott Hennen

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