Pickerington Central Roundup: Cameron Griffith leads Tigers wrestling team into postseason

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Macaiah Thompson and the Central wrestling team open the postseason in a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Upper Arlington. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

Even as Pickerington Central wrestling coach Ryan DiSabato said the postseason brings more of an individual focus than that of the team, he acknowledged senior Cameron Griffith might feel the weight of teammates’ expectations during a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Upper Arlington.

A four-year varsity competitor at 220 pounds, Griffith takes a team-best 15-8 record into the postseason. He is seeking his first district berth.

“We are going to have to lean on him with his postseason experience. He is coming into his own,” DiSabato said. “I think he has a good chance to get to district and once he gets there, who knows?”

DiSabato and Griffith based their expectations not only on his varsity tenure, but also the fact that he started the season with four matches at heavyweight before dropping back to his previous weight. He debuted this season at 220 on Jan. 7, pinning Newark’s Cameron VanValkenburg in 3 minutes, 52 seconds.

“There was a lot of competition (at heavyweight),” said Griffith, who also was a two-year starter at offensive guard for the football team as the Tigers won the Division I state championship in 2019 and were state runners-up last fall. “I think I did fine. I competed hard. It definitely helped me as far as moving people more and (with) my underhooks. Those guys were a lot bigger, so I learned I had to pick my spots. They were stronger, so getting a different feel was really good for me.”

DiSabato said Griffith also has been able to rely on power and, to a lesser extent, athleticism to outmaneuver and outlast opponents.

“With the size difference, there were things he wasn’t able to do as far as technically, like getting in some shots. You get stuck and sprawled on with a lot of weight,” DiSabato said. “He had to rely more on his athleticism and now dropping to 220, he can go back and use some more power maybe he couldn’t use when he was up at heavyweight.”

Central’s only other wrestler with a winning record is Mekhi Hargrow, who is 9-7 at 152.

Rounding out the field at UA are Central Crossing, Chillicothe, Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Davidson, Marion Harding, Olentangy, Olentangy Orange, Reynoldsburg, Thomas Worthington and Whetstone. Orange is the best seed in the sectional at seventh out of 45 teams, two spots ahead of UA.

“Without the dual format, guys can kind of focus on themselves and maybe get hot and put a nice run together,” DiSabato said. “If you lose, you go home. Wrestling gets a little bit tighter because the stakes are a little high. But because we are young and inexperienced, I think we can be loose. That inexperience might help us.”

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

“I’ve seen a lot of good competition, including the guys I might wrestle (in the postseason),” Griffith said. “I think I have a really good shot to make district.”

Eberhardt, Garn lead

swimmers at sectional

Two individuals and a relay paced the boys and girls swimming teams in a Division I sectional Feb. 13 at UA.

Boys swimmer Brett Eberhardt won the 50-yard freestyle (21.87) and 100 free (48.27) and was on the second-place 200 medley relay (1:37.37) with Ricky Caceres-Gamero, Cole Dashner and Alex Rowles. Eberhardt qualified for district Feb. 21 at Bowling Green in his individual events.

Makenna Garn of the girls team qualified for district in the 100 breaststroke and 50 free, finishing third (2:01.89) and fifth (25.61), respectively, at sectional. She also was on the district-qualifying, second-place 400 free relay (3:57.26) with Audrie Dashner, Bella Jones and Abby Marquardt.

From district, the top two finishers in each event advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each event based on times statewide.

Central's Berry Wallace and Africentric's Maliyah Johnson battle for the ball earlier this season. The Tigers won their Division I district tournament opener over Licking Heights 55-31 on Feb. 17.

Girls basketball team

starts postseason

Seeded seventh in the Division I district tournament, the girls basketball team defeated visiting and 37th-seeded Licking Heights 55-31 in a first-round game Feb. 17 while having to lean on junior varsity players.

The varsity team was not scheduled to finish a COVID-19 quarantine until Feb. 19, the day before it played host to 31st-seeded UA in the second round. Central had not played since a 71-49 win over Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 6.

UA itself had been in quarantine until Feb. 13 and chose to take a first-round bye in order to have extra time to prepare and reacclimate to play.

The Tigers were 10-6 before playing the Golden Bears.

The second-round winner visited fourth-seeded Westerville North in a district semifinal Feb. 24. That winner will face fifth-seeded Watterson, 13th-seeded Bradley, 14th-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 30th-seeded Northland in a district final Feb. 27 at the home of the better seed.

The district champion likely would face Newark, New Albany or Watkins Memorial in a regional semifinal March 2 at a neutral site.

Central lost to Newark 41-34 on Dec. 19 and 48-36 on Jan. 22. It beat Watterson 35-30 on Dec. 21 and New Albany 65-20 on Feb. 2.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave