Reynoldsburg Roundup: Raiders' Gracie Straughter powers through injury to wrestle at state

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Reynoldsburg's Gracie Straughter battles Alliance's X'nai Hatcher in a 111-pound match during the girls state tournament Feb. 20 at Hilliard Davidson. Straughter pinned Hatcher in 1:44 and went on to go 2-2 in the event for the second year in a row.

Moments after falling just short of placing in the state girls wrestling tournament Feb. 20 at Hilliard Davidson, Reynoldsburg junior Gracie Straughter immediately began to think about the future. 

Straughter went 2-2 at state for the second consecutive year but felt positive about her growth on the mat during a season in which opportunities to wrestle against other girls were limited because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition, she battled a left shoulder injury late in the season to further hinder her hopes of reaching the state podium. 

“I feel like I gave it all I could give,” Straughter said. “I felt pretty good, at least in my first (state match). I was a little disappointed with my last match, but I still felt like I left a lot of it on the mat. I wish I could have wrestled a little better, but that’s behind me and all I can look forward to is next year. I’m definitely going to work toward more open-mat stuff (in the offseason) and freestyle because I want to work as hard as I can for next season.” 

Competing at 111 pounds, Straughter opened state by pinning Alliance’s X’nai Hatcher in 1 minute, 44 seconds before being pinned by Fairfield’s Rachel Elizondo in 2:27 to fall to the consolation bracket. 

Straughter then beat Collins Western Reserve’s Kelsey Lasch 7-5 before being pinned by Delaware’s Molly Wells in 57 seconds. Only the top six reached the podium.

She was runner-up Feb. 13 and 14 in the district tournament at Olentangy Orange, including defaulting the final. 

“(The injury) was pretty bad,” Straughter said. “I did power through it and got through my matches. One of the matches the girl ran almost everything on the left side. 

“(The state tournament is) really nice. The big difference here is the wrestlers are a lot more friendly.” 

Also advancing to the state girls tournament was freshman Christy Thelusma at 143, but she was forced to injury default her first two matches. 

“I’m very proud of (Straughter),” coach Jon Forgy said. “She’s been battling through this injury for about a month now and I didn’t think she’d even be able to wrestle at districts. So the fact that she was able to come here and do what she did, we’re very happy. She’s one of the leaders in our room and sets the tone in the room and she showed she can battle through anything. 

“(Thelusma) is a freshman who is very athletic and strong. She was able to get in maybe, including districts, six matches against girls. We tried to limit them as much as we could from wrestling the boys. She wrestled in eighth grade last year.” 

Weatherly closes 

season at district 

On Feb. 22 in the Division I district boys bowling tournament at HP Lanes, senior Cris Weatherly finished 61st (503) to end his season.

“It means a lot (to advance to district),” Weatherly said. “I didn’t actually expect to make it this far. I was hoping to make it as a team but unfortunately that didn’t happen.” 

The Raiders finished 30th (3,180) in the 44-team sectional Feb. 19 at HP Lanes as the top 16 advanced to district.  

Weatherly finished eighth (636) at sectional to earn his district-qualifying spot. He was followed by seniors Ben Wilson (153rd, 406) and Katie Morgan (161st, 387). 

Senior Mark Drake bowled in two games at sectional, with a 239 in one of them. Senior Terrell Jackson and junior Alijah Walker also competed in two games. 

“(Weatherly) started out real strong (at sectional) and was able to find the line he needed to, bowled a really good series and ended up being the top (individual) qualifier,” coach Jamie Gapen said. “I’m very proud of him. We struggled as a team, but whether we would have brought the team or one person to represent Reynoldsburg (at district), we made that happen. We’re very proud of him for sticking with it and getting this far.” 

Weatherly led the Raiders in COHSBC average at 176.8, followed by Walker (167.5), Jackson (162.7) and Drake (154.3). 

In addition to Walker, Gapen is hopeful sophomore Caleb Defenbaugh will return to the program after not competing this winter.  

Reynoldsburg had three girls compete at the beginning of the season and lost its only match but elected to disband the team because of low numbers, enabling Morgan to join the boys team for the rest of the season. 

“(Walker) is coming back,” Gapen said. “Then it’ll just be putting together the rest of the team. I’m hoping we can bring the girls team back and change that around next year.” 

Girls basketball team 

opens tourney play 

The third-seeded girls basketball team closed the regular season on a three-game winning streak and opened the Division I district tournament with a pair of blowout victories before defeating 27th-seeded Canal Winchester 71-42 in a district semifinal Feb. 24. 

The Raiders, who improved to 15-4 with their victory over the Indians, opened the postseason by defeating 40th-seeded Westerville Central 78-25 on Feb. 17 and 36th-seeded Eastmoor Academy 82-32 on Feb. 18.

Reynoldsburg faced 34th-seeded Logan in a district final Feb. 27 at home after the Chieftains upset 12th-seeded Olentangy 52-44 on Feb. 24.

Against Central, Alexia Mobley had 21 points and Imarianah Russell scored 19. 

Mya Perry scored 28 and Mobley and Russell both added 16 against Eastmoor.

The Raiders entered the season having won nine district titles in 11 seasons, with three regional titles during that stretch.  

The regional semifinal was March 2 and the regional final is March 5, both at Ohio Dominican. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BOYS BOWLING  

Record: 2-11 overall 

League finishes: 11th (2-10) in COHSBC-B behind champion Gahanna (11-1), tied for sixth (1-5) in OCC-Central behind co-champions Gahanna and Pickerington North (5-1) 

Seniors lost: Mark Drake, Terrell Jackson, Katie Morgan, Cris Weatherly and Ben Wilson 

Key returnee: Alijah Walker 

Postseason: 30th (3,180) at sectional behind champion Marion Harding (4,316)