Westland Roundup: Cougars wrestlers prepare to make push for state

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Jakob Hurley takes a 29-5 record into the Division I postseason, which begins for Westland with a sectional Feb. 27 at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

For Westland junior wrestler Trent Jude, the memory of last season’s Division I district tournament still lingers. 

Jude went 1-2 at 120 pounds, ending his season with a 27-9 record. This winter, he hopes to erase that disappointment and reach the state tournament March 13 and 14 at Hilliard Darby.

The Cougars begin the postseason in an 11-team sectional Feb. 27 at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Darby, where the top four at each weight qualify for state. 

“I use (last season’s district disappointment) as motivation,” said Jude, who will compete at 113 in the postseason. “(I was) not happy with my performance. My mentality is better. My conditioning is better. I think I’ll be (in the) top three at district.” 

Jude enters the postseason 29-2 on the season and 91-24 for his career. 

“We’re going to spend the last week and a half (before sectional) training to get in the best shape we can be in and take it from there,” Jude said. 

Bryson Palmer (126 or 132) and Jakob Hurley (152) will be seeking return trips to state. They were state qualifiers last season, but the tournament was postponed and later canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Tyler Jude was a state alternate a year ago after finishing fifth at district at 113. He will wrestle at 106 during the postseason. 

“We feel like we’re close to being ready for the postseason,” coach Brent Allerding said. “We have to get into our best shape of our lives and clean up a few things, (and) get healthy. We’re just tuning up now. 

“Everybody has a chance to get to district and a number of them have a chance to get to state. The competition is high among them and their expectations are high. We’re excited for what this next month brings.” 

Tyler Jude enters the postseason at 30-1, with Hurley at 29-5 and Palmer at 24-4. Others preparing for sectional are Jacob Mullens (195, 19-10), Colby Lightfoot (138, 14-22), David Ivan-Medina (145, 10-27) and Collin Crosier (160, 2-13). 

“We take pride in the people we have in the wrestling room,” Trent Jude said. “It’s not a lot of people, but everybody pours their heart in that wrestling room. Every day the coaches push us. They’ll jump in and wrestle with us.” 

Boys basketball team 

readies for postseason 

The boys basketball team lost 83-30 at Westerville Central on Feb. 12 as Drew Panning led the Cougars with 10 points. 

Westland was 2-15 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Ohio Division before closing the regular season Feb. 18 against Grove City. 

The Cougars are seeded 44th in the Division I district tournament and visit 38th-seeded Mount Vernon in the first round Feb. 23. The winner visits second-seeded Central on Feb. 26.

“We’re capable of winning (our postseason opener),” coach Rob Hayes said. “We’re capable of beating (Mount Vernon). At this point given some of the games we’ve played this year with the opponents we’ve played, the question of whether we win comes down entirely to how well do we play. We have not played well enough as a team to win games that we should have.” 

Sophomore Kaylee Mullins was one of only four athletes who finished the season for the Westland swimming and diving program.

Swim teams cap 

season at sectional 

The boys and girls swimming and diving teams closed the season by competing in a Division I sectional Feb. 13 at Upper Arlington. 

The program began the season with 13 athletes and finished with four. 

“A combination of the early morning practices, transportation issues and health issues took a toll,” coach Robert Boggs said. “I’m not happy about so many kids dropping out, but I am extremely proud of those who endured and made the best of the season. It has been mentally challenging for them, not knowing from week to week if we were going to be shut down.” 

Sophomores Zach Illes, Kaylee Mullins and Joy Puhlman and freshman Josh Ashmore completed the season. 

At sectional, Ashmore was eighth in the 100-yard freestyle (1 minute, 8.1 seconds) and 13th in the 50 free (30.74). Illes was ninth in the 100 free (1:09.16) and 12th in the 50 free (30.38), Puhlman was 12th in the 100 free (1:15.16) and Mullins tied for 14th in the 50 free (34.31). 

“The sectional meet went well,” Boggs said. “The kids all swam great races and set new personal records.” 

Boggs hopes to add more swimmers for next season. 

“The four remaining swimmers are very dedicated and I can count on them to continue to work out in the offseason to get stronger and be prepared for the post-COVID swim season,” Boggs said. “We definitely need to recruit more people for next year. I know we would have had a larger team had we not been in this situation. We remain positive and grateful for what we were able to salvage for this year.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank