Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Rams wrestlers optimistic about what next season will bring
Trailing 6-2 in the third period of his second consolation match in the Division I district tournament March 6 at Hilliard Darby, Whitehall-Yearling junior wrestler Shea Jordan rallied to pin Watkins Memorial’s Gavyn Louks.
Competing at district for the first time, Jordan went on to finish 2-2 at 106 pounds and hopes it provides a springboard into next season.
Jordan pinned Louks in 3 minutes, 40 seconds, after losing by pin to Louks in 3:28 at sectional Feb. 27 at Watkins Memorial.
“We were taking a beating ... (in the rematch) and got to the third period and never quit,” coach Steve Pennington said. “Shea was able to turn him and pin him. It just goes to show it doesn’t matter how much you’re losing by and how late it is, you can always find a way to win and he did.”
Jordan defeated Marion Harding’s Nathan Cunningham 15-2 in his first consolation match and finished the season 16-7.
“With not having an offseason and having this crazy year that we had with all the limitations, Shea just never got into a rhythm and was (not) able to perform like we thought he could,” Pennington said. “When he got that pin, I felt finally, it’s happened for him. I was really excited about that.”
Whitehall’s other district qualifier was freshman Mikey Park, who went 0-2 at 113. Park was a district alternate by finishing fifth at sectional, but later received the berth. He finished the season 13-8.
“He’s only a freshman and he’s wrestling up a weight class,” Pennington said. “Getting to the district tournament is something that nobody on our team did as a freshman, so he’s got a leg up over a lot of people for next year.”
Pennington expects Jordan to compete at 113 next season with Park wrestling at 106. He said Park competed at 113 this season despite weighing about 100 pounds.
Whitehall finished 37th (5) in the two-day district tournament behind champion Dublin Coffman (228.5) as 40 teams scored.
Jordan was pleased with the team’s progress and is looking forward to next season.
“We showed a lot of improvement from the beginning to the end,” he said. “I’m quite happy.”
The Rams will lose seniors David Winegarner (6-6) and Maurkel Anderson (2-6), both of whom competed at 195.
Whitehall went 2-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division to tie Columbus Academy for second behind Buckeye Valley (3-0).
Park and sophomores Damion Black (120, 9-7) and Solomon Burton (220, 7-10) were first-team all-league. Jordan, freshmen Ma’Kel Parker (113, 6-5) and Ben Carter (160) and junior Noah Church (heavyweight) were second-team all-league, and freshman Will Solomon (132) and Anderson were honorable mention all-league.
Jordan, Black and junior Austin Whistle (132, 8-10) each had a team-high five pins.
Others eligible to return include juniors Tyler Woodson-Levey (220) and Erik Taraj (145).
“The future looks very bright for us,” Pennington said. “We’re going to be able to have an offseason this year. We’re going to start open mats in April and we’ll start a lifting program. We’ll be able to attack next season like we normally always want to, so with this young talent, I have very high hopes for this team next year.”
Members of the boys and girls basketball teams received all-district honors, led by senior wing player/guard Jewel Watkins, who was named first-team all-district in Division II.
“I’m very happy for Jewel for the work she’s put in (during) the offseason that led to her building her game up for this crazy season,” girls coach Quentin Taylor said. “First-team all-district was more of a testimony of who she was for our program. She’s one kid that came into the season very eager to show how much she’s worked.
“I truly believe she’s one of the very best two-way players in the state of Ohio. I’m very proud of her and I’m happy to be a part of the journey.”
For the boys, Teddy Brown, Royal Sibley and Kei’Von Wiggins were honorable mention all-district in Division I.
•MSL-Ohio standings: Buckeye Valley (3-0), Whitehall and Columbus Academy (2-2), Bexley (1-2), Grandview (1-3)
•Seniors lost: Maurkel Anderson and David Winegarner
•Key returnees: Damion Black, Noah Church, Shea Jordan, Mikey Park, Ma’Kel Parker and Austin Whistle
•Postseason: 11th (40) at sectional behind champion Westerville North (275); 37th (5) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (228.5)