Delaware Hayes High School wrestling coach Josh Heffernan has high hopes for his team this season, as it returns 10 starters, including three Division I district qualifiers.
"We're pretty straight forward with our performance goals this season," said Heffernan, who is in his seventh season leading the program. "We want to be OCC-Capital Division champions, sectional champions, get seven district qualifiers and four state qualifiers.
"We also have four other goals, which are to have the highest team GPA in the school, to positively impact our community and school, to give back to young people and to always compete intensely."
The returning district qualifiers are juniors Nick Beyer, Shawn Johnson and Andrew Sierawski.
Another district qualifier, sophomore Cody Wooten, was lost for the season when he suffered a knee injury during the football season.
Sierawski went 26-17 at 170 pounds last season, including going 2-2 in the district meet at Hilliard Darby, but is competing at 195 this year.
"Andrew was a match away from qualifying for state last year," Heffernan said. "In fact, he was a mere second away. He hit a takedown in the last seconds of his qualifying match at district, got the takedown points, but time ran out before he was able to collect the near-fall points. It has haunted him and caused him to really focus on his technique this offseason."
Johnson finished 19-17 at 195 last season after going 0-2 at district but is competing at 182 this season. Beyer also went 0-2 at district and finished 16-25 at 132 last season. He has moved to 138 this season.
Wooten competed at 182 last season, going 0-2 at district to finish 15-13.
"Shawn Johnson was elected captain by his teammates," Heffernan said. "He was a bronze medalist for Team Ohio in August in the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston. He is a tremendous leader who has really turned a corner."
Another key returnee is sophomore Daniel Shaver (113), who was a district alternate last season at 106, finishing 17-20.
"Shaver also competed in the AAU Junior Olympic games," Heffernan said. "He'll be looking to build on last season's end-of-the-year success. Beyer has worked himself into one of our most competitive wrestlers.
"He really turned things on at the end of last year and just kept building (in the offseason). He has improved his strength, technique and experience and will be one of our more successful wrestlers."
Other key returnees are senior Wyatt Davis (126) and juniors Raymond Simpson (152) and Derrick Sumner (170).
"Wyatt is our lone returning senior and I am excited to see what he does with his season," Heffernan said.
"I am also very excited to have Raymond Simpson and Derrick Sumner back. They're two tough juniors with two years of varsity experience who missed the second half of last season due to academic struggles. Both are on board with improved grades and attitudes and both should contribute greatly."
Also vying for action are senior Terry Rutledge (145), juniors Jose Bautista (152), Brandon Brown (182), Reece Kotaka (220), Colton Richard (195), Troy Shaw (138), Brandon Walcott (195) and Tyler Wiebe (132) and sophomores Austin Backus (160), Zack Brockett (138), Sid Campbell (152), Noah DeWitt (220), Austen Kimbro (heavyweight), Brandon Ladd (145), Derek Louck (heavyweight), Colton Meadows (152) and Nathan Stewert (113).
Heffernan said several of the team's 10 freshmen could be key contributors this season. The freshmen are Garrett Brinkmoeller (138), Greg Brusco (106), Jakota Carter (145), Blake Davenport (120), Tommy Detunno (106), Brandon Dydek (138), Raezel Garrett (132), Chris Martinez (160/170), John Shields (182) and Cole Sparks (160).
Brusco, Dydek, Garrett and Martinez were junior high state qualifiers last year.
Delaware opened Dec. 1, finishing second (535 points) in the 13-team Wazie Classic, behind host Mount Vernon (629). Sierawski finished first at 182 and Davis (126), Johnson (195) and Martinez (170) placed second.
The Pacers went 5-0 in the Big Walnut Duals on Dec. 8, defeating Springfield Shawnee 58-18, Jonathan Alder 49-6, Big Walnut 48-19, Galion 54-21 and Galion Northmor 57-19. They also defeated Darby 37-35 on Dec. 13.
Last season, Delaware finished fourth (4-3) in the OCC-Capital Division, behind Hilliard Bradley (7-0), Mount Vernon (6-1) and Olentangy Orange (5-2) and ahead of Big Walnut (3-4), Watkins Memorial (2-5), New Albany (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
As part of OCC realignment, Bradley moved to the OCC-Cardinal and was replaced by Olentangy, which had been in the OCC-Cardinal.
The Pacers placed fourth (125.5) in the 10-team sectional tournament behind host Marysville (257) and finished 19th (31) at district behind champion Marysville (174) as 37 teams scored.
Delaware had its first state qualifier since 2004 last season, as 2012 graduate Seth McCurdy placed fourth at 126 at district to secure the final state-qualifying berth. He went 1-2 in the state tournament at Ohio State.
Girls swim team returns five state qualifiers
It could be difficult for the girls swimming and diving team to replicate its success last season, when it scored a program-record 27 points in the Division I state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The 200-yard medley relay placed sixth in 1 minute, 48.09 seconds to become the first relay for the girls or boys team to reach the state podium, as Delaware tied Kettering Fairmont for 22nd behind Upper Arlington (300.5) as 55 teams scored.
The Pacers lost just one letterwinner to graduation in Jessica Ward, who competed in four of the team's five events at state last year. She also is part of five program records.
Ward teamed with junior Brittany Puthoff, senior Lindsey Norris and sophomore Regan DeWitt in the 200 medley relay. She finished 16th (59.3) in the 100 butterfly and 19th (58.59) in the 100 backstroke and teamed with sophomore Samantha Curtin, DeWitt and Puthoff in the 400 freestyle relay that finished 19th (3:39.59).
Also at state last year, Puhoff finished 23rd (1:07.97) in the 100 breaststroke.
"Brittany Puthoff is a versatile competitor who can excel in stroke and free events," 25th-year coach Bill Rietz said. "A consummate practice swimmer, she thrives on the challenge of training and competition... ."
Norris, who specializes in the 100 fly and 100 back, and senior Susan Thomson are team captains.
"(Norris) possesses leadership skills that a coach hopes for in a senior," Rietz said. "She will be looking to make it to state three years in the medley relay and her 100 fly last year at district was close to getting to Canton.
"(Thomson) is the spark that gets people excited to perform. Her presence is welcomed. She has state-meet experience with the 200 medley relay in her sophomore season. She will be an important element in all three relays this season."
DeWitt holds the program records in the 200 and 500 free and, according to Rietz, is looking to return to state in those events as well as in the 200 medley and 400 free relays. Curtin qualified for district last year in both the 50 and 100 free in addition to competing at state in the two relays.
Sophomore Bethany Ward (200 IM and 500 free) also is expected to be a key contributor, Rietz said.
Also on the team are seniors Mary Kate Kuchers, Sydney Michalak, Harlee Mollenkopf, Caroline Pusateri and Kaitlin Scott, juniors Emily Baker, Enya Granados and Sarah Newcomb, sophomores Darcy Baker, Morgan Kiehl, Naomi Latta, Veronica Parker, Tiffany Redick, Alex Sarna and Elyssa Steele and freshmen Ashley Baker, Dawn Chapman (diver), Maddie Ertz, Addie Gannon, Mallory Hackett and Sara Reed.
Delaware opened Nov. 30, beating Central Crossing 137-27 and losing to New Albany 104-81, and finished first (114) in the six-team Columbus Academy Relays on Dec. 1 ahead of runner-up Academy (88). In the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State, the Pacers finished 12th (120) behind champion UA (439) as 48 teams scored.
Last season, Delaware placed second (282) in the OCC-Capital Division meet behind New Albany (326) and ahead of Watkins Memorial (170), Mount Vernon (155), Olentangy Orange (155), Big Walnut (110) and Hilliard Bradley (92).
Franklin Heights does not have a swimming program.
The Pacers placed second (213) in the 11-team sectional behind host Thomas Worthington (262) and finished sixth (147) in the district meet at Ohio State behind champion UA (522) as 27 teams scored.
The boys team returns five letterwinners in seniors Cameron Hackett, Thomas Lenhart and Anthony Sanfillipo and juniors Scott Chapman (diver) and Skyler Pollock.
"Hackett had an outstanding junior campaign," Rietz said. "He just missed the school record in the 500 free and he's very versatile. Sanfillipo competed on all three district relay teams as well as the 200 IM and each swim was a career best."
Rietz said he also expects junior Scott Chapman and sophomore Mason Nicol to be key contributors.
Also on the team are seniors Karl Schleutz and Tyler Smith, juniors Dustin Buschman, Kai Herrera, Noah Jung, Cody Ross (diver) and Jacob Rumbalski, sophomores Skyler Buschman and Erik Richards (diver) and freshmen Andrew Edmonds and Lucas Eyerman.
Delaware opened Nov. 30, defeating Central Crossing 87-49 and losing to New Albany 123-57, and finished fourth (50) in the six-team Academy Relays behind champion Westerville South (122).
The Pacers finished 22nd (50) in the Ned Reeb Invitational behind champion UA (370) as 48 teams scored.