With several freshmen and sophomores in the lineup, Gahanna Lincoln High School wrestling coach Kyle Bentley isn't sure how much success his team will have in tournaments and its OCC-Ohio Division dual matches.
There are two members, however, who don't have anything to prove to Bentley in terms of their skills and their abilities to be leaders in practice and matches.
Senior twins Drew and Kasee McDougle have been starters since their freshman seasons and give Gahanna a pair of strong returnees. They were the Lions' only Division I state qualifiers last season.
Drew went 3-2 and placed fourth at 132 pounds in his second state appearance to finish the season 47-7, which included a program-record 29 pins. He also qualified for state as a freshman, going 1-2 at 112.
Kasee went 0-2 at 138 in his first state appearance a year ago to finish 35-13.
This season, the brothers have switched weight classes, with Drew moving to 138 and Kasee dropping to 132.
On Dec. 1 in the 11-team Olentangy Invitational, Gahanna scored 83.5 points to place fourth behind champion Centerville (193.5), with Drew going 5-0 with five pins while breaking the program record for career wins. He had 128 wins before Gahanna faced Granville, Heath and New Albany on Dec. 6 and competed in the Olentangy Liberty Classic on Dec. 8.
Kasee also went 5-0 with five pins in the Olentangy Invitational and had 104 career victories before Dec. 6.
Gahanna finished 11th (189) in the 16-team Liberty Classic behind champion Wadsworth (461).
"They're just leaders by example and they're vocal leaders at times," said Bentley, who is in his seventh season leading the program. "They know what needs to happen."
Senior Zach Holloway, who was expected to be a key contributor last season at 152 but missed extensive time with a right ankle injury, also is back and has moved up to 160. Others in the starting lineup who gained experience last season are senior Timmy Miller (145) and junior David Dembroski (170).
The McDougles have a younger brother who has joined the team. Zach, a freshman, is starting at 120.
Others expected to contribute include seniors Granyl Smith (220) and Sean Stumbo (152), juniors Mike McMasters (138), Nick Nader (heavyweight), Ethan Peters (145), Sheldon Rentmeester (220) and Esti Yohannes (113), sophomores Joe Looker (113) and Malik Williams (195) and freshmen Dolan Martin (182), Dylan Ryther (106) and Carl Turner (126).
According to Bentley, two other freshmen, Tanner Harding and Jhoan Salazar, have shown promise but are in the same weight classes as Drew and Kasee McDougle.
"We've got a lot of numbers, but we're young," Bentley said. "We've got a good group of freshmen. We've just got to keep them together and keep them working."
Last season, Gahanna went 3-4 in OCC-Ohio dual matches to tie Reynoldsburg for fourth, behind Lancaster (7-0), Pickerington North (6-1) and Pickerington Central (5-2) and ahead of Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-7).
The Lions finished seventh (68) in the 10-team sectional at Pickerington Central behind champion Olentangy (249.5) as Drew McDougle was first at 132 and Kasee McDougle was second at 138. Other placers included McMasters (fifth at 126) and Rentmeester (sixth at 220).
At district at Hilliard Darby, Drew McDougle was first and Kasee McDougle placed fourth as the Lions finished 15th (43.5) behind champion Marysville (174) with 37 teams scoring.
At state, Drew McDougle became the 13th Gahanna wrestler to place and the first to place since Antoine Love finished fourth at 160 in 2003. The Lions scored 13 points to tie Cincinnati St. Xavier, Darby, Dublin Coffman and Fairfield for 36th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (223.5) as 84 teams scored.