Central Crossing High School wrestling coach Jamie Ramirez expects his young team to make steady progress this season.
Of the Comets' 22 wrestlers, 16 are freshmen or sophomores.
"We have a young team and the kids are going to learn as the season goes along," said Ramirez, who is in his third season.
"They have a lot of wrest-ling experience and have been wrestling their whole lives, but they need to get high school mat time. They have been working hard, but they have to get adjusted to the physicality of high school wrestling."
Among the returnees is junior Josh Wimer, who went 4-2 and placed fifth at 106 pounds in the Division I state tournament last season to finish 42-10. Also competing at state last season were 2012 graduates Vince Pickett, who went 3-1 and was runner-up at 170, and Dez Hauber, who went 0-2 at 145, as the Comets finished 14th (29.5 points) behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (223.5) as 84 teams scored.
Pickett, who finished 40-2 last season, was a three-time state qualifier and is now competing for Edinboro University.
Wimer has moved up to 120 this season.
Also on the roster are seniors Marco Byas (145), Kyle Farris (145), Jorge Jimenez (132) and Hunter Taylor (152), junior Gavin McKenney (126), sophomores Kyle Collins (120), Casey Davis (138) and Garrett Heydt (132) and freshmen Jacob Chapman (132), Nick Creasap (152), Robbie Fusner (195), Yazan Karajat (145), Jonathan Kowalski (132), Nathaniel Kowalski (132), Jackson Lakso (106), Ethan Leapley (138), Hunter Pemberton (182), Kameron Teacher (285), James Wimer (106), J.D. Woods (106) and Derek Wurzauf (132).
The Comets opened Dec. 1 in the eight-team Olentangy Invitational, finishing seventh (57) behind champion Centerville (193.5). Lakso (106) won his weight class, with Josh Wimer (120) placing second and Taylor (152) finishing third. James Wimer (106) placed fourth and Jimenez (132), Leapley (138), Teacher (285) and Woods (106) finished fifth.
"We finished near the bottom of the pack and we took nine freshmen," Ramirez said. "We had three place at 106, where we are loaded. And they are all freshmen."
Central Crossing had three wrestlers qualify for the district last season at Hilliard Darby in Pickett, Hauber and Josh Wimer.
Pickett won his weight class, Wimer placed third and Hauber finished fifth. The top four finishers in each weight class qualified for state and Hauber advanced as a state alternate.
The Comets finished 18th (57) at district behind champion Marysville (174) as 37 teams scored after placing seventh (109) in a 10-team sectional at home behind champion Dublin Coffman (194).
Pickett, Wimer and Hauber all won sectional titles.
Last year in the OCC-Central Division, Central Crossing went 1-6 and tied Thomas Worthington and Westland for sixth, behind Hilliard Davidson (7-0), Coffman (6-1), Darby (5-2), Worthington Kilbourne (4-3) and Upper Arlington (3-4).
As part of OCC realignment, Darby and Kilbourne moved to the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Marysville and Olentangy Liberty.
Grove City off to strong start
Grove City won the six-team Joe Stora Duals on Dec. 8 at Westland by defeating the host Cougars 53-21 in the championship.
The Greyhounds opened Dec. 1 in the 13-team Franklin Heights Holiday Invitational, scoring 126 points to tie St. Charles for fourth behind champion Thomas Worthington (297).
Grove City returns two of its five Division I district qualifiers from a year ago in senior Zane Chappelear (152) and junior Chandler Evanichko (heavyweight). Chappelear has moved up to 160 this season.
Last season, Chappelear finished 33-8 and Evanichko was 21-19.
"We don't have as many all-stars as we have had in the past when we would have four or five kids with 30-plus wins," sixth-year coach Jay DiMasso said. "We know we may have two or three, but looking for those others is our goal. Getting more wrestlers with 30-plus wins would be great."
Others expected to contribute are seniors Nick Butsko (145) and Tavon Hudson (182/195), juniors Justin Belmonte (220), Tristan Dingess (195/220), Zack Elswick (132), Cornelius Marshall (120), Cortez Marshall (113), Cole Capehart (126) and Luke Woodring (138), sophomores Drew Capehart (170), Jake Crosby (182) and Austin Hughes (106) and freshman Will Marshall (106).
"We have some kids who were eager to learn and they put in a lot of work over the summer," DiMasso said. "The Marshall brothers put in a lot of time during the summer and it has been showing. They're excelling because they work hard and they're pretty tough."
Last season, Grove City had one state qualifier in 2012 graduate Jordan Shoemaker, who went 0-2 at 120. He finished fourth at district.
Also at district, Chappelear, Evanichko and 2012 graduate Steve Neeley (182) went 1-2 and 2012 graduate Caleb Dick (195) went 3-3.
The Greyhounds scored 33 points at district to tie Westerville Central for 17th and finished sixth (127) in the sectional at Central Crossing. At sectional, Evanichko and Neeley finished first, Dick and Shoemaker placed second and Chappelear was third.
In the OCC-Ohio last season, Grove City went 3-4 to tie Gahanna and 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).