A mixture of veterans and young competitors could be the key to success for the Grove City High School wrestling team.
The Greyhounds return five Division I district qualifiers, and several newcomers also could have an impact on the team.
"It feels like a young team, but we do have a lot of seniors," said seventh-year coach Jay DiMasso, whose team has 10 seniors. "Their mat experience could really come into play for us."
Senior heavyweight Chandler Evanichko leads the returnees after being a state alternate at heavyweight last season by placing fifth at district. He finished the season 42-9.
Other returning district qualifiers are seniors Justin Belmonte (195 pounds), Cole Capehart (132) and Cortez Marshall (120) and sophomore Will Marshall (113).
"We should have a full lineup, which will help," said DiMasso, who has a roster of 30. "We're looking for the older guys to help get the younger kids ready."
The other seniors include Andrew Bals (heavyweight), Jordan Baumgardner (182), Tristan Dingess (220), Cornelius Marshall (126) and Ben Souksavath (heavyweight). Another senior, Nick Headlee (138), transferred from Ready.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Drew Capehart (170), Jake Crosby (182), Luke Plageman (160) and Jacob Yono (145), sophomores Wayne Bowman (195), Canaan Dick (145), Cameron Ellis (113), Ray Madero (120), Jur'marr Tolber (heavyweight) and Brandon VanSickle (170) and freshmen Cole Antle (132), Andy Beatty (106), Michael Bellar (113), Chris Desmarais (152), Ryan Johnson (120), Tanner Kennaw (152), Marcus Najdusak (106), Kyle Weisgerber (126) and Dane Whittier (220).
"We had about 24 days to get the kids conditioned and ready to wrestle," DiMasso said. "Maybe not wrestling the first weekend (of the season) will help us. We'll have to wait and see."
Grove City opened by going 5-0 to win the eight-team Joe Stora Duals on Dec. 7 at Westland. The Greyhounds defeated Westland B (79-0), Granville (47-18), West Jefferson (67-11) and Westerville Central (69-6) before beating Granville a second time 47-26 in the championship.
The Comets opened OCC-Central Division competition Dec. 11 at Upper Arlington. Last season, they tied Dublin Coffman for sixth (2-5) behind champion Marysville (7-0).
Central Crossing returns top talent
Central Crossing returns a two-time Division I state qualifier and six others who were district qualifiers a year ago.
Senior Josh Wimer (126) qualified for state at 120 last season, but was scratched because of a skin irritation. He finished fifth at 106 as a sophomore.
Also qualifying for district last year were senior Gavin McKenney (132) and sophomores Robbie Fusner (220), Jackson Lakso (106), Ethan Leapley (138), Kameron Teacher (heavyweight) and James Wimer (113).
"What I really like is that even though we are young, we're experienced," fourth-year coach Jamie Ramirez said. "We had seven district qualifiers last year and five were freshmen, and they are all back. They are all ready to move up to the next level because they are hungry from being so close (to state) last year."
Senior Hunter Taylor will compete at 145. Other key performers include juniors Casey Davis (152/160) and Kyle Collins (120), sophomores Luke Doudna (106), Jonathan Kowalski (138), Nathaniel Kowalski (126), Hunter Pemberton (195), Derek Wurzauf (152) and J.D. Woods (113) and freshmen Zach Collins (106) and Zach Robinson (heavyweight).
"This is the first year since I've been here that we can actually fill all 14 classes," Ramirez said. "That will help us as the season goes along."
The Comets opened by winning the 10-team Circleville Kiwanis Tournament on Nov. 30, scoring 228.5 points to finish ahead of runner-up Washington Court House (203.5). Lakso (106), McKenney (126), Josh Wimer (132), Leapley (152) and Teacher (heavyweight) won titles, and Collins (106), Woods (120) and Fusner (220) were runners-up.
On Dec. 4, the Comets defeated Ready 48-33 and Licking Heights 55-18 in duals.
The Greyhounds open OCC-Ohio competition Dec. 19 against visiting Pickerington North. Last season, they placed fifth (3-4) behind co-champions Pickerington Central and North (6-1).