Coach Eric Potts likes the makeup of his Northridge High School wrestling team.
The Vikings return three Division III state qualifiers, including senior Thomas Williams, who was fourth at 138 pounds last season to finish 58-5 overall. Williams was the first Northridge wrestler to place at state since Joey Simcoe was third at 130 in 1999.
Also competing at state were junior Jake Adkins at 106 and senior heavyweight Anthoney Verhovec. Adkins went 0-2 at state to finish 38-15 and Verhovec went 0-2 to finish 44-11.
"We have a really good room," said Potts, who is in his third season. "The practice room is intense. They know what we expect out of them and we're pleased with the freshmen and the other new guys. There will be a learning curve, but they are really picking things up fast."
The Vikings have six seniors in Levi Hatfield (170), Drew Mullen (138-145), Shane Mulligan (132-138), Zach Rudy (182), Verhovec and Williams (145-152).
The roster also includes juniors Alex Arnold (126), Jon Barber (195), Parker Fox (152), Rob Mickey (152-160), A.J. Mooney (220), Wade Stischok (145) and Ryan Strong (113), sophomores Brennan Angus (160) and Hunter Reese (160) and freshmen Sam Doran (132), Michael Holley (106), Jacob McNamara (120) and Mason Royer (160).
Junior Jacob Burke (170) will miss the season with a football-related injury.
"One thing right now is that we have kids in the wrong weight classes, so we're not where we need to be," Potts said. "Our biggest concern is getting right kids in right spots to be the strongest team we can be. We have a logjam from 138 to 152 and the main thing is to get the kids in the lineup."
The Vikings opened Dec. 1 in the 13-team Wazie Invitational at Mount Vernon. The event featured 11 Division I schools and two Division III teams in Northridge and Fredericktown. Northridge finished fourth (442 points) behind champion Mount Vernon (629) and Fredericktown was 11th (161).
Williams was champion at 152 and named the event's Most Outstanding Wrestler. The Vikings had three other champions in Adkins, Mulligan (138) and Verhovec.
"We had four champions and Mount Vernon had five, so we wrestled pretty well," Potts said. "None of the four were challenged until the final round."
Barber and Mullen (145) each finished third and Mooney and Royer both placed fifth.
At state, the Vikings tied for 43rd (13) behind champion Apple Creek Waynedale (104).
Williams won a championship in the district tournament at Heath. Verhovec placed third and Adkins was fourth as the top four in each weight class advanced to state.
Also competing at district for the Vikings were Mullen (132), Burke (170) and Barber (220). Mullen was making his second trip to district and went 2-2 to finish 33-25. Burke was 1-2 to finish 41-13 and Barber was 0-2 to finish 13-29.
The Vikings finished seventh (65.5) at district behind champion Nelsonville-York (129.5) as 48 teams scored.
In the sectional at Cardington, Northridge finished sixth (117) of 15 teams, behind champion Newark Catholic (158). Williams was first, Verhovec placed second, Adkins and Mullen wer third and Barber and Burke each placed fourth.
In the MBC tournament at home, Burke, Williams and Verhovec won titles. Mullen finished second, Barber, Rudy and Adkins were third, Fox (138) was fourth and Stischok (152) placed fifth.
Northridge finished third (259) in the MBC behind Loud-onville (333) and Utica (284).
Numbers increase for swimming teams
The swimming and diving teams have added six competitors. Last season, the Vikings had nine participants, all boys. They have 15 this year, with 11 boys and four girls.
"This group is now starting to jell," said Jeff Lindsay, who is an assistant to first-year coach Louissa Summers. "We've been in the pool since Nov. 1 and they had some open workouts before that. They are starting to get together and they really support each other."
The boys team consists of junior Brandon Eckstein, sophomores Mason Alexander, Bryce Curtis, Jasen Dean, Paul Haught, Chris Lindsay, Noah Orcutt, Mat Scott and Steve Wickham and freshmen Adam Eckstein and David Stanton.
The girls team features juniors Vivian Carney, Riley Love and Katie Pileski and freshman Josie Bunstine, who set program records in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 16.44 seconds) and 100 butterfly (1:07.74) in the season-opening meet Dec. 4 at Zanesville Rosecrans.
In the opening event, the boys defeated Athens 48-28, Zanesville Maysville 63-0 and Zanesville West Muskingum 50-23. The girls defeated Maysville 36-18 but lost to Athens 40-31 and West Muskingum 42-32.
Last season, the boys 400 freestyle relay of Dean, Wickham, Scott and Brandon Eckstein finished 30th (4:44.78) in the Division II district meet at Ohio State after earning the 30th and final qualifying spot in 4:49.95 in the sectional.
"I think that (district competition) has helped them to prepare for their experience this year," coach Lindsay said. "They have all grown physically from last year and that will definitely help this year."
As a team, the Vikings finished 16th (18) at sectional behind champion Granville (252). They did not score at district as Granville (325.5) won the title.
Northridge finished 15th (8) in the 17-team Southeastern Ohio Swim League meet at Ohio University behind champion Granville (310).