The Northridge High School wrestling team got a look at what might lie ahead by winning the Licking County Invitational on Dec. 22 at Licking Heights.
Next year, the Vikings will move from the MBC to the revived Licking County League, which was disbanded in 1991. Of the teams that will comprise the league, the only one that didn't compete in the event was Newark.
Northridge won four weight classes in the 11-team Licking County Invitational and finished atop the team standings with 276 points. Licking Valley (250), which had won the event the previous three seasons, was second, followed by Watkins Memorial (208.5), Granville (201), Newark Catholic (165), Licking Heights (120), Lakewood (87), Heath (86.5), Utica (66), Johnstown-Monroe (54.5) and Newark (19).
"There are a lot of good wrestlers in the county and it's something to be proud of," coach Eric Potts said. "We will be in the LCL next year and we have been in the county meet for years. We just went in with the idea of competing, not that we were a Division III school going up against bigger schools."
The Licking County Invitational championship was the Vikings' first.
"These kids have been looking to win this since middle school," Potts said. "These seniors won the Licking County youth tournament in grade school and won the middle school tournament as seventh- and eighth-graders. They were really looking forward to this."
Seniors Thomas Williams (152 pounds) and Anthoney Verhovec (285) defended their individual championships from last season and senior Drew Mullen (138) and sophomore Jake Adkins (106) won their first titles in the event.
Senior Shane Mulligan (132) and juniors Parker Fox (170), Rob Mickey (160), A.J. Mooney (220) and Wade Stischok (145) placed third.
"(Winning the Licking County Invitational) can only help us, especially with the seeding for the state duals and then later at sectional and district," Potts said.
The Vikings defeated Newcomerstown 55-24 and Woodsfield Monroe Central 69-9 on Dec. 28.
Bunstine breaks two swimming records
Two records for the swimming and diving program already have been broken this season and more could fall in the coming weeks.
Freshman Josie Bunstine eclipsed the girls team's records in the 100-yard breaststroke and 100 butterfly when she finished the 100 breast in 1 minute, 14.4 seconds during the Vikings Splash on Dec. 8 at New Albany and finished the 100 fly in 1:06.4 on Dec. 15 in the Mount Vernon Invitational at Kenyon College.
"We're very happy with the way we have been swimming and the records we have set and the others we are approaching," assistant coach Jeff Lindsay said. "Josie has already set the 100 breaststroke record and has twice broken the 100 butterfly. She also is approaching the 100 backstroke mark."
The record in the 100 back, 1:09.35, was set by Gabrielle Tan in the 2006-07 season.
Another member of the girls team, junior Riley Love, was closing in on the program record in the 200 individual medley before competing against Zanesville Rosecrans on Jan. 3 and in the Newark Invitational on Jan. 5. Love was two seconds off the mark of 2:32.12 set by Tan in 2006-07, Lindsay said.
According to Lindsay, junior Brandon Eckstein and sophomores Chris Lindsay and Mat Scott were closing in on program records for the boys team. Eckstein was approaching the mark in the 200 IM (2:21.8, set by Taylor Rinehart in 2007-08) and Scott was closing in on the record in the 200 freestyle (2:06.81, set by Beau Hammock in 2010-11).
Lindsay was looking to break the records for the 100 back (1:02.32, set by Rinehart in 2007-08) and the 100 free (57.37, set by Andy McKimmins in 2006-07).
"Our last meet (before Jan. 3) was the Wellington Invitational on Dec. 22, so we took that time to work more on individual things," coach Lindsay said. "We were working on corrections to some of the strokes as well as also working on the strategy in the distance races.
"Also, we want to have our competitors swim out of their comfort zone, which is something we want to do in the next few meets. We'll have people swimming in the 500 free that normally don't go in that event."
Boys basketball team ends losing streak
The boys basketball team was 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the MBC before playing Loudon-ville on Jan. 4.
The Vikings had lost four consecutive games before defeating New Lexington 58-46 on Dec. 28 in the consolation game of the Fairfield Christian Holiday Classic. They lost to Crooksville 60-54 in the first round Dec. 27.
Chad Campbell had 18 points and Caleb Crump scored 13 points against New Lexington.
Entering play Jan. 4, Fredericktown was 4-0 in the MBC, Danville and Johnstown were 3-1, Centerburg, East Knox and Utica were 2-2 and Loudonville was 0-4.
The Vikings lost to Fredericktown 74-39 on Dec. 21. Hayden Warner had nine points and Campbell scored eight.