Bob Fresch took over a Johnstown-Monroe High School wrestling team with a limited, inexperienced roster, but the first-year coach said the Johnnies have been making strides.
In the six-team Johnstown Duals on Dec. 28, the Johnnies lost to Chillicothe Southeastern 36-30 in the third-place dual to finish fourth.
"The kids are improving quite a bit," Fresch said. "We have a lot of young kids who are doing the bits and pieces needed to improve."
Utica defeated New Albany 77-3 in the championship dual. Zanesville West Muskingum defeated Brookhaven 11-3 in the fifth-place dual, with double-forfeits not counting in team scores.
"In wrestling, you have a lot of little things you need to do," Fresch said. "You have to be able to wrestle in the up or down positions, you have to work from the neutral position ... it takes so many things to be a good wrestler."
The Johnnies also lost to Utica 64-15 and New Albany 42-29, but defeated West Muskingum 40-16. They also defeated Brookhaven 31-30 in a dual that finished 30-all, but Johnstown received a team point for having four pins to three for the Bearcats to win on criteria.
The program's two seniors -- Clayton Bullard (195 pounds) and Aaron Davis (220) -- both finished 5-0, as did sophomore Hayden Bullard (132).
"I feel more confident than I did last year," Davis said. "Finding my technique on the mat has been a big help. There were little details that I wasn't doing before but I have been this year, and that's been helping."
Junior Vince Walls (126) and freshman Dakota Ramey (120) went 3-2, and junior Trevor McGee (145) and freshman Seth Jackson (138) went 2-3.
"Coach Fresch started out having us work on a base of techniques and then working on physical conditioning," Davis said. "I think that has helped all of us."
Girls basketball team wins seven in a row
The girls basketball team was on a seven-game winning streak and was 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the LCL before playing Licking Heights on Jan. 4.
Natalie Carpenter entered that game with 1,171 career points and is the program's all-time leading scorer, having passed 1997 graduate Stacey Wright (1,018 points). Last year, Carpenter set program records for points in a season (475) and points in a game (35 in a 60-46 win over North Union).
Makenzie Spang entered the Licking Heights game with the program record for blocked shots at 157, with the former record-holder being 1981 graduate Karen LeVert (102). Spang set the program record for blocks in a game with seven in a 60-32 win over Lakewood on Dec. 21.
Point guard Laiken Valentine, who is out until at least February with a knee injury, holds the program record for assists with 387. Kim Uhde, a 1990 graduate, was the previous record-holder with 238.
Valentine also holds the program's season records for assists (143) and steals (104), both set last year.
"We're doing OK (without Valentine) because Maddi Lusk is doing a great job," coach Carl Dufford said. "She (played some point guard) last season when she was our 'super sub.' In some ways, we haven't missed a beat.
"But you can't survive in this game with only five girls, and Adeline Almendinger has come off of the bench to help us (at point guard). She worked hard this summer and the more she plays, the better she will get."
The Johnnies defeated Beechcroft 79-54 on Dec. 30 as Carpenter had 24 points and seven assists and Paige Cannon had 18 points and 11 assists. Spang had 15 points and 18 rebounds, and Kerrigan Williams had 13 points.
Carpenter had 20 points and Spang had 17 in the LCL win over Lakewood. Cannon added 13 points.
On Dec. 19, Carpenter scored 24 points with four 3-pointers in a 59-38 league win over Licking Valley. Spang had 16 points and Williams had nine, all on 3-pointers.
Boys basketball team earns non-league wins
The boys basketball team was 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the LCL before playing Lakewood on Jan. 3.
Will Orr led with 13 points as the Johnnies defeated Tree of Life 54-48 on Dec. 30. Jake Taylor scored 12 points, Jason Carter had 11 and Justin Bush added nine.
On Dec. 21, Orr scored 25 points with three 3-pointers in a 77-32 win over East Knox. Bush had 15 points, Carter scored 10, Dalton Herren had nine and Taylor added eight.
Cody Farley made two free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining as the Johnnies defeated Licking Valley 45-44 in an LCL game Dec. 20. Carter scored 11 points and Bush and Taylor both added eight.