Watkins Memorial High School wrestling fans can put away their gas cards.

Watkins Memorial High School wrestling fans can put away their gas cards.

The Warriors will compete on their home mat for the first time this season when New Albany visits for an OCC-Capital Division dual on Monday, Feb. 1. They'll also play host to the Watkins Memorial Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 5, and the regular-season schedule concludes with the league finale at home against Olentangy Orange on Feb. 10.

"We don't have anything at home until New Albany," coach Eddie Jayne said. "Fortunately, we've got three meets here at the end at home. We would have had another one, too, because we usually (play) host (to) the (Division I) sectional. They moved that to Marysville this year (on Feb. 20)."

The Warriors made their second trip to Mount Vernon on Jan. 27 for a league dual. They previously split two OCC-Capital matches there on Jan. 6, defeating Franklin Heights and losing to Hilliard Bradley. Watkins has traveled to Delaware as well while also competing in tournaments at Belmont Union Local, Johnstown, West Jefferson, Dresden Tri-Valley and Licking Heights.

"We've been around," Jayne said. "The kids are definitely excited for some home matches."

The Watkins Memorial Invitational, which was canceled a year ago because of snow, will feature a 10-team field. The newcomers include Licking Valley, which is ranked third in the latest Division II area coaches poll, and Steubenville. The Big Red's lineup features four projected Division II state qualifiers, including projected runner-up John Eckroth at heavyweight, according to Brian Brakeman's High School Wrestling Forecast.

The other participants include Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Central Crossing, Marion-Franklin and Teays Valley. The field is rounded out by Sparta Highland and Morgan. Teays Valley is ranked third in the latest Division I poll and Canal Winchester is fourth in Division II.

"We have good strength coming in," Jayne said. "It should be competitive."

Until the Mount Vernon dual, the Warriors had not wrestled since competing in the Licking Heights Invitational on Jan. 14-15. Joey Cameron won the team's only title there while improving to 24-2 at 152. Nick Lancia was 26-7 at 140 coming out of that tournament. Bo Giffin was 24-8 at 160, Dylan Scott was 14-7 at 103 and Noah Holter was 16-12 at 119.

"We've had some good practices along the way," Jayne said. "Nobody's cutting much weight, either, and that helps when you're not weighing (regularly). Most of our guys are wrestling at their natural weights."