Bo knows wrestling.
If he could post the lineup he envisioned, Licking Heights High School coach Bo Ramsey knows the Hornets would have a great season. But injuries have kept that from transpiring thus far.
"I used to look at our potential lineup and get excited, but I just can't do that any longer," Ramsey said. "I know we could be a really good team if not for our injuries. But as a coach, I've got to look forward. The reality is that we need to improve the kids who are in the practice room and prepare them to do their best.
"Just when we get one guy back, we lose another one or two. It's amazing. This is the third year in a row where we've struggled with this pattern."
Two returning district qualifiers have missed much of the season. Senior heavyweight A.J. Velasquez had a preseason knee injury and just recently returned. Junior Ty Yeager (132 pounds) was injured in a quad meet in the opener Dec. 4.
"Freshman L.A. Kelly (138) missed about a week and just returned, but then we found out we'll likely be without Ty Yeager the rest of the year," said Ramsey, who would not reveal Yeager's injury. "Then (170-pound senior John Neary), who didn't start the season because of a bad ankle, got hurt again."
Entering the weekend, senior Mike Hopewell (220) was the only member of the team who is not a freshman or sophomore to compete in multiple events.
"Hopewell is 17-7," Ramsey said. "He pinned his first eight opponents in the West Jefferson Classic (on Dec. 28 and 29) and finished second when he lost to a state qualifier (West Jefferson's Carter Harris). He's not a great technician, but he knows his strengths and uses them. He has only wrestled two years and is using wrestling to have better balance and strength on the football field."
Ramsey knows he has a core of potential standouts who love the sport.
"We have young, talented guys and they are getting extra attention right now," he said. "We're not going to throw everything at them, though. ... We have three or four years with these guys. There's no need to rush. Haste makes waste."
In the Hornets' case, Haist also makes waste.
Sophomore brothers Anthony Haist (106) and Brandon Haist (120) have been trashing opponents. Anthony won his first three tournaments before finishing second in the Pioneer Invitational on Jan. 4 at Olentangy Orange. He was 22-4 before competing in the Licking Heights Invitational on Jan. 10 and 11.
"Anthony has been very consistent and has found his identity this year," Ramsey said. "All of his matches look similar. He's going to do what he does best until somebody stops him."
Brandon Haist also was runner-up at Orange. He was 20-6 before the Licking Heights Invitational.
"Brandon beat the top three seeds at West Jefferson on the first day, but a skin condition forced him to miss the second day," Ramsey said.
Also placing at Orange was freshman Josiah Harrell, who finished fourth and was 21-4 before Jan. 10.
Boys basketball team finally wins close one
The boys basketball team outlasted Licking Valley on Jan. 3, giving coach Nathan Clark hope the Hornets have learned how to win close games.
Despite all five starters fouling out, the Hornets beat the Panthers 90-87 in three overtimes.
"Our resiliency paid off and I hope that winning that one will help us down the road," Clark said. "We've lost quite a few close games and it seems like every game in (the LCL) is going to be a battle. ... Maybe this is the one that helps us turn the page and come out on top in games like these."
Through nine contests, the Hornets were 2-4 in games decided by eight or fewer points. They were 4-5 overall and 3-4 in the LCL before playing Northridge on Jan. 10.
Senior Babe Murphy scored 28 points, including 18 in the extra periods before fouling out in the third overtime. He also had 10 rebounds.
"The game was called real tight," Clark said. "There were 64 fouls and 100 free throws. We had four j.v. starters on the floor to end the game, including three sophomores. We're starting to learn that we have to value each possession, get stops and make clutch shots."
Senior forward Dante Burnette had 16 points and 11 rebounds and junior guard Ryan Singleton scored 11 points.
Girls basketball team seeks to end slump
The girls basketball team begins the second round of LCL play Monday, Jan. 13, against visiting Utica.
The Hornets lost to Johnstown 66-48 on Jan. 4 and then fell to Northridge 52-44 on Jan. 9 for their fourth consecutive loss and fifth in six games.
Licking Heights is 6-6 overall and 4-5 in the league.
The Hornets lost to Utica 78-74 on Dec. 27 when they finished with four players on the court after five fouled out. The game was a makeup from Nov. 30.
Senior guard Skyler Ortiz, who scored 25 points against Utica, led Licking Heights with 11 against Johnstown. Senior guard Imaani Wilson-Cunningham added nine points.