The Marysville High School wrestling team has the luxury of being able to reload instead of rebuild this season.
Although the Monarchs lost four wrestlers from last year to graduation, including three state qualifiers and a state champion in Noah Forrider, the team again is in position to contend for league, sectional, district and state titles, according to seventh-year coach Shawn Andrews.
The Monarchs have returned three of their six state qualifiers from last season in seniors Austin Pfarr (220 pounds) and David Sparks (138) and junior Taleb Rahmani (145). Pfarr finished fifth at 195 at state and was 39-10 overall, Rahmani was seventh at 120 and finished 24-5, and Sparks was eighth at 126 and finished 43-11.
"We've been fortunate to have underclassmen have success," Andrews said. "When that happens, it prevents a real big drop-off. We have some guys in our lineup this year who've had a lot of success. They've been at the state tournament level, they've been at the district level, but we also have a lot of young faces."
The Monarchs were scheduled to open the season Dec. 7 by playing host to the annual Marysville Duals, but the event was canceled because of bad weather.
Instead, Andrews scheduled matches against Lewistown Indian Lake and Versailles on Dec. 10 and North Union and Cardington on Dec. 11.
Using mainly wrestlers from its B team, Marysville defeated Versailles 49-15 and lost to host Indian Lake 47-30.
The Monarchs then defeated host North Union 50-21 and Cardington 69-7.
"At this time of the year, it's all about getting on the mat," Andrews said. "We had five or six guys (Dec. 11) who will be in our varsity lineup and didn't wrestle, but some of them wrestled (Dec. 10). We're just trying to get ourselves where we thought we'd be."
The Monarchs begin defense of their OCC-Central Division title when they visit Dublin Coffman on Thursday, Dec. 19. Last season, Marysville went 7-0 in the league.
"It always starts with the league," Andrews said. "Your school takes a lot of pride in winning the league. We take a lot of pride that.
"We think we're in a tough league with Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Liberty and ourselves. If we can win the league that sets good momentum going into the sectional, the district and hopefully the state meet."
Also returning are seniors Darius Walker (heavyweight) and Jacob Thornton (106) and sophomore Sigundo Camerlengo (132). They were district qualifiers last season, when Walker finished 21-6 at heavyweight and Thornton was 25-16 at 106.
Senior Hayden Lee, a move-in from Garrett, Ind., is expected to contribute at 113. He finished sixth in the Indiana state tournament last season and is a three-time state placer.
Others expected to contribute are juniors Alex Sepeda (145/152) and Jordan Welch (106) and freshman David Sharp (120).
Behind Forrider's state title at 138, the Monarchs finished fifth (58.5) in the state tournament last season behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (117). Forrider went 49-0 as a senior and 169-24 in his career to become the program's all-time leader in wins.
Also lost to graduation were Chase Boyd and Morgan Miller. Boyd was sixth at 160 at state last season and went 46-5, and Miller was seventh at 220 and finished 39-9.
Marysville reached a quarterfinal of the first state team tournament last season before losing to Massillon Perry 49-24. The Monarchs had 11 district qualifiers and won their fifth district title after capturing their 12th sectional title.
Boys basketball team begins 2-0
The boys basketball team was 2-0 overall before playing Coffman on Dec. 13 in its OCC-Central opener.
The Monarchs had been scheduled to open league play Dec. 6 against visiting Westland, but the game was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Jan. 11.
Despite a cold shooting night, the visiting Monarchs defeated Shekinah Christian 64-42 on Dec. 10 as Logan Roston scored 18 points and Drew Mellen added 10.
Marysville shot 27-for-72 from the field (37.5 percent).
"Our effort is there, our teamwork is there, we just have to shore up on some execution," coach Ryan Grose said. "Execution was our main problem."
Marysville visits Thomas Worthington on Friday, Dec. 20, and plays host to Liberty on Saturday, Dec. 21, in league games.
"We're getting into the OCC-Central and we'll find out exactly where we're at," Grose said. "Our team wants to be in the top half of the league this year."
Girls basketball team bounces back
The girls basketball team rebounded from its first loss to defeat host Kenton 66-59 on Dec. 10 as Hannah Long scored 12 points and Brooke Napolitano and Mikayla Hughes each added 10.
The Monarchs lost at Delaware 55-33 on Dec. 7. Meranda Wilson had 10 points.
"We were able to regroup after a tough loss at (Delaware)," coach Amanda Hackett said. "It was another great team win and we needed everyone's help to pull out this win. Our bench was huge finishing out the game against Kenton."
The Monarchs were 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Coffman on Dec. 13.
Mickelson sets program record
Swimmer Gavin Mickelson set a program record in the 200-yard freestyle during the boys team's meet against Dublin Jerome on Dec. 11 at Union County YMCA.
Mickelson finished first in 1 minute, 50.7 seconds, surpassing the previous record of 1:51.35 set by Justin Kouri in 2002.
The boys team lost to the Celtics 87-82 and the girls team lost 135-35.
The boys team finished second (159) in the six-team Whetstone Braves Invitational on Dec. 9 at Columbus Aquatics Center behind champion Grove City (165).
The girls team was second (143) behind Centennial (156).