While the New Albany High School wrestling program continues to develop younger athletes -- and take some lumps in the process -- the Eagles have a couple of stalwarts who hope to advance far into the postseason.
Senior Nick Fluty entered the week 27-7 at 126 pounds, and classmate Corey Mulvey was 17-11 between 152 and 160 for New Albany, which is 0-6 in the OCC-Capital Division but regularly has to forfeit four or five weight classes.
"It definitely adds more pressure to get the pin," said Fluty, who was 38-13 last year and advanced to the second consolation round in the Division I district tournament. "Any points matter. It's a big difference with a decision as opposed to a pin (three or four points as opposed to six for a pin). But we do have a lot of weight classes out, and we have a lot of freshmen, too. If we seniors can get the pins, it helps a lot."
Fluty got the Eagles' lone win in their 76-3 loss at Hilliard Darby on Jan. 23 in a Region 5-B first-round match of the state dual tournament. Fluty recorded a 4-2 sudden victory over Darby's Sam Valenti, who had defeated him 14-3 in a sectional semifinal last year.
"That was the match we were looking forward to," assistant coach John Galbreath said. "He rode (Valenti) for four minutes, the entire second period and most of the third. He gave up a takedown in the first period and he got a sudden back, so it was 2-2. You'd think most people would choose bottom at 2-2, but when you're good on top and ride comfortably, he went back on top.
"He knows he can turn people. A lot of times, if you choose down you waste more time trying to get away. But he's figured out what he needs to do and where he's best. He minimizes his deficiencies and maximizes the things he's best at."
Fluty also finished second at 126 in the Cruiser Invitational on Jan. 26 at Groveport, losing 9-0 in the final to Olentangy Orange senior and Lehigh University recruit Artem Timchenko.
"I'm looking forward to seeing (Timchenko and Valenti) again," said Fluty, who had won 16 matches by pin entering this week. "I feel confident when I wrestle those guys and I think I'll give them good matches again."
New Albany will compete in a 10-team sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Westland. The top four individuals in each weight class will advance to district Feb. 22 and 23 at Darby.
Mulvey was third at 152 at Groveport, his first tournament after missing a week because of a sprained ankle. He was pinned in 1 minute, 25 seconds in a second-round match by Westerville Central's Alex Krasovec then rebounded to win three consecutive matches and defeat Hilliard Bradley's Patrick Yeo 6-2 in the third-place match.
Mulvey credits his success to an analytical approach. He has done some coaching with New Albany's middle school team as part of a senior seminar project.
"It's helped a lot (on the mat) just for looking down and seeing 'Oh, I need to do this because it'll help me technically,' " he said.
Boys basketball team closing in on title
The boys basketball team clinched no worse than a tie for the OCC-Capital championship with a 46-43 win over Olentangy on Feb. 1.
Jack Serbin, a 6-foot-8 senior, scored all of his 15 points in the second half for the Eagles, who improved to 17-2 overall and 11-0 in the league entering a Feb. 5 game at Big Walnut. Every other league team had at least three losses. Entering the week, Delaware and Olentangy were tied for second (7-3), followed by Olentangy Orange (6-3). Orange had played two fewer games than the Eagles because of weather-related postponements.
New Albany finished third in the OCC-Capital last year at 10-4, a game behind co-champions Mount Vernon and Orange.
The Eagles play host to Watkins Memorial on Friday, Feb. 8, then end the regular-season Feb. 15 at Mount Vernon.
"The thing I'm most excited about is we still have a long away to go and we see areas on tape or in practice where we know we can do better," coach Sam Davis said. "The kids are upbeat. We have a lot of games to play yet."
Duling gets her turn for girls team
Senior forward Kyasia Duling of the girls basketball team had a team-high 21 points and helped the Eagles corral a season-high 18 offensive rebounds in a 62-31 win Jan. 29 at Delaware in an OCC-Capital game.
Senior point guard Hannah Scipio added 18 points for the Eagles in the last game that factored in before voting for Division I district tournament seeds began. The Eagles received the 13th seed and a first-round home game against Thomas Worthington on Feb. 16, with the winner facing Grove City or Olentangy Liberty in the second round Feb. 20.
Scipio scored 10 points in a 47-36 loss to Olentangy on Feb. 2 that dropped New Albany to 12-8 overall and 8-4 in the league before playing Big Walnut on Feb. 5.
"I don't feel like we've played our best game yet, but (against Delaware) we looked really good," said Duling, a Duquesne University signee. "We shared the ball really well. We had 19 assists. Every game, we set new goals and assists have been huge. They've improved every game, and so have offensive rebounds. We haven't played our best yet, but we're definitely getting there."
The Eagles' regular-season finale is Friday, Feb. 8, at Watkins Memorial.