Olentangy Valley News

Wrestling

Young Pioneers respond to early season challenge

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Lenn's Kamba, a senior who competed in the state meet last season, is among five returning starters for the Orange wrestling team.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Olentangy Orange High School wrestling coach Brian Nicola initially was concerned with how his team would rebound after it lost 11 starters from a year ago to graduation.

Nicola said those fears were quelled when he saw how hard his athletes worked in the offseason and how they competed while beating Upper Arlington 48-23 in their opener Dec. 3.

The Pioneers also placed third (273 points) in the 10-team Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational on Dec. 7 behind Aurora (336) and host UA (286).

"We graduated big classes each of the past two years and a lot of those kids were starters, so we were concerned about our team's overall lack of experience coming into this season," Nicola said. "But we challenged our younger kids to bulk up a little bit and step up their games, and they responded really well. Young or not, we can wrestle and I feel like we can compete with just about anyone."

Five starters have returned in seniors Michael Hines (132 pounds) and Lenn's Kamba (195) and juniors Nick Lee (220), Michael McQueeney (113) and Anthony Spriggs (152).

Last season, Kamba finished 28-10 at 195 after winning a Division I sectional title, placing fourth at district and going 0-2 in the state tournament.

Hines finished 24-13 at 113 after going 1-2 at district and Lee finished 18-15 at 220 after going 0-2 at district. McQueeney was 16-13 at 106 and Spriggs went 20-13 at 132.

Also expected to contribute are seniors Corey Erwin (heavyweight), Alec Farmer (138), Nick Roberts (170) and Grant Stewart (106), junior Nate Metzger (126), sophomores Ian Brown (170), Connor Ryan (160), David Schrader (120), Albert Van Fossen (heavyweight) and Chris Wallace (126) and freshmen Logan Broskie (145), Hunter Knipp (170) and Emerson Milner (182).

"We have three district qualifiers back and our young guys are working hard," Nicola said.

Last season, Orange went 5-2 in the OCC-Capital Division to finish third behind Mount Vernon (7-0) and Delaware (6-1) and reached a regional semifinal of the first Division I state team tournament before losing to Marysville 44-24.

At sectional, seven Pioneers qualified for district and two won titles in 2013 graduate Artem Timchenko (120) and Kamba (195). At district, Timchenko (first at 120) and Kamba (fourth at 195) qualified for state, where Timchenko went 3-1 and placed second.

"Our goal is to win an OCC title," Nicola said. "But Delaware is very good and deep at every weight class, so the rest of us need to figure out how to outfox them."

Three sectional champs leading Olentangy

Olentangy opened Dec. 7 by placing fourth (166) in the nine-team Olentangy Invitational behind champion Thomas Worthington (189).

Four of last season's postseason starters have returned in senior Cody Pollitt (160), juniors Nate Hall (182) and Blake Young (195) and sophomore Chris Crumb (heavyweight).

Pollitt and Crumb each placed first and Hall finished second in the Olentangy Invitational.

Last season, Hall finished 42-10 at 182 after going 1-2 at state, while Pollitt finished 36-11 at 145 after going 4-2 and placing fifth at district and Crumb finished 30-10 at 220 after going 3-2 and placing fifth at district. Young finished 15-14 at 195.

Rounding out the starting lineup are seniors Chase Carter (220) and Luke Greenzalis (170), junior Nathaniel Foley (152), sophomores Jason Hollifield (132) and Connor Zamilski (145) and freshmen Devens Fajardo (126), Max Hall (138), Brian Hallier (113), Brayden Held (120) and Jaydon Hill (106).

Held placed second in the Olentangy Invitational.

"We're a much younger team this year, but the kids have bought into what we're doing and they have a better work ethic than they had a year ago," coach Dennis Lyberger said. "Our main goal is to get better because half our lineup is freshmen or inexperienced sophomores."

After finishing fifth (3-4) in the OCC-Capital last year, Olentangy fell to Marysville 61-18 in the second round of the state team tournament.

Olentangy had three sectional champions in Pollitt (145), Hall (182) and Crumb (220), and Hall won a district title to advance to state.

"Obviously, we're counting on Nate, Cody and Chris to be very successful for us," Lyberger said. "If those three win most their matches and our younger kids improve, we should be competitive."

Patriots out to strong start

Liberty opened Dec. 7 by finishing third (190.5) in the 10-team Olentangy Liberty Classic behind champion Wadsworth (303).

Eight of last season's postseason starters have returned in seniors Kyle Arcaro (195), Giuseppe Penzone (126) and Nick Thrasher (152), juniors Zeke Aziz (152), Jonathan Furnas (120), Jake Hale (220) and Matt Snyder (145) and sophomore Connor Thomas (138).

Furnas and Penzone placed first in the Classic.

Last season, Penzone finished 36-9 at 120 after going 4-2 and placing fifth at state. Furnas finished 32-9 at 106 after going 3-2 and placing seventh at state.

Reaching district were Arcaro (20-17 at 170), Aziz (17-15 at 160), Snyder (22-16 at 138), Thomas (26-9 at 113), Thrasher (22-17 at 132) and Hale (17-15 at 182).

Rounding out the starting lineup are senior Tim Churchill (heavyweight), juniors Pat Barboza (113), Steve Calabrese (170) and Keith Clark (160) and freshmen Brakan Meade (106) and Trey Greiner (132).

"We have 53 kids on our roster and there isn't much flab there," coach Mark Marinelli said. "We have a quality athlete at all of the weights and pretty good depth.

"We don't have that one anchor leader like we've had in the past with guys like (2013 graduate) Jake Ryan, so I'm waiting for someone to step up and help guide things."

Liberty went 3-4 in the OCC-Central last season to tie Upper Arlington for fourth behind champion Marysville (7-0).

At sectional, Ryan went 4-0 at 145 pounds, pinning all four of his opponents. Then at district, he went 4-0 to place first at 145, while Furnas went 3-1 and placed second at 106 and Penzone went 4-1 and placed third at 120.

At state, Ryan went 3-1 and placed second at 145.

"Right now we've got a good tournament team, but not a very strong dual-meet team," Marinelli said. "We're close to being average, but we could be better if we keep improving."

Schedules

LIBERTY

Dec. 7 -- Olentangy Liberty Classic

Dec. 12 -- at Orange

Dec. 14 -- Liberty Dual Tournament

Dec. 29-30 -- Brecksville Holiday Tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights

Jan. 4 -- Mentor Dual Tournament

*Jan. 9 -- at Westland with Central Crossing

*Jan. 16 -- at Thomas Worthington with Upper Arlington

*Jan. 23 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

Jan. 25 -- Grizzly Tournament at Wadsworth

*Jan. 30 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

*Feb. 6 -- at Marysville

OLENTANGY

Dec. 7 -- Olentangy Invitational

*Dec. 12 -- at Big Walnut

Dec. 13-14 -- North Canton Hoover Invitational

Dec. 27-28 -- Medina Invitational

Jan. 4 -- Orange Meatgrinder Invi-tational

*Jan. 9 -- Franklin Heights and

Worthington Kilbourne at Mount Vernon

*Jan. 16 -- vs. Delaware and New Albany

Jan. 17-18 -- Top Gun Invitational at Alliance

Jan. 25 -- Rieman Invitational at Delaware

*Jan. 30 -- vs. Mount Vernon

*Feb. 6 -- at Orange

ORANGE

Dec. 3 -- vs. Upper Arlington in Takedown Brain Cancer fundraiser

Dec. 7 -- Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington

Dec. 12 -- vs. Mount Vernon* and Olentangy Liberty

Dec. 21 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North

Dec. 29-30 -- Brecksville Holiday Tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights

Jan. 4 -- Orange Meatgrinder Invitational

*Jan. 9 -- at New Albany with Delaware

*Jan. 16 -- at Worthington Kilbourne with Franklin Heights

Jan. 23 -- vs. Westland

Jan. 25 -- Cruiser Invitational at Groveport

*Jan. 30 -- at Big Walnut

Feb. 1 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome

*Feb. 6 -- vs. Olentangy

*League contest

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