As expected, the Olentangy High School wrestling team's three returning sectional champions -- Cody Pollitt (160 pounds), Nate Hall (182) and Chris Crumb (heavyweight) -- were the Braves' most consistent performers through two tournaments this season.
Pollitt and Crumb each went 4-0 and placed first and Hall went 4-1 and finished second to help the Braves finish fourth (166 points) in the nine-team Olentangy Invitational on Dec. 7 behind Thomas Worthington (189), Lancaster (187) and West Chester Lakota West (182).
Olentangy then finished sixth (110.5) in the 33-team North Canton Holiday Invitational on Dec. 13 and 14 at North Canton Hoover behind champion Uniontown Lake (228), as Hall went 4-1 and placed second and Pollitt and Crumb each went 5-1 and finished third.
Coach Dennis Lyberger is pleased that his experienced trio is living up to expectations, but said it's crucial that his other athletes continue to improve.
"Nate, Cody and Chris are our most experienced varsity wrestlers and they all came through for us by placing high in our first few tournaments," Lyberger said. "Now we need more of our other guys to contribute for us if we're going to become a better overall team."
Lyberger was encouraged to see Chase Carter go 4-1 and place third at 220 at Hoover.
Also, Braden Held is 4-3 at 120 and Max Hall is 4-4 at 138.
"I think we saw some progress from our first tournament to our second one," Lyberger said. "We placed higher than any other team from central Ohio at North Canton. We wrestled better than we did in our own tournament against tougher competition. Chase stepped up and placed third up there with our top three guys, and that really helped our team scoring."
Olentangy will compete Friday, Dec. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 28, in the Medina Invitational Tournament, where the Braves finished 24th (57.5) of 39 teams last year behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (286).
"Medina is probably going to be even tougher than North Canton," Lyberger said. "I want our main guys placing high in this tournament and I hope that some of our other guys will come though for us by winning matches, too."
Patriots win four of first six dual matches
Liberty is out to a 4-2 start in dual matches, including wins over Orange (44-26) and Fredericktown (75-3) on Dec. 12.
In the Liberty Dual Tournament on Dec. 14, the Patriots beat Whitehall 46-18, lost to Delaware 35-26, lost to Springboro 54-12 and defeated Teays Valley 50-18. Jonathan Furnas (120) and Giuseppe Penzone (126) each went 4-0 and Trey Greiner (132) and Nick Thrasher (152) each went 3-1.
"Orange was geared up to wrestle us and they were real competitive with us, so that was probably our best dual-meet win so far this season," coach Mark Marinelli said. "We'll be a better dual-meet team in January than we are right now because we'll have everyone at the right weight classes by then.
"Jonathan Furnas and Giuseppe Penzone are both wrestling real well and are undefeated so far."
The Patriots will compete in the Brecksville Holiday Tournament on Sunday, Dec. 29, and Monday, Dec. 30, at Brecksville-Broadview Heights. Liberty finished 31st (57) of 45 teams last year behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (191.5), as 2013 graduate Jake Ryan went 5-1 and placed second at 145.
"I'd say Brecksville is tougher than the state tournament at some weight classes because Jake was the only one who placed for us there last year, and we had three guys place at state that season," Marinelli said. "It's going to be a challenge for us, but it would be nice if we can get two or three placers there."
Pioneers topple Yellow Jackets
After losing to Liberty, Orange bounced back to beat Mount Vernon 41-33 in its OCC-Capital Division opener Dec. 12.
The Pioneers also tied Hilliard Davidson for seventh (129) in the 16-team Panther Invitational on Dec. 21 behind champion and host Pickerington North (206).
At North, Lenn's Kamba went 5-0 and placed first at 195 to improve his record to 13-0 overall. Logan Broskie went 4-1 and placed third at 145 to improve to 11-2, and Nick Lee went 3-2 and placed fourth at 220 to improve to 9-3.
"We're still pretty young, but I think we're only going to get better," coach Brian Nicola said. "Mount Vernon and Liberty both have tough kids, but we didn't back down at all from either of them. This is the first time we've beaten Mount Vernon since 2010, so that was a big win for us."
The Pioneers will compete in the Brecksville Holiday Tournament and play host Jan. 4 to the Pioneer Invitational. Last season, Orange tied for 28th (61) in the Brecksville tournament and finished second (172) in its 11-team home tournament behind Thomas (242).
"Brecksville is tougher than the state tournament, but Lenn's can go with anybody, so we're hoping he will place there," Nicola said. "We're bringing 17 solid teams to the Pioneer Invitational, including Pickerington North, Olentangy and Findlay, who are all real tough. But if we're at full strength by then, I think we'll have a shot to win it."