With the past glory of the Reynoldsburg High School wrestling program starting to fade, the team is working to start a new era of success.

With the past glory of the Reynoldsburg High School wrestling program starting to fade, the team is working to start a new era of success.

There are no Raiders left who were part of the varsity lineup in 2008, the last time the team won a Division I district championship.

"This is a team that wants to make their own mark," second-year coach Jared Ball said. "Last year and even the year before that, a lot of the kids lived off of the three district championships, and, you know what, that's not who we are."

Reynoldsburg won consecutive district titles from 2006-08, becoming the first Division I team in the district to accomplish that feat since Pickerington from 1995-97.

But Conrad Chang and Jordan Marrero - the last two wrestlers who were in the lineup for those district championship teams - graduated last spring.

Even with Chang and Marrero in the lineup last season, the Raiders nearly were starting from scratch. Not only did they have a new coach, they had several first-year wrestlers.

By the end of the season, Reynoldsburg had taken its lumps, finishing sixth in the OCC-Ohio Division at 2-5, but some of the new wrestlers showed promise.

Alexander Straughter, a sophomore at 103 pounds, was a district qualifier last year, and others like Will Boykin, Dalton Hoover, Jordan Reed and Brad Syfers were on the precipice of advancing to district. Only Boykin and Hoover had competed in the postseason prior to last season.

At the Pickerington Central sectional last season, Syfers beat Mount Vernon's Tyler Harmon 6-2 to finish fifth at 140 and Hoover was fifth at 160 after Logan's Kurt Geiger forfeited. Boykin was pinned in 1 minute, 28 seconds by Dublin Jerome's Andrew Pearson to place sixth at 119, and Reed lost to Central's Garret Foster 8-1 to place sixth at 189.

Greg Chang, a junior, was expected to be a strong contender for a district spot last year at 112, but he was injured just before the postseason.

To help get more individuals to district this season, Ball has turned up the intensity of his team's conditioning during practice.

"One of my goals for the season was to really eliminate shape as an excuse for kids not winning matches," Ball said. "I really focused as a coach on trying to push the kids and push them harder than they might feel they're capable of. When I looked back on last year, that was one of the things I looked at. Sometimes as coaches we don't give (the athletes) enough credit, and they don't get to find out what they're capable of."

As the Raiders prepared to compete in Pickerington North Duals last Saturday, there was a sign on the door to the wrestling room. Essentially, it said now is the time to make a mark.

"A lot of the younger kids are going to do well," Hoover said. "It's been so much more intense this year. We're working a lot harder than normal. We have the kids that are willing to work hard. We have coaches coming in and helping. Everybody's mentality is in it. We're ready to make the changes we need to."

The Raiders were not seeded among the top 10 for the postseason last year, and they appear to be headed that way again unless they can change some minds between now and the tournament draw on Jan. 30.

When the Division I coaches poll debuted on Dec. 13, the Raiders were not in the top 10, as Marysville, Hilliard Davidson and Olentangy Liberty held the top three spots.

Last Saturday, Reynoldsburg competed against some of those ranked teams, including fourth-ranked Gahanna, fifth-ranked Pickerington North and seventh-ranked Teays Valley.

"Last year, a little under half our lineup had varsity experience and a lot of guys had to step up pretty early, and they did," Syfers said. "That will help them this season. You'll see guys like Jordan Reed do a lot better this year because of the experience he had as a freshman."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Reynoldsburg wrestling team:

Dec. 4 - Finished eighth (102) at Olentangy Invitational behind champion Centerville (124.5)

Last Saturday - Finished eighth (111) at Pickerington North Panther Invitational behind champion Bedford Chanel (282.5)

*Jan. 7 - At Lancaster with Reynoldsburg

*OCC-Ohio match