With first-year varsity competitors in numerous spots, the Reynoldsburg High School wrestling team has spent time on what senior Nick Johnston considers the fundamentals of the sport.
That might be having a positive affect on the few veterans in the Raiders' lineup as well.
Johnston (170 pounds) and junior James Love (182) already had more than 20 wins apiece and senior Jordan Reed (195) was approaching that mark heading into Reynoldsburg's duals Jan. 17 against Grove City and Pickerington Central.
"Coach (Jared) Ball has been working a lot on conditioning with the new guys, and just going back to basics," Johnston said. "This year I feel like I've been able to focus on smaller aspects like my technique. You'd think it would be more about who's in better shape, but it's really about who's more technically sound."
The Raiders lost to Grove City and Pickerington Central and are 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division. They close the league schedule Jan. 31 against Groveport and Feb. 7 against Newark.
On Jan. 23, the eighth-seeded Raiders faced top-seeded Mount Vernon in the first round of the inaugural state dual tournament. Reynoldsburg was competing in Division I, Region 6-B. The winner competes Wednesday, Jan. 30, against fourth-seeded Lancaster or fifth-seeded Pickerington North, with the winner of that match advancing to a regional semifinal, also on Jan. 30, against second-seeded Pickerington Central, third-seeded Teays Valley, sixth-seeded Gahanna or seventh-seeded Watkins Memorial.
The drawing for the individual sectional tournament, which will be held Feb. 16, is Sunday, Jan. 27.
Johnston was a district alternate each of the last two seasons at 152.
On Jan. 11 and 12 in the Licking Heights Invitational, Johnston was first at 170 and Love was runner-up at 182. Reynoldsburg was fourth (156.5) of 17 teams that scored, behind champion Whitehall (239).
In addition to Johnston, Love and Reed, Ball said he has been pleased with the development of juniors Jalen Jones (126), Nathan Smiley (120) and Raphael Turner (220).
"One of the pleasant surprises has been Nathan Smiley at 120," Ball said. "He's a first-year varsity wrestler who is really coming along. I've got a lot of juniors, but they're all first-year varsity guys. (Jones and Turner) have really stepped up. Raphael upset the No. 1 seed (at 220 at Licking Heights) and ended up fifth.
"The schedule we put together is kind of paying dividends. I've been happy with how our young guys are wrestling. Nick Johnston and James Love have been very solid and Jordan Reed is also having a very solid season."
Girls basketball team happy to be tested
Even including its 54-44 victory over Gahanna on Dec. 18, the girls basketball team won its first nine OCC-Ohio games by an average of 47.4 points.
The Raiders, who improved to 9-0 in the league by beating Grove City 97-31 on Jan. 18, have at least found plenty of competition outside of their league.
Reynoldsburg rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Olentangy Orange 63-58 on Jan. 14.
The Raiders then competed last weekend in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland.
Reynoldsburg, which was first in the Division I area coaches poll and fourth in the state poll last week, beat Memphis (Tenn.) Central 72-47 on Jan. 20 but lost to No. 1-ranked Twinsburg 45-38 on Jan. 21.
The Raiders are 15-2.
"We like it when it's a lot harder," senior forward Shiloh Murphy said. "It shows us how great we need to become."
Against Memphis Central, senior guard Yamonie Jenkins had 15 points, junior forward Nicole Orr scored 14 and senior post player Destini Cooper added 13.
Against Twinsburg, the Raiders led 17-10 early in the second quarter but trailed 22-19 by halftime. Reynoldsburg rebuilt its lead to 35-28 with 1:01 to go in the third before Twinsburg again rallied.
Junior post player Alyssa Rice had 17 points but was limited to three rebounds by the Tigers, who outrebounded Reynoldsburg 31-20.
The Raiders lost to Twinsburg 49-41 in a Division I state semifinal last season.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we play again," coach Jack Purtell said.
Murphy had one of her top games this season against Orange, as she made three 3-pointers and scored a team-high 23 points.
"As a team we shoot 100 3s twice a week, so it comes in handy," said Murphy, who was averaging 10.3 points through 14 games. "I'm a lot more confident in my shot this year."
"I think (the Orange game was) a good lesson," Purtell said. "We've played a good schedule, but we have to know that we can't just show up."
Boys basketball team ready for Tigers, Lions
The boys basketball team began the second half of the OCC-Ohio schedule with a 50-43 home loss to Grove City on Jan. 18.
The Raiders continue league play Friday, Jan. 25, at home against Pickerington Central, and Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Gahanna in rematches of close Reynoldsburg wins.
Wendell Davis made a pair of late free throws and scored 29 points to help Reynoldsburg beat Central 53-52 on Dec. 14.
On Dec. 18, the Raiders held on to beat Gahanna 40-38 after taking an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Lions did not have starters Javon Bess or Manny Powell for the game because of disciplinary reasons.