The three Westerville high school wrestling programs are using a challenging December schedule to help prepare for competition in the OCC-Cardinal Division and postseason.

The three Westerville high school wrestling programs are using a challenging December schedule to help prepare for competition in the OCC-Cardinal Division and postseason.

North is 5-5 entering its tri-match today at Medina. The Warriors will return to Medina for the Medina Invitational on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Central opened the season by competing in the Viking Invitational at Teays Valley, finishing 2-3. The Warhawks will compete in the West Jefferson Invitational on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A highlight of South's early season was finishing 3-2 at the Viking Invitational, including a 42-36 win against Central. The Wildcats will compete in the 40th-annual Marion Harding Classic on Wednesday and Dec. 30.

North has received solid contributions from its veteran wrestlers, along with freshman Nick Durieux.

In his team's 44-24 loss to West Jefferson at the London Duals on Dec. 11, Durieux beat Aaron Branham 6-3 at 119 pounds. At last season's Division III state tournament, Branham finished fifth at 119.

"Ever since I began wrestling in seventh grade, I made it my goal to win a state championship and I've decided I'm not going to stop," Durieux said. "I expected to be varsity this year. I've been working my butt off. I'm doing everything I can to get to my goal, and my goal is to place this year at state."

Senior Joe Herrera was 7-2 at 112 and senior Stephen Alger was 3-1 at 135.

"We're weak at some spots, but where we're strong we're really strong," Herrera said. "We have a young team, but once they grow up a little bit they'll be great."

Coach David Grant expected senior Ryan Ouzts (130) to return to the lineup in early January. He is recovering from a concussion.

Junior Logan Hansford (152) broke his ankle during football season but is expected to return. Freshman Andy Struttman (189) has begun practicing after recovering from a finger injury sustained during football.

The Medina Invitational, which features perennial powers Lakewood St. Edward and Massillon Perry, will test the Warriors.

"The Medina Invitational has the best competition," Grant said. "You get to watch good guys wrestle and you get to see your guys get tested to see what you have to work on. It's great. It's a mini-state tournament. Anybody who places at Medina has the potential to place at the state tournament. It lets us know where we're at."

Central will receive an early test when it competes at the West Jefferson Invitational.

Last season, the Warhawks were third (125 points) in the 10-team, large-school division behind Grove City (210) and Circleville (148).

"That tournament is a grinder," coach Bob Fresch said. "That's as tough a tournament that you're going to get around here in central Ohio. I would like to place in the top three overall. I think we can do real well."

Senior Pat McNabb (285) and junior Zach Brown (160) led Central at Teays Valley. Both finished 5-0.

Central's wins came over Licking Heights 56-24 and Chillicothe 75-6.

The Warhawks competed without senior Kyle Winston (145) and junior D'Ron Goosby (112), who each had another school commitment.

Fresch expected junior Blake Munn (152) to return to the lineup this week after sustaining a concussion at Teays Valley.

"These kids get along well," Fresch said. "They're having fun. They're enjoying practice. There are some goals. It's realistic to think about this team being a top 10 team in central Ohio. If I don't talk about that with them, I'm doing them a disservice. They're a good, athletic bunch. They're still young, but it's a good group."

South will receive a solid test when it competes in the Marion Harding Classic this week.

Last season, St. Edward (248) finished ahead of Delphos St. John's (184) and Allen East (172).

The Wildcats did not attend the tournament last season.

In 2008, South finished 16th (73) behind champion Big Walnut (157) and runner-up Olentangy Liberty (155).

"We're really excited about that two-day tournament," coach Tim Michel said. "It's going to be the end of December for us and a nice catapult into January."

The Wildcats opened the season by finishing sixth (55) in the eight-team Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington on Dec. 4. Vandalia Butler was first (118).

Senior Logan Michel finished first at 152 to lead South.

Other place finishers were sophomore Evan Ciraky at 112 (second), junior Trace McDonald at 130 (third) and senior Ryan Meyers at 145 (third).

The Wildcats were eighth (99.5) in the 10-team field at the Wolfpack Classic at Worthington Kilbourne last Saturday. The host Wolves (239) finished first.

Junior Dan Gruber was second at 130, and Ciraky at 112, senior John Sanchez at 135 and Meyers at 145 were third. Freshman Evan Pivetz at 119, McDonald at 125 and Michel at 152 were fifth.

Meyers and Michel are each 11-3 and Gruber is 8-1.

"This is right where we want to be," coach Michel said. "Our conditioning is strong. Our technique is solid. We're right where we want to be coming into the third week."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Westerville Central, North and South wrestling teams:

CENTRAL

Dec. 11 - Finished fourth (2-3) behind Teays Valley (5-0), New Lexington (4-1) and Westerville South (3-2) in Viking Invitational at Teays Valley

Tuesday and Wednesday - At West Jefferson Invitational

Of note: The Warhawks are 2-3 overall.

NORTH

Dec. 4 - Finished 1-3 at Cincinnati Moeller Duals. The Warriors defeated Cincinnati St. Xavier 35-27.

Dec. 11 - Finished 3-2 at London Duals. The Warriors beat London 59-22, Sidney 42-26 and Westland 57-15.

Dec. 14 - Def. Grandview Heights 75-3

Today - At Medina with Parma Normandy

Tuesday and Wednesday - At Medina Invitational. Last season, North finished 18th (62.5 points) behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (285.5) in 38-team field.

Of note: The Warriors are 5-5 overall.

SOUTH

Dec. 4 - Finished sixth in Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington

Dec. 11 - Finished third in Viking Invitational

Last Saturday - Finished eighth (99.5) in Wolfpack Classic won by host Worthington Kilbourne (239)

Wednesday-Dec. 30 - At Marion Harding Wrestling Classic

Of note: The Wildcats are 3-2 overall.