Upper Arlington High School wrestling coach Matt Stout left no doubt as to where he expects senior Blake Reid's season to end.
"He could win state. We'll be disappointed if he's not on the podium," Stout said. "If he can stay healthy, he's poised for a big year."
Last year, despite missing several weeks of the season with a stress fracture in his back, Reid reached the Division I state tournament for the first time, going 0-2 at 170 pounds, and was the district runner-up.
"I'd be very disappointed if I can't improve on what I did last year," Reid said. "Last year is what drove me to work hard all offseason. I went to camps and open tournaments and the (AAU) Junior Olympics (held July 24-Aug. 4) in Detroit. I'm excited for this season. It's my senior season, and I'm going all out."
Reid is one of four seniors for the Golden Bears, leading a team that returns four other district qualifiers in senior Taylor Neely (152) and juniors Sam Beam (145), Thomas Cooper (120) and Keith Neely (160).
The other seniors are Sam Biederman (160) and Alex Tepley (220).
"We're older than the past few years. We do have some upperclassmen in the lineup, which is a good thing," Stout said. "We'd like to have about 10 more kids. We have about 37 or 38 right now, but we just don't have a lot of depth at certain weights. If someone goes down, we're in serious trouble."
UA opened the season Dec. 3 at Olentangy Orange and plays host to the Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Bears' first OCC-Central Division dual match is Wednesday, Dec. 11, at home against Central Crossing.
According to Stout, both of the Neelys, Beam and sophomore Danny Tomaszewski (138) likely will move down a weight class from where they started the season.
Others expected to contribute include juniors Collin Burt (113), Luke Fetch (132), Nick Pavoni (195) and Quentin Wolfe (heavyweight), sophomores Santiago Barros (160), Zack Cartwright (126), Nick Dolan (heavyweight), Bobby Gardikas (126/132), Tyler Hoffman (160), Joey Magnone (126), Harper Nelson (106) and Izak Wunderlich (182) and freshman Slade Morley (182).
Wolfe, who wrestled for Hilliard Davidson last season and was a starting offensive tackle for UA's football team this fall, was expected to miss at least the beginning of the season with a back injury, according to Stout.
Wunderlich won 16 matches at 170 last season when Reid was injured.
"We just have to stay healthy and improve once we get into the season," Stout said. "Those young kids have to improve. We have to make gains."
Swimmers, divers set to open season
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams' quest to improve on last year's state runner-up finishes begins Friday, Dec. 6, with a home tri-meet against Akron Firestone and Cleveland St. Ignatius.
UA then will compete in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Ohio State.
Last season, the girls team's streak of eight consecutive Division I state championships was snapped, as UA scored 215 points at state to finish behind Cincinnati Ursuline (234) after winning its 14th consecutive district championship. The boys team, which won its third district title in a row a year ago, scored 187.5 points at state to finish behind Cincinnati St. Xavier (270) for the second consecutive season.
New coach named for gymnastics team
According to girls athletics director Jodi Palmer, Alexis Schmidt recently was named gymnastics coach.
Schmidt is a native of suburban Chicago who competed for Ohio State. Among her career highlights was a 12th-place finish in the all-around in the 2010 Junior Olympic National Championships.
According to Palmer, Schmidt is no relation to former coach Abigail Schmidt, who resigned in September after two seasons to travel with Cirque du Soleil.