Thomas Worthington High School first-year wrestling coach Mark Gundling will be taking a keen interest in the 135-pound match during the annual OCC-Central Division dual with visiting Worthington Kilbourne on Thursday, Jan. 27.

Thomas Worthington High School first-year wrestling coach Mark Gundling will be taking a keen interest in the 135-pound match during the annual OCC-Central Division dual with visiting Worthington Kilbourne on Thursday, Jan. 27.

He'll try to stay out of it as much as possible, however.

That's because his son, James Gundling, will take the mat wearing rival colors as a sophomore with the Wolves. There is a chance James could bump up to 140, but either way his father intends to keep a low profile.

"I'll probably put one of our captains in the (coach's) chair," coach Gundling said. "That's the plan, anyway."

A rash of injuries has subtracted from Kilbourne's lineup in recent weeks and James Gundling wasn't spared. He suffered a broken thumb in early December, but returned strong and had a 10-0 record before losing in the finals of the Jonathan Alder Invitational on Jan. 22.

With Thomas' match against Dublin Coffman being postponed on Jan. 20 because of snow, Mark Gundling was free to attend host Kilbourne's 42-30 victory over Upper Arlington that night. It would have given him a rare opportunity to see his son in action, but James was awarded a forfeit when the Golden Bears didn't have a wrestler at 135.

"That was very disappointing," Mark Gundling said.

Kilbourne coach Ed Chism can relate. His sons wrestle at Watkins Memorial and the scheduling of most events, with duals on Thursdays and tournaments on weekends, makes it difficult to attend.

"It's too bad James didn't get to wrestle because his dad was there to see him," Chism said. "Speaking as a father and as a coach, I know how tough it is when you're missing your kids' activities. We didn't know Arlington wasn't going to have a 135-pounder so that's unfortunate. He's still got the dual with us, though."

Chism said Kilbourne, which won last year's dual 63-12, might have injured Nico Shaut back in the lineup at 119 for the Thomas dual. Connor Wolfe, who also has been sidelined with an injury, returned for the Jonathan Alder Invitational and pinned Licking Valley's Austin Cariens in the title match at 140 as one of seven finalists for the Wolves. Nick Varazashvili, who leads the team with a 21-3 record, was the champion at 125.

"The hat tips in our favor because we're a little more experienced than Thomas is," Chism said. "We're still a little banged up and that makes it more challenging. It's definitely been nice getting some of our kids like James back, though. He's a tough kid and has a lot of potential."

AT A GLANCE

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Thomas and Kilbourne wrestling teams:

THOMAS

*Jan. 12 - Lost to Westland 45-32 and Hilliard Darby 51-27

*Jan. 20 - Meet at Dublin Coffman postponed. No makeup date set.

*Jan. 27 - Home vs. Kilbourne

Jan. 28-29 - At Eaton Invitational. This will be the Cardinals' first appearance in the event. Lima Bath won the 15-team tournament a year ago.

Of note: The Cardinals are 0-4 in the OCC-Central.

KILBOURNE

*Jan. 12 - Lost to Darby 37-33 and defeated Westland 41-29

*Jan. 20 - Def. Upper Arlington 42-30

Jan. 22 - Finished second (264) behind the host Pioneers (304) at nine-team Jonathan Alder Invitational. Nick Varazashvili (125) and Connor Wolfe (140) won titles. Austin Oberly (103), Kyle Wahl (130), James Gundling (135), Jedidiah Bressman (215) and Gavin Elifritz (285) all placed second.

*Jan. 27 - At Thomas. The Wolves won last year's dual 63-12.

Jan. 29 - Cruiser Invitational at Groveport. The Wolves placed sixth (119.5) last year behind champion Licking Valley (180.5). They have no returning champions.

Of note: The Wolves are 3-2 in the OCC-Central. Hilliard Davidson leads at 4-0 and Coffman is second at 3-1.

*OCC-Central match