As the Grove City High School wrestling team braces for stiffer competition in the second half of the season, coach Jay DiMasso hopes the tougher matches help prepare his athletes for what lies ahead in the postseason.
DiMasso expects his team to face one of those challenges when it opens OCC-Ohio Division action Thursday, Jan. 11, at home against league favorite Lancaster. The Golden Gales won the league last season at 5-0, while the Greyhounds went 2-3.
DiMasso expects Lancaster to again finish first, but he'd like to see his wrestlers compete with the Gales and place second in the league.
"Lancaster is a top two (or) three team in central Ohio. That will be a little bit different than what we have seen," DiMasso said. "They're tough in a lot of weight classes. We would like to be runner-up behind them, that's our goal. Lancaster is at a different level."
Grove City will face another challenge when it competes in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Hilliard Bradley.
"We're going to have a little bit different level of competition at (Bradley)," DiMasso said. "Our guys will get a good test to see where they're at and see how the team is doing. It's been a full team effort. We've brought a full team to every tournament we've come to, so that's helpful."
Last season, the Greyhounds finished fifth (130 points) of eight teams in the Porter Memorial behind champion Lancaster (190) as Tanner Stevens finished first at 220 pounds and Justin Swavely was third at 132. Stevens, a senior, and Swavely, a junior, both are enjoying another strong season for the Greyhounds.
Grove City prepared for its ramped up schedule by winning its third tournament of the season, scoring 179 points to take first in the 17-team Grandview Invitational on Jan. 6 ahead of runner-up North Union (115).
Freshman Taryn Martin (106) and Swavely (138) won titles. Martin pinned North Union's Samantha Cox twice -- in 1 minute, 23 seconds and 2:32 -- in a two-competitor weight class, while Swavely pinned Grandview's Jory Lust-George in 40 seconds in the final.
Swavely is aiming to reach his first Division I state tournament after finishing 34-11 last season at 132, but going 1-2 at district. He is 17-1 and has finished first in all three tournaments this season. He lost to Central Crossing's Devin Wood 5-2 on Dec. 20 at Westland.
"I'm having a good year," Swavely said. "I'm setting myself above the level I want to be. This is definitely my best year so far. I want to get to state. It's the main goal this year."
Junior Hunter Barker (160) and Stevens (220) finished second at Grandview. In the finals, Barker lost to Zanesville West Muskingum's Wyatt Head 8-7 and Stevens lost to Columbus West's Matthew Shaw 12-10 in overtime.
Sophomores Blake Stevens (132) and Schuyler Marinelli (145) and senior Chase Jones (152) finished third.
Grove City also won the Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament on Dec. 2 at DeSales and the Dan Gartner Duals on Dec. 9 at Whitehall.
Swavely recorded the fastest pin (14 seconds) in the Dan Gartner Duals.
Barker and Stevens both are 16-2.
"We have five starting freshmen, so when you look at that you think if we're having this success a couple of years from now -- with only two seniors on the team this year -- as the years continue to grow we're going to continue to be successful," DiMasso said.
Other freshmen in the lineup are Nick Getz (182), Caden Gordon (120), Carlin Hamilton (170) and A.J. Stoll (113).
Boys basketball team falls to Central
The boys basketball team looked to bounce back from a 70-54 loss to visiting Pickerington Central when it faced Newark on Jan. 9.
The Greyhounds entered the game 7-4 overall. They are 1-3 in the OCC-Ohio.
Grove City led Central 14-11 after one quarter, but was outscored 40-19 in the second and third quarters. Nick Erwin led the Greyhounds with 22 points and P.J. Jones added 15.
Jones scored 27 points and Erwin had 12 in a 69-47 win over visiting Teays Valley on Dec. 30.
Jones scored 21 points, Nolen Hawkins had 12 and Erwin added 10 in a 79-66 win at Dublin Scioto on Dec. 27.
Girls basketball team looks to snap skid
The girls basketball team looked to end a five-game losing streak when it played Delaware on Jan. 10.
The Greyhounds were 3-10 overall. They are 0-6 in the OCC-Ohio.
Grove City lost to visiting Newark 62-21 on Jan. 8 as Molly Michalak scored 16 points.
The Greyhounds lost at Pickerington Central 84-36 on Jan. 5 as Michalak scored 15 points and Erin Kilmurry had 13.
Grove City lost to Dublin Jerome 41-30 on Dec. 29 and Teays Valley 40-28 on Dec. 30 in the Jeff Sheets Holiday Classic at Teays Valley.
Kilmurry scored 13 points against Jerome, and Kilmurry and Yasmine Strausbaugh each scored seven points against Teays Valley.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- At Pickerington North
Jan. 16 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. North. The Greyhounds lost to the Panthers 45-36 on Dec. 5.
Jan. 13 -- Home vs. Washington Court House
*Jan. 17 -- At Marysville
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 16 -- Teays Valley at Grove City YMCA
*Jan. 11 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Jan. 13 -- Porter Memorial Tournament at Hilliard Bradley