The Whetstone High School wrestling team is somewhat small in numbers this season.
But according to 12th-year coach Tom Jones, the Braves have enough talent to compete with some of the top teams in the City League.
"We lost a few top-notch guys to graduation last year, but we have a number of good, solid athletes this year to help us stay near the top of the league," Jones said. "East, Mifflin and Walnut Ridge will have an advantage with their depth and the guys they have coming back. But after that, I'd say us, Centennial and Briggs will be right there."
The Braves placed fourth (141.5 points) in last year's City tournament, behind Mifflin (186.5), East (174) and West (162).
However, Whetstone lost six wrestlers to graduation, including Ibrahim Sesay (160 pounds), Daniel Kasprovic (heavyweight), Kalman Buterbaugh (170) and Kenneth Thompson (152). Sesay and Kasprovic were Division I district qualifiers last season and Thompson was a district alternate. Sesay was a three-time City champion and two-time district qualifier.
The Braves return two district qualifiers in juniors Johnny Kincaid (126/132) and Jack Zimmerman (120/126). Both also placed fourth in the City tournament last season, with Kincaid competing at 120 and Zimmerman at 126.
"We've got a pretty good group of juniors, but we don't have a leader or a dominant guy like we've had these past several years with (Sesay)," Jones said. "We've only got 13 guys, but about half of them are juniors."
The Braves have three returning district alternates in senior Mike Woodard (195) and juniors Preston Buterbaugh (145/152) and Hassan Sesay (152/160). Preston Buterbaugh was at 138 last year and Hassan Sesay competed at 145.
Junior Ford Buterbaugh (138/145) placed sixth at sectional last year at 132.
Also returning is sophomore Darric McClinton (138/145), who won a City title at 138. A family situation prevented him from competing in the sectional at Whitehall, where Whetstone finished sixth (87.5) behind champion Ashland (304).
Completing the roster are junior Timothy Tubaugh, sophomores Mike Miller and Huzi Shabana and freshmen Jordan Brofford, Felix Prewitt and Abdourahman Sallah Sallah.
"I'm not sure where the new guys will fit in because some of it will be determined by what weights our returnees will settle into," Jones said. "I do know that we likely won't fill out the lineup in the extreme lightweights or extreme heavyweights, but we should have enough to be competitive in the City."
The Braves open Thursday, Dec. 6, at home against Beechcroft and Linden-McKinley and will compete Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Teays Valley Duals.
Boys basketball team returns five players
The boys basketball team has returned five players from last season, when it finished 2-21 overall and 2-12 in the City League-North Division.
Both wins came against International, which finished 0-14 in the City-North.
"Our team goal is to give 100 percent effort toward getting better every day in the classroom, on the court and in the community," second-year coach Rick McClanahan said. "Those are the main objectives to becoming a well-rounded student-athlete. To have team success, we have to compete every day in practice and be ready to carry that over into every game."
Returning after starting or playing key roles last season are senior forward Antwan Allen II, senior guard Sam Barrett, junior forward Jaden Arledge, junior guard Rashaun Broomfield and sophomore forward Caleb Brigle.
Last season, Allen averaged 8.2 points and 8.1 rebounds and Arledge averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds.
"Antwan is a very skilled power forward and big-time rebounder," McClanahan said. "Jaden is a forward with a great (shooting) touch who stretches the floor with his ability to shoot the 3-point shot. Caleb is a fearless sophomore who can really shoot the basketball."
Also expected to be key contributors are senior forward Aljondre Grace and junior guards Johnathan Sullivan and Alex Timmons.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Canejeon Brown (guard), Paul Gerlach (forward) and Anthony Mirando Jr. (forward).
Whetstone lost 2018 graduates Lincoln Mullins and Rayshon Walker. Last season, Walker averaged 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds and Mullins averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. Both were named honorable mention all-league.
The Braves opened Nov. 30 with a 59-35 loss at Dublin Scioto and lost their home opener the next day, falling 72-44 to Thomas Worthington.
Allen had 11 points, Barrett scored 10 and Brigle added eight against Scioto. Against Thomas, Brigle had 15 points, Barrett scored 10, Arledge scored nine and Allen scored eight.
Nov. 30 -- at Dublin Scioto
Dec. 1 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Dec. 5 -- vs. Granville
*Dec. 11 -- vs. Linden-McKinley
*Dec. 14- vs. Beechcroft
*Dec. 18 -- at Northland
*Dec. 21 -- at Mifflin
Dec. 22 -- Worthington Christian at Mount Vernon Nazarene
Dec. 27 -- at Tree of Life
*Jan. 8 -- vs. Centennial
*Jan. 11 -- vs. International
Jan. 12 -- at Independence
*Jan. 15 -- vs. East
*Jan. 18 -- at Linden-McKinley
*Jan. 22 -- at Beechcroft
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Northland
*Jan. 29 -- vs. Mifflin
*Feb. 1 -- at Centennial
*Feb. 5 -- at International
*Feb. 8 -- at East
Feb. 9 -- at Watterson
Feb. 12 -- vs. Briggs
Dec. 6 -- vs. Beechcroft and Linden-McKinley
Dec. 8 -- at Teays Valley Duals
Dec. 12 -- at New Albany with Westerville North
Dec. 19 -- at Northland with South
Jan. 5 -- Bobcat Invitational at Grandview
Jan. 12 -- Comet Classic at Central Crossing
Jan. 19 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North
Jan. 23 -- City Duals preliminaries at home
Jan. 31 -- City Duals finals at TBA
Feb. 6 -- at Centennial
Feb. 9 -- Braves Invitational at home
Feb. 12 -- at Columbus Academy with Thomas Worthington
Feb. 16 -- City League tournament at Mifflin
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
Dec. 6 -- At Watterson
*Dec. 7 -- Home vs. East
*Dec. 11 -- At Linden-McKinley
*Dec. 10 -- Briggs at Stardust Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 10 -- Braves Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center