With nearly 30 athletes competing this winter, the Dublin Jerome High School wrestling program looks to take the next step in its growth.

There are just two seniors, which means keeping the interest level and teaching the sport are fundamental to what second-year coach Matt White is focusing on.

"We're going to be a junior-heavy team, which is good," said White, whose team went 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division last season to place fifth behind co-champions Hilliard Bradley and Delaware (5-1). "In terms of numbers, we're not going to lose much (after this season) and it sounds like a pretty athletic eighth-grade class will be coming in.

"Something we're doing that's different is that last year we didn't have a j.v. schedule, so we've really made it a point to get a separate j.v. schedule. A lot of guys last year were getting hammered a little. This year, we want to get them some experience and prepare them for the varsity level."

Jerome opened Dec. 1 by placing third (345 points) in the 12-team Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon behind the host Yellow Jackets (459) and Gahanna (393). The Celtics begin league action Thursday, Dec. 6, at home against Thomas Worthington.

The top returnees are seniors John Huber (170, 182 or 195 pounds) and Lane Williams (138) and juniors Drew Kavinsky (170 or 182) and Jack Viola (106).

Last season, Williams placed fifth at 132 in the Division I sectional at Marysville and finished 27-11. Kavinsky was sixth at 170 at sectional and finished 22-18 overall and Viola was sixth at 106 at sectional and 24-16 overall.

Junior Nick Henkel returns at 152 after losing in the third round of the consolation bracket at sectional.

Huber, Kavinsky and junior Craigen Lenker (113) were third-team all-league a year ago.

Junior Travis Leonard (182) is a move-in from Minnesota.

Others looking to contribute include juniors Joe Huber (195) and Mason Lee (132) and sophomores Zach McMinn (220) and Austin Wagner (113).

At the Bad Apple Brawl, Leonard (195) and McMinn (heavyweight) won titles and Lenker (113), Viola (106) and Williams (138) all placed second.

Boys basketball team out to utilize depth

The boys basketball team will be banking on its strength in numbers this season.

There are 12 seniors in the program, including a pair of returning starters in 6-foot-4 wing player Trey Ballengee and 6-0 guard Joseph Gatien from last season when the Celtics went 13-10 overall and tied Worthington Kilbourne for third in the OCC-Cardinal at 6-6 behind Bradley (12-0) and Hilliard Darby (7-5).

The Celtics opened Dec. 1 with a 58-54 loss to Newark and began league play Dec. 4 at home against first-year Berlin.

"This group of seniors is so close," second-year coach Richie Beard said. "They really truly play for each other. Nobody cares who scores. We have shot the crap out of it this fall, mostly because guys find the ball and they're shooting it in the gym by themselves. It's a very close-knit group."

Ballengee averaged 11.4 points and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season. Gatien averaged 5.5 points, 4.1 steals and 4.3 assists and was honorable mention all-league.

Seniors Luke Martin (6-1, guard), Matthew Montgomery (6-4, forward) and Joey Pickering (6-3, wing player) all averaged four points.

The other seniors are Jack Kemp (6-4, forward), Cam Kerns (6-5, forward), Ryan Keys (6-1, guard), Ben Podobinski (6-3, wing player), Collin Rust (6-3, wing player), Luke Schlessel (6-2, guard) and Parker Westenskow (6-3, wing player).

Also on the roster are juniors Dan Lee (6-0, guard) and Derek Sanders (6-3, wing player).

Against Newark, Ballengee led the team with 10 points, Montgomery scored eight and Keys, Lee and Pickering all scored seven.

The Celtics lost a trio of key players to graduation in Andrew Golda (9.0 points per game, 6.5 rebounds), Lucas House (10 ppg, second-team all-league) and Preston Streator (5 ppg) from a team that lost to Coffman 58-40 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

"We'll be way more position-less this season," Beard said. "We have a lot of guys that can pass, shoot and dribble and we can move guys around and exploit mismatches. We'll play at a much faster tempo than last year."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 1 -- vs. Newark

*Dec. 4 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin

*Dec. 7 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Dec. 11 -- at Bellefontaine

*Dec. 14 -- at Thomas Worthington

*Dec. 21 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

Dec. 28 -- Proctorville Fairland in Stephen Gussler Invitational at Thomas

Dec. 29 -- Liberty Township Lakota East in Gussler Invitational

*Jan. 4 -- at Hilliard Darby

*Jan. 8 -- vs. Delaware

*Jan. 11 -- at Scioto

Jan. 12 -- at Cincinnati Elder

*Jan. 18 -- at Kilbourne

*Jan. 22 -- at Berlin

*Jan. 25 -- vs. Thomas

*Feb. 1 -- vs. Darby

*Feb. 5 -- at Bradley

*Feb. 8 -- at Delaware

Feb. 9 -- at Perrysburg

Feb. 12 -- vs. Pickerington North

*Feb. 15 -- vs. Scioto

Feb. 19 -- vs. Westerville North

WRESTLING

Dec. 1 -- Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon

*Dec. 6 -- vs. Thomas

Dec. 8 -- Big Walnut Classic

*Dec. 13 -- at Delaware

Dec. 15 -- Big Dawg Invitational at Dresden Tri-Valley

Jan. 5 -- Indian Invitational at Logan Elm

*Jan. 10 -- vs. Kilbourne

Jan. 12 -- Comet Classic at Central Crossing

*Jan. 16 -- at Berlin

Jan. 19 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North

*Jan. 24 -- at Bradley

Jan. 26 -- Jimmy Wood Memorial at New Lexington

*Feb. 7 -- vs. Darby

Feb. 9 -- All-North Tournament at home

*Feb. 14 -- at Scioto

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey and swimming & diving teams:

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 7 -- At Worthington Kilbourne

Dec. 11 -- Home vs. Westerville Central

GYMNASTICS

Dec. 11 -- At Worthington Kilbourne with Coffman and Scioto

HOCKEY

*Dec. 7 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller Dublin

*Dec. 8 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Northland Ice Center

*Dec. 9 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 8 -- Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational at Ohio State

*League contest