Westland High School wrestler Andrew Sherman is hoping the energy that first-year coach Brent Allerding has brought to the program will help him reach his ultimate goal.
Sherman, a senior, is looking to earn his first Division I state tournament berth. He reached a district semifinal at 182 pounds last season before settling for sixth, two spots from advancing to state.
Allerding, 27, replaced Mark Niemann, who stepped down after one season. Allerding also served as an assistant football coach this fall under first-year head coach Rick Rios and was an assistant under Rios the previous three seasons at Loudonville in wrestling and football.
"Coach is really pushing us this year," said Sherman, who went 34-16 last season. "Coach Niemann and coach Chas (McCutcheon) pushed us hard, too, to get me where I am today, but coach Allerding really doesn't put up with things that won't prepare us for the match. It's really nice to have that high level of wrestling now. ... We have a really nice connection. His intensity is high."
McCutcheon stepped down following the 2016-17 season after serving as head coach for three seasons and as an assistant for four years.
Westland turned in a strong effort in finishing third (274.5 points) of 15 teams in the Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament on Dec. 1 at DeSales behind Grove City (295.5) and Olentangy Liberty (275).
Sherman (195) and freshmen Tyler Jude (113) and Jakob Hurley (145) all won titles.
"It was a perfect way to start the season," Sherman said.
Senior Kyle Newman (220) and sophomore Bryson Palmer (126) were second, freshman Trent Jude (120) was third and sophomore Jaeven Eckles (106) and freshman Branden Tackett (138) were fourth.
"This shows that the kids are buying in and it's giving them proof that hard work can pay off and that they can compete at this level," Allerding said. "It helps their confidence big time."
Other wrestlers who could contribute include senior Angel Lopez (126), juniors Edgar Cruz (120), Johnny Douglas (170), Darius Lightfoot (160) and Juan Martinez (160), sophomores Dominic Fogt (132) and Hayden Hughes (heavyweight) and freshmen Victor Lopez (145), David Medina (182) and Brendan Wiseman (152).
Cruz (20-10 last season) and Newman (14-18) also were district qualifiers a year ago.
"I like what I see so far," said Allerding, whose team opened Nov. 30 with a 46-20 loss at Hilliard Darby. "We have a lot of good, young kids, a good freshman group coming up and the returners have been working hard. They put in a good summer with lifting. They're a lot stronger than what they were. (Our) numbers are better, so we're definitely excited about where we're going to go."
Last season, Westland went 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division to finish sixth behind champion Dublin Coffman (5-0).
The Cougars begin league action Jan. 10 at Marysville.
Swimmers working to quicken times
The athletes in the swimming and diving program entered the season looking to improve their times.
The Cougars again are training with Central Crossing at Urbancrest YMCA. The teams also share the same meet schedule.
"It's a lot of fun because in other sports at Central Crossing and Westland (the teams) are rivals, but in swimming we're brother and sister," said coach Robert Boggs, who guides both programs.
The girls team should be led by seniors Makaili Long (backstroke) and Porter Madden (breaststroke). Both are in their fourth season with the program.
"We come out together as a family and we get to swim together and have fun," Long said. "I've gotten a lot better. My times have dropped a lot."
Junior Rachael Binion (butterfly) is in her third season. Junior Laura Ornelas (free) and sophomores Brenna Gilliam (freestyle) and Peyton Madden (all strokes) are in their second season.
Freshmen Caramela Louden (free) and Estrella Reyna (free) also are competing.
Senior Tim Wotring is in his second season and again is the only boy in the program.
"He has some decent times for the events he swims and like most kids, if they keep at it, they'll pick it up quick," Boggs said. "You just have to keep at it."
Boys basketball team showing promise
Despite entering its OCC-Central opener Dec. 7 against Marysville at 1-2, boys basketball coach Rob Hayes believes his team is showing promise.
The Cougars opened with a 65-60 loss at Groveport on Nov. 29. Westland trailed 41-21 at halftime before outscoring the Cruisers 28-10 in the third quarter to pull within 51-49.
Junior guard Kalil Camara, a move-in from the Philadelphia area who was ruled eligible to play earlier in the day, led the Cougars with 21 points. DeShawn Evans added 14 points.
Westland bounced back to defeat Columbus West 76-72 on Dec. 3. Camara scored 21 points, Evans and Gaige Holbrook each had 13 and Hunter Corwin added 10.
The Cougars and Thomas Worthington were tied at 19 at halftime before the Cardinals pulled away in the second half for a 64-40 win Dec. 4. Camara and Evans each scored 13 points.
"There's potential for growth," Hayes said after the loss to Thomas. "We all linked arms and I said this is our group for better or for worse and we're going to get better from here. This was not our best performance. We know what our best looks like and that wasn't it."
Girls basketball team earns two early wins
The girls basketball team was 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on Dec. 7.
Westland defeated Whetstone 42-25 on Nov. 30 as Atira Hoard and Shukri Abdikadir each scored 10 points.
The Cougars opened league play with a 66-22 loss to Central Crossing on Dec. 4. Hoard scored seven points.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 4 -- Central Crossing, Teays Valley and Portsmouth West at Urbancrest YMCA
Dec. 14 -- Central Crossing, Centennial, Marysville and Portsmouth at Urbancrest YMCA
Dec. 21 -- Central Crossing and Dublin Scioto at Dublin Recreation Center
Dec. 22 -- Mount Vernon Invitational at Kenyon College
Jan. 2 -- Central Crossing and Mount Vernon at Kenyon College
Jan. 5 -- Southeast Classic at Ohio University
Jan. 7 -- Central Crossing, Grove City and Whetstone at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 12 -- Teays Valley Invitational at Circleville YMCA
Jan. 19 -- Central Crossing and Groveport at Urbancrest YMCA
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Central meet at Upper Arlington
Feb. 2 -- Upper Arlington Invitational
Nov. 30 -- at Hilliard Darby
Dec. 1 -- Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament at DeSales
Dec. 5 -- at Franklin Heights with Mifflin
Dec. 8 -- Big Walnut Classic
Dec. 12 -- at Westerville Central with Licking Heights and Springfield
Dec. 15 -- Big Dawg Invitational at Dresden Tri-Valley
Jan. 5 -- Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament at Dublin Scioto
*Jan. 10 -- at Marysville
*Jan. 17 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Jan. 19 -- Hamilton Township Classic
*Jan. 24 -- at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 26 -- New Albany Invitational
*Feb. 7 -- at Central Crossing
Feb. 9 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
*Feb. 14 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland boys basketball, girls basketball and gymnastics teams:
Dec. 12 -- at Hamilton Township
*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Dec. 12 -- Home vs. Centennial
*Dec. 14 -- At Coffman
Dec. 12 -- At *Hilliard Davidson with *Central Crossing, *Franklin Heights, Hilliard Bradley and Hilliard Darby