First-year Bexley High School wrestling coach Bob Triano couldn't help but point to the significance of his team's appearance Dec. 6 in the season-opening Tony Pizzurro Memorial Classic at DeSales.

First-year Bexley High School wrestling coach Bob Triano couldn't help but point to the significance of his team's appearance Dec. 6 in the season-opening Tony Pizzurro Memorial Classic at DeSales.

DeSales was where it all began for the hall of fame coach who led the Stallions from 1965-74, winning state championships in 1971 and 1974. His resume also extends to the collegiate level, where he was the coach at Cincinnati in the mid-1970s and officiated more than a dozen NCAA Division I championships and three Division III championships.

For Triano, the chance to coach again trumped retirement.

"You think about retirement and it sounds great," said Triano, who retired in 2011 after spending 13 years as the athletics director at Whetstone. "Then you start asking yourself, 'What's my purpose?' "

Triano's new purpose is to mold a young Lions team that returns two Division II district qualifiers.

In the Tony Pizzurro Memorial Classic, Bexley finished fourth (115) of 12 teams behind champion Upper Arlington (298).

The roster of 22 includes just one upperclassman in returning district-qualifier Dylan Cramer, a junior who will compete at 160 pounds. Sophomore Eric Crane (152) is the other returning district qualifier. Sophomores Perrin Ruff (126) and Zach Welsh (138), who was second-team all-league, were district alternates last season.

Triano said he also likes what he has seen from sophomore Jalen Hatton (170) and freshman Grant Robinson, who will compete in the upper weight classes.

Gone is the leadership provided by 2014 graduates Sam Shorr (132, 33-14 overall) and Daniel Lee (195, 30-13). Each placed second in the league tournament and qualified for district last season.

Triano didn't sugarcoat his expectations when addressing his team.

"I told them that they're going to get beat up this year," said Triano, who expects to forfeit three weight classes during dual meets. "But next year, they're going to be a little bit more competitive. Then, that third year, I expect them to win the league. The key is getting kids matches, and that's what I've promised them."

Triano, a member of the Ohio chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, replaced Ed Cruz, who led the program for two seasons before resigning.

During Cruz's first season in 2012-13, the Lions went 2-12 in dual meets, placed last in the MSL-Ohio Division, had one wrestler qualify for district and finished with a roster of just seven athletes. Last season under Cruz, Bexley went 10-5 in duals, placed fifth in the league tournament, qualified four wrestlers for district and featured a roster of 13.

Triano wants to build off last season's improvements.

"We have 10 eighth-graders in the middle school program, so we could have 30 kids next year," he said.

Boys basketball teamfalls in opener

The boys basketball team produced a second-half rally Dec. 6 at Watterson, but fell 36-34 in its opener.

The Lions outscored the Eagles 15-7 in the third quarter to take a 26-25 lead. Watterson, which was led by Avery Janning's 13 points, outscored Bexley 11-8 in the fourth.

Bexley did not have a scorer in double figures as Carter Williams led the way with nine points, followed by Niejel Young (7), Miles Penn (6) and Cole Heilman (5).

Watterson also beat the Lions 76-51 in a Division II district semifinal last season. It was Bexley's first appearance in a district semifinal since 2010.

Bexley played Circleville on Dec. 9 and begins MSL-Ohio play Saturday, Dec. 13, at West Jefferson.

Girls basketball teamwins MSL-Ohio opener

Elise Torrence scored 14 points and Mary Massarelli added 11 as the girls basketball team improved to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the MSL-Ohio with a 46-41 victory Dec. 6 over visiting West Jefferson.

After producing just two first-quarter points, the Lions doubled up the Roughriders 16-8 in the second quarter to take an 18-17 halftime lead.

Bexley took the fourth quarter 19-15 to seal first-year coach Joshua Price's first win.

Bexley played DeSales on Dec. 9 and returns to league play Friday, Dec. 12, at Columbus Academy.