After sending five competitors to the Division I district tournament last season, the outlook doesn't appear as bright for the Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team.

After sending five competitors to the Division I district tournament last season, the outlook doesn't appear as bright for the Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team.

Only one of those five returns. In fact, the Pacers have just two wrestlers on the team who posted winning records a year ago.

Still, coach Josh Heffernan is excited about the direction of the program.

"We lost nine graduates off last year's team and the eighth-grade class had just two wrestlers," Heffernan said. "So, I expected our numbers would be down this year. I know we've got 55 coming next year from the junior high ranks, and we've got 120 kids in our youth program right now. I'm really excited about our future numbers.

"But, although we expected a drop-off this year, the administration built us a great wrestling facility now and there is a buzz around the program. So, we've got eight first-year wrestlers in the program who are not freshmen. So our numbers are nearly the same as last year. The difference, of course, is experience. But if we can keep these kids here and excited in the program, it would be great. I really am excited about where the program is headed."

The returning district qualifier is sophomore Seth McCurdy, who was 1-2 at district to finish 25-22 at 103 pounds.

"Seth lives and breathes wrestling and is dedicated to the weight room," Heffernan said. "But I think it's important to have multi-sport athletes and I wanted him to run cross country in the fall. He did, and although he's not a natural runner, he improved greatly and worked himself into the lineup at times. He had to work hard to excel and he did. He's got that competitive drive, and I think he could wind up being a state qualifier."

Senior Joey Sumner is back after going 28-18 at 160. He'll likely start at 171. Other seniors are Mike Kalista (145/152) and Matt Giannakos (125/130). Kalista was 11-29 last season and Giannakos was 13-20. Kalista and Sumner are the captains.

"I'm expecting big things from Joey, and Mike has improved tremendously," Heffernan said. "I didn't even know if (Kalista) would stick with it after his freshman year and now he's one of our leaders. He's a tough kid."

Other returnees are juniors Tyler Daugherty (215) and Ben Williams (189) and sophomore Joel Calfe (152/160), all of whom were part-time competitors in the lineup. Daugherty was 2-12, Williams was 4-9 at 171 and Calfe was 6-17 at 145.

Hoping to fill out Delaware's lineup are juniors Dillon Harris (145/152) and Kyle Devillers (heavyweight), sophomores John Botti (189), Colton Christner (heavyweight), Zack Kantona (215), Chaz Munday (119-125) and Andrew Nesselroad (125-130), as well as freshmen Wyatt Davis (112), Skylar Helmeci (112/119) and Michael Rucucci (125/130).

McCurdy was joined at district last season by graduates Greg Flaglor (34-10 at 119), Michael Austin (28-16 at 125), Mark Rieman (42-9 at 140) and Christion Brooks (33-15 at 189). None of the Pacers advanced to state.

Brent Spivey (25-20 at 135) also graduated.

The Pacers finished fourth last season in the OCC-Capital dual tournament at New Albany. Mount Vernon won the title by beating Big Walnut 45-23 in the championship. Delaware lost to New Albany 32-31 in the third-place match. It was the first and last year for the format.

The OCC has switched back to dual meets this year.

The Hayes Invitational, which is Feb. 6, has been renamed the Rieman Invitational.

"That was in honor of Tony Rieman, who was inducted into the Hayes Hall of Fame this fall," Heffernan said. "He helped create the event, maintained it and helped it grow into what it is today. He's done so many things and meant so much to this program through the years.

"That's what this program is becoming is a family. We've got lots of dads helping in the youth program and we've got things moving. It's become a big family and that's what we want."

•The girls basketball team opens OCC-Capital play Friday as host to Olentangy Orange.

The Pacers opened the regular season last Friday against Olentangy Liberty in the Delaware County Classic at Ohio Wesleyan.

•The boys and girls swimming and diving teams open Friday as the host to Olentangy and Wellington at Ohio Wesleyan's Pfeiffer Natatorium.

The Pacers also compete Saturday in the Columbus Academy Relays.

•The boys and girls bowling teams open Monday against visiting Buckeye Valley and play host Friday to Ridgedale.

The Pacers' home lanes are Colony Lanes. All matches begin with the junior varsity at 4 p.m

The Pacers' Tyler Daugherty upends teammate Joey Sumner during wrestling practice last Tuesday. Daugherty, a junior, is expected to compete at 215. He was 2-12 a year ago.

Schedule

Dec. 5 Wazie Tournament at Mount Vernon Dec. 12 at Big Walnut Duals Dec. 19 at New Albany Tournament Dec. 28-29 at Marion Harding Invitational Jan. 7 at Big Walnut vs. *New Albany and *Olentangy Orange *Jan. 14 at Franklin Heights; vs. Big Walnut Jan. 15-16 Marion Elgin Invitational at Marion Coliseum *Jan. 21 at Mount Vernon *Jan. 28 vs. Big Walnut *Feb. 4 vs. Hilliard Bradley Feb. 6 Rieman Invitational (formerly Delaware Hayes Invitational) Feb. 13 Bobcat Duals at Ohio University with Dublin Coffman, Gahanna and Lancaster

*OCC-Capital match