The Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team is as young as it has been in quite some time after losing more than half of its starting lineup to graduation after winning league and sectional championships and having four Division I state qualifiers last season.

The Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team is as young as it has been in quite some time after losing more than half of its starting lineup to graduation after winning league and sectional championships and having four Division I state qualifiers last season.

The Pacers also advanced to the state dual tournament a year ago.

But 11th-year coach Josh Heffernan said there will be no excuses this season.

"Our team always focuses on being the best dual team we can be, one that wins conference titles and advances deep into the state dual competition," Heffernan said. "The fact that we are young this year does not change that."

The Pacers opened Dec. 3 by going 1-4 in the Harrison Duals.

"Nine of the 14 weights were filled by guys who were wrestling in their first varsity match," Heffernan said. "In fact, we will likely be starting six freshmen in our lineup as we continue. We have some horses, but overall we are very young. That said, our freshmen are tough.

"This is the most intense, hardest-working freshman class we've ever had. We expect to see some rookie mistakes and challenges, but many of those young guys are very capable of making a lot of noise in February and March."

The top returnees are seniors Carter Davidson (182 pounds) and Max Wright (195), junior James White IV (132) and sophomore Zach Williams (126).

Wright and Williams are returning state qualifiers. Last season, Wright went 1-2 at 160 at state to finish 53-5 and Williams went 0-2 at 106 to finish 39-12.

Wright and 2016 graduate Greg Brusco set the single-season program record for wins a year ago. Brusco placed third at state at 152 last season to finish 53-4 and owns the program's career mark for wins with 167.

Wright set the program record for most pins in a season a year ago with 41, tying for 18th all-time in the state.

"Max is ranked third at 195 by Borofanohio.net," Heffernan said. "He had an amazing offseason, winning double gold at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in August, and winning his pool at the Journeymen Classic in New York in October -- two elite national tournaments.

"Zach is an easygoing guy off the mat and an intense, fierce competitor when he straps on his headgear. He is a mat-rat in the offseason, traveling all over the state to train and compete with the best. He set very high goals for himself, and I believe he has the ability to accomplish them."

White placed fifth at 120 in the district tournament last season to finish 36-11, and Davidson placed sixth at 170 to finish 37-14.

"Carter is the best leader and the physically strongest wrestler we have ever had," Heffernan said. "He's an extremely hard worker who simply does everything right. He's a tremendous role model for our young guys and we expect big things from him.

"James is a force on his feet. He's slick and quick with his takedowns and extremely difficult to score on. He is set to have a very successful junior campaign."

Other returning starters are sophomores Jason Dominguez (138) and Jacob McCloskey (145). Juniors Sean Hazelton (132) and Jacob Henley (160) are returning letterwinners.

Also looking to fill spots are juniors Demeko Barnes (120), Zane Hypes (170) and Liam Rush (heavyweight), sophomore Jacob Baker (152) and freshmen Tristan Burton (106/112), Emmett Cain (138), Bystin Coldiron (106), Tyler David (220), Corbin May (152) and Mason Sutander (145).

The Pacers' other state qualifier last season was 2016 graduate Chris Martinez, who finished 42-8 at 195, as Delaware totaled 21 points at state to tie for 22nd behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (152).

The Pacers had 11 district qualifiers and scored a program-best 127.5 points to finish fourth, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (184), and won (255) the 12-team sectional at Watkins Memorial, ahead of runner-up Hilliard Bradley (183.5). It was their third consecutive sectional title.

Delaware was seeded seventh of eight teams in the state dual tournament and lost to second-seeded Elyria 41-21 in a quarterfinal. It won the Region 5 title by defeating Lancaster 47-25 in the final.

The Pacers went 7-0 to win the OCC-Capital Division title, as Brusco was named league Wrestler of the Year and Heffernan was league Coach of the Year.

Delaware has moved to the OCC-Cardinal this season with Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne. Its opening league dual is Thursday, Dec. 15, at home against Jerome.

Girls basketball team wins first two games

The girls basketball team, which had only five wins last season, won its first two contests.

Delaware defeated Hamilton Township 56-30 on Dec. 3 after opening with a 49-15 win over Patriot Prep Academy on Nov. 29. The Pacers opened OCC-Cardinal play Dec. 9 at home against Darby.

Madison Eldridge had 12 points against Hamilton Township. Katie Blair scored 11 and Keiona Houser added 10.

Yoakum, Kinsway leading boys team

The boys basketball team was 1-2 entering its OCC-Cardinal opener Dec. 9 at Darby.

The Pacers lost to visiting Marion Pleasant 49-48 in overtime Dec. 2 when Joe Wood made a layup at the buzzer. They defeated host Buckeye Valley 52-41 the next day before falling to Pickerington North 62-52 on Dec. 6.

Will Yoakum had 23 points against Pleasant and 24 against North and was averaging 20.7 points through three contests. Terin Kinsway scored 20 against Buckeye Valley and was averaging 15.7.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

WRESTLING

Dec. 3 -- Harrison Duals

*Dec. 15 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

Dec. 17 -- Delaware Duals

*Dec. 22 -- at Dublin Scioto

Dec. 27-28 -- Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament at Wright State

Jan. 5 -- at Mount Vernon

*Jan. 12 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

Jan. 13-14 -- Top Gun Invitational at Alliance

*Jan. 19 -- at Thomas Worthington

Jan. 21 -- Central Crossing Invitational

*Jan. 26 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Feb. 4 -- Rieman Invitational at home

*Feb. 9 -- at Hilliard Bradley

Feb. 15 -- vs. Mason

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Marysville

*Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Dec. 12 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights

*Dec. 16 -- At Dublin Scioto

Dec. 17 -- At Northridge

BOWLING

*Dec. 13 -- Westerville South at Colony Lanes

*Dec. 17 -- Newark at Colony Lanes

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 17 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State

*League contest