The Grove City High School wrestling team tasted disappointment at the end of last season when no one advanced to the Division I state meet.

The Grove City High School wrestling team tasted disappointment at the end of last season when no one advanced to the Division I state meet.

The one saving grace that kept that feeling from being one of complete disaster was knowing the Greyhounds had five district qualifiers eligible to return.

As a result, this season has been met with optimism. The Greyhounds think they have a good shot at having representatives at the state meet after a one-year hiatus.

"We have a core of five or six guys that are really, really solid," said coach Jay DiMasso, whose team competes Tuesday and Wednesday at the West Jefferson Invitational. "The levy did hurt us and there were some incoming freshmen that are not attending, but the district qualifiers we have coming back should be district qualifiers again. We should get some of them to state."

The returning district qualifiers are seniors Josh Mills (130 or 135 pounds), Jacob Swavely (119) and Colin Whitt (125) and juniors Jose Hughes (152) and Nick Kowaleski (152).

Grove City finished 30th (15.5 points) at the district meet last year, behind champion Hilliard Davidson (119.5). The Greyhounds were sixth at the Watkins Memorial sectional, behind champion Teays Valley (257.5)

In the OCC-Ohio Division, the Greyhounds finished fourth after losing to Lancaster 32-31 in a third-place dual. Pickerington North won the league title ahead of Reynoldsburg, Lancaster, Grove City, Pickerington Central, Gahanna, Groveport and Newark.

Also expected to play prominent roles are juniors Robert Coles (189), Zach Reynard (heavyweight) and Jared Todd (171) as well as sophomores Caleb Dick (215), Steven Neeley (140 or 145) and Brad Pepple (112). Freshmen expected to make an impact are Case Pendleton (135 or 140) and Greg Plotner (125). Grove City won't field a wrestler at 103.

Despite having to forfeit one weight class, the Greyhounds still won the Ken Ash Invitational on Dec. 5 with a 5-0 record. They defeated Licking Heights 51-21 in the championship match.

Central Crossing was one of the area's best teams last year, but it was hit hard by the levy failure in August.

When last season ended, the Comets were looking at the possibility of returning eight district qualifiers.

But it was a tough summer for the Comets. Former coach Chance Van Gundy left to coach at Ready and nearly everyone left the program.

The only returnee is Isaac Redfern, a district qualifier at 215 last year. Redfern is wrestling heavyweight this season.

"Without Isaac, we should be a (junior varsity) team this year," said coach Chas McCutcheon, whose team competes Wednesday at the Johnstown Duals. "We're a very young team this year."

The only other wrestlers in the program with experience from last year are sophomores Jeremy Burt (125), Michael Turner (112) and Trevor Warner (189 or 215), each of whom was on j.v. last year. Junior Marquise Hammonds (160) transferred from Grove City.

The rest of the team is comprised of freshmen or upperclassmen who haven't wrestled in years. Senior Kyle Jenkins is one such wrestler.

"They're going to be in the lineup and it's going to be baptized by fire," McCutcheon said.

With two state qualifiers last year, the Comets finished 50th (10), behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (111.5).

The Comets finished fifth (78.5) at district with 10 district qualifiers after winning the sectional at Pickerington North with 227.5 points, with North (172.5) placing second.

The Comets also won the OCC-Central title last year with a 5-0 record. They defeated Hilliard Darby 36-24 in the championship match. It was Central Crossing's second consecutive league title.