The Newark Catholic High School wrestling team hasn't been represented at the Division III state tournament in three years.

The Newark Catholic High School wrestling team hasn't been represented at the Division III state tournament in three years.

Aaron Shook (189 pounds) and Casey Cunningham (heavyweight), both of whom were seniors at the time, earned the right to compete at state when the Green Wave ended a strong run of seasons in 2008-09. The team's last state placer was Stephen McDonald, who was fifth at 160 in 2004.

"It's time to get back to (state)," coach Jason Boucher said before the Green Wave competed in the 38-team, Division III-only Thunderbird Classic on Jan. 27 and 28 at Lima Central Catholic.

If the team does advance any individuals to this year's state tournament, which will be held March 1-3 at Ohio State, it likely will happen at the other end of the lineup compared with 2009.

"Our lower weights are carrying the team," Boucher said. "We're still young, but we have some experience there and a couple of other weights, and all the guys worked very hard to get better in the offseason."

Sophomores Caleb Ohl (106), Evan Hansel (138) and Anthony Wing (145), junior D.J. DeVito (113), senior Nate Ohl (120) and freshman Jake Smith (132) all have surpassed 20 victories this season. Nate Ohl, DeVito, Hansel and senior Connor Shook (195), who has been a vocal presence in the practice room, are the team's returning district qualifiers.

"With a school our size, we've had pockets of really good wrestlers come through and that's when we had our best years," Boucher said. "Our lower weights are able to go against each other (in practice) now and that makes everyone better.

"And this particular group as a whole is close to my heart because we started our (youth) program in 2003-04 and they're the first bunch to come all the way through. It's been fun to be around and see how these guys have grown and matured."

Caleb Ohl, who was undersized competing at 103 a year ago, has grown into his new weight. He won titles in the Licking County Invitational on Dec. 17 and the 23-team StitchCo Classic on Jan. 6 and 7 in Coshocton. He also was one of three fifth-place finishers for the Green Wave in the 30-team Catholic Invitational Tournament on Jan. 14 and 15 at Cincinnati Elder. DeVito and Smith were the others.

DeVito and Smith also won titles in the county tournament, and Nate Ohl and Hansel both were runners-up in Coshocton.

The Green Wave's schedule has allowed the wrestlers to see competition from around the state. That should prove beneficial once the postseason begins with the sectional tournaments on Feb. 17 and 18 at Cardington and Madison Plains. Area coaches in all three divisions meet Sunday, Jan. 29, at Gahanna to determine their respective destinations.

"Our suitcases have stayed packed. We like seeing the different areas, and for us Lima is almost like a mini state tournament," said Boucher, whose team finished 11th overall (81.5 points) behind champion Cincinnati Moeller (315) in the CIT and was third among small schools as Delphos St. John's (102) topped those standings. "We should have the entire state covered by the end of the year."

•POSTSEASON INFO - The district-tournament draw in all four girls basketball divisions will be held Feb. 5, followed by the boys on Feb. 12. Olentangy Liberty is the site for both meetings.

The bowling draw will be held Feb. 5 at Columbus Square Bowling Palace.

In swimming and diving, Newark and Watkins Memorial have been assigned to the Division I sectional meet Feb. 11 at Thomas Worthington. Granville, Heath, Licking Valley and Newark Catholic will compete the same day in the Division II meet at Columbus Academy.