The Watkins Memorial High School wrestling team has returned six district qualifiers in addition to a wrestler who posted 28 wins and another who was on pace for 25 wins before sustaining a season-ending injury.

The Watkins Memorial High School wrestling team has returned six district qualifiers in addition to a wrestler who posted 28 wins and another who was on pace for 25 wins before sustaining a season-ending injury.

"We've got 13 guys who were starters last season, 14 (letterwinners) and we're replenishing on the lower end with 15 freshmen entering the program who are all very talented and some could challenge for varsity spots," fifth-year coach Mark Kurth said.

Leading the returnees is junior Alex Lieb, who was 40-9 last season at 113 pounds, including 1-2 in the Division I state meet.

Lieb, who has moved to 126 this season, was one of two state qualifiers a year ago for the Warriors. The other was his brother, 2015 graduate Andrew Lieb, who went 2-3 and placed eighth at state at 132. Andrew finished last season 44-10 and is the program's leader in career victories with a 162-33 record.

The Lieb brothers both finished third at district and won sectional titles last season.

"Alex gained valuable experience at state and will be hungry to get back," said Kurth, whose team opened Dec. 4 against Gahanna and will compete in the East Side Duals with New Albany, Reynoldsburg and host Licking Heights on Thursday, Dec. 10. "He is our top returnee and was one win from placing (at state)."

The other returning district qualifiers are seniors Matt Kennedy (145) and Dean Marek (132), juniors Max Boyd (182) and Dante Fair (160) and sophomore Alec Fulwider (113). Seniors Jacob Maynard (138) and Robert Speaks (152) also are key returnees.

"Max Boyd placed fifth in the district last year, missing the state tournament by one place," Kurth said. "We had seven qualify for district last year and six are back. Plus, we have Jacob Maynard, who was 14-5 before he broke his hand."

Last season, Boyd finished 30-11 at 170, Marek was 23-11 at 126, Kennedy was 23-17 at 160, Fulwider was 26-16 at 106, Fair was 16-9 at 145 and Speaks was 28-15 at 152.

Others expected to play key roles are seniors Marvin Bennett (170), Jack May (220) and Keith Woods (heavyweight) and juniors Kyle Clark (195), David Daw (120), Mason Robinson (138), Bradley Swearingen (126) and Jarod Taggart (106).

The Warriors finished second (309 points) in the LCL tournament last season behind Licking Valley (347), with Utica (264) placing third.

Andrew Lieb, Boyd and May won league titles and Alex Lieb and Marek were runners-up.

"Our goals are to challenge for the LCL championship and to send between three and six guys to the state tournament," Kurth said. "Our depth is very good. We are two deep in every weight class and four deep in some, with around 40 total kids on the team.

"If everyone stays healthy, we should have every weight class filled with experienced wrestlers. We should be very balanced from top to bottom."

Swimming teams have new coach

First-year swimming and diving coach Fay Barry still is learning about her teams after taking over for Heidi Williams, who guided the program the past three seasons.

"All I truly know is who is on each team and what types of kids we have," said Barry, whose teams opened Dec. 5 in the Northridge Viking Splash Invitational at New Albany. "The further along we get, the more I will know. We have quite a few (letterwinners) on both teams and strong leadership."

The girls team has returned eight letterwinners, led by senior Chelsea List, juniors Gracie Gessner and Abby Jarvis and sophomore Kelsey Seas.

Seas competed in the Division I district meet last season at Ohio University in three relays that set school records. She teamed with Gessner and 2015 graduates Kayla Fenimore and Shelby Seas on the 200-yard medley relay that finished 19th in 1 minute, 57.64 seconds and teamed with Jarvis, Fenimore and Shelby Seas in the 400 freestyle relay that placed 19th (3:58.52).

The 200 free relay of Gessner, Jarvis, Kelsey Seas and 2015 graduate Jayna Hulse finished 29th (1:52.68).

Other letterwinners returning are senior Hailey Miller, junior Emily Cangelosi and sophomores Sarah Dieterich and Adrianna Hansen. Completing the roster are senior Lynee Stockdale, junior Kelley Spicer, sophomores Taylor Denny and Kate Miller and freshman Ashley McNamara.

The boys team has returned five letterwinners in seniors Skylar Chapman, Grady Marshall, T.J. Miller and Brian Wright and sophomore Jacob Raver.

Grady, Miller and Wright teamed with 2015 graduate Jacob Abram to finish 27th (4:15.91) in the 400 free relay at district. Grady, Chapman and Raver also were on the 200 medley relay that placed 28th (2:07.92).

Chapman set the school record in the 500 free (5:54.38) in the sectional at Thomas Worthington.

Also on the roster are sophomores Justin Mohler and James Richard and freshmen Clayton Etter, Ian Jarvis, Spencer Kleeh, David McNamara, Joey Neibert and Ethan Ness.

"It's nice to have some strong seniors who will lead and be role models and teachers for the young kids we have," Barry said. "Quite a few of them are club kids, too. They will have to help bring the less-experienced swimmers along. The goal is to have everyone competing at their highest level late in the season."