A busy January schedule has taken a toll on the New Albany High School wrestling team, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to become visible.

A busy January schedule has taken a toll on the New Albany High School wrestling team, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to become visible.

The Eagles have two duals and two tournaments between today and Feb. 6, after which they will have two weeks off in preparation for the Division I sectional tournament on Feb. 19-20. In all, New Albany will have competed in nine events in a span of 23 days before its two-week break.

"These last two or three weeks have been real, real busy for us," coach Marc Cofer said. "Then it slows down. We always try to get (the schedule) set to give us a couple weeks before sectionals so we can kind of heal back up."

Among the key wrestlers who have been nursing injuries are senior Nate Park (160 pounds) and junior Kody Doyle (152), both of whom were district qualifiers last season. Cofer expects both to be ready to compete by the postseason.

"We're a little beat up, so we can bounce some kids around and move them in and out if we need to," Cofer said. "Because realistically, we want to do well in our league as a team, but we also want to be realistic and prepare ourselves for the sectional."

The Eagles struggled as a team at Gahanna's Lion Duals last Saturday, but considering the injuries and the overall youth of the roster, the coaching staff was not overly concerned with the results. New Albany went 0-5 against a tough field comprised mainly of strong Division I teams. Teays Valley edged Hilliard Davidson and Canal Winchester for the title.

"We had some matches (against Teays Valley and Davidson) that really could have gone either way," assistant coach Brad Todd said. "The kids were battling against some tough competition. They were keeping it close in a lot of matches."

The Eagles did have some strong individual performances at Gahanna, including Matt Odierno (215) going 5-0, Mac Ferguson (171) going 4-1 and Tommy Chamberlain (135) going 3-2.

In addition, Cofer said Nate Peck (119), a returning district qualifier, has started to hit his stride recently. He placed eighth at the 25-team Marion Elgin Comet Classic on Jan. 15-16.

Odierno had the team's top performance at the Comet Classic, placing fifth.

"He's kind of hitting his groove at the right time," Todd said of Odierno. "He's really focusing on a few techniques that are working for him. He's really starting to perfect them and put them to use."

Cofer said simplifying things for Odierno is starting to pay off.

"We've tried to tell him that you don't need to do too many things to be a solid wrestler," Cofer said. "I think he's starting to realize that. He's implementing one style of wrestling and sticking with it every match."

New Albany has an OCC-Capital Division dual today at Olentangy Orange today and will compete Saturday at Groveport's Cruiser Invitational.

The Eagles were 1-2 in the league before competing against Big Walnut and Delaware last Monday. Orange was 2-0 in the league before competing in a quad-match last Monday.

"Coach (Brian Nicola) has done a real nice job over there," Cofer said of Orange.

"They wrestled over at Bradley (quad-match on Jan. 14), but we didn't wrestle them. We also saw them at a tournament, and they've got solid kids pretty much all the way through (their lineup)."

Cofer expects a competitive field for the Cruiser Invitational, which is in its first year. The field is comprised of 14 teams, primarily from Division I and II. Among the top teams are Orange, Worthington Kilbourne, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington and Licking Valley.