With a strong sophomore class leading the way and the middle school team expected to add to his squad's numbers over the next two years, coach Kevin Petrella is excited about where the Hartley High School wrestling program is headed in future seasons.

With a strong sophomore class leading the way and the middle school team expected to add to his squad's numbers over the next two years, coach Kevin Petrella is excited about where the Hartley High School wrestling program is headed in future seasons.

As for this winter, there's plenty of opportunity for a Hawks team featuring three seniors and several others who are stepping into key roles for the first time.

One of the seniors, Alex Moran, would like nothing better than to help Hartley continue a run that has seen it win three consecutive CCL championships.

Moran is competing at 145 pounds after missing time last season with a torn labrum.

"It's coming together pretty well," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys stepping up and looking good."

The other seniors are Mark Bayless (160) and Drake Williams (220). Like Moran, they did not compete in the Division II postseason last winter.

Bayless, however, was one of six Hartley wrestlers to place among the top three in their respective weight classes Dec. 10 in the Dan Gartner Duals at Whitehall, finishing third.

Sophomore Griffin Rathburn won the title at 182, while the others who placed in the top three were sophomores Cole Jackson (second at 170), Keegan Moran (second at 126) and Jacob Williams (second at 120) and freshman Joe Petrella (second at 132). Petrella is the coach's brother.

Hartley placed fourth (158) in the seven-team tournament behind champion Pickerington Central (224).

While Williams was sixth at district at 113 a year ago, another returning district qualifier is sophomore Nate Jackson (195).

Also looking to contribute are sophomore Ryan Connor (152) and freshman Michael Petrella (106), who is Joe's fraternal twin.

Jared Croswell, who went 1-2 at state at 220 and finished last season 35-7 overall, was lost to graduation along with district-qualifiers Zach Bowman (160), Josh Heinmiller (132) and Tyler Sweeney (heavyweight). Croswell is wrestling at Muskingum.

"We lost a pretty significant amount of guys, so we are a very small team and a young team this year," coach Petrella said. "We'll probably fill at least 11 of the 14 weight classes, but the good thing is that we're only going to lose three guys and we have no juniors. We've got to work out some growing pains, and our 10th-graders are going to have to act like juniors and seniors."

Swim teams off to strong start

Swimming and diving coach Tony Phillips has been pleased with the improvement his boys and girls teams have shown during the season's first few meets.

The Hawks are off until Jan. 7 when they compete at Columbus School for Girls and then have five other competitions during January, including the CCL meet Jan. 28 at CSG.

"As long as we're seeing improvements from week to week, we're pretty optimistic that this girls team will be one of the teams to beat at Division II district and are confident we'll have a decent number at state," Phillips said. "Collectively our boys aren't the most experienced, but they're motivated and are already much improved from our first meet."

Among the early girls standouts has been freshman Mia Phillips, who won the 100-yard breaststroke in the Catholic Showdown on Dec. 3 at St. Charles as the Hawks finished third (189) of 10 teams behind CSG (306) and Toledo St. Ursula Academy (218).

Basketball teams to stay busy over break

The boys and girls basketball teams will be competing in showcases during the holiday break.

The boys team beat Watterson 58-52 on Dec. 16 in its CCL opener and defeated Wellington 44-36 on Dec. 17 to improve to 3-0 heading into a league game Friday, Dec. 23, at Ready.

The Hawks then play Alliance Marlington on Dec. 29 and Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin on Dec. 30 in the Tuscarawas Central Catholic Shootout. Both of their games in the event are scheduled for 2:45 p.m.

The girls team lost to Arlington 57-45 on Dec. 17 and beat Walnut Ridge 83-49 on Dec. 19 and was 5-1 before playing Thomas Worthington on Dec. 21.

The Hawks then travel to Liberty Union for the Yule Classic, where they'll play at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, against the host Lions and face Buckeye Valley at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

WRESTLING

Dec. 10 -- Dan Gartner Duals at Whitehall

Dec. 17 -- Delaware Duals

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

Jan. 5 -- At Bexley with Columbus South

Jan. 14-15 -- Catholic Invitational Tournament at Otterbein

Jan. 18 -- CCL duals at DeSales

Jan. 21 -- at Galion Northmor

Jan. 28 -- Hamilton Classic

Feb. 4 -- Bender Duals at Caledonia River Valley

Feb. 9 -- vs. Logan and Watkins Memorial

Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley boys basketball and girls basketball teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 23 -- At Ready

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Dec. 28 -- At Liberty Union in Yule Classic

*League contest