The Westland High School wrestling team has more depth than it did a year ago.
The Westland High School wrestling team has more depth than it did a year ago.
But having 25 wrestlers who are new to the program, third-year coach Chas McCutcheon predicts there will be some early season growing pains.
The Cougars opened Dec. 10 by playing host to the Joe Stora Duals.
"We're young, but so far, so good," McCutcheon said. "We have a couple kids who are decent. We have a huge turnout of new kids, so we're sitting around 37 kids and we're looking at 25 new to our program."
The Cougars have returned several wrestlers with varsity experience, including their only returning Division I district qualifier in senior Jacob Lewis, who went 0-2 at 182 pounds at district last season after advancing as an alternate.
Lewis, who finished 16-13 last season, is expected to begin the season at 195 but eventually drop to 182.
Also among the key returnees is junior Steve McPeek (132), who is looking for his first district berth.
"It's going to be a great season," McPeek said. "We may have lost some good seniors, but I still think that we're going to do fairly well this year. We also want to do well in the classroom and be a better person, doing more than just wrestling. Other than that, we want to win."
Other key returnees are senior Orian Kountz (120), junior Soriba Kaba (220/heavyweight) and sophomores Bryan Cruz (113) and Andrew Sherman (170).
"Orian is getting a lot more consistent and stronger," McCutcheon said.
Freshman Edgar Cruz, Bryan's brother, will compete at 106.
Also looking to be key contributors are seniors DeMarco Hamby (138) and Willie Juarez (126) and junior Angel Gasca (120).
Westland lost five key wrestlers from last season, including 2016 graduate Josh Brown, who went 1-2 at district at 170 to finish 31-7.
Manny Lagunas, a 2016 graduate who suffered a late-season left knee injury, went 3-2 at sectional and placed fifth at 220. Lagunas, who was a district alternate, finished 26-9. He competed at district as a sophomore, going 0-2 at 220.
Another 2016 graduate, Sean Ponce, went 16-15 at 152 last season.
Also gone are senior Isaiah Epling, who went 18-12 at 160 last season but decided not to wrestle this season, and senior Trey Mayes, who went 10-11 at 195 last season but no longer attends Westland.
Last season, the Cougars went 1-6 in the OCC-Central Division to finish seventh, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (7-0). Their only league win came against Thomas Worthington, 39-36.
Liberty is now competing in the OCC-Buckeye and Thomas has moved to the OCC-Cardinal.
Westland begins league action Jan. 5 at Marysville.
"I would like us to be competitive in our conference this year," McCutcheon said. "I know Davidson, Marysville and (Dublin) Coffman are pretty strong this year, but we would definitely like to be as competitive as we can be. I'd like to win quite a few matches outside of our conference and see where that puts us when it comes time for postseason."Small gymnastics team has potential
Even though the gymnastics team has only four athletes on its roster, co-coach Brittany Maynard said the Cougars have potential.
Back are sophomores Van-essa Evans and Ines De la Fuente, each of whom competed at district last season.
Evans finished 67th of 96 gymnasts in the all-around with 28.325 points in the district meet last season and De la Fuente was 79th (26.925).
Also on the team are freshman Kennedy Budd, who has competed at the club level, and sophomore Kylee Tighe, who is new to the sport but has experience in cheerleading and tumbling.
"These are a strong four girls," Maynard said. "Knowing that all four of their scores are going to count on every event for the team score this year, it does make me a little more confident in their abilities. We have two returners from last year in Vanessa and Ines, so we have that experience and a little bit of the veteran leadership coming back."
Westland opened Dec. 7 by finishing sixth (112.8) in a seven-team meet, behind host Hilliard Bradley (129.5), Hilliard Davidson (126), Grove City (124.2), Hilliard Darby (122.65) and Central Crossing (113.85) and ahead of Franklin Heights (86.4).
Budd won the balance beam (8.5) and placed fourth in the all-around (32.7).
"Coming into the new year, I want them to be better than they were last year as a team," Maynard said. "I think we're starting off ahead of where we ended last year, so I just want to continue to see improvement in their individual skills and to continue to push themselves to get higher team scores."
Maynard and her mother, Lavon, also coach Central Crossing and Franklin Heights. Lavon is in her 17th season at Westland and Brittany is in her eighth.
Last season, the Cougars went 1-4 in their OCC-Central duals and finished fourth (103.05) in the league meet, behind champion Liberty (120.3).
Westland finished with 10 points in the overall league standings to tie Delaware (10, 2-3) for fourth, behind champion Liberty (24, 5-0).
The OCC-Central now consists of Westland, Central Crossing, Coffman, Davidson, Frank-lin Heights, Grove City, Marys-ville and Upper Arlington.Girls swimming team begins second season
For the second consecutive season, the girls swimming and diving team is competing and training in conjunction with the Central Crossing program.
Both Westland and Central Crossing are coached by Robert Boggs.
The Cougars' roster is comprised of two sophomores and three freshmen.
"Though the numbers are low right now, we hope to gain interest at the school once everyone becomes aware that Westland offers swimming," Boggs said. "The girls have been working extremely hard so far."
Back are sophomores Porter Madden and Makaili Long. Madden swims the 50-yard freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, while Long competes in the 50 and 100 free.
Freshmen Fatima Aquino, Rachael Binion and Kaylee Morgan are new to the team.
"Rachael and Kaylee have been swimming for a while and help bring a competitive edge to the team," Boggs said.
Binion swims the 50 and 100 free and 200 individual medley, Morgan competes in the 50 and 100 free and 100 breaststroke and Aquino swims the 100 and 500 free.
"The girls' goal this year is to gain as much experience as possible throughout the season and hopefully advance a relay to the district meet," Boggs said. "They also are going to work hard to recruit more people to the team next year."
GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 2 -- Central Crossing and Dublin Scioto at Dublin Recreation Center
Dec. 6 -- Central Crossing and
Teays Valley at Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA
Dec. 10 -- Delaware Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan
Dec. 16 -- Central Crossing and Dublin Jerome at Dublin Recreation Center
Dec. 20 -- Central Crossing and Grove City at Grove City YMCA
Dec. 29 -- Mount Vernon Invitational at Kenyon College
Jan. 3 -- Central Crossing and Hilliard Darby at Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA
Jan. 7 -- Central Crossing and Wellington at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 14 -- Central Crossing and Westerville Central at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 17 -- Central Crossing, Licking Heights and Wellington at Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA
Jan. 21 -- Central Crossing, Canal Winchester and Groveport at Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA
Dec. 10 -- Joe Stora Duals at home
Dec. 21 -- at Grove City with Franklin Heights
Dec. 29-30 -- West Jefferson Duals
*Jan. 5 -- at Marysville
Jan. 7 -- Grandview Invitational
Jan. 13 -- Licking Heights Invitational
*Jan. 19 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Jan. 26 -- at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 28 -- Hamilton Township Classic
*Feb. 9 -- at Central Crossing
*Feb. 16 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Feb. 18 -- Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland boys basketball and girls basketball teams:
*Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Dec. 12 -- Home vs. Briggs
*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Dec. 16 -- At Dublin Coffman