The Centennial High School wrestling team has added depth, and coach Brian Knisley thinks that could lead to a much more productive season.
"This team has the most depth in my four years as the head coach," Knisley said. "We have 13 out of 14 weight classes filled. That kind of depth can beat Whetstone and win a City League title. Those are our two team goals: Bring the Golden Grappler trophy back home by beating Whetstone and win a City championship."
The Stars return nine letterwinners, led by seniors Louis Hough and Tanner Radford and juniors Flaviano DiPaolo and Brandon Hicks.
DiPaolo posted the most wins on the team last season. He went 15-27 at 126 pounds and is bumping up to 138.
"Flaviano has the most experience on the team," Knisley said. "He placed sixth in the City tournament last year and really wants to be a City champion. He has high expectations and he can achieve them if he keeps working hard."
The Stars had two Division II district qualifiers last year in 2017 graduates Charlie Ventura (195) and Tim Leach (heavyweight). Both went 0-2 at district, as Leach finished 8-7 and Ventura finished 14-13.
Leach, like classmate Darius Echols (220), battled injuries throughout last season. Echols did not compete in the postseason after being a two-time district qualifier who finished 29-7 as a junior.
At sectional last year, the Stars were able to fill just seven weight classes.
Hicks is at 113 after going 10-17 last year at 120 and finishing fifth in the City tournament.
"Brandon is our lightest wrestler but is pound-for-pound the strongest on the team," Knisley said. "If he can use more technique and less strength he could easily place much higher this year."
Hough (145) went 11-16 last season but has impressed Knisley, as has Radford.
"(Hough) is one of our leaders," Knisley said. "He is a third-year letterwinner and, as a senior, knows a lot about how I run things. If I'm busy coaching a group he can help work with wrestlers off to the side. When he is drilling or wrestling, I see him talking and coaching his partner the entire time.
"(Radford) is like a bulldog. He is tough as nails and physically relentless. His opponents are in for a battle when they step on the mats."
Other returnees are senior Vincey Vargo (182), junior Lamont Rankin (220) and sophomores Jaden Augustine (138), John Hewlett (132) and Kyle Hicks (145). Kyle Hicks was sixth in the City tournament last year.
Among the newcomers are junior heavywights Daveon Dublin, Oscar Espino and Lance Golden and sophomores Maurice Lemons (152), Xyion Newton (170) and Michael Santiago (195). Completing the roster are freshmen Dylan Gaski (126), Chazz Jarvis (120) and Lewis Neija (195).
"We have five guys that have wrestled in more than 50 matches, including two with 60-plus matches and one with over 70," Knisley said. "That being said, our biggest weakness is we have nine first-year wrestlers. Most first-year wrestlers struggle because there is so much technique to learn and not enough time."
Swimming teams grow in numbers
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams have replenished their rosters with 22 newcomers.
"We have a large team this year, with 42 (boys and girls) on the roster," second-year boys coach Leanne Rubadue said. "We are looking for some of these freshmen to step up and play big roles, especially on the girls team where we only returned part of our small team last year."
Among the returnees for the girls are seniors Kaylee Beyer and Kara DeVol, junior Katie DeLamatre and sophomores Lucy Bednar-Warren, Alexis Cox, Audrey Haring, Mary LaForrest and Yana Napier.
"We are looking for strong performances from Kaylee Beyer, Kara DeVol, Yana Napier and Audrey Haring," Rubadue said. "Kara is our captain. These girls, and all of our returnees, are going to have to lead the way and help the younger girls feel comfortable and ready to compete."
Newcomers include seniors Emily Boyer, Katie Briss and Kaisa Ilmari, juniors Marlene Fischer, Bella Hoffman, Dani O'Leary and Maggie Roush, sophomores Makena Eichstadt and Nina Zimmerman and freshmen Joy Chambers, Charity Davis, Cada Dixon, Summer Kaiser and Amanda Varian.
Last season in the Division I district meet, Beyer finished 31st in diving (119.6 points) and the 200-yard freestyle relay of Beyer, Napier, senior Lauren Reesman and DeVol finished 29th (1 minute, 55.57 seconds). Reesman is not on the roster this season.
Beyer won the 50 free (28.29) and took first in diving (173.75) in the City meet as the Stars (140) finished second behind Whetstone (179) without having a senior on the roster.
"I'm interested to see how we progress during the season," Rubadue said.
The boys are expected to be led by senior Danny Edgington, who finished 24th in diving (109.25) in the Division II state meet last season as the Stars' lone state qualifier.
Edgington placed second (344.1) at district, where he also was 28th in the 50 free (24.78) and competed on the 14th-place 200 free relay (1:40.36) and 18th-place 200 medley relay (1:59.86).
Junior Shawn Jacobsen was on the 200 free relay and the 17th-place 400 free relay (3:52.92), and junior Nathan Massey was on the 200 medley relay. Jacobsen also was 19th in the 100 free (52.69) and 20th in the 50 free (23.66).
"We expect big things from Danny, Shawn, Nathan and (sophomore returnee) Kyle Juracich," Rubadue said. "Danny looks to return to state for diving and all four of these guys are looking to finish high at district. We're also excited about senior Dhruvin Patel, who is stepping up to swim some new events."
Also returning for first-year boys coach Michael Barnes are juniors Eric Kaiser and Evan Roush and sophomores Andrew Smith and Evan Massey.
Completing the roster are seniors Wed Al-Ghuri and Jordan Walker and freshmen Jacob Barnes, Justin Bridges, Alex Davenport, Dylan Ford, Jeff Kimball, Aiden Ly, Jabe Miller and Dominic Richards.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 9 -- Wellington at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 18 -- Beechcroft and Northland at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 29 -- Wellington Holiday Meet at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 13 -- Stars Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 27 -- Whetstone at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 29 -- Eastmoor Academy and Village Academy at Columbus Aquatics Center
Feb. 4 -- City League meet at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 9 -- Big Walnut Classic
Dec. 20 -- at Big Walnut
Jan. 17 -- at Northland
Jan. 20 -- Ron Thomas Invitational at Jonathan Alder
Jan. 25 -- City Quad at South
Jan. 31 -- at Liberty Union
Feb. 1 -- City Quad at home
Feb. 7 -- at Whetstone
Feb. 9 -- at Columbus Academy
Feb. 17 -- City League tournament at Mifflin
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial boys basketball, girls basketball and bowling teams:
*Dec. 15 -- At Mifflin
Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Sparta Highland
*Dec. 19 -- At East
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Mifflin
*Dec. 19 -- Home vs. East
*Dec. 14 -- Groveport at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Dec. 18 -- Hilliard Darby at Game of Western Columbus