The Groveport Madison High School wrestling team has its sights set on repeating as OCC-Capital Division champion.
The Cruisers may not have as much experience as they had last season, but second-year coach Brian Brison likes his team's depth and athleticism.
"We have depth in the higher weight classes and a lot of athleticism and these guys really want to repeat as OCC-Capital champs," Brison said. "We have some strong, physically impressive wrestlers and the potential to be solid throughout the lineup. Our numbers are up, too."
The Cruisers went 5-0 in the OCC-Capital last season to win their first league title in 25 years, finishing ahead of New Albany (4-1), Big Walnut (3-2), Franklin Heights (2-3), Canal Winchester (1-4) and Newark (0-5).
Groveport has returned only one of its four Division I district qualifiers from a year ago in senior Clayton Saunders, who went 21-14 at 113 pounds last season and will compete at 113 or 120 this season.
"Clayton is a tough kid with high character and a good leader," Brison said. "He worked real hard in the offseason and has high goals. I'm expecting a lot from him."
The other three district qualifiers were 2017 graduates Kalin Duty (195), Kyle Duty (182) and Layton Mitchell (heavyweight). Kalin Duty placed fifth at district, falling one spot shy of advancing to state, and finished 42-9.
In addition to Saunders, the Cruisers have returned seven other letterwinners in juniors Marshaun Armstrong (145), Jacob Cline (152), Trent Eaton (220), John Green (heavyweight), Ashton Reese (132) and Ethan Schleret (195) and sophomore Muhamad Conteh (106).
Last year, Schleret was 9-7 before an injury ended his season.
"Ethan also worked hard in the offseason," Brison said. "He's just strong, tough and physical."
Others looking to contribute are seniors Andrew Bachman (170), Chris Dennis (heavyweight), Te'Rah Edwards (heavyweight), Chris Ellis (220), Stefan Small (220) and Jovi Soumphonphakdy (138), juniors Antonio Mogavero (195), Jayden Ramella (182) and Leland Slaven (195), sophomores Nick Brookman (170), Tykel Hancock-Anderson (heavyweight), Allan Joyce (220), Skyler Mouser (182), Hunter Ramey (120), Isaac Sampson (182) and Samuel Thornton (170) and freshmen Gabriel Aly (132), Jacob Dages (220), Aden Gartin (106), Jashaun McGraw (220), Cole Neeley (182), Jake Nelson (160), Jason Pinkston (106), Kaleb Thaxton (132) and Johnathan Thompson (132).
"We have a lot of guys who did not wrestle last year or have never wrestled," Brison said. "Some of them wrestled two or three years ago, so we have to figure out where they all fill in.
"With kids just learning the sport and several who know the sport but are rusty, we just need to work through some things. The good news is that there will be plenty of competition for spots."
The Cruisers finished third (128.5 points) in the 14-team Granville Invitational on Dec. 2, behind champion Cincinnati Princeton (179.5). Nelson finished first at 160 and Saunders was runner-up at 120.
"Nelson placed seventh in the junior high state meet last year and shows a lot of potential," Brison said. "He has great balance and explosiveness with good reaction time."
Groveport also finished third (198) in the 10-team Logan Invitational on Dec. 9, behind Fairfield Union (263) and Logan (251).
Bachman (170) and Saunders (113) won titles, Brookman (182), Conteh (113), Joyce (220) and Nelson (160) placed third and Armstrong (145), Cline (152), Hancock-Anderson (heavyweight) and Reese (132) finished fourth.
Swimmers begin second season
The boys and girls swimming program remains in its infancy.
The Cruisers began their second season Dec. 2 in the Athens Invitational at Ohio University.
"This is the second year for an official team, so we are still quite young," second-year coach Kate Kling said. "There are a few returners from last year and some new athletes as well.
"All of our swimmers come to practice ready for whatever new skill or challenge that faces them. They put forth 100 percent effort and are willing to learn and grow as swimmers."
The Cruisers will compete in some varsity meets as well as other events as they continue to build. They did not compete in the varsity division of the Athens Invitational. Their next meet is Dec. 22 against Teays Valley at the Pickaway County YMCA.
The boys team is comprised of senior Miles Mason, junior Ba Abdoulaye, sophomores Spencer Keane and Jordan Murphy and freshmen Carl Giddens, Jaydan Henderson and Justin Malinowski.
Keane and Mason are returning Division I district qualifiers. Last season at district, Keane finished 15th in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 2.61 seconds) and 30th in the 50 freestyle (23.54) and anchored the 28th-place 200 free relay (1:43.93) behind 2017 graduates Chris Royster and Chris Wagner and Mason.
The girls team consists of seniors Aleah Brown, Hannah Campbell, Alexa Carnuche, Allie Chandler, Morgan Kenadee, Mia Lesko, Haley Ottman and Adjah Yade, juniors Sydney Crabtree and Sarah Wagner, sophomores Nina Brookman, Lori Hill, Katelyn Kirk, Madison Newsom and Kristin Rucker and freshmen Ambrya Simmons and Jazlyn Winski.
The girls team did not have any district qualifiers last season. The Cruisers' top performer in the Upper Arlington sectional was Newsom, who placed ninth in the 500 free (5:48.67) and 16th in the 100 butterfly (1:06.76).
In the OCC-Capital meet last season, the boys team finished fourth (119 points) behind New Albany (427), Big Walnut (285) and Canal Winchester (156) and ahead of Newark (37), and the girls team was fourth (108) behind New Albany (519), Canal Winchester (289) and Big Walnut (130) and ahead of Newark (97).
"We are working to continue improving our endurance and stroke technique," Kling said. "Our goals are to get at least one relay for both boys and girls to district as well as some individual qualifiers. (The boys and girls) are open to learning as much as possible. Every swimmer wants to improve and works toward gaining as much as they can at every practice."
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 2 -- Athens Invitational at Ohio University
Dec. 22 -- Teays Valley at Pickaway County YMCA
Dec. 29 -- Grove City Sprint Meet at Grove City YMCA
Jan. 6 -- Reynoldsburg at St. Charles
Jan. 13 -- Teays Valley Invitational at Pickaway County YMCA
Jan. 20 -- Central Crossing at Urbancrest YMCA
Jan. 27 -- OCC-Capital meet at New Albany
Feb. 3 -- Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan and Delaware at Ohio Wesleyan
Dec. 2 -- Granville Invitational
Dec. 9 -- Logan Invitational
Dec. 13 -- at Hamilton Township
Dec. 16 -- Bexley Duals
Jan. 6 -- Licking Valley Invitational
*Jan. 11 -- at Canal Winchester
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Jan. 20 -- Robin Drumm Invitational at Heath
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Big Walnut
Feb. 3 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
*Feb. 8 -- at New Albany
*Feb. 15 -- vs. Newark
Feb. 17 -- Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys basketball, girls basketball and bowling teams:
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
Dec. 16 -- At Olentangy
Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*Dec. 15 -- At Canal Winchester
Dec. 19 -- At Pickerington Central
*Dec. 14 -- Centennial at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Dec. 18 -- Hilliard Davidson at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Dec. 19 -- Pickerington Central at Rule 3