It hasn't taken long for new Gahanna Lincoln High School wrestling coach Steve Sommer to see the potential that he believed was in the program even before he took over last spring.
There are about 50 athletes participating, including nearly all of the top competitors from a year ago when Matt Hammons served in his only season as coach.
Included in that group is junior Cristian Salazar, who went 3-1 to place third at 113 pounds in a Division I sectional and 2-2 at district as Gahanna's only competitor to finish 31-16 overall.
Gahanna opened Dec. 2 by scoring 391 points to win the 13-team Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon.
"It's a great school and a great opportunity," said Sommer, who had been Dresden Tri-Valley's coach the past three seasons. "It's the largest school in central Ohio, so it's just a matter of getting kids out."
Senior Jeff Gates is back at 120 after winning 29 matches last season. He wasn't able to compete in the postseason because of a torn labrum.
Other key seniors include Kyle Christie (152), Adam Grimard (182/195), Jonathan Harrington (220), Anthony Lawson (145) and Max Wright (152). Harrington and Lawson both were runners-up in the Bad Apple Brawl.
Also in the Bad Apple Brawl, sophomore Anthony Swanson was runner-up at 113 and junior Juan Porras was third at 126.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Major Brown (160/170), Luke Garbark (160/170), Dylan Kenkiewicz (145/152), Jamal Lloyd (126/132) and David Williams (170/182), sophomore Mason Shumaker (126) and freshman Chuck Williams (106).
Christie (23-17), Kenkiewicz (12-10), Lawson (19-17), Swanson (20-15) and David Williams (16-15) all posted winning records last season, when Gahanna tied Pickerington Central for second (3-2) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Lancaster (5-0).
Kyle Bentley, who was Gahanna's coach for 10 years before stepping down at the end of the 2015-16 season, is serving as an assistant.
On Dec. 9 in the 16-team Big Walnut Classic, the Lions placed fifth (124.5) behind champion Dublin Coffman (205.5).
Gahanna lost to Marysville 50-18 on Dec. 6.
"This sport challenges these kids emotionally and they're all doing an outstanding job," said Sommer, a Dayton Carroll graduate who went on to wrestle for Iowa Central Community College and Ohio State.
"Now we have five to six (coaches) in the room who all have experience. Everybody brings something different to the table."
Swim program looks to build around Vieta
There are just four senior boys and three senior girls in the swimming and diving program, but the Lions return the defending Division I girls state diving champion in junior Maycey Vieta.
One of 19 competitors for the girls team, Vieta scored 455.45 points to win the state title as central Ohio earned five of the eight spots on the awards podium.
"She's been all around the world competing (since the end of last season) and she's the defending state champion," fourth-year coach Jeff Riegler said. "We've got a pretty good blend of different ages, but again we're pretty young. Our depth will be an issue. We've got some pretty good swimmers at the top and some brand new swimmers."
The girls placed 14th (60) of 53 teams at state behind champion Upper Arlington (246). Three of their state competitors, Ally Wharton, Abigail Gilger and Dominique Vaccani, graduated.
Seniors Hannah Snedden and Payton Vogelgesang and junior Lydia Gilger also return with state experience.
Wharton, who now is competing for the University of Akron, finished third in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 4.18 seconds) and seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.54). She also swam on the 12th-place 200 medley relay (1:47.46) with Snedden, Vogelgesang and Lydia Gilger and on the 16th-place 200 freestyle relay (1:39.48) with Vogelgesang, Abigail Gilger and Vaccani. Vaccani now competes for LIU Post.
Junior swimmer Madison Gibson and junior diver Lina Alli also are key returnees.
Stefani Wasmer rounds out the senior class. Also looking to contribute are juniors Kamryn Carroll and Carrington Rice, sophomore Amanda Snedden and freshmen Kendra Dillon, Destiny Ishmael, Sami Jolley, Mackenzie Massmann, Ashleigh Provan, Addy Redman, Rylee Slisher, Eden Weber and Olivia Zeltman.
On Dec. 1, the girls opened by beating Grove City 104-59 and the boys beat the Greyhounds 94-71.
The boys team's only state competitor a year ago was Major Belli, a 2017 graduate who was seventh in the 50 free (21.27).
Seniors Preston Brown and Paul Padgett, juniors Logan Marks, Jacob Sherman and Austin Wharton and sophomores Johnny Belli and Derek Yu are the top returnees.
The other seniors are Seamus Ginnane and Jared Mair, and the other juniors are Adrian Bailey, Ignacio Torres and diver Casey Jordan.
Also on the team are sophomores Darin Fields and Josh Handel and freshmen Alex Couch, Caleb Gilger, Isaac Mair, Brandon Patrick, McCord Riegler and Nathan Vogelgesang.
"The boys team, I guess you could say we're fairly young," Riegler said. "We lost Major Belli, but we've got some real good freshmen. Replacing Major will be a joint effort."
Girls bowlers return core from state team
Nearly all of the key competitors are back for the girls bowling team, which went 18-0 overall last season, won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North at 14-0 and went on to finish sixth in the Division I state tournament.
The Lions' lineup features seniors Delaney Ferguson, Shannon Gonzales and Briann McKnight and junior Taylor Burns as returnees along with freshman Lilu Smith.
"The girls team is still looking really strong," sixth-year coach Kelly Ferguson said. "Four of my girls are still with me and we've picked up a new freshman who is really good."
On Dec. 2 in the 14th annual Kickoff Tournament at Columbus Square Bowling Palace, the Lions rolled a 2,980 to finish first in the qualifying round and then earned a runner-up finish in the 16-team championship round.
McKnight led in average at the event with a 191.3, followed by Ferguson (176.3), Gonzales (172.7), Burns (170.3) and Smith (164.7).
Gahanna then beat Delaware 2,039-1,955 on Dec. 4 at Colony Lanes as McKnight averaged 187.0 and Smith averaged 183.5.
McKnight finished 18th (565) at state last season, missing honorable mention all-state honors by three spots. McKnight, who has committed to Wright State, finished 10th in average (186.1) and Gonzales was 14th (181.3) in the COHSBC.
Gahanna also went 5-0 to win the OCC-Central.
The only girl lost to graduation was Breanna White.
The boys opened with a 2,297-2,084 loss to Delaware. Freshman Hunter Blankenship led the Lions with a 197.5 average for the match, and junior Dalton Cararo averaged 165.0 as the only other player to play in both games.
Sophomore Nathan Minzler rolled a 187 in the second game.
Seniors Sal Ferrante, Alex Minzler, Julian Nitsch and David Wurdack and freshmen DeAndre Quiero and Hunter McKnight also are looking to contribute.
The boys went 12-7 overall last season and placed seventh (9-6) in the COHSBC-North behind co-champions Westerville Central and Westerville South (both 14-1). They were fourth (3-3) in the OCC-Central behind co-champions Marysville and Pickerington North (both 5-1).
"It really looks like the boys will have a strong team," coach Ferguson said.
Dec. 2 -- Kickoff Tournament at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Dec. 4 -- Delaware at Colony Lanes
Dec. 9 -- Holiday Baker Marathon at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 12 -- Big Walnut at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 13 -- Westerville North at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 19 -- Marysville at Marysville Lanes
*Dec. 21 -- Olentangy at Delaware Lanes
*Jan. 4 -- Hilliard Davidson at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 5 -- Olentangy Orange at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 10 -- New Albany at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 12 -- Pickerington Central at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 18 -- Olentangy Liberty at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 19 -- Westerville Central at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Jan. 24 -- Pickerington North at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 26 -- London at Madison Lanes
*Jan. 29 -- Beechcroft at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 30 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
*Feb. 1 -- Westerville South at Gahanna Lanes
*Feb. 2 -- Reynoldsburg at Holiday Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- Grove City at Gahanna YMCA
Dec. 2 -- Westerville South at Westerville Community Center
Dec. 8 -- Canal Winchester at Gahanna YMCA
Dec. 9 -- Columbus Academy Relays
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Memorial at Ohio State
Dec. 22 -- Lancaster at Lancaster YMCA
Jan. 5 -- Teays Valley at Gahanna YMCA
Jan. 6 -- Westerville North at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 19 -- Big Walnut at Gahanna YMCA
Jan. 20 -- Presidential Pentathlon Plus at Ohio Wesleyan
Jan. 25 -- OCC-Ohio diving meet at New Albany
Jan. 27 -- OCC-Ohio swimming meet at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 2 -- Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon
Dec. 6 -- at Marysville
Dec. 9 -- Big Walnut Classic
Dec. 15-16 -- Olentangy Liberty Classic
Dec. 27-28 -- Medina Invitational
*Jan. 11 -- at Pickerington North with Pickerington Central
Jan. 13 -- Porter Memorial at Hilliard Bradley
Jan. 18 -- at Central Crossing with Logan and Upper Arlington
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Feb. 3 -- Bender Duals at Caledonia River Valley
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Grove City and Lancaster at Reynoldsburg
Feb. 10 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball and hockey teams:
*Dec. 15 -- At Pickerington North
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Dec. 16 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller Ice Works
Dec. 17 -- Cincinnati Sycamore at Chiller Ice Works