Featuring one state champion and several other state placers each season, the Olentangy Liberty High School wrestling team produced a Central District-best score in the Division I state tournament in 2016 and then topped that performance a year ago.

There's enough depth and experience left over from those two teams that the Patriots should remain a strong contender at both the district and state levels this winter.

Liberty, which scored 95 points to place third in the 2016 state tournament and then scored 122 a year ago to finish behind only Lakewood St. Edward (151) and Elyria (128.5), returns four state placers and two other district qualifiers.

"Last year we had a great group and came really close," 11th-year coach Mark Marinelli said. "This group is like a couple years ago. We've got a core of about four or five really strong kids and a bunch of kids that are getting better in the room. We've got a lot of depth and a bunch of guys that want to be wrestling for the Liberty varsity who are pushing hard and practicing hard. They're having fun and learning a lot."

Paced by 12 district qualifiers, Liberty scored 301 points to win a sectional title last season at Newark, and they followed by scoring 236.5 to take first at district as 10 Patriots advanced to state.

Seniors Luke Blaine (126/132 pounds), Davin Lambert (heavyweight), Trevor Lawson (182) and Jordan Rosselli (120), junior Connor Brady (152) and sophomore Blake Saito (126/132) are the top returnees.

Lawson was state runner-up at 170 in 2016 and third at that weight last season. Brady placed third at 152, Rosselli finished fourth at 120 and Saito took seventh at 106 last year, while Blaine was a district qualifier at 126 and Lambert competed at district at heavyweight.

Senior Ryan Stewart won one sectional match at 132 and will be at 132 or 138 this season.

Marinelli also is high on junior Carson Kharchilav (170) and sophomores Colby O'Neil (182), Ethan Stamp (145/152) and Kaden Tong (195).

Others looking to contribute include senior Colby Quillin (160), juniors Luke Kendzerski (145) and Brady Kuhn (heavyweight) and sophomores Justin Callahan (160) and Nick Rutsky (106).

Liberty opened by finishing second (224) in the 12-team Tony Pizzuro Memorial Tournament on Dec. 2 at DeSales behind Grove City (310) as Saito and O'Neil were first and Stewart and Tong were runners-up.

Then on Dec. 9 in the Walsh Ironman at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, Liberty placed 26th of 60 teams behind champion Blairstown (New Jersey) Blair Academy as Kharchilav (170) and Lawson (182) both were fifth.

Rosselli has committed to Oklahoma, where he'll join his father, head coach Lou Rosselli, as well as Kyle Lawson, a 2017 Liberty graduate.

Kyle Lawson won two Division II state titles at St. Paris Graham and the Division I state title at 160 as a junior for Liberty before placing sixth at 160 and going 42-6 last season.

Also lost to graduation was Brakan Mead, who won the 2017 state title at 113 and now is competing for Ohio State, as well as state placers Mike Ezenekwe (fourth at 220) and Trey Grenier (second at 145) and state qualifiers Cole Fitzpatrick (182) and Zach Furnas (138).

"We've got some solid kids, close to 60, and it's a great group of young men," Marinelli said.

Boys swimmers heavy on young talent

When it was seeking a swimming and diving coach a few months ago, Liberty turned to a familiar face in Peter Krosnosky.

A teacher at the school since it opened in 2003, Krosnosky was the Patriots' coach during their first two seasons after previously being Olentangy's boys coach for three seasons.

"We just talked about some of the ways to improve the swim team, and it went from there to me taking it over in the spring," said Krosnosky, who took over after Michael Waun coached the past three seasons. "I've always been in the building. It's gone really well so far. The boys team has a lot of athletes, but they're almost all juniors and sophomores."

Juniors Jamie Hessing and Chris Tracewell and sophomores John Bently, Eli Grubbs, Isaac Iversen and Nick Sells are key returning swimmers, and sophomores Michael Boothman and Cameron Friedauer are returning divers.

Freshman Jack Matthews also should make his presence felt in diving, Krosnosky said.

Others looking to contribute include juniors Jack Hiltner, Joseph Johnson III, Jack McDonnell, Matthew Patterson, Alexander Wisler and Riley Yant and sophomores Kyle Butterfield, Andrew Gehring, Dylan Ingram, Max Miller, Blake Overly and Tyler Stoltman.

Liberty opened with a 113-70 loss to Upper Arlington on Dec. 2 as Boothman won diving (196 points) and Bently was first in the 100-yard freestyle (49.1 seconds).

The Patriots, who won the OCC-Buckeye Division title last season, lost Michael Racke to graduation after he finished eighth at district in the 200 free (1:46.37) and 10th in the 100 free (48.55).

Girls swimming team returns strong group

The girls swimming team has returned four of last season's five state competitors.

Senior Rachel Peroni was fourth in the 100 butterfly (55.33) and 11th in the 200 individual medley (2:06.74), sophomore Kate Saczawa was sixth in the 100 backstroke (56.25) and 21st in the 50 free (24.47) and senior diver Morgan Menninger was seventh (417.2).

In addition, Peroni and Saczawa were joined by 2017 graduate Ally Braun and junior Lila Leary on the 200 free relay that was ninth (1:37.36) and the 400 free relay that was 12th (3:32.92).

"We're very lucky on the girls side because we're very senior-heavy," Krosnosky said. "Keeping everybody healthy is always a challenge, but we really want to increase that district and state showing."

Seniors Libby Boothman and Maia Kropp are other divers.

Seniors Abby Noonan and Abigail Weis and juniors Hannah Beavers, Michaela Neal and Grace Skoog are other key swimmers. Neal (200 IM), Noonan (50 free, 100 back), Skoog (500 free) and Weis (500 free) were district qualifiers.

Also looking to contribute are seniors Caroline Cruise, Allison Kenny, Lillee LaRosa and Avery Venetta, juniors Hailey Blythe and Rachel Watters, sophomore Lydia Colvin and freshmen Sarah Beavers and Holly Gabriel.

Liberty opened Dec. 2 with a 126-59 loss to UA as Hannah Beavers won the 100 fly (1:03.25).

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 2 -- Upper Arlington at Liberty Township/Powell YMCA

Dec. 8 -- Bloom-Carroll and Village Academy at Liberty Township/Powell YMCA

Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State

Dec. 21 -- Delaware County Classic at Ohio Wesleyan

Jan. 5 -- Pickerington Central at Liberty Township/Powell YMCA

Jan. 6 -- Olentangy Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan

Jan. 13 -- Hilliard/Olentangy Challenge at Hilliard YMCA and Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton

Jan. 20 -- Westerville South at Liberty Township/Powell YMCA

Jan. 26 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Thomas Worthington

Feb. 3 -- Upper Arlington Invitational

WRESTLING

Dec. 2 -- Tony Pizzuro Memorial Tournament at DeSales

Dec. 8 -- Walsh Ironman at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit

Dec. 15-16 -- Liberty Classic

Dec. 29-30 -- Brecksville Holiday Tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights

*Jan. 11 -- at Olentangy Orange

*Jan. 18 -- vs. Westerville South

Jan. 20 -- at Wadsworth

*Jan. 25 -- at Olentangy

Feb. 2 -- vs. Massillon Perry

*Feb. 8 -- at Westerville Central

*Feb. 15 -- vs. Westerville North

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and hockey teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 -- Home vs. Westerville South

Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Marysville

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 15 -- At Westerville South

Dec. 19 -- At Marysvile

GYMNASTICS

Dec. 16 -- At Hilliard Davidson with Grove City and Westerville Central

HOCKEY

Dec. 15 -- Lakewood St. Edward at OBM Arena in Strongsville

Dec. 16 -- Cleveland St. Ignatius and Parma Heights Holy Name at OBM Arena in Strongsville

*League contest