Despite having some holes in his lineup, fourth-year Thomas Worthington High School wrestling coach Brad Todd is excited about his team's potential this season.
That excitement starts with three returning Division I district qualifiers in seniors Chase Haimerl, Josh Keese and Charlie Kneessi.
"They're ready for a big senior season," Todd said. "They will be pushing for a trip to the state meet. They are very competitive and will lead this team throughout tournaments all year long, scoring points."
In the district tournament last season at Hilliard Darby, Haimerl placed sixth at 132 pounds to fall two spots shy of advancing to state. Haimerl, who finished 30-13 a year ago, will compete at 145 this season.
Keese went 1-2 at 160 at district to finish 26-18 last season and has moved up to 170, while Kneessi qualified for district at 170 but was unable to compete because of an injury. Kneessi, who finished 34-12 last season, has moved up to 182.
In the 11-team sectional at Marys-ville last season, Keese finished first and Haimerl and Kneessi both placed fourth, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district.
Other returning letterwinners are juniors Ethan Glasgow (160), Hayden Glasgow (152) and Trent Wilson (145) and sophomore Marshall Kiser (113/120).
Also on the team are sophomores Greg Laws (heavyweight) and John Reed (160) and freshmen Majed Ahmad (152/160), Mason Gates (220), Joe Rhodes (152), A-Jae Sullivan (120/126) and Tyler Thomas (120/126).
"We're excited to get John Reed and Greg Laws back in the program," Todd said. "Both have wrestling experience but took their freshman year off.
"We have some young guys that will be in the lineup, but many of them have previous wrestling experience. We just need to find a way to fill more holes in our dual lineup than we did last year. We have a lot of talent, but there are many guys in the same weight class. That might leave holes open, but the competition in the room will make those in the lineup that much better."
Girls swimming team has strong core
The girls swimming and diving team has returned most of its top athletes from last season when the Cardinals scored 70 points in the Division I district meet at Ohio State to place 12th behind champion Upper Arlington (433.5) as 25 teams scored.
Seniors Emily Huber and Becca Taylor are expected to lead the way with strong support from juniors Maddie Holub and Rachael Rinaldi and sophomore Audrey Taylor.
"That's the core group and I'm expecting big things from each of them this season," 35th-year coach Jim Callahan said. "Overall, we have a good first line in every event, but we will need to develop some depth."
At district last season, Holub placed eighth in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 9.64 seconds) and 10th in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.06), the 200 medley relay of Huber, Rinaldi, Becca Taylor and Holub tied for seventh (1:49.57) and Rinaldi, Taylor and Holub were on the 400 freestyle relay that placed ninth (3:38.52).
Others on the team include seniors Mollie Gladden and Katherine Miller, junior Julia Nelson, sophomore YuYan Zhong and freshmen Katie Bozoti, Nataliya Kallergis, Maia Lin, Izzy Thomas and Nevin Woods.
Competing in diving are junior Peyton Hull and freshman Amelia Rosado.
"The goals for the girls are to position our relays to be real strong and to get some of the top individuals to state," Callahan said.
The boys team lost its lone Division I state qualifier to graduation in Gabe Finch, but Callahan is pleased with his top returnees.
"We have some talented and hard-working boys back and we should be very strong in freestyle events, but we will need to develop stroke events," he said.
Expected to lead the Cardinals are seniors Adam Finsel and Jack King and sophomores Andrei Proca, Sam Steele and Derek Taylor.
Finch finished 21st in the 100 backstroke (53.0) and 22nd in the 200 IM (1:57.57) in the state meet last season at Branin Natatorium in Canton after placing sixth in the 100 back (52.35) and fifth in the 200 IM (1:56.38) at district.
Also at district, Proca finished 19th in the 500 free (5:05.56) as the Cardinals (51) placed 15th behind champion St. Charles (302).
Sophomore Jacob Carver is another returnee.
Completing the roster are juniors Rudra Gandhi and Vignesh Lalgudi and freshmen Jay Fralic, Benjamin Greeson, Eddie Helm, Wes McCallister, Eli Short, Grant Simeone and David Young.
"The goal is to get better daily to get to the point where we get our relays and top individuals to place in the top eight at district," Callahan said.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- Worthington/Westerville Invitational at home
Dec. 2 -- Dublin Scioto and Kilbourne at Dublin Recreation Center
Dec. 5 -- at New Albany
Dec. 8-9 -- Viking Invitational at Cleveland State University
Dec. 15 -- Worthington Sprint Invitational at home
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Jan. 3 -- vs. Mount Vernon
Jan. 10 -- Worthington Invitational at home
Jan. 12-13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 17 -- Marysville at Union County YMCA
Jan. 27 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at home
Feb. 2 -- vs. Kilbourne and Watterson
Dec. 2 -- Olentangy Invitational
Dec. 6 -- at Westerville North with St. Charles
Dec. 9 -- Jeremy Ammons Kilted Klassic at Sparta Highland
*Dec. 14 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Dec. 29-30 -- Marion Harding Classic
Jan. 12-13 -- Top Gun Invitational in Alliance
Jan. 12-13 -- Licking Heights Invitational
*Jan. 18 -- at Delaware
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Jan. 26-27 -- Frank Ferguson Classic at Wellsburg (W.Va.) Brooke
*Feb. 8 -- at Dublin Scioto
Feb. 10 -- vs. Granville and Utica
Feb. 13 -- vs. Columbus Academy, New Albany and Whetstone
*Feb. 15 -- vs. Kilbourne
Feb. 17 -- Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and gymnastics teams:
*Dec. 15 -- At Dublin Jerome
*Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Delaware
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
*Dec. 19 -- At Delaware
Dec. 16 -- Hilliard Invitational at Hilliard Davidson
*Dec. 16 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller North