Being adaptable is serving senior Cameron Simpson well this winter.
With three regulars out with illness Jan. 11 on the opening night of OCC-Ohio Division action, the Reynoldsburg High School wrestling team's lineup had several changes.
Among those was the addition of sophomore Peighton Irish-Arnett (113 pounds), who according to coach Jon Forgy became the first girl to start in a varsity match for the program.
Simpson, who typically competes as an undersized 160-pounder, moved to 170 and picked up a victory as the Raiders beat Pickerington North 45-34.
Simpson did not compete last year in Forgy's first season as head coach after previously being an assistant, but he gradually has picked up on the concepts Forgy has tried to teach.
"It was a struggle at the beginning trying to get back in the groove of it, but after a little bit of the practices, I started getting back into the mindset," Simpson said. "I've just been trying to work on my conditioning more, trying to stay in matches longer."
Reynoldsburg, which also lost to Pickerington Central 57-17 on Jan. 11 to fall to 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio, returns to league action Jan. 25 at Gahanna.
Simpson is one of just two seniors in the program along with Thomas Baire, who competes at heavyweight.
Simpson placed in each of the first four tournaments in which he competed.
After finishing fourth in the Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational on Dec. 2 at Upper Arlington, Simpson was runner-up in the Xenia Invitational on Dec. 16.
He was seventh in the Chagrin Falls Kenston Invitational on Dec. 29 and 30 and then finished second in the Logan Elm Invitational on Jan. 6 as the Raiders placed eighth (110.5) of 15 teams behind the champion and host Braves (198.5).
He competed at 160 in all four events.
Also placing at Logan Elm were Gage Chapman (second at 138), Kyle Copas (third at 145), Noah Ratliff (third at 152) and Dalton Hall (sixth at heavyweight).
Forgy liked what he saw from his team against North and particularly has been pleased with Simpson.
"(Simpson is) very athletic, so you can't teach that," Forgy said. "He's really picked up on the technique we're trying to add to what he already knows. With his athletic ability and the skills we're teaching him, he's picked it up quick. He's improving every week, so that's all I can ask for."
Simpson, who lived in Akron before moving to Reynoldsburg in third grade, is happy with his decision to return to wrestling.
"I started (wrestling) in eighth grade because I had some friends on the team and my parents had been wanting me to wrestle for a long time," Simpson said. "I've placed in every tournament and in three of them I've placed in the top four. I just like being on the mat and just being out there. I didn't wrestle last year so I just take it one week at a time and try to get better every week."
Bowling teams seek consistency
Things have been slowly coming together for the boys and girls bowling teams.
The boys rolled a season-best score during a 2,028-2,002 victory over Hilliard Darby on Jan. 10 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl and were 3-3 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division before facing Marysville on Jan. 16.
Against Darby, senior Michael Neff-Young averaged 184.0, followed by sophomore Logan Gapen (182.5), freshman Cris Weatherly (160.5), senior Elijah Ratliff (157.0) and sophomore Tyler Robinson (156.0).
Gapen was leading Reynoldsburg in league average at 170.3 through six matches, followed by Neff-Young (161.9), Robinson (155.8), senior Michael Brooks (155.6), Weatherly (141.0), Ratliff (139.7) and senior Davide Milan (138.5).
"Overall, the main area of improvement is going to be consistency to pick up spares as well as keeping the ball on the lane when throwing the first ball of the frame they're in," coach Jamie Gapen said. "This has cost us a lot of points and has resulted in a lot of low scores, but once these issues are improved upon then there will be a considerable improvement in scores individually and for each team as a whole."
The girls were 1-4 overall and in the COHSBC-B before facing Marysville.
After beating Columbus Academy 1,490-1,265 on Jan. 9 at HP Lanes, the Raiders lost to Darby 1,926-1,315.
Senior Tyra Hammond was leading in average at 134.0 through five matches, and senior Missy Ross was averaging 122.9. Junior Halle Pennycuff, sophomores Kay Hetterscheidt and Kimmie Shook and freshman Katie Morgan also have contributed.
"(Pennycuff) was in a car accident after the team's first tournament on Dec. 9, and even though she had bumps and bruises and a swollen eye, she still managed to bowl in a match on Dec. 11 in which she shot one of her highest games to date at a 176," coach Gapen said. "The entire girls team is beginning to stand out on the lanes as well."
Girls basketball team staying in title race
Heading into its game Friday, Jan. 19, at Gahanna, the girls basketball team is second in the OCC-Ohio at 5-1, behind Pickerington Central (6-0).
The Raiders lost to the Tigers 56-50 on Dec. 22 but had won five of seven and were 12-4 overall after losing 53-42 to defending Division I state champion Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame on Jan. 14 in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland.
Mount Notre Dame improved to 14-2 and was third in last week's state poll behind Newark and West Chester Lakota West, while Central was fifth.
Two sophomore guards, Bre Johnson and Kyria Walker, have stepped up for Reynoldsburg to help compensate for the loss of three key players from a year ago. Hannah Gaskins and Brooklyn Pannell were lost to graduation and senior Adrian Crockwell transferred to Central.
While junior forward Uju Ezeudu was averaging a team-high 15 points through 15 games, Walker was averaging 14.7 points.
In a 72-59 victory over Port Orange (Florida) Spruce Creek in the consolation game of the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational on Dec. 30, Walker made a program-record eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points.
"(Walker is) going to be really good," coach Jack Purtell said. "She's a great kid with a great family and has got the whole package. We don't ask (Johnson) to score much, but she's one of the best defenders I've had since I got here. I put her on the other team's best player and she loves it."