With an increase in weight, strength and confidence, senior Jacob Cover of the Hilliard Darby High School wrestling team has lofty goals this season.
A Division I state qualifier at 220 pounds last year, Cover has moved to heavyweight and is 21-4 entering the Panthers' OCC-Cardinal Division match against visiting Dublin Scioto on Thursday, Jan. 18.
"My main goal is to win the whole thing, be a state champion," said Cover, who finished 37-12 last season. "I got experience last year and I believe in myself. I've put in a lot of work and I've wrestled some of the top guys in the state at the (Walsh) Ironman and at (the Medina Invitational Tournament). I wrestled OK against a Greco-Roman world champion in the Ironman."
Cohlton Schultz of Parker (Colorado) Ponderosa won the Greco-Roman title at the Cadet World Championships in September in Athens, Greece. He beat Cover 10-3 and went on to win the title in the Walsh Ironman, which was held Dec. 8 and 9 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. Cover placed seventh in the event, and then placed second in the Medina Invitational Tournament held Dec. 27 and 28.
"His losses have been against great competition," coach Brendan Moody said. "He's a consummate winner who is coming off a great football season and he carried that momentum right onto the mats. He's keeping his weight up to compete at heavyweight, where he can use his quickness, footwork and endurance better against some of those big guys.
"He's also a phenomenal kid who has over a 4.0 GPA. He's helping the younger guys and working hard to improve himself."
The Panthers are 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to visiting Delaware 42-30 on Jan. 10. They were scheduled to compete in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Jan. 13 at Bradley, but the event was canceled because of bad weather.
Darby will compete in the Comet Classic on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Central Crossing.
"It's a lot of fun being out here as a senior with my guys," Cover said. "I'm trying to make the most of my senior season and also support the young guys and help provide a positive team attitude. (The young guys) are listening and coachable.
"I want to be a high school wrestling coach, so this is a little like prep work. In college, I plan to major in secondary education and teach math in middle school."
Cover has yet to make a college decision.
Boys basketball team stays in OCC title race
The boys basketball team will battle Bradley in back-to-back games to close the regular season after a home game with the Jaguars was postponed Jan. 12 because of bad weather and rescheduled on Feb. 13.
Darby's regular-season finale is at Bradley on Feb. 16.
The Panthers were 7-4 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on Jan. 16 and improved to 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 52-45 win over Thomas Worthington on Jan. 9. They will play host to Delaware in a league game Friday, Jan. 19.
Entering the week, Darby was second in the league standings, behind Bradley (5-0) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (3-2) and Delaware (3-3).
The Panthers rallied from a 17-7 first-quarter deficit against Thomas, outscoring the Cardinals 33-18 in the second half, including 18-9 in the fourth quarter, to post their fourth consecutive win and fifth victory in six contests.
Josh Govine led Darby with 12 points on four 3-pointers. Chandler Barlow and Jaeln Benjamin both scored 10 points and Andrew Patrick scored nine.
Girls basketball team tries to bounce back
The girls basketball team is 9-6 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Thomas 63-47 on Jan. 9.
It marked the second consecutive league loss for the Panthers and dampened their hopes of winning the league title. Entering the week, Thomas and Scioto shared the league lead at 5-1.
The Panthers will play at Scioto on Tuesday, Jan. 23, and will finish the regular season at home against Thomas on Feb. 9.
Darby lost to the Irish 52-48 on Dec. 19.
Against Thomas, Sophie Williams had 14 points, Sydney Wyngarden and Alexa Dixon both scored eight and Annie Rauch scored seven.
The Panthers' league game at home against Bradley on Jan. 12 was postponed and rescheduled for Jan. 27.
Girls bowling team rolling in COHSBC
The girls bowling team entered the week unbeaten in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference.
Darby was 7-1 overall, 6-0 in the COHSBC-B Division and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before competing against Groveport on Jan. 16.
The Panthers posted their two highest totals of the season in wins over Lancaster (1,964-1,808 on Jan. 9) and Reynoldsburg (1,926-1,315 on Jan. 10).
Entering the week, Groveport, Lancaster and Pickerington North were tied for second in the COHSBC-B behind Darby at 4-2. In the OCC-Cardinal, the Panthers were third behind Delaware (3-0) and Groveport (3-1).
Through eight matches, Ash Roberts had a team-best 180.6 game average, followed by Emily Betteridge (165.2), Zoe Paxhia-Poppaw (151.5) and Gillian Tinney (146.7).
The boys team was 5-3 overall, 4-2 in the COHSBC-B and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before a match against Groveport on Jan. 16.
The Panthers, who defeated Lancaster 2,180-2,020 but lost to Reynoldsburg 2,028-2,002, entered the week tied with Groveport for third in the COHSBC-B behind Pickerington Central and Pickerington North (both 7-0) and tied with Delaware and Newark for second in the OCC-Cardinal behind Groveport (3-1).
Nick Carter had a team-best 180.1 average through eight matches, followed by Josh Larsen (179.7), Alex Meister (176.5), Derek Violette (165.4) and Jalen Clisby (155.9).
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 19 -- Home vs. Delaware. The Panthers lost to the Pacers 59-45 on Dec. 8.
Jan. 20 -- At Davidson
*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Panthers beat the Irish 60-49 on Dec. 19.
*Jan. 19 -- At Delaware. The Panthers beat the Pacers 50-38 on Dec. 8.
*Jan. 23 -- At Scioto. The Panthers lost to the Irish 52-48 on Dec. 19.
*Jan. 19 -- Pickerington North at Game of Western Bowl
*Jan. 24 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
Jan. 23 -- At Davidson with Bradley, *Delaware, Dresden Tri-Valley and *Thomas Worthington
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 20 -- Bradley and Davidson at Hilliard YMCA
*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Scioto
Jan. 20 -- Comet Classic at Central Crossing