The Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team continues to build for the future.
The Pacers have been led by a strong sophomore class that is progressing with every competition. The team's lineup often has eight or nine sophomores as well as one or two freshmen.
"This group has been together for a long time," coach Josh Heffernan said. "(Sophomores) Mason Sutandar, Corbin May, Tristan Burton and Emmett Cain were all teammates on our youth team from as far back as second grade. They have an extremely close bond. They are all very close in weight classes, too, which means they have been practice partners the whole way. At Dempsey Middle School, in seventh grade, a huge wave of current teammates joined them."
In all, there are 17 sophomores in the program. Five were in the lineup when the Pacers lost to Upper Arlington 41-30 in the first round of the Division I team dual tournament Jan. 24 at home. In addition, three freshmen competed for Delaware, which was seeded fourth in Region 5-B. UA was seeded fifth.
"I think nine of us got into the lineup as freshmen and it was a wakeup call for us," said Sutandar, who improved to 18-9 with a pin against UA's David Soghomonyan in their match at 170 pounds. "I don't think that we expected that, wrestling against juniors and seniors right away. But we gained experience and we made adjustments and continue to make adjustments.
"We look pretty good, but I think we're going to get much better individually and as a group. We just need to stick it out and keep gaining experience."
May lost to UA's Mark Trifelos 6-1 at 160 to fall to 22-9.
"We challenge each other every day," said May, who was a district qualifier last season. "That makes us better every day when we help build each other up. The challenge is fun and we've stayed interested by challenging each other."
Sophomore Nathan Robinson (220) pinned UA's David Adams in 1 minute, 25 seconds to improve to 17-8.
"This sophomore class exemplifies a big push our coaching staff -- from the youth all the way through the high school -- put into athlete retention years ago," Heffernan said. "There was a time when the success and numbers in Delaware's youth and middle school program did not carry over to the high school. It's taken some time and a lot of work, but it's clear with the recent success we've had that our current system's retention and development is successful.
"It works because of the family-minded, competent, hard-working men I have coaching with me. We have had outstanding youth coaches (Jason Smothers, Chris Haser, Darryl Frye, Darrin May, Nick Seymour), middle school coaches (Mark Rieman, Michael Freado and Chad Spring) and high school assistants (Josh Lamb, Kevin Rieman, Matt Cubberly, Larry Lucas and Isaiah Webber) in recent seasons and they care much more about the holistic development of the child over just winning. It creates amazing bonds and an awesome athletic experience."
Other sophomores in the lineup against UA were Zack Raquepaw (126) and Tristan Burton (138), who were 12-12 and 6-11, respectively, before an OCC-Cardinal Division match against Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 25. Also having good sophomore seasons are Cain (170) and Josh Bell (113), who were 10-3 and 13-6, respectively.
"The sophomores, as a whole, have an impressive work ethic and great attitude," Heffernan said. "If we can keep them all together, their future is extremely bright."
Also against UA, junior Zach Williams improved to 22-8 with a 4-0 win at 132 and classmate Jacob McCloskey improved to 14-10 with a 5-2 win at 182. Senior Zane Hypes won by pin to improve to 20-7 at 195 and junior J.P. Lantz won by forfeit at heavyweight.
Boys basketball team prepping for Jaguars
The boys basketball team was 6-9 overall and 4-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing host to Dublin Scioto on Jan. 26.
Delaware will play at league-leading Hilliard Bradley on Friday, Feb. 2. The Jaguars, who are 7-0 in league play, used a 6-0 run in the final minute to beat the Pacers 51-43 on Jan. 5. Nate Griggs had 20 points and Terin Kinsway scored 13 to lead the Pacers, while Matt Allocco scored 13 for Bradley.
The Pacers fell to 2-5 in games decided by four points or fewer this season when host Hilliard Darby pulled out a 36-35 win on Jan. 19, but they bounced back to defeat visiting Thomas Worthington 37-20 on Jan. 23.
Darby scored the winning basket with five seconds left. Griggs had made two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to give the Pacers a 35-34 lead.
Griggs had a team-high 18 points against the Panthers and Paul Burris scored seven.
Against Thomas, Kinsway had 11 points and Griggs and Burris both scored nine to lead the Pacers, who shut out the Cardinals in the third quarter and outscored them 14-5 in the second half.
Girls basketball team hits rough stretch
The girls basketball team had lost three contests in a row and was 7-10 overall and 1-7 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a Jan. 26 game at Scioto.
The Pacers will play a makeup game against Walnut Ridge on Monday, Jan. 29, at home before playing host to Bradley in a league contest Friday, Feb. 2.
Delaware lost to the Jaguars 59-43 on Jan. 5, as Alexis Amabile had 13 points to lead the Pacers and Carly Callahan scored 20 to lead Bradley.
The Pacers lost consecutive games against Darby (55-39 on Jan. 19), Grandview (59-52 on Jan. 20) and Thomas (64-48 on Jan. 23).
Jessica Walker had 13 points, Madison Eldridge scored 12 and Alyssa Griner scored 10 against Thomas, which outscored the Pacers 24-12 in the second quarter.
Amabile had eight points and Katie Smith scored seven against Darby, while Jordan Lantz and Eldridge both scored 10 against Grandview.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 2 -- At Hilliard Bradley. The Pacers lost to the Jaguars 51-43 on Jan.5.
Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Walnut Ridge in makeup from Jan. 13
*Feb. 2 -- Home vs. Bradley. The Pacers lost to the Jaguars 59-43 on Jan. 5.
*Jan. 30 -- Marysville at Colony Lanes
*Jan. 31 -- Newark at Park Lanes
*Feb. 1 -- Olentangy Orange at Capri Lanes
Jan. 31 -- Marysville at Union County YMCA
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 3 -- Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan and Groveport at Ohio Wesleyan
Feb. 3 -- Rieman Invitational at home