The three seniors on the Thomas Worthington High School wrestling team continued their strong seasons by placing in the Frank Ferguson Classic held Jan. 26 and 27 at Wellsburg (West Virginia) Brooke.
The Cardinals finished 15th (41.5 points) in the 18-team event, behind champion Erie (Pennsylvania) Cathedral Prep (271).
"Our seniors, Josh Keese, Charlie Kneessi and Chase Haimerl, have all been very solid as expected," coach Brad Todd said. "They were (Division I) district qualifiers last year and they've been placing in most of the tournaments we go to. They have led by example while also supporting and trying to help our younger guys."
Keese placed fourth at 170 pounds in the Frank Ferguson Classic and is 17-9 entering an OCC-Cardinal Division dual Feb. 8 at Dublin Scioto.
"I definitely feel like I'm wrestling better than last year," Keese said. "I improved my work ethic and I just want to keep getting better and work even harder. I was a district qualifier last year and I want to take that next step and at least experience the state meet. I'm working harder to get that done."
Keese, who finished 26-18 at 160 last season, placed eighth in the Top Gun Invitational held Jan. 12 and 13 in Alliance.
"That was the highlight of my season so far," he said. "I was pretty excited about that because of the level of competition there. It proved to me that working harder on my technique and drilling moves was paying off. I'm staying after practice quite a bit to work with my coaches on perfecting my moves -- takedowns and combinations and stuff."
Kneessi placed fifth at 182 in the Frank Ferguson Classic and is 15-6 on the season. He finished 34-12 at 170 last season and did not compete at district because of an injury.
Haimerl is 15-8 on the season after placing sixth at 145 in the Frank Ferguson Classic. Last season, he finished 30-13 and placed sixth at 132 at district, falling two spots shy of advancing to state.
"As seniors, we're really excited about seeing what we can do in the postseason," Keese said. "We're all motivated to top what we did last year. I also think we have some other guys that can get to district this year if they wrestle well. It'd be good to see them make it this year rather than next year."
The postseason gets underway Feb. 24 with sectional competition.
"Freshman Mason Gates (220) is showing promise when healthy and junior Trenton Wilson (145) and sophomore Greg Laws (heavyweight) are coming along," Todd said. "But we are still struggling in duals with holes in the lineup and youth, but guys are starting to step up their competition level.
"We are starting to wrestle better as a whole and are looking to finish the second half of the season strong and peak when it matters most."
Swim teams both take third in league meet
Maddie Holub, Becca Taylor and Rachel Rinaldi helped lead the girls swimming and diving team to a third-place finish in the OCC-Cardinal meet that concluded Jan. 27 at home and Sam Steele sparked the boys team to third place.
Holub was runner-up in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 16.18 seconds) and placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.03).
Taylor placed third in both the 200 freestyle (2:04.59) and 100 butterfly (1:01.58), and Rinaldi finished third in both the 200 IM (2:17.73) and 100 breast (1:11.57).
The 200 medley relay of Emily Huber, Rinaldi, Taylor and Holub (1:55.77) and the 400 free relay of Audrey Taylor, Rinaldi, Holub and Becca Taylor (3:48.27) both placed second.
Peyton Hull finished second in diving (322.85 points) and Huber was fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:05.28).
The Cardinals scored 204 points to finish behind Dublin Jerome (412) and Delaware (244) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (172.5), Scioto (154), Kilbourne (137) and Hilliard Bradley (79).
Steele placed second in the 100 back (58.56) and sixth in the 200 IM (2:09.25) as the boys team (150) finished behind Jerome (412) and Delaware (222) and ahead of Scioto (145), Kilbourne (137), Darby (115) and Bradley (60).
Steele joined Andrei Proca, Derek Taylor and Jack King on the second-place 400 free relay (3:30.17) and Grant Simeone, Proca and Eli Short on the third-place 200 medley relay (1:48.44). Placing sixth were Short in the 50 free (28.83) and Taylor in the 500 free (5:14.61).
The Cardinals will close the regular season Friday, Feb. 2, at home against Kilbourne and Watterson before preparing for a Division I sectional Feb. 10 at home.
Boys basketball team stuns Wildcats
The boys basketball team limited Westerville South to 15 points in the second half en route to a 49-46 home win Jan. 27.
The Cardinals, who broke an eight-game losing streak, trailed 31-19 at halftime and closed the game on an 11-1 run in the final three minutes. The loss dropped South to 11-5.
"The boys celebrated like they won a district championship," said coach Sean Luzader, whose team was 3-13 overall before playing Hilliard Davidson on Jan. 30. "It was a long time coming to get another win, especially against a program like South and a coach like (Ed) Calo.
"But it's like I've said all season, our kids never stop practicing or working to improve and they never miss practice."
Kyler Block scored 17 points and had a steal and dunk that ignited the Cardinals' comeback.
"It was a breakout game for Kyler, but all of the guys made key plays, especially when we were down seven with three minutes left," Luzader said. "We needed a bunch of things to go right and they did. We got key free throws from Jamal Carter and Ben Wight and a huge 3-pointer from Julius Mallory.
"We locked down defensively and (South) missed some free throws. Our two freshman guards, Maurice Collins and Isaac Settles, played like veterans."
Thomas, which fell to 0-9 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 50-34 loss to Jerome on Jan. 26 and a 37-20 loss to Delaware on Jan. 23, returns to league play Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Scioto.
The Cardinals will play host to Centennial on Saturday, Feb. 3.
"One win doesn't define you, but beating a team the caliber of South sure feels good and should give the boys a confidence boost," Luzader said. "It proves that we have the ability to be a very good team if we play to our potential. We still haven't played a good 32 minutes, but we got to 24 minutes against South.
"This whole season, we've played well in six-minute spurts, but I'm hoping we're growing up now."
Girls basketball team remains first in OCC
The girls basketball team remained in first place in the OCC-Cardinal by beating Delaware 64-48 on Jan. 23 and Jerome 56-39 on Jan. 26.
The Cardinals, who fell to 10-6 overall with a 54-48 loss to Chillicothe on Jan. 29, are 9-1 in the league and have a showdown against Scioto on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at home. The Irish entered the week 7-1 in the league.
Thomas, which concludes league play Feb. 9 at Darby, lost to Scioto 76-54 on Dec. 22.
Against Delaware, Jazzlynn Gaiters had 23 points, Breanne Beatty scored 15 and Brooke Ackley added 10. Gaiters scored 32 points against Jerome and Beatty added 18.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
Feb. 3 -- Home vs. Centennial
*Feb. 6 -- At Dublin Scioto. The
Cardinals lost to the Irish 59-38 on Dec. 22.
Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Mifflin
*Feb. 6 -- Home vs. Scioto. The
Cardinals lost to the Irish 76-54 on Dec. 22.
*Feb. 1 -- Newark at Park Lanes in Heath
Feb. 2 -- *Kilbourne and Worthington Christian at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 6 -- Centennial at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Feb. 7 -- Columbus Academy at Capri Lanes
*Feb. 2 -- Gahanna at Chiller North
*Feb. 3 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Feb. 4 -- Olentangy at Chiller North
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 2 -- Home vs. Kilbourne and Watterson