Mike Flusche didn't know what to expect in his first season leading the St. Charles Preparatory School wrestling program.
He quickly found out the Cardinals were an inexperienced group that would need to grow as the season progressed. The daily tutorial, however, has been eased by the team's three seniors, Kenton Colvin, Ian Noonan and Jake Waltermeyer, who have helped their younger teammates get up to speed.
Noonan has reached the Division I district tournament the past three seasons, going 0-2 at 126 pounds last year. Waltermeyer qualified for district last season and went 1-2 at 195, and Colvin competed at district as a sophomore and was 0-2 at 113.
"Working with the younger kids has been a change from being an underclassman," said Noonan, who is 15-3 at 132 this season. "I really have learned the mental aspect of wrestling like never giving up and keep fighting. That's what I have tried to teach them."
Colvin likes the idea of the seniors leaving their legacy by working with the underclassmen.
"I see us as mentors trying to build up a rebuilding program," said Colvin, who is 19-10 at 126. "We have a bunch of guys wrestling for the first time and it's up to us to help to build up their fundamentals and try to get them going in the right direction in terms of wrestling technique. We have to make sure they come and work hard every day in practice."
Waltermeyer has seen an improved effort by the inexperienced wrestlers and a willingness to work hard.
"At the beginning of the season, they didn't give as much effort, especially in practice," said Waltermeyer, who is 25-8 at 220.
"But as time has gone on, a lot of the younger kids have gotten better at that, probably because of the leadership from the coaches and older guys like us."
Flusche is the seniors' fourth coach in as many seasons. As freshmen, they were coached by Joe Moyer, who led the program for five seasons. Joe Dimel coached for one season and longtime assistant Steve Montgomery led the program last year.
Flusche said the trio has made his transition easier.
"They are awesome kids, and they are incredible students with GPAs approaching 4.0," he said. "They show the younger kids how to drill and how hard work pays off. They work hard in the weight room, and they show them what it takes to be in the finals."
Colvin, who also competed in cross country, said Flusche has pushed him to be better-conditioned for matches.
"Coach has taught us a lot about conditioning and coming to practice and working hard every day," he said. "To wrestle, you need to be well-conditioned and that's helped me a lot in some of my matches. Sometimes I have gone into overtime and that conditioning can help me. It's helped me win some of those."
The Cardinals next compete in the CCL tournament Feb. 15 at Hartley. They finished third in the dual-format tournament last season, as Hartley captured its fourth consecutive title.
Bowling team closes in on first league title
The bowling team tried to win its first league title Feb. 6 against Watterson.
The Cardinals were 11-3 overall and 5-1 in the CCL before battling the Eagles, and a win would have clinched at least a share of the league championship. DeSales already finished its league schedule at 6-2.
In their first matchup, St. Charles defeated Watterson 2,268-1,644 on Feb. 2.
"We never have won a league title and that was our goal before the beginning of the season," said coach Bill Pritchett, whose team had won six consecutive matches and 10 of 11 before Feb. 6. "We have played well and I really like the balance on our team."
Alex Etheredge was leading the Cardinals with a 178.1 average through 14 matches, followed by Chris Walker (175.9), Grant Flory (173.4), Dominck Koeth (170.4) and William Ullom (161.1).
"I would rather have a balanced team than a team having just one superstar," said Pritchett, whose team also is 8-3 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division. "Someone is always going to step up to the plate for you."
St. Charles closes its CCL schedule Friday, Feb. 9, against Ready at HP Lanes. It also competes against Columbus East on Monday, Feb. 12, at Eastland Lanes.
Hockey team earns third seed in CBJ Cup
The hockey team is the third seed for the Blue Jackets Cup, which starts Thursday, Feb. 8.
The Cardinals improved to 18-10-1-1 overall and 11-3-1-1 in the CHC-Red by defeating New Albany 3-1 on Feb. 4. They finished third in the CHC-Red with 24 points, behind Dublin Jerome (30, 15-1) and Olentangy Liberty (27, 13-2-1).
St. Charles opens the Blue Jackets Cup against sixth-seeded Olentangy on Thursday, Feb. 8, at a site to be determined, with the winner advancing to a semifinal Friday, Feb. 9, at a site to be determined against second-seeded Liberty or seventh-seeded Springboro.
In league play, the Cardinals defeated Olentangy on Dec. 2, tied Liberty at 1 on Jan. 20 and lost to the Patriots 3-1 on Jan. 26. They defeated Springboro 4-2 on Dec. 1 in another league contest.
The championship game is Sunday, Feb. 11, at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Senior goaltenders Jacob Badger (2 saves) and Ben Carey (1 save) combined for a shutout as the Cardinals defeated Thomas Worthington 9-0 on Feb. 3 in CHC play.
Below are the coming schedules for the St. Charles basketball and swimming & diving teams:
*Feb. 9 -- At Hartley. The Cardinals lost to the Hawks 49-41 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 10 -- At Toledo Start
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division I sectional swimming meet at Kenyon College. The winner of each event and 27 at-large
qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University.
Feb. 13 -- Division I district diving at Dublin Recreation Center. Top five finishers advance to state Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.