Jerry McSwords, who helped form the Westerville Central High School wrestling program, again is guiding the Warhawks as their head coach.
McSwords has replaced Josh Schmitz, who stepped down after one season because of family reasons.
McSwords helped build the program after the school opened in 2003, serving as coach until the 2008-09 season when he was replaced by Bob Fresch. McSwords returned as an assistant in 2013-14 under Phil Carney and remained with the program when Schmitz replaced Carney.
"I didn't have ambition to come back and be the head coach. It's just one of those things that happened," said McSwords, who also was the coach at Westerville North from 2000-02. "We didn't have a lot of time to find a replacement and I want to make sure the program is heading in the right direction before I decide I'm not going to coach again. ... I'm glad to be back."
The Warhawks return several wrestlers, including senior Nick DeRose and sophomores Zeke Healy and Gary Steele. All were district qualifiers last season.
DeRose went 1-2 at 220 pounds at district to finish 31-10.
"This is the best time of the year," DeRose said. "I've known (McSwords) for so long. He's an amazing coach and an amazing person, so there's nothing but happiness. ... My goal is to do better than last year. That's always the goal."
Healy (170/182) went 0-2 at 160 at district to finish 25-14, and Steele (132) went 0-2 at 126.
Other returnees are sophomores Jack Bond (113/120), Logan Moore (170/182), Caleb Scheideger (126), Tate Sterling (145) and Braden Weimer (195).
Other wrestlers are seniors Braiden Girkin (182) and Victor Pineda (160/170), juniors Xavier Allen (220), Steven Hartley (132), Joao Paracampos Da Cunha (160) and Parker Wilson (145/152), sophomores Luis Illescas Gonzalez (120), Bsharah Hejazin (170/182), Thomas Humphries (160), Evan Kienle (145/152), Josiah Mair (195), C.J. Spinosi (170) and Tate Sterling (152/160) and freshmen Ali Abdulzahra (heavyweight), Blake Doran Jr. (145/152/160), Mustafa Feika (heavyweight), Reign Solosa (113) and Jack Traudt (132, 138).
"I like the progress," McSwords said. "Some of the kids are working harder than they've ever worked because they're not used to this sport. We're trying to get them to understand how much in condition, how much in good shape they have to be in to even do the sport."
Boys basketball team looks for consistency
The boys basketball program also has a new leader as 1994 North graduate Kevin Martin has replaced Donovon Barrett, who led the Warhawks for five seasons and now is the coach at Olentangy Berlin.
The Warhawks are 1-1 and coming off a third-place finish in the Grove City Tip-Off Classic. They lost to Bexley 46-44 in the first round Nov. 30 before bouncing back to defeat Mifflin 73-50 in the third-place game Dec. 1.
Senior Chaz Dixon, a 6-foot-2 guard, scored nine points against Bexley.
Against Mifflin, Dixon had 18 points, junior Josh Wilhelm (6-2, guard) scored 12 and senior Simon Bouscher-Helbig (6-5, forward) added 10.
Bouscher-Helbig missed last season with a back injury.
"We're getting there," Martin said. "We're trying to be more consistent in everything we do. We have our good days and we have our bad days. The work ethic with this group has been tremendous, one through 13. I have no complaints."
Dixon is the team's top returning scorer. He averaged 6.7 points last season, as Central finished 17-8 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Other returnees are seniors Tyler Combest (5-9, guard) and Drew Jados (6-5, post player).
Other players are senior LaBronz Davis II (6-3, wing player), juniors Tyler Beckel (6-3, forward), Will Lemaire (6-4, forward), Jack Newman (6-5, post player), Lance Wyatt (5-9, guard) and Ben Wilhelm (6-3, wing player) and sophomores Quincy Clark (5-11, guard) and Tasos Cook (6-0, guard).
Central opens league play Friday, Dec. 7, against visiting North.
"It's new opportunities for everyone," Martin said. "It's just something you have to deal with. We have a decent-sized junior class and I really like our sophomore class."
Martin helped lead North to the Division I state title in 1994. He played at Ohio State for one season before transferring to North Carolina-Asheville, where he was a two-time first-team all-Big South Conference honoree and was named the conference's Player of the Year in 1999.
Martin then played professionally in Finland and Honduras before serving as an assistant at Radford University in Virginia as well as at UNC-Asheville.
Martin coached at Johnstown for 10 seasons, leading the Johnnies to a Division III district title in 2016 and district runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2018. Johnstown has won four consecutive Licking County League titles and went 153-81 under Martin.
Former Central coach Todd Minney has returned as an assistant.
Nov. 30 -- Bexley in Grove City Tip-Off Classic
Dec. 1 -- Mifflin in Grove City Tip-Off Classic
*Dec. 7 -- vs. Westerville North
Dec. 11 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Dec. 14 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Dec. 21 -- at Olentangy
Dec. 22 -- at Dublin Scioto
Dec. 27 -- Bellefontaine in Phil Brown Classic at Otterbein
*Jan. 4 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Jan. 5 -- vs. Groveport
Jan. 8 -- at Big Walnut
*Jan. 1 -- at Westerville South
Jan. 15 -- vs. Mansfield Madison
*Jan. 18 -- at Westerville North
Jan. 22 -- at Pickerington Central
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Jan. 29 -- at Upper Arlington
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Olentangy
Feb. 2 -- at Dresden Tri-Valley
Feb. 5 -- vs. Gahanna
*Feb. 8 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*Feb. 15 -- vs. Westerville South
Dec. 1 -- Granville Invitational
Dec. 8 -- Big Walnut Classic
Dec. 12 -- vs. Licking Heights, Springfield and Westland
Dec. 15 -- Bexley Duals
Dec. 27 -- Westerville Central Dual Tournament
Jan. 5 -- Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament at Dublin Scioto
*Jan. 10 -- at Westerville North
*Jan. 16 -- vs. Olentangy
Jan. 19 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North
*Jan. 24 -- at Olentangy Orange
Jan. 26- New Albany Duals
*Feb. 7 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Feb. 9 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
*Feb. 14 -- vs. Westerville South
Below are the coming schedules for the Central girls basketball, bowling and gymnastics teams:
*Dec. 7 -- Home vs. Westerville North
Dec. 8 -- At Mount Vernon
Dec. 11 -- At Dublin Jerome
*Dec. 7 -- North at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Dec. 8 -- Holiday Baker Marathon at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 12 -- Big Walnut at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Dec. 12 -- At Marysville with DeSales and Upper Arlington