With two returning state qualifiers, three returning district qualifiers and a newcomer with the potential to make a strong impact, the Hartley High School wrestling team has lofty goals this season.
The Hawks compete in the Liberty Classic on Friday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 15, at Olentangy Liberty.
"Our hope for the year as a team is (getting to the) state (team tournament) since we didn't lose anyone and we've also gained some people this year," junior Michael Petrella said. "It's been a little rough at the start of this year, but we're getting out of the lazy stages and starting to work really hard."
Petrella, who could compete at 106 or 113 pounds, finished seventh at 106 at last year's Division II state tournament to finish the season 50-7.
The Hawks' other returning state qualifier is senior Griffin Rathburn, who placed eighth at 195 at state a year ago to finish 45-12 and is expected to remain at that weight.
Seniors Nate Jackson (220 or heavyweight) and Keegan Moran (145) and junior Joey Petrella (160 or 170) are returning district qualifiers.
Sophomore Micah Norwood (138) transferred from Lancaster, where he went 1-2 at the Division I state tournament and finished 35-6 last season. It's not certain whether he'll be eligible for the entire season or only for the season's first half because of OHSAA rules, according to 10th-year coach Kevin Petrella said.
"He was on our junior high team and, for whatever reason, he wasn't at our school last year, but he's got all of the stuff filled out so now it's up the OHSAA," coach Petrella said.
Other returnees include junior Noah Houchins (120) and sophomores Cody Ihm (126), Brody Halenar (152), Jared Miller (138) and Tony Thivener (170).
Sophomore Michael Dawkins, who placed sixth at sectional at 120 last year, and junior Kenyon Davis, who won a sectional match at 182, aren't back with the Hawks, who had no seniors last season.
Hartley has won five consecutive CCL championships and six league titles in the past seven seasons.
"We've got a heck of a schedule," coach Petrella said. "I feel like we've always wrestled a heck of a schedule, but this year we're going to (the Brecksville Invitational Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28-29 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights) and (the Liberty Classic) so we have some nice competition with those two as well as the (Catholic Invitational Tournament on Jan. 19-20 at Toledo St. John's). We always try to have a goal of making it down to (the state team tournament). If Norwood is eligible, it would be a shame if we didn't finish in the top 10 in the state tournament."
Boys basketball team still finding legs
After beating Wellington 46-44 in overtime Dec. 4, the boys basketball team had its No. 1 scoring threat, senior Morgan Safford, get into foul trouble and was outscored 15-5 in the third quarter of a 41-27 loss at Watterson in its CCL opener Dec. 7.
"We don't know what we are right now," said coach Randy Kortokrax, whose team was 3-1 overall before playing Liberty Union on Dec. 11. "We've got some guys that are still trying to get into shape. We just really don't know what we're trying to do."
Safford had 21 points in Hartley's opening 65-50 loss to Columbus South on Dec. 1 in the All-Ohio Nike Hoops Showcase at Gahanna but was held to 13 points by Wellington and then was called for two early fouls against Watterson.
Safford picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter against the Eagles on his way to scoring nine points.
Senior post player Payton Collins was one of the team's top scorers last season but, according to Kortokrax, has been adjusting to a return to the court after starting on the offensive line for the football team.
Collins, who recently committed to play football for Eastern Kentucky, was averaging 6.7 points through three games.
Another player who is transitioning from football to basketball is senior forward Jordan Kirkbride, who has committed to play football for Dartmouth.
Hartley returns to CCL play Friday, Dec. 14, at Ready, which shared the league title with the Hawks and Watterson last season but lost to St. Charles 79-74 on Dec. 7 in its league opener.
Nwokolo leading girls basketball team
The girls basketball team earned its second consecutive victory Dec. 8 when it defeated Lancaster 50-41 to improve to 2-2.
Through three games, senior forward Chiamaka Nwokolo was averaging a team-high 12 points, while senior guard Israel Strickland, junior Sa'Haia Clark-Lee and sophomore Milayna Williams all were averaging between six and eight points.
Against Lancaster, Nwokolo had 12 points, Strickland scored 10 and Abby Rhodes and Kami Kortokrax both scored eight.
Hartley beat the Cincinnati Trailblazers 56-28 on Dec. 1.
Dec. 1 -- at Dayton Chaminade Julienne with Troy Christian and Kettering Alter
Dec. 8 -- Dan Gartner Duals at Whitehall
Dec. 14-15 -- Liberty Classic at Olentangy Liberty
Dec. 28-29 -- Brecksville Invitational Holiday Tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights
Jan. 3 -- at Bexley with Columbus South
Jan. 5 -- Licking Valley Invitational
Jan. 12 -- Bender Duals at Caledonia River Valley
Jan. 19-20 -- Catholic Invitational Tournament at Toledo St. John's
Jan. 30 -- at Hamilton Township with Thornville Sheridan
Feb. 6 -- vs. Logan, Watkins Memorial and West Jefferson
Feb. 13 -- CCL tournament at Ready
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley boys basketball and girls basketball teams:
*Dec. 14 -- At Ready
Dec. 15 -- At Mansfield St. Peter's
Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Amanda-Clearcreek
Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Independence