Since finishing 13-18 as a freshman, Grove City High School wrestler Hunter Barker steadily has grown in the sport.
The senior is hoping that progression will lead to a return to the Division I state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State. He qualified for his first state tournament last winter, going 0-2 at 152 pounds to finish 38-14 for the season.
Barker also is closing in on a milestone, as he earned his 90th career win -- and began an impressive week -- with a 57-second pin of Lancaster's Ajay Locke on Jan. 10. The Greyhounds lost the OCC-Ohio Division opener 59-21.
"(Reaching 100 wins) would mean a lot," Barker said. "I went 13-18 my freshman year, so I didn't think I was going to be able to get 100 wins. I went to a bunch of camps. Coach (Jay DiMasso) helped me with conditioning. He shows me the things I'm doing wrong."
Barker has remained at 152 for the third consecutive season, believing it's his best weight to maintain a healthy lifestyle. On Jan. 12, he went 5-0 in the Porter Memorial Tournament at Hilliard Bradley to finish first at 152 while improving to 22-1 this season and 95-44 for his career.
Grove City finished seventh (87.5 points) in the seven-team tournament behind champion Hilliard Darby (198.5). Triston Beane placed second (106) and Braydon Benson (220) and Louie Eigensee (heavyweight) both were third.
"I would like to contribute (Barker's continued progress) to a lot of things," DiMasso said. "He's a great kid (and) a good wrestler. It's a combination of things. He's been in our youth program. He's been around for a long time. He did a lot of workouts even before he was at a high-school age, putting in extra time. He's put in a lot of time outside of the (practice) room as well."
Barker's loss this season came in the Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament on Jan. 5 at Dublin Scioto, as two-time state-qualifier Daniel Segura of Scioto pinned Barker in 3:20 in the final at 152.
"I love wrestling high-quality kids," Barker said. "When you wrestle low-quality kids it's over in the first period, but Segura and (Westerville South's) Aaron Morton, it's a hard matchup."
As a sophomore, Barker improved to 23-12, including going 1-2 at district. However, it was last season when his career took off.
"Freshman, sophomore year, where he was in the lineup and what he was doing, he was a guy on the team," DiMasso said. "Last year at one point it was this kid can go places and do some things. He's gotten better at the things he's good at and makes fewer mistakes."
Barker would like to wrestle in college and has received interest from the University of Pennsylvania.
He was introduced to the sport through the Little Dawgs Youth Wrestling Program while in elementary school. He recalls watching high-school wrestlers, including his brother, Josh, and that piqued his interest.
Josh Barker is a 2012 graduate who enlisted in the United States Air Force.
"Josh is the reason I started wrestling," Hunter said. "He's happy about (me nearing) 100 wins. He calls me after every tournament to see how it went."
Senior Justin Swavely, who is 13-2 on the season and 99-30 for his career, injured his right shoulder during the Scioto tournament. He's hoping to return to the lineup for the Hamilton Township Classic on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Boys basketball coach pleased with effort
The boys basketball team was 5-7 overall before playing Teays Valley on Jan. 15, as it looked to end a three-game losing streak.
The Greyhounds are 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio.
"Our effort has been great," coach Eric Saxton said. "We have a little stretch here playing some pretty good teams."
Grove City lost to visiting Pickerington North 78-51 on Jan. 11 as Brock Waits scored 18 points.
William Morrison scored 15 and Cole Crager added 13 in a 61-47 loss to Newark on Jan. 8 at home.
"We are a little bit ahead of my expectations," Saxton said. "I thought it would be a little bit of a learning curve. Our kids are really resilient. They do what they're coached to do. They know their role (and) they accept their role. Guys who are supposed to get the ball up the floor do it (and) guys who are supposed to shoot the ball do it, so it's been a pleasant surprise."
Girls basketball team looks to end skid
The girls basketball team tried to stop a five-game losing streak when it played Delaware on Jan. 15.
The Greyhounds were 2-11 overall. They are 0-6 in the OCC-Ohio.
Alyssa Fuchs scored seven points in a 38-20 loss at Pickerington North on Jan. 11.
She scored all six of her team's points in a 68-6 loss at Newark on Jan. 8.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Lancaster. The Greyhounds lost to the Golden Gales 40-38 on Dec. 7.
Jan. 22 -- At Central Crossing
*Jan. 18 -- At Lancaster. The Greyhounds lost to the Golden Gales 56-42 on Dec. 7.
Jan. 19 -- Home vs. DeSales
Jan. 22 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
Jan. 19 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Worthington Youth Boosters Gymnastics
Jan. 23 -- At Worthington Kilbourne with Central
*Jan. 19 -- Hamilton Township Classic