Chance Brown and Michael Gallagher have known since middle school exactly where they wanted to go after high school and how quickly they wanted to get there.
That's why the juniors on the Canal Winchester High School wrestling team are treating every match this season like it could be their last, because their last match will come a year early.
Brown and Gallagher will be graduating this spring after just three years in high school in order to join the Marines. They will report to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, on or around June 15.
"We've been friends ever since elementary school and we got to talking in middle school about going into the military. It's been fun preparing for this together," Brown said. "I feel like every family should have at least one person go into the military. The Marines are the first in to a battle, the first to fight. I want to be a part of that."
Both are enjoying solid final seasons with the Indians.
Gallagher is 20-7 at 132 pounds and Brown is 16-8 between 152 and 160 with 15 pins -- bringing his career total to 74. Gallagher finished in the top three at three of the Indians' first four tournaments this season and Brown took first at 160 in the season-opening American Legion Post 81 Invitational on Dec. 1 at Jackson.
"You have to be a smart guy and you have to be motivated to take on all that extra schoolwork. Their mentality is made for that. They're willing to take on challenges," coach Harrison Rosch said. "That mentality carries into the wrestling room, especially for Mikey. He leads by example and is willing to push himself. They excel above expectations and push each other."
While Brown said his family has no connection to the military, that is Gallagher's primary motivation for joining the Marines. His grandfather, Michael Patrick Gallagher, lost his left leg as a Marine during the Vietnam War.
"He played it off like it was nothing," Gallagher said of his grandfather, who died in 2014 at age 66. "He's always been that role model for me. I always looked up to him and always strived to be like him. I took wrestling as a kind of motivation to prepare me for the Marines and get me trained. The Marines have always come first for me. I've always strived to become better. He pushed me to be a Marine and that's why this is my decision.
"I wish we could have hung out more while he was alive. This is one way we'll always be close."
Brown and Gallagher said one key to completing high school in three years was eliminating study halls. Brown took Algebra I in eighth grade and is currently taking a financial literacy course online, while Gallagher took Algebra II last summer.
All students need 21 credit hours to graduate.
"Senior English has been pretty hard," Brown said. "You have to be good at managing your time."
"Sundays are my break days. I love laying around and not doing anything because the rest of the week is jam-packed," Gallagher said. "My sophomore year, I failed Algebra II and that was (because of a) lack of consistency. I should have been more on top of my homework."
Canal Winchester began its OCC-Capital Division schedule Jan. 10 at home at Groveport.
As far as Gallagher is concerned, wrestling is the perfect sport for someone aspiring to join the military.
"It's the overall hardest sport you can do when it comes to intensity and all-out conditioning," he said. "It's crazy the strength and muscle movements that are involved in this."
Huge wins keep boys team undefeated
The boys basketball team continued a perfect start to the season with three home wins last week, the second of which allowed the Indians to assume sole possession of first place in the OCC-Capital.
Canal Winchester was 12-0 overall before playing Hamilton Township on Jan. 15 and is 5-0 in the league as it begins the second half of OCC-Capital play Friday, Jan. 18, at home against Big Walnut.
Ranked 13th in last week's Division I state poll, the Indians defeated Chillicothe 70-67 on Jan. 9 on Brady Snyder's 3-pointer with two seconds left, snapped Newark's 24-game league winning streak with a 67-61 victory Jan. 11 and routed Worthington Kilbourne 101-54 the next night.
Snyder had 28 points against Chillicothe, while Bilal Sow led the Indians with a career-high 26 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots against Newark and Cole Metzler had a career-high 27 points against Kilbourne.
Sow added 20 points against the Wolves as Canal Winchester successfully followed up on its win over Newark, something coach Lyndell Snyder emphasized to his team considering the quick turnaround.
"This means a lot," Sow said. "Newark's been on top for years, so to beat them like this means a lot."
Newark got within one possession only once, at 56-54 midway through the fourth quarter. The Indians led by as many as 16 points in the first half.
"We played a good first half and we knew they were going to punch us in the mouth in the second half. We had to punch them right back, bucket-for-bucket," coach Snyder said. "They're the best team we've played all year. Our kids were up for this game. We had only one day of practice, but we came prepared."
Canal Winchester concludes the regular season Feb. 15 at Newark.
"I told our guys at the beginning of the year that if they want to win the league, they have to beat Newark the last game of the season no matter what else goes on throughout the year," coach Snyder said. "It could come down to the end of the year, but everybody in our league is good."
Fry stands out at Northeast Classic
Blake Fry paced the swimming and diving teams in the Northeast Classic on Jan. 12 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 42.95 seconds) and seventh in the 100 breaststroke (59.54).
Fry scored all 38 points for the boys team, which finished 17th behind champion Dublin Jerome (232) as 42 teams scored.
No members of the girls team advanced to championship finals. Grace Riddle finished 20th in the 50 free (25.02) to lead the Indians.
Swimmers must meet time standards to qualify for the Northeast Classic. Branin Natatorium is the site of the Division I state meet, which will be held Feb. 21-23.
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Big Walnut. The Indians defeated the Golden Eagles 57-53 on Dec. 7.
Jan. 22 -- Home vs. Westland
*Jan. 18 -- At Big Walnut. The Indians lost to the Golden Eagles 40-28 on Dec. 7.
Jan. 22 -- At Westland
Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 18 -- Westerville North at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 19 -- Reynoldsburg at St. Charles
*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Jan. 19 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North