Cole Potts had the best record on the DeSales High School wrestling team last season, but he still felt something was missing after he ended up a win shy of advancing to the Division II state tournament at heavyweight.

"After last season, I recognized that my biggest weakness was probably my conditioning," Potts said. "I had to be in better shape to last longer in matches."

A rigorous offseason devoted to improving cardiovascular fitness has paid dividends for the junior, who was a team-best 21-2 before the final day of the Catholic Invitational Tournament that concluded Jan. 20 at Toledo St. John's.

Potts, who trained at D1 Sports Training near Worthington and has worked with, among others, former DeSales and Ohio State heavyweight Johnny Hiles, knew he was in good overall shape as he started on both the offensive and defensive lines for the football team last fall. A third-place finish in the Liberty Classic that concluded Dec. 15 at Olentangy Liberty, in which three of his five wins came by pin in a combined 1 minute, 41 seconds, further reinforced Potts' confidence.

"I had to wrestle some bigger kids at Liberty and I wasn't going to pin them fast if I pinned them at all, so I had to be prepared to go into the third period and be in better shape than most of those kids," Potts said. "Last year, I'd be tired after the second period."

Potts, who was 43-12 last year and finished fifth at district as the top four finishers advanced to state, has an 82-31 career record. He finished third in the Catholic Invitational Tournament that concluded Jan. 20 at Toledo St. John's, leading the Stallions to 57 points and an 11 th-place finish in the 25-team event as Cincinnati Elder won (271.5).

"He sweats more than anyone I see in practice," said teammate Josh Morse, who competes at 126 or 132 pounds. "He's always drilling. He's always working or helping someone out. It's always a good match whenever Cole is on the mat.

"He knows exactly what he can hit. He's a lot quicker than the other wrestlers I've seen in his (weight) class. Heavyweights aren't always that fast, but Cole has quick feet but he's agile."

Potts also worked on his shots during the offseason, something usually seen more at lower weights.

"The sky is the limit for him. He just keeps going," coach Nick Preston said. "Last year, he made a really good improvement after the first of the year. He just came in really technically getting better on working his offense a lot better, and at the heavyweight class, that's an especially big help to have a good offensive arsenal. He has a lot of tools in his toolbox and he is showcasing them."

Potts was ranked 10th in the state at heavyweight in Division II as of Jan. 16, according to BoroFanOhio.net.

Although he has been a successful wrestler, Potts still plans to play football in college. He was a starting offensive guard and nose guard for the Stallions last fall and is talking to a handful of Football Bowl Subdivision schools, although he has not received any scholarship offers.

"I want to be a sectional champion and a district champion and then place as high at state as I can," Potts said. "I practice whenever I can and drill against whoever I can. Hopefully, I can show my opponents something they don't expect is coming."

Swimmers prep for league meet

After having last weekend off, the swimming teams will cap a busy week by participating in the CCL meet Saturday, Jan. 26, at Columbus School for Girls.

According to coach Ryan Buechner, both teams were 7-6 in dual meets before competing against host Columbus Academy on Jan. 22. DeSales was coming off a trip to the Northeast Classic on Jan. 12 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, in which freshman Brady McInerney of the boys team finished 18th in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.49) and 20th in the 100 butterfly (54.57) and freshman Libby Ruff of the girls team swam a 5:40.59 in the 500 freestyle preliminaries.

While that time did not qualify Ruff for the championship or consolation finals, it would have been good enough to get her into the Division I district meet last season.

Earlier this season, McInerney set a program record in the 500 free with a 5:05.84, breaking Buechner's mark of 5:12.97 set in 2001.

"I do expect him to qualify for states in the 200 (individual medley) and perhaps one other individual event," Buechner said. "He also has yet to lose an individual race in any of our dual, tri or quad meets.

"Libby also has won more races than anyone else on the girls side of the team."

In last year's CCL meet, the boys scored 179 points to finish third behind St. Charles (464) and Watterson (225) and ahead of Hartley (161) and Ready (14). The Cardinals are seeking their 21st consecutive league championship.

The girls finished fourth (111) behind CSG (386), Watterson (325) and Hartley (266) and ahead of DeSales (111) and Ready (30). The Unicorns have won five CCL titles in a row.

"It will be a close race for second on the boys side of the meet between us and Hartley," Buechner said. "(On) the girls side, we are very young and the other teams are very senior laden, so it will be difficult to move up in the standings."

Bowlers prepare for stretch run

The boys and girls bowling teams took on Columbus East on Jan. 22, beginning a stretch of eight scheduled matches in the final three weeks of the regular season.

The boys team entered the week 9-1 overall and 7-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division and is 4-1 in the CCL, tied for first place with St. Charles. The two teams split their season series, with the Stallions winning 2,132-2,126 on Dec. 3 at Capri Lanes and falling to the Cardinals 2,016-2,002 on Jan. 7 at HP Lanes.

Only the first meeting between the two teams counts in the COHSBC-D standings.

Andrew Swift led the boys team with a 197.4 game average through 10 matches, followed by Bryan Ritzler (192.2), Isaiah Thomas (182.0), James Jackson (179.8) and Will McAfee-Weatherspoon (164.6).

The girls team was 4-4 overall and 4-3 in the COHSBC-D before Jan. 22 and is 1-2 in the CCL.

Skyla Blumenscheid had a team-best 157.7 average through eight matches, ahead of Audrey Nave (119.8), Olivia Houlihan (115.4), Ella Otu-Danquah (88.5) and Catharina Le (79.4).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 25 -- Watterson at Otterbein. The Stallions defeated the Eagles 62-59 (OT) on Dec. 14.

Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Licking Heights

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 24 -- At Watterson. The Stallions lost to the Eagles 46-24 on Jan. 5.

Jan. 26 -- Home vs. Centennial

BOWLING

*Jan. 24 -- Beechcroft at Sequoia Pro Bowl

*Jan. 28 -- Hartley at Holiday Lanes

*Jan. 29 -- Watterson at Sawmill Lanes

GYMNASTICS

Jan. 30 -- At Worthington Kilbourne with Dresden Tri-Valley and Olentangy

HOCKEY

*Jan. 25 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller Easton. The Stallions lost to the Vikings 11-6 on Dec. 8.

*Jan. 26 -- Olentangy Berlin at Chiller Easton. The Stallions lost to the Patriots 9-1 on Jan. 5.

*Jan. 27 -- Olentangy at Chiller Easton

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 25 -- At St. Charles

Jan. 26 -- CCL meet at Columbus School for Girls

WRESTLING

Jan. 26 -- Jimmy Wood Invitational at New Lexington

*League contest