Former Westerville South High School wrestling standout Manju Jabbie is giving back to his alma mater.
Jabbie, a 2006 graduate and three-time Division I state qualifier, is serving as a volunteer assistant under coach George Crooks.
"It feels good to be back," Jabbie said. "For me, it was more just coming back to help the kids. I was fortunate to be able to come back. ... (Crooks) can't boss me around as much as he used to. It's fun being with coach."
Crooks said Jabbie has been invaluable, often helping to lead practices.
"Having Manju back is fantastic," Crooks said. "He runs practices like I used to, so I can sit back and relax a little bit. He pushes them hard, so it's a love-hate kind of thing."
Jabbie's best performance at state came in 2005 when he finished sixth at 215 pounds.
He also was a standout on the football field. A defensive lineman, he earned several all-league and all-district awards as the Wildcats went 28-4 during his varsity career.
Jabbie earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2010 from Ohio Dominican and a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting in 2016, also from Ohio Dominican. He has been an anti-money laundering analyst with U.S. Bank since August 2016.
Crooks and Jabbie have been pleased with the Wildcats' development this season, and they're hoping the continued experience will help lead to postseason success.
South fell to 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division with a 62-11 loss to Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 17.
"We learn what the best is like and it would be nice to try to get there someday," Crooks said of competing against Liberty. "We had three wins, which is real good. Some other guys gave real good efforts."
Winners for the Wildcats were Fuanyi Fobellah at 106 pounds (technical fall, 19-4), Zion Gitonga at 113 (8-6) and Bobby Henderson at 152 (10-3).
South competed without Aaron Morton, who is out with a left knee injury. Crooks expects Morton, the team's top performer, to return to the lineup soon.
Liberty coach Mark Marinelli has been impressed with the Wildcats' improvement since Crooks returned to guide the program in 2014.
"They're much improved," Marinelli said. "They have a couple of good kids and one of their better kids (Morton) wasn't in the lineup. Their kids fought real hard. Our kids fought real hard. It was a good match. The only way to get better is with competition. You don't get any better unless you have competition in the (practice) room (and) in the matches."
Morton is 17-1 at 160 to lead the Wildcats, while Fobellah is 19-6 and Henderson is 14-7. Nick Ifju (132) is 14-8, Jacob Shalvey (182) and Brendan Cleaver (220) both are 14-10 and Andrew Flynn (170) is 10-7.
A highlight for South this season was winning the Golden Eagle Duals on Jan. 12 at Madison Plains, finishing with a 5-0 record.
Crooks said that since Jabbie joined the program late he did not have enough money in his budget to make it a paid position, but he hopes to change that next season.
"Our goal for next year is to build off what we're doing this year," Jabbie said. "I wasn't here last year, but I know they're doing better than what they did last year. We have a long ways to go, but we're doing pretty well."
Boys basketball team falls to Braves
The boys basketball team looked to rebound from a 67-52 loss to visiting Olentangy on Jan. 18 when it played Reynoldsburg on Jan. 22.
The Wildcats entered the game 6-6 overall. They are 3-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Jordan McMillian led South against Olentangy with 17 points. Ryan Greggs scored 11 and Jacob Singleton added 10.
South's game at Canton McKinley on Jan. 19 was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Feb. 16.
Girls basketball team topples Olentangy
The girls basketball team remained unbeaten in OCC-Buckeye play with a 50-43 win at Olentangy on Jan. 18.
Anyssa Jones scored 20 points, Sommer Pitzer had 16 and Gabby Hutcherson added 10 as the Wildcats improved to 6-0 in the league.
South was 10-2 overall before playing Reynoldsburg on Jan. 23.
The Wildcats were scheduled to play in the Classic in the Country on Jan. 20 and 21 at Berlin Hiland, but were unable to attend because of bad weather.
Swim teams prepare for league meet
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams are preparing for the OCC-Buckeye meet, which will be held Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thomas Worthington.
Last season, the boys finished fifth (142 points) behind champion Liberty (400.5) and the girls placed sixth (145) behind first-place Liberty (279).
"It's been a lot of fun and it's been exciting to see our progress, especially with some of our freshman athletes that came in with very little experience and to see where they're at now nine weeks later," first-year coach CJ Morabito said. "I'm excited to see what the kids can do (in the league meet)."
Morabito said a highlight this season was a strong showing for both teams in the Central Ohio Splash Invitational on Jan. 12 at Thomas.
The girls finished third (259) of 12 teams behind champion Westerville Central (403) and the boys placed fourth (238) of 12 teams behind first-place Grove City (371).
For the girls, winners were Cassidy Carter in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 55.29 seconds), Maeve Stacey in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.99) and Stacey, Caroline Bowling, Lauriel Richards and Taylor Henderson in the 200 free relay (1:50.09).
For the boys, Dylan Gary, Mason Williams, Mason Crow and Riley Andrews finished first in the 200 medley relay (1:50.37).
"That meet was just a series of lifetime-best performances," Morabito said. "Over half of the swims were lifetime bests. The girls certainly earned that third-place finish with some outstanding swims."
Below are the coming schedules for the South boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- At Olentangy Liberty. The Wildcats lost to the Patriots 69-62 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 26 -- At Cleveland St. Ignatius in makeup from Jan. 12
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Liberty. The Wildcats defeated the Patriots 67-46 on Dec. 13.
Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
*Jan. 25 -- Big Walnut at Capri Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 25-26 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Thomas Worthington
*Jan. 24 -- At Westerville North
Jan. 26 -- New Albany Invitational