Although low numbers have made it a struggle for the Worthington Kilbourne High School wrestling team to find success in dual meets, first-year coach Jose Martinez is pleased with the progress of the program.
"We still don't have a full lineup and we have some young guys competing who should more than likely be on the j.v. team, (but) we've got some young guys beginning to make names for themselves," Martinez said. "I think we've got a lot of good things in place and we'll continue to build on them."
Junior Kuric Buell, a Division I state qualifier last year, is 21-6 at 138 pounds. He was runner-up in the Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament on Jan. 5 at Dublin Scioto and placed fifth in the Findlay Invitational on Dec. 15.
Junior Jay Thompson is 28-3 at 220 after placing sixth in the Top Gun Invitational held Jan. 18 and 19 at Alliance. He lost by injury default in a consolation semifinal and then forfeited the fifth-place match.
"Entering (the Top Gun Invitational), Jay's only loss was in the Kevin Cleveland (tournament)," Martinez said. "He was ranked in the top 15 in the state at his weight (by BorofanOhio.net). He beat two ranked kids in St. Clairsville (at the America's Best Value Inn Invitational on Dec. 28 and 29).
"We only have two seniors on the team and a bunch of these young guys are stepping up and buying into what we're teaching," Martinez said. "Spencer Parker-Gordon is a sophomore who is doing really great things and Iain Rojas is a freshman who was wrestling up at 152 and faced a brutal schedule. His record isn't great, but I think we'll see that change now that we're moving him down to 145."
Parker-Gordon finished seventh at 113 pounds in the Top Gun Invitational and improved to 25-7, while Rojas is 17-15 after going 1-2 in his debut at 145.
Junior Sean Hoffman is 14-10 at 132 and was a runner-up in Findlay. Senior Kyle Watson is 15-9 and was rotating with junior Alex Rader at 145, but both are moving to 152. Rader, who placed fourth in the Kevin Cleveland tournament, is 7-7.
The Wolves are 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division entering a match at Delaware on Thursday, Jan. 24. They lost to visiting Hilliard Bradley 54-15 in a league match Jan. 17.
"We're working on building some depth and trying to get more involvement in our youth program," Martinez said. "... Plus, Mike Edwards, the new football coach, has asked me to be part of his coaching staff like I was at Newark before coming here. That'll give me a good chance to recruit some of those guys into the wrestling room. It's good for both sports. It's a win-win.
"But I definitely have seen progress with these guys and they're working hard to improve every day."
Swimming teams set for OCC meet
The swimming and diving teams will compete in the OCC-Cardinal meet Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thomas with the postseason looming.
Last season, the boys and girls teams both finished fifth in the league meet as Jerome swept the team titles.
"The girls team should be strong in the league meet, although Jerome is one of the top teams in the state," coach Jim Callahan said. "Haley Banner, Nanami Campbell, Evie DeCarlo, Lauren Richner and Emma Yeager have been very good and they're not tapering until (the Division I) district (meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State). They are in the 200 (-yard) medley and the 200 freestyle relays. The medley relay is ranked seventh in the district and the 200 free relay is ranked 12th in the state. Both have legitimate shots of qualifying to state if they click at district."
The postseason begins with sectional competition Feb. 9 at Thomas.
Last season, Banner was a state qualifier, placing 16th in the 100 free (52.9 seconds) after finishing 24th as a sophomore.
"Haley just missed going to state in the 50 free last year and we'd like to see her make it in both of her individual events as a senior," Callahan said.
"Lauren has been very strong in the 50 free, too. I think they're going to have a very good postseason, beginning with the OCC meet."
The boys team is expected to be led by Jack Begley and Nathan Martin, with help from Noah Wilson, Mitchell Fisher and John Cuozzo.
"Jack and Nathan really set the tone with their work ethic," Callahan said. "There are no superstars, but it's a well-rounded team. Jack is an animal. He lifted with the track team when I gave them the day off the other day. Nathan is always right there with him in the weight room and dry land workouts.
"Noah is a great diver who is starting to have some outstanding swims right now and John and Mitchell have been doing well, too."
Gymnasts place second in 'Beauty'
The gymnastics team finished second of four teams in its Beauty and the Beast event Jan. 17 at home.
Competing their routines around the perimeter of the gymnasium while the wrestling team competed in the middle, the Wolves totaled 132.1 points to finish behind Hilliard Darby (133.7) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (128.25) and Bradley (127.7).
Emily Mosic placed second in the all-around (33.5) and Laurel Rhodes was eighth (31.95).
Mosic finished second on vault (8.7) and third on floor exercise (8.9), tied for sixth on uneven bars (7.8) and was ninth on balance beam (8.1).
Abby Deitrick tied for first on bars (8.9), tied for fourth on beam (8.6) and tied for 10th on floor (8.4), Rhodes placed third on vault (8.3) and Trinity Leo was fifth on vault (8.1) and sixth on beam (8.5).
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- At Hilliard Darby. The Wolves beat the Panthers 61-40 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 29 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby. The Wolves lost to the Panthers 44-39 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 28 -- Home vs. Walnut Ridge
Jan. 24 -- Delaware at Capri Lanes
Jan. 29 -- Olentangy Berlin at Capri Lanes
Jan. 26 -- Elk Invitational at Centerville
Jan. 30 -- Home vs. DeSales, Dresden Tri-Valley and Olentangy
*Jan. 27 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Chiller Dublin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 25 -- OCC-Cardinal diving meet at Thomas
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal swimming meet at Thomas
*Jan. 24 -- At Delaware