Given the perennial success of the Pickerington High School Central football team, Tigers wrestling coach Jason Allen usually gives his athletes who compete in both sports time early in the season to acclimate before competing.
Senior Silas Pearson got no such grace period this season. Just 15 days after the football team lost to Cincinnati Colerain 28-14 in a Division I state semifinal, Pearson finished first at 182 pounds in the season-opening Dan Gartner Duals on Dec. 8 at Whitehall.
Pearson, who has placed in the top four in each of the team's six tournaments this season and has a team-best 29-5 record, is not complaining.
"I've been wrestling so long and I am so dedicated to the sport that I am just ready to go whenever the team needs me," Pearson said. "It is a tough adjustment jumping from the conditioning for football to the wrestling conditioning. They're completely different, but I work to make that adjustment less. With wrestling, you have to condition yourself for the duration. In football, you have to be explosive. It's one quick play for two seconds and in wrestling, it's constant for six minutes. You have to know how to pace yourself."
Pearson, who was a defensive lineman and linebacker in football, also won the 182 title in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Jan. 12 at Hilliard Bradley and in the Washington Court House Bracket Tournament on Jan. 26.
He placed third in the Kevin Cleveland Invitational on Jan. 5 at Dublin Scioto and fourth in both the Liberty Classic that concluded Dec. 15 at Olentangy Liberty and the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Invitational Tournament that ended Dec. 28 at Vandalia Butler.
None of the Tigers' seven other wrestlers who also played on the football team have competed in every tournament this season.
"We wrestled (Pearson) into shape. We felt that he needs competition to get into better shape. Some of his wins were ugly, but he got through them," Allen said. "Wrestling is a much more demanding sport as far as on your lungs, overall conditioning and muscular endurance. He understands (the adjustment from football to wrestling) won't happen overnight. He keeps his head down, focuses on the goal and gets to it."
Pearson finished fifth in a Division I sectional tournament as a sophomore, one spot shy of advancing to district. He placed third at sectional last season and went 1-2 at district.
According to Allen, Pearson is dominant both on his feet and also on top.
"He's pretty good on his feet, but where I think he does his best is on top. He's really tough to get out from under," said senior Alex Epps, who competes at 195 and is one of Pearson's frequent sparring partners.
"He's very strong and technically tough. He always finds a way to pull through with the win. It doesn't matter what kind of situation he gets himself into. He is just solid."
Pearson downplayed his strengths, saying his success is a result of buying into the program and reflective of the team as a whole. Central is 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division and does not compete again until finishing its league schedule Feb. 7 at Pickerington North.
The Tigers split two OCC-Ohio matches at home Jan. 24, defeating Grove City 51-21 and falling to four-time defending league champion Lancaster 51-24.
"Just going by the coaches' program helps me be the best wrestler I can be," Pearson said. "As a team, we're all good on our feet and with circling and taking good shots. Those are strengths we all share."
Eberhardt leads swim teams at league meet
Although boys swimmer Nathen Eberhardt set his fifth program record at the OCC-Ohio meet Jan. 26 at Upper Arlington, finishing second in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, .4 seconds, coach Justin Dortch might have been more thrilled that the girls team finished in the top half of the league.
Six third-place finishes led the girls team to 179 points and third place behind Gahanna (349) and North (339) and ahead of Grove City (130), Lancaster (111) and Reynoldsburg (78).
Placing third were Paige Christy in the 100 backstroke (1:03.67), Bella Jones in the 100 freestyle (58.66), Kolya Larson in the 50 free (26.11), the 200 free relay (1:48.25), the 200 medley relay (1:58.8) and the 400 free relay (4:04.23).
Larson placed fourth in the 100 breast (1:11.06) and Megan Phillips was fourth in the 500 free (6:01.22).
"The girls haven't placed this well in the league for a long time. They're deep and they have talent everywhere," coach Justin Dortch said. "Nathen really wanted this record because I could never get it personally. He's happy to have it."
Eberhardt broke the previous record of 1:01.55, set by George Melikian in 2016.
Eberhardt won the 200 individual medley (1:56.69) and Brett Eberhardt placed fourth in both the 50 free (23.8) and 100 free (51.48) as the boys team finished sixth (138) behind Gahanna (328), North (226), Grove City (194), Reynoldsburg (158) and Lancaster (155).
"I had confidence that I could break a record," Nathen Eberhardt said. "(Dortch and I) love talking about the records. It's something we joke back and forth about."
Basketball teams prepare for Raiders
The girls basketball team has a chance to clinch its fourth consecutive OCC-Ohio championship with a win Friday, Feb. 1, at home against Reynoldsburg, and the boys will enter their game against the Raiders later that night still tied for first with North.
The girls, who were ranked first in last week's Division I state poll, remained atop the league with a 77-31 home rout of Lancaster on Jan. 25. Maliya Perry had a game-high 18 points and Madison Greene scored 12 for the Tigers, who followed up that win the next day with a 69-43 victory over Louisville (Kentucky) Sacred Heart Academy at Raatz Fence/O'Shea's Classic at Louisville (Kentucky) Mercy Academy and are 17-1 overall and 8-0 in the OCC-Ohio, two games ahead of second-place Reynoldsburg.
Perry had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Sacred Heart Academy.
The boys team is 16-1 overall and 6-1 in the league coming off a 59-47 win at Lancaster on Jan. 25. Central was ranked sixth in last week's Division I state poll and defeated Garfield Heights 79-60 at home Jan. 26 in the Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic behind Garner Wallace's career-high 30 points and 20 from Jahvon Garcia.
That was Wallace's fourth consecutive double-digit scoring game. He also led the Tigers with a game-high 18 points against Lancaster, had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in a 95-80 win over Trotwood-Madison on Jan. 21 in Flyin' to the Hoop at Kettering Fairmont and scored 14 points the next night in a 72-65 win over Westerville Central.
The girls game against Reynoldsburg is scheduled for 6 p.m., followed by the boys game.
Reynoldsburg's boys are third in the OCC-Ohio at 5-2.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball and bowling teams:
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Tigers defeated the Raiders 52-45 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Tigers defeated the Raiders 71-47 on Dec. 21.
Feb. 5 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Feb. 4 -- Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Feb. 6 -- Thomas Worthington at Rule 3