Entering his first full season as DeSales wrestling coach, Collin Palmer is ecstatic that turnout in the program has almost tripled.
The Stallions opened the season Dec. 7, when they competed in their annual Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament, with 16 wrestlers, up from six to end last year.
"I sense a lot of excitement about the program," said Palmer, who took over for Nick Preston midway through last season and was a four-time state champion at Lakewood St. Edward from 2006-09. "We have a lot of newer wrestlers, a lot of kids with fight who are excited to learn. I know they will.
"People are excited about making sure this program will go in the right direction and we think that's where we're headed. Kids want to be a part of something like that. I think that direction has helped. They're enjoying themselves and they're learning."
Senior heavyweight Cole Potts returns after finishing fourth in the Division II state tournament last year. Potts, a James Madison football commit who was the 119th state placer in program history, went 38-5 last season.
Other returnees include senior Josh Morse, who went 23-13 at 126 pounds last year but planned to start this season at 138, and sophomores Evan Campbell (113) and Nate Siegrist (160/170).
Another district qualifier, sophomore Kody Goffin, transferred to Olentangy Berlin. He went 32-12 last season.
Potts joined the team after helping the football team to a Division II, Region 8 semifinal. He will compete in the Ironman Tournament on Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday, Dec. 14, at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit while the rest of the team heads to the Liberty Classic at Olentangy Liberty.
"(The Ironman) is the No. 1 high school tournament in the country. We want to get Cole some stellar competition and that is exactly what he is going to see," Palmer said. "He has worked on his shot and there's some obvious improvement. We are trying to get him to be even more of an all-around wrestler."
Potts won the heavyweight title in the Pizzurro tournament, leading the Stallions to 95.5 points and fourth place out of nine teams as Columbus South won (147). Freshman Owen Eagan won the 126 title and Morse was second at 138.
Potts earned his 100th career win in the first round, when he pinned South's Chase Strickler in 1 minute, 51 seconds.
According to Palmer, other expected contributors include junior Kirk Wilcox (138), sophomore Braden Jehn (170) and freshmen Will Hernandez (195) and and Rebecca Oladokun (145).
Oladokun finished first at 145 in last year's Ohio Athletic Committee Junior High State Championships.
"She could make an impact right away," Palmer said. "Braden has shown a lot of improvement. We're trying to get so many of the kids a spot in the lineup so they can be competitive with other teams and with each other. We're bunched up around 160 and 170. We want to be more even throughout the lineup and that could happen during the season."
DeSales begins CCL competition Jan. 23 against Hartley and St. Charles at Watterson and will take on Ready and Watterson six days later at Hartley.
The Stallions went 0-2 in last year's CCL duals to finish fourth behind the champion Hawks (2-0).
Swim teams return top competitors
Sophomore Brady McInerney is back to lead the boys swimming team after finishing 10th in the 200-yard individual medley and 20th in the 100 backstroke in the Division II state meet last season.
McInerney also was CCL champion in the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle and was sectional champion in the 100 back and 200 IM.
Fifth-year coach Ryan Buechner is confident that McInerney and senior Aaron Spittell's experience will complement a talented group of freshmen that includes Reece Hanley, Wyatt Hanley and Noah Pugh.
"Despite only having five seniors on the roster, we have good leadership," Buechner said. "The strongest area for the boys will be our numbers and that most can swim a multitude of events. I have not really ever had that versatility on the boys side before. Reece Hanley, Wyatt Hanley and Noah Pugh come in as swimmers that are capable of swimming of every event and swimming extremely fast in each.
"The strongest area for the girls would be their potential for growth. With so many new swimmers, I think there will be a lot of competition for relay spots and even varsity spots on the team. This will allow the competition to drive them and make each swimmer stronger."
Sophomore Libby Ruff is one of the girls team's top returnees, as she qualified for district in the 200 free and 500 free and was on the district-qualifying 200 free and 400 free relays last season. Junior Annamarie DeGuzman also was on the relays at district.
Spittell is the program's only three-year letterwinner.
According to Buechner, other potential contributors on the girls side include senior Cate Leithauser, junior Montserrat Tlahuel-Flores and freshmen Lydia Letzelter and Kaitlyn Schaefer.
Other returnees for the boys include juniors Leo Sears and Aidan Williams.
Thirty-four of the Stallions' 52 swimmers -- 36 girls and 16 boys -- are freshmen or sophomores.
"For three consecutive years, we have grown in our numbers and we are getting an even higher quality of swimmers," Buechner said. "We will continue to grow as a team and we will see different faces step up to meet the challenge."
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Hartley
Dec. 14 -- At Bloom-Carroll
Dec. 12 -- Home vs. Grove City
Dec. 14 -- At Dublin Scioto
*Dec. 12 -- Hartley at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 13 -- Watterson at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 16 -- Walnut Ridge at HP Lanes
*Dec. 17 -- Hamilton Township at Capri Lanes
Dec. 14 -- Olentangy Berlin at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 13-14 -- Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 13-14 -- Liberty Classic at Olentangy Liberty