Ryan Mitchell is embracing the challenges of his new role: coaching the wrestling team at Grove City.
One of those challenges is replacing Jay DiMasso, who stepped down after 20 seasons with the program. Another is building the program, but Mitchell is pleased with the overall turnout and the early effort by his athletes.
"This is what I expected," said Mitchell, who has coached at the youth and middle school levels in the South-Western City School District and is a broadcaster for the Columbus Clippers. "I was pleasantly surprised by our numbers. We have 40 kids on the roster, but we don't have many (six) seniors. I like where we are right now, but we're not where we're going to be. I like it that most people have bought into what I'm trying to do here."
Key returnees include sophomores Triston Beane (120 pounds), Brayden Benson (195) and David Jordan (132). Each competed in the Division I district tournament last season.
Joey Woolard, who began last season with the Greyhounds before opting to leave the team in late December, has returned for his senior season.
"I love coach Mitchell and his mindset, his push on us every day and being honest at all times and not letting us slack," said Woolard, who competes at heavyweight. "We want to get every single individual to their top potential."
Senior Dom Reynolds (160) is another key returnee.
"Everyone has put in a lot more work than usual," he said.
Other key wrestlers are senior James Scalf (126), juniors Bobby Adams (heavyweight), Josiah Bever (245), Nick Getz (220), Caden Gordon (138), Carlin Hamilton (170) and William Mason (heavyweight), sophomores Antonio Carrillo (152) and Gavin Kirk (182) and freshmen Regan Mitchell (106), Andrew Palmer (106), Braxton Sheets (113/120) and Slade Waller (113).
The Greyhounds opened by splitting a pair of matches at Westerville South on Dec. 5. They defeated Hamilton Township 60-15 and lost to Hilliard Bradley 40-36.
Winners by pin against Hamilton Township were Palmer (1 minute, 29 seconds), Gordon (3:18), Hamilton (1:18) and Benson (1:27).
Winners by pin against Brad-ley were Waller (30 seconds), Sheets at 120 (42 seconds), junior Cameron Berio at 132 (26 seconds) and Woolard (4:41).
Grove City opens its OCC-Ohio Division schedule Jan. 9 against Lancaster. Last season, the Greyhounds went 3-2 in the league to finish third behind champion Lancaster (5-0).
"I have tried to up the level of competition, particularly at the beginning of the season to show these guys where we're at and where we are trying to go," Mitchell said. "I believe in wrestling tough competition."
Key losses to graduation include Hunter Barker, who finished 106-47 for his career, and Justin Swavely, who finished 107-39. Both competed at district last season.
Mitchell was the coach at Jackson Middle School the past two seasons and previously coached in the Little Dawgs youth program for four years. He had a previous three-year stint as the coach at Jackson, beginning in the 2008-09 season.
Swim teams feature solid returnees
Despite the loss of several athletes to graduation, the swimming and diving teams return key competitors.
For the boys, junior Gregory Kingsbury (50-yard freestyle, 100 free) is in his third season with the program. He finished 28th in the 50 free (22.99) in the Division I district meet last season.
"We have quite a few new swimmers," Kingsbury said. "We lost a lot of seniors last year, a lot guys with experience. We have a lot of new swimmers from all of the classes. It's a young team, but we're doing really well. We're just going to continue to get better. ... I like being a leader."
Also back are seniors Will Hutchison, Joseph Martin and Nicholas Swanson and sophomore Jacob Antonelli.
Also looking to contribute are sophomore Gunnar Byas and freshmen Owen Breeckner, Ricci Rader and Hayden Stone.
A key loss to graduation was Spencer Tussing, who finished third in the 500 free (4:32.25) and sixth in the 200 free (1:40.19) at state last season. He is swimming at the University of Tennessee.
Sophomore Hannah Routh, who finished 14th in the 100 backstroke (57.35) at state, should help lead the girls team.
Also back are senior Reese Rader, juniors Madelyn Holcomb and Rocsi Rader and sophomores Audrey Bueter, Kennedy LaVigne, Kelsey Melendez and Emma Pancake.
Other swimmers are sophomore Madeline Masloski and freshmen Gabby Arehart, Madison Gillon, Mya Holcomb and Kate Perigo.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 13 -- At Reynoldsburg
Dec. 17 -- Home vs. Groveport
*Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Dec. 17 -- At Groveport
Dec. 14 -- Hilliard Invitational at Hilliard Darby
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 13-14 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 13-14 -- Olentangy Liberty Classic