With eight freshmen expected to see action, second-year Hilliard Davidson wrestling coach Chris Kline anticipates doing a little more teaching this season.
"We're extremely happy," Kline said. "We have a very young team, a lot of freshmen in the lineup. It's going to be a big learning experience for them, but it's going to be fun to watch them grow and see how they develop this season. This is a brand new experience for everyone. There's some potential."
With the influx of young wrestlers, Kline will look to his upperclassmen for leadership.
Leading the way should be senior Jackson Sowers, who missed the final month of last season with an ankle injury sustained during the Division I team dual tournament. He will compete at 145 pounds.
"Jackson is leading by example," Kline said. "He's really focused this season. I'm real excited for him. We're definitely expecting him to get his name in the mix at the district tournament."
Sowers is looking forward to his final prep season.
"I have to work hard every time I get into this wrestling room," Sowers said. "I have to get extra workouts in. I'm not cutting too much weight this year, so I'm just trying to stay healthy, keep the ankle good and be ready every time I step on the mat."
Also back are seniors Braden Eaton (220) and Nick Lingaman (160) and sophomores Dez Gartrell (152), Quin Hopping (138), Domanic Martinez (132) and Marquis Shaw (113). Last season, Gartrell went 0-2 at district at 145 to finish 15-16 overall.
"Dez is extremely athletic and he leads by example," Kline said. "With all the training that he did this summer, we're excited to see where it puts him this season."
Other wrestlers include senior Redwan Kamel (160), sophomore Manny Sena (220) and freshmen Kareem Elwawi (195), Josh Henderson (145), Lance Jelen (170), Richard Lawrence (182), George Monroe (126), Wyatt Moore (120), Ethan Riegel (113), Wyatt Sherer (106) and Lane Sowers (132).
Kline doesn't anticipate having a competitor at heavyweight.
"We'd like to have at least two state qualifiers," Kline said. "The biggest thing with having so many freshmen is just seeing them progress throughout the season and make sure they're wrestling their best at the end of the season."
Davidson opened Dec. 7 by finishing seventh (99.5 points) of nine teams in the Olentangy Invitational behind champion Centerville (279.5).
Sherer (106) and Gartrell (160) both finished third.
The Wildcats begin OCC-Central Division action Jan. 7 at Upper Arlington. Last season, they went 1-4 in the league to finish fifth behind champion Dublin Coffman (5-0).
"The league is good competition," Kline said. "If you want to be one of the better wrestlers, you have to wrestle the best schools. We're lucky that we are in a (league) with schools like Marysville and Coffman. We have the competition. Those are usually the teams that are at the top of the list at district, so we want to compete with them."
The Wildcats lost a state qualifier to graduation in Luke DeWeese, who went 0-2 at state at 152 last season to finish 20-6.
Swimmers return solid group
The swimming and diving teams return several key athletes, including juniors Gregory McGuire (individual medley, butterfly, sprints) and Sergio Suarez (backstroke, sprints, IM) on the boys squad.
Both were members of the 20th-place 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 27.8 seconds) in the Division I state meet last season.
Junior A.J. Zody (sprints) is another key returnee.
"We're a great group of guys," Zody said. "We have a lot of depth and I really enjoy hanging out with them."
Other key swimmers for the boys are seniors Xan Harman (sprints, fly) and Cameron Wiksell (free, breast), juniors Michael Foster (back, sprints, distance), Cy Hess (free), Jonathan Lynch (distance), Alain Martin (back, free), Riley Palanca (free, breast) and Troy Tarlton (back, breast), sophomores Ben Bartels (fly, IM), Josh Chi (all strokes), Mason Deerwester (distance, breast), Alex Oralov (breast, free) and Griffin White (free, back) and freshman Owen Johanssen (distance, breast).
"We have a chance to get a boys relay to state, the 200 medley and 200 free (relays)," fourth-year coach Lynn Bowers said. "Individually, Sergio has a good chance. Gregory has a chance."
Junior Ellie Warren (free, back) is a key returnee for the girls team.
"Even though we've grown, we're pretty tight as a group," Warren said. "Everyone is here to support each other."
Other key competitors are seniors Paige Erdman (fly, sprints) and Brogan Gehring (IM, breast), juniors Gwen Duncan (free), Vivian Smith (distance, sprints, IM) and Katie Woollard (distance, back), sophomore Logan Long (back, IM) and freshman Addie Johannsen (breast, fly).
"Brogan Gehring has a chance to make it to state," Bowers said.
Gehring last competed for Davidson as a sophomore, opting to focus solely on club swimming her freshman and junior years.
"She (previously) wanted to concentrate on club, but really wanted to be part of the high school team her senior year," Bowers said.
Davidson played host to the Wildcat Invitational on Nov. 30 at the Hilliard YMCA. The boys finished first (121) of four teams, well ahead of runner-up Bradley (53), and the girls were first (84) of five teams, ahead of runner-up Bradley (48).
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 13 -- At Upper Arlington
Dec. 16 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Dec. 13 -- Home vs. UA
Dec. 17 -- Home vs. Bradley
*Dec. 18 -- Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Dec. 14 -- Hilliard Invitational at Darby
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 13-14 -- Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 14 -- Hamilton Township Classic