Coming into the season with high expectations and three returning state qualifiers, the Delaware Hayes wrestling team is off to a strong start.
The Pacers are 3-0 in OCC-Cardinal Division dual meets and had multiple wrestlers place high in the Liberty Classic held Dec. 13 and 14 at Olentangy Liberty and the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament held Dec. 27 and 28 at Vandalia Butler.
Delaware has defeated Dublin Jerome (61-15 on Dec. 12), Dublin Scioto (45-26 on Dec. 19) and Hilliard Darby (46-22 on Jan. 8) in league action. The Pacers finished third out of 28 teams in the Liberty Classic and third out of 49 teams in the GMVWA Holiday Tournament.
"We're really happy overall with the start, and we're just going to keep grinding and doing what we're doing and hope to keep going," coach Kevin Rieman said. "It's awesome that we've had this early success, but a lot of these guys have really big goals. We know we have to keep working and keep getting better and keep pushing."
The Pacers' returning state qualifiers -- seniors Corbin May (170 pounds), Mason Sutandar (182) and Emmett Cain (160) -- have had excellent starts to the season. Their other two state qualifiers from last year, Zach Williams (138) and Jacob McCloskey (195), graduated.
May is 16-1 with a first-place finish in both the Liberty Classic and the GMVWA tournament, Cain is 15-2 with a second-place finish in the Liberty Classic and a first-place finish in the GMVWA tournament and Sutandar is 16-2 with a third-place finish in the Liberty Classic and a first-place finish in the GMVWA tournament.
"We just have to keep going and stay focused. That's it," Sutandar said.
"Our hand fighting and our aggressiveness and our consistency to stay on the right path and do the right moves and stay relentless and never stop (are things we've been doing well)," Cain said.
Rieman said Nate Robinson (220) is another senior who is off to a strong year. Robinson is 17-5 and placed fourth in both the Liberty Classic and the GMVWA tournament.
"We have a really strong group of seniors right now," Rieman said. "They're just a hard-working group that are on the mat as much or more than most of the guys around the state. They're pulling some of these young guys along, which has really been a key as far as the team's success."
Other wrestlers who have distinguished themselves so far are juniors Clay Ours (195) and Tamas Eder (113). Ours is 17-3 and placed third in both the Liberty Classic and the GMVWA tournament and Eder is 12-7 and placed fifth in both tournaments.
"(Ours) was behind a state placer (McCloskey) last year, so we knew he'd be ready to step up," Rieman said.
Girls basketball team seeks more consistency
The girls basketball team had an up-and-down first half of the season and is seeking more consistency, according to coach Lou Tiberi.
The Pacers were 6-6 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Olentangy Berlin on Jan. 10.
Delaware has played some tight games, including a 60-57 loss to Berlin on Dec. 3, a 58-49 loss to Thomas Worthington on Dec. 20, a 56-51 win over Lancaster on Dec. 28 and a 46-37 loss to Jerome on Jan. 7.
"We've been in every game except one," Tiberi said, referring a 56-36 loss to Scioto on Dec. 10. "Unfortunately, we just haven't been able to get over the top in a few of our league games, and we've kind of just been very inconsistent so far this season."
Tiberi said the team has to do a better job scoring, specifically shooting 3-pointers. The Pacers were shooting 29 percent from 3-point range through 11 games.
"We have not shot it as well as we are capable of shooting it," Tiberi said. "We have some good 3-point shooters, (but) we just have not shot it well."
Tiberi also said the team has found itself playing from behind early in games and has to execute better starts.
On the plus side, he has been pleased with the Pacers' defense in recent games.
"That's always been one of our sore spots because we've been so young in the past and we've been overmatched physically, but now we're really starting to do a better job of understanding where we're supposed to be and we're holding teams where we need to to win games," Tiberi said. "Unfortunately, we're just having a little trouble scoring right now to finish the job."
The Pacers' starting lineup features 5-foot-2 junior guard Karli Theis, 5-10 junior guard Alexis Amabile, 5-10 sophomore guard Chloe Jeffers, 6-0 junior forward Alyssa Griner and 6-4 junior post player Jordan Lantz.
Through 11 games, Amabile was averaging a team-high 13.6 points, while Jeffers has been the team's "most consistent player" who "does a little bit of everything," according to Tiberi.
"She's our best perimeter defender," Tiberi said of Jeffers. "She's usually a double-digit scorer for us. She's one of our top rebounders, and she pretty much is kind of the glue that holds us together."
Boys basketball team rounding into form
The boys basketball team lost its first five games to start the season, but entered its OCC-Cardinal contest against Berlin on Jan. 10 having four of its past five games and is starting to regain its form, according to coach Adam Vincenzo.
The loss of two key senior starters in 6-0 guards Nate Griggs and Addison Harvey is partly to blame for the Pacers' slow start, Vincenzo said.
"It's been a process. We're finally getting to who we are as our identity," said Vincenzo, whose team was 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before facing Berlin. "Anytime we're missing some of those main pieces, we struggle a little bit there. But we played hard and the effort level's always been there."
Griggs, the team's point guard, suffered a knee injury in a season-opening 52-45 loss to Buckeye Valley on Nov. 29. He missed the next four games before returning to the lineup in a 59-51 win over Worthington Kilbourne on Dec. 20.
Harvey suffered a shoulder injury in a 39-27 loss to Scioto on Dec. 10 and missed the next three games. He returned in a 41-19 win over Wadsworth on Dec. 28.
"Now that we're getting back to getting healthy, we're getting back to our expectations and who we are and our identity as a team and a program, for sure," Vincenzo said.
Vincenzo said he would like to see better offensive output from his team in the second half of the season. Through 10 games, senior forward Paul Burris was averaging a team-high 15 points and Griggs was averaging 13.5.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
Jan. 14 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Jan. 17 -- At Hilliard Darby. The Pacers lost to the Panthers 49-48 on Dec. 6.
Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Hudson Western Reserve Academy
Jan. 13 -- At Caledonia River Valley
*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby. The Pacers defeated the Panthers 65-36 on Dec. 6.
Jan. 18 -- Home vs. DeSales
Jan. 13 -- Marysville at Colony/Penn Lanes
*Jan. 15 -- Olentangy Berlin at Colony/Penn Lanes
Jan. 16 -- Westerville North at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 16 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Jan. 17-18 -- Top Gun Tournament at Alliance