Olentangy wrestling coach Dennis Lyberger isn't putting pressure on any one competitor to lead the way as the Braves continue to mature.
While junior heavyweight Ethan Hand leads the team with a 17-8 record, Lyberger simply wanted to see continuous growth from a roster whose only experienced wrestler above 160 pounds is Hand himself.
"We just need to keep getting better," Lyberger said. "We still have two months left (in the season) and it's our job as coaches to get the guys to correct their mistakes, get better and get more aggressive. (We need to) take baby steps and get better.
"I think it's a slow process, but we need to keep believing in ourselves, being more aggressive at the right times and knowing the ins and outs of where to be in what situation, stuff like that."
Olentangy will seek its first OCC-Buckeye Division win Thursday, Jan. 23, at home against three-time defending league champion Liberty.
The Braves won five matches in a 45-27 home loss to Westerville Central but had to forfeit the 170, 195 and 220 weight classes. Olentangy got wins from Hand, Vaughn Fowler (120), Ben Hall (138), Jackson Moses (126) and Adam Orndorf (160).
"I've been grinding it out," said Hand, a junior who missed all of last season because of an ankle injury. "The guys up in the room are good. We're working. We just need to keep chugging and reload and do our best with what we have.
"I feel like being a lighter heavyweight, my advantage would be my pace. I can push the pace, wear guys out and try to win my matches in the third period."
Olentangy lost its OCC-Buckeye opener, 44-32 at Westerville South on Jan. 7.
Hand placed second in the Mason Comets Invitational on Jan. 18, going 3-1 and losing to Indianapolis Cathedral's Holden Parsons 9-4 in the final. Fowler and Orndorf placed fourth in their weight classes as the Braves scored 84 points and finished eighth of 10 teams as Evansville (Indiana) Mater Dei won (337).
Boys basketball team hits the road
The boys basketball team's second trip out of the area this season won't be as long as the first.
Olentangy will travel to Canton McKinley on Sunday, Jan. 26, to participate in the inaugural Eric Snow Classic. The Braves will play McKinley, which was ranked 13th in the state in Division II last week, in the last of four games.
In December, the Braves played three games in the KSA Events Holiday Basketball Tournament at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The Braves were 4-10 overall before playing Big Walnut on Jan. 21 and are 0-6 in the OCC-Buckeye after a 62-61 home loss to South on Jan. 17. Olentangy led 22-12 after the first quarter and 50-45 after three, but South's Stephon Saint-Cyr hit the game-winning shot off an offensive rebound with two seconds left.
Jake Elmore scored 15 points to lead a balanced effort. Ethan Smith added 13 points, Tavian James had 11 and Josiah Seymour scored 10 for the Braves, who had a 17-0 run to start the third quarter.
Swimmers prepare for OCC meet
The girls swimming and diving team will try to win a second consecutive OCC-Buckeye championship during the league meet Saturday, Jan. 25, at Kenyon College.
Cameron Kuriger (100-yard butterfly), Anna McGrath (100 freestyle) and Martina Peroni (200 individual medley) enter the meet as defending league champions, and the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay also will try to follow up on last year's first-place finishes.
The Braves scored 276 points at last year's league meet to finish ahead of Westerville North (259.5), Orange (217), Liberty (204), Central (165) and South (141.5).
The boys team finished third (170.5) in the league last year behind Liberty (506.5) and North (180) and ahead of Orange (140), Central (134) and South (126). Preston Kuriger got the team's only first-place finish when he won the 100 backstroke, and he also was runner-up in the 100 free and helped the 200 medley and 400 free relays to third place.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Braves lost to the Warriors 51-50 on Dec. 13.
Jan. 26 -- At Canton McKinley in Eric Snow Classic
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Braves lost to the Warriors 35-34 on Dec. 13.
Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Washington Court House
*Jan. 24 -- Westerville South at Palace Lanes
Jan. 25 -- Jaguar Baker Tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 27 -- Westerville North at Delaware Lanes
*Jan. 26 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller North
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 25 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Kenyon College
*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Liberty
Jan. 25 -- At Berlin