After seeing his team compete shorthanded most of the season, Whitehall-Yearling wrestling coach Steve Pennington hopes the Rams return to full strength in time to prepare for the postseason.
"We have a lot of things going on with injuries and illnesses," Pennington said. "We just can't get everybody in the lineup who needs to be in. A lot that will change this weekend. I'm looking forward to having a lot in place this weekend."
Pennington anticipates having close to a full lineup when Whitehall competes in the Sally George Invitational on Friday, Jan. 24, and Saturday, Jan. 25, at Marion Pleasant.
Last season, the Rams finished 15th (38) of 21 teams behind champion London (226.5).
"It's a pretty big tournament: 20 teams, two days, good competition," Pennington said. "We went to it last year, but I only took three really good kids because we were so young. I'm going to send my young kids this year and let them compete. It's just about getting mat time, being out there and experiencing every second that you can."
Whitehall then will prepare for the five-team MSL-Ohio Division tournament Feb. 15 at Bexley. The tournament again will be a dual-match format, with the host Lions looking to defend their back-to-back championships.
"It will be a good tournament," Pennington said. "If I have everybody in place and kids are healthy and I have my full lineup, we definitely have the talent to win that. But everybody has to be healthy and we have to fill every weight class. We have to perform like we can."
Because of the injuries and illnesses, Whitehall took a limited lineup to the Panther Invitational on Jan. 18 at Pickerington North and finished 13th (54) of 14 teams behind champion Westerville Central (215.5).
Andrew Dickens, who is 25-3 on the season, finished second at heavyweight while Shea Jordan (106 pounds) and Austin Whistle (126, 8-4) placed sixth.
Senior Steven Fancelli missed the Panther Invitational because of an illness, but is expected to compete at Pleasant. He wrestled as a freshman and sophomore before opting not to compete last season, and has enjoyed success in his return.
"I have improved my technique and my mental ability to focus more on wrestling," Fancelli said. "It's given me a lot better record this year. ... I'd love to go to state. I have to keep focusing and trying hard in the sport that I love."
With Jordan 25-5 at 106 and Fancelli 18-5 at 113, Pennington believes he has a solid combination in the lower weights. The two have been training partners during practice, which has helped them sharpen their skills.
Jace Peck has missed action with a concussion, but is close to returning at 160, according to Pennington. He is 11-9 on the season.
Juniors David Winegarner (170) and Bradley Holley (195) have been out with illnesses, but are expected to return this weekend.
Senior Dajuon Brewer has missed time at 145 with a broken hand, and Pennington is unsure when he will return.
"It's been one thing after another," Pennington said.
"It's the middle of the season and nobody is 100 percent healthy. We're just trying to get everybody ready for the league tournament and sectional and district. It's been a trying month."
Boys basketball team to take on Newark
The boys basketball team will look to carry its recent momentum into a matchup against Newark in the Jared Sullinger Play by Play Classic on Saturday, Jan. 25, at Ohio Dominican.
The Rams lost to Newark 61-43 in the second round of the Division I district tournament last season.
Whitehall was 8-5 overall and 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley on Jan. 21.
The Rams defeated Eastmoor Academy 63-53 on Jan. 18 at home. Kei'Von Wiggins led Whitehall with 21 points, followed by Josiah Mobley with 15 and Royal Sibley with 11. Wiggins scored 14 points in a 38-36 win over Buckeye Valley on Jan. 17 at home.
Gymnast enjoying strong senior season
Gymnast Rebekah Revadelo is continuing a solid senior season. She competed in the Worthington Kilbourne Invitational on Jan. 18, finishing 23rd in the all-around (31.75) and 18th on balance beam (8.25).
Revadelo trains and competes with Westerville Central.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
Jan. 25 -- Newark in Jared Sullinger Play by Play Showcase at Ohio Dominican
*Jan. 29 -- At Wellington. The Rams defeated the Jaguars 57-55 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Grandview. The Rams defeated the Bobcats 60-36 on Dec. 9.
*Jan. 28 -- At Columbus Academy. The Rams defeated the Vikings 67-26 on Dec. 14.
*Jan. 23 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 24 -- Pickerington Central at Holiday Lanes
Jan. 25 -- Boro Roll-Off at Poelking Lanes South in Dayton
*Jan. 29 -- Hilliard Davidson at Holiday Lanes
Jan. 24-25 -- Sally George Invitational at Marion Pleasant