An injury helped Carter Brenner come into his own on the mat.
The 138-pounder for the Bexley wrestling team missed all but one tournament last season because of injuries, but he used his time on the sidelines to become a better competitor and a better teammate. The latter is a necessity since he is the lone senior for the Lions this winter.
Brenner suffered injuries to both hamstrings during his junior football season, holding off his wrestling debut until the Marion Harding Invitational over the holiday break. He went 1-2 in the event but followed that up by injuring his right rotator cuff during practice, forcing him to miss the rest of the season and most of his junior lacrosse season.
Still, he found a way to be productive while sitting and watching.
"I actually learned a lot," he said. "We have a really young team and I'm the only senior on the team. There are no juniors, just sophomores and freshmen and me.
"They know I had all of these guys helping me like (2017 graduate) Jon (Clark) and (2018 graduates) Eliot (Clark), Reece (Wilson) and Grant (Robinson) and all of them. They were all great leaders, and I learned a great deal from them. I hope to pass my knowledge down (to this team)."
Brenner is 16-5 this season, most recently placing third in the Licking Heights Invitational on Jan. 17 and 18. Coach Chris Bragg said Brenner is making the most of his final season.
"Carter's one of the most athletic kids we have had here," Bragg said. "He has that senior cockiness, but you want confident cockiness. You want to be sure of yourself. Whenever he hits a move, he thinks he's going to hit it."
Brenner elected not to have surgery on his rotator cuff, instead working to rehab the shoulder. After that difficult regimen, he tore the meniscus in his right knee during preseason football practice, keeping the wide receiver/free safety out until Week 7.
Now, he said he's close to being 100 percent healthy.
"I like the competitive nature (of wrestling)," he said. "You have to come in and put in the work. You clock in and clock out every day.
"I think it's the hardest sport out there. Your body aches every day because you have to use every muscle of your body. You have to run to condition, you have to live wrestling every day, hand-fight, bang on each other's heads every day. I've had a couple of black eyes already this year."
Brenner qualified for the Division II district tournament at 106 as a freshman but failed to advance from sectional as a sophomore. He has his sights on returning to district and going further in the postseason.
"I learned the importance of trying to score all of the time and not just sandbagging," he said. "You have to score on every opportunity you get. In reality, the regular season doesn't matter. It's all about the postseason.
"You have to have a good wrestling IQ (to be successful). You have to know when (it's) the right time to hit your moves. I think watching wrestling and people who are in college or have won state championships can help. You watch what they do and just keep repeating, repeating, repeating it. You need to learn it by heart, so you can do it when you need to in a semifinal or a final."
Bragg said Brenner's study of the sport last season has made him much like an assistant coach.
"When Carter was out, he knew what he needed to do," Bragg said. "He learned how to be a leader, learned how to be an extra coach. He was an extra set of eyes in the room and an extra set of eyes on the mat. There are a lot of kids here that wouldn't be where they are today without his helping them last year."
Boys swimmers take second in MSL meet
A balanced performance helped the boys swimming and diving team finish second (201 points) in the 13-team MSL meet Jan. 25 behind host Columbus Academy (238).
Nicholas Minkin was runner-up in the 100-yard backstroke (59.1 seconds) and sixth in the 100 butterfly (1:00.64). Ryan Kemp was third in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.11), and Quinn Hall placed third in the 100 freestyle (54.6) and fifth in the 100 breast (1:10.76).
Eli Dresbach was fourth in the 500 free (5:37.16) and fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:17.97), and Hunter Johnson finished fourth in the 200 free (2:03.29) and seventh in the 100 fly (1:04.61). Atticus Keels placed fifth in the 500 free (5:42.47) and seventh in the 200 free (2:07.21), and Liam Timmons was eighth in the 500 free (6:14.66).
Dresbach, Johnson, Minkin and Hall were on the runner-up 400 free relay (3:43.79), and Minkin, Hall, Dresbach and Kemp comprised the third-place 200 medley relay (1:51.37). The sixth-place 200 free relay (1:44.85) featured Maxwell Clous, Keels, Kemp and Johnson.
The girls finished fourth (123) of 14 teams behind champion Columbus School for Girls (393).
Ally Grieshop was fourth in the 500 free (6:37.1) and seventh in the 200 free (2:08.65), and Leah Stamm placed fourth in the 200 IM (2:24.99) and seventh in the 100 fly (1:06.3). Bridget O'Reilly was seventh in the 200 IM (2:30.32) and 100 back (1:09.05), and Arianna Martin placed eighth in the 100 back (1:10.8).
Stamm, Martin, O'Reilly and Grieshop were on the fourth-place 400 free relay (4:04.96), and Sophie Jones, Eimear McCann, O'Reilly and Martin comprised the fifth-place 200 medley relay (2:11.66). Olivia Mitchell, Ilsa Evans, Evie Holzhall and Stamm were on the fifth-place 200 free relay (1:53.49).
"We had some really good swims, but there is still room for improvement," coach Sandy Sliwowski said. "This helps us determine what events we will be placing them in (for sectional) and what they will have the best chance of advancing in to district."
The Lions compete in a Division II sectional Feb. 8 at Academy.
Boys team looks to snap skid
The boys basketball team had lost three consecutive games and five of six to drop to 3-13 overall before playing Hamilton Township on Jan. 28.
The Lions fell to 0-8 in the MSL-Ohio after losing to Academy 58-45 on Jan. 25 despite 28 points and five 3-pointers from Damian Davis.
Davis scored 12 points in a 51-38 loss to Whitehall on Jan. 21 in league play.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 31 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian. The Lions lost to the Warriors 57-41 on Dec. 17.
*Feb. 4 -- At Buckeye Valley. The Lions lost to the Barons 64-43 on Dec. 21.
*Feb. 1 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls. The Lions lost to the Unicorns 32-19 on Dec. 20.
*Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Whitehall. The Lions lost to the Rams 42-37 on Jan. 10.
*Jan. 31 -- Columbus West at Game of Western Columbus
Feb. 1 -- MSL-Ohio tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 31 -- At St. Charles j.v. with CSG and Hartley
Jan. 30 -- Home vs. London and St. Charles