Count Reynoldsburg senior Peighton Irish-Arnett as being among those who are looking forward to seeing girls wrestling continue to grow over the next few years.
After becoming what coach Jon Forgy believes was the first girl at the school to start in a varsity match when she did so during a dual in January 2018, Irish-Arnett won 11 matches and finished fifth in a Division I sectional at 106 pounds last season.
In addition to being a mainstay in the lineup again this year, competing mostly at 113, Irish-Arnett is planning to participate in the first girls state tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson.
"A new girl has come out (for Reynoldsburg) every single year (that I've been in high school), so I think it's pretty cool," Irish-Arnett said. "I'm ecstatic about (competing at the state girls event). I usually get (to wrestle other girls) about five times (per season). Next year we'll probably have four or five girls coming up to the high school team and I'm hoping that within the next few years that we'll have a girls team."
According to the final regular-season state girls rankings released Feb. 6 on americanwomenswrestling.com, Irish-Arnett is No. 5 at 111.
On Feb. 1 in the Lady Chieftain Invitational at Bellefontaine, Irish-Arnett finished fourth at 111 and sophomore Gracie Straughter placed fifth at 106.
Irish-Arnett also placed among the top six in two other tournaments this season, according to Forgy.
Straughter, who placed fourth at sectional last season but did not compete at district at 113, also will be participating in the girls state event.
Forgy is planning to coach both at the state girls tournament, which is sponsored by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association but is not sanctioned by the OHSAA.
"I've told Peighton that she's one of the reasons why the sport is growing in central Ohio," Forgy said. "It's great (that she wrestled) in the Central District (preseason) all-star meet. I'm looking forward (to the state girls tournament) as I think it's great for our sport and our state."
On Feb. 8 in the OHSAA team dual tournament at Hilliard Darby, Reynoldsburg was seeded 10th in Region 6 and opened with a 39-36 loss to seventh-seeded Westland.
The Raiders are 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division as they prepare to close their league schedule Thursday, Feb. 13, at Lancaster.
Irish-Arnett and Straughter are expected to be in Reynoldsburg's lineup when it competes in a sectional Feb. 29 at Upper Arlington.
Freshman Cassidy Gall is another girl in the program.
"I'm excited for the future of our girls wrestling here at Reynoldsburg," Forgy said. "I'm very excited for Peighton and Gracie to have the opportunity to participate in the girls state (tournament)."
Swimmers set for district meet
The swimming and diving program began Division I district competition with boys diving Feb. 12. The meet continues Thursday, Feb. 13, with boys and girls swimming and girls diving at Ohio State.
On Feb. 8, the Raiders competed in a sectional at Upper Arlington, where the winner of each swimming event advanced along with 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
The boys placed fourth (117) of 10 teams behind champion and host UA (467). Nate Gaver was runner-up in both the 50-yard freestyle (21.47 seconds) and 100 free (47.3), Max Hutson-Comeaux was fifth in the 500 free (4:58.84) and sixth in the 200 free (1:51.55), the 200 medley relay of Malachi Nichols, Gaver, Hutson-Comeaux and Jonathan Begeny was fifth (1:48.48), the 200 free relay of Gaver, Nichols, Begeny and Austin Harter was third (1:37.63) and the 400 free relay of Hutson-Comeaux, Begeny, Dhishan Kashyap and Nichols placed fifth (3:46.83).
The girls were ninth (38) of 12 teams behind champion and host UA (403). Kasey Lichtner placed seventh in the 50 free (25.16) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.58) to lead the way.
From district, the top six boys divers, the top four girls divers, the top two finishers in each swimming event and 16 at-large qualifiers in each swimming event based on times statewide advance to the state meet, which begins Feb. 20 and concludes Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Boys basketball team tries to move forward
With a 60-59 overtime win over Central Crossing on Feb. 4, the boys basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak.
That same night, an "incident between coach (Scott) Davis and one of our students," according to a letter sent from Reynoldsburg administrators to members of the basketball program, led to Davis being put on administrative leave.
He was not on the bench for the Raiders' 64-57 loss Feb. 7 at Pickerington North, and it's uncertain whether he'll be coaching when Reynoldsburg closes the regular season Friday, Feb. 14, at home against Lancaster.
The Raiders are seeded 17th and open the Division I district tournament Feb. 22 at home against 22nd-seeded Dublin Scioto. They are 11-10 overall and 2-7 in the OCC-Ohio, including a 56-46 win over Lancaster on Jan. 10.
Shawn Elliott, who had been the junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant, has been serving as interim coach.
Against Central Crossing, Sean Moore had 19 points, James Dean scored 14 and Zaveon Croff added 12.
Athletes announce college selections
During the second signing period for football that began Feb. 5, the Raiders had seven players announce their college decisions.
Mikah Coleman will play for Eastern Michigan, James Dean will compete for Tiffin, Breyon Eddings will compete for Indianapolis, Shon Strickland will play for Bowling Green, Michael Whatley will play for Urbana and Cocy Goff and Jalen Bowens both will play for Siena Heights.
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg girls basketball and wrestling teams:
Feb. 15 -- Home vs. 39th-seeded Mifflin in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays host to 43rd-seeded Olentangy Orange in second round Feb. 21. The Raiders are seeded ninth.
*Feb. 13 -- At Lancaster
Feb. 15 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
Feb. 19 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township