Canal Winchester wrestling coach Harrison Rosch noted before this season that junior Cian Rose seemed to have an extra edge to his personality on the mat as he prepared to compete for the first time since his freshman year.

Rose agreed, even having grown a mullet after missing his sophomore season because of a broken growth plate and torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

That is what made a sprained left MCL suffered just before the first tournament of this season especially difficult to handle for Rose, who was a Division I district qualifier at 106 pounds as a freshman.

"I just love the sport. Anyway I can be involved with it, that's what I want," Rose said. "Even the (mullet) is big in wrestling culture. I have worked with kids and gone to clubs so that has helped me stay in this mentality and made me want to get back even more."

Rose finally returned Jan. 23, pinning New Albany's Christopher Brewer in 1 minute, 29 seconds at 145.

His return, as well of that of sophomore Gabe Sanfillipo -- a district qualifier as a freshman -- have given the Indians extra depth and excitement as the regular season winds down, according to Rosch.

"They've been the sparkplug to our lineup," Rosch said. "When they walk on to the mat, they are excited to wrestle and when they've gotten their wins, they've pumped up the rest of the team. A few of Gabe's wins have come at critical points, so that has helped fire us up even more. We definitely missed those guys early on in the year."

Sanfillipo is 4-0 and Rose is 1-1 entering the Indians' final OCC-Capital Division match of the season Thursday, Feb. 13, at home against Franklin Heights. Canal Winchester, which is 2-2 in the league, also will play host to its annual 20-team Canal Winchester Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Sanfillipo, who went 25-23 and was a district qualifier at 113 last season, was injured in the third practice of this season when his left big toe bent too far back during a drill, breaking the ball of his foot. He made his return Jan. 9 against Groveport and has alternated between his preferred weight class of 120 with 126 and 132.

"I was pretty upset. I was at least hoping to wrestle our bigger tournaments early in the season," Sanfillipo said. "I was pretty happy with how I came back. I was just happy that I was able to wrestle and hopefully finish the rest of the season without any problems. I've just stuck with it mentally and not let moving around (between classes) mess with me. ...

"Working hard in practice was the biggest thing for me last year. Early on in the year, I messed around a little more and then it got to the end of the season and I focused."

Rose, who plans to wrestle the rest of the season at 138, remained active with the team by acting as a student coach.

"Having been out all season last year and then having that month off (to start this season) just started to get to me," Rose said. "I coached the guys up pre-match and post-match, gave them advice on what to do and when to do it. I personally want to be involved in wrestling when I get older so coaching, even when I can't wrestle, is a great way to stay involved."

Fry leads swimmers to district meet

Boys swimmer Blake Fry won both the 100-yard backstroke (57.33 seconds) and 200 individual medley (1:56.58) in a Division I sectional meet Feb. 8 at Upper Arlington, leading the Indians to 131 points and fourth place behind the host and champion Golden Bears (467) as 10 teams scored.

Fry is the top seed in the 100 back for the district meet Thursday, Feb. 13, at Ohio State and is seeded sixth in the 200 IM.

Led by the sixth-place 200 medley relay (2:04.04) and seventh-place 200 freestyle relay (1:51.8), both of which qualified for district, the girls team finished eighth (42) at sectional behind champion UA (403) as 11 teams scored. Both relays were comprised of Merideth McFarland, Lauren Stone, Grace Terflinger and Mikaela Vojacek.

The girls' top individual was Terflinger, who finished ninth in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.29) to earn a district berth.

The winner of each event automatically qualified for district. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.

At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each event based on times statewide.

Girls basketball team to open tourney

The girls basketball team took a seven-game winning streak into its regular-season finale Feb. 12 against Walnut Ridge and hoped to extend that momentum into the Division I district tournament.

Seeded 14th of 48 teams, the Indians will play host to 36th-seeded Teays Valley in a first-round game Monday, Feb. 17.

Canal Winchester was 16-5 overall before Feb. 12 and finished 6-4 in the OCC-Capital with a 47-38 home win over New Albany on Feb. 7.

Although Teays Valley is 6-16 and had a 10-game losing streak from Dec. 28-Feb. 1, the Vikings defeated Lancaster and Upper Arlington earlier this season and hung with Dublin Coffman, the fourth seed in the district tournament, throughout a 67-54 loss on Jan. 11.

"Teays Valley is a young team that will shoot the ball from the perimeter a lot. Their record is a little misleading because they play in a strong conference (the MSL-Buckeye)," coach Mark Chapman said. "I think the keys for us always start on the defensive side. When we guard well, we tend to score well. (We need to) contest the 3-point line and make sure we don't give up second shots so that we can get out in transition."

The first-round winner will play 16th-seeded Northland in the second round Feb. 21 at the home of the better seed.

Amanda Rarick had a game-high 22 points Feb. 4 in a 49-27 win at Pickerington North, her third consecutive game in double digits. She was averaging 17 points during that stretch as the Indians tried to return to full strength, having missed sophomore forward Maddie Frank from the lineup since early January because of a shoulder injury.

Shalea Byrd had 14 points and Natalie Rarick scored 11 against New Albany.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedule

Below is the coming schedule for the Canal Winchester boys basketball team:

*Feb. 14 -- Home vs. Newark. The Indians lost to the Wildcats 57-47 on Jan. 10.

Feb. 18 -- Home vs. Zanesville

Feb. 22 -- Home vs. 19th-seeded Upper Arlington in first round of Division I district tournament. The Indians are seeded 14th.

*League contest