Notebook: Groveport Madison Cruisers wrestling team opens new era with victory

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Groveport's Jake Nelson is shooting for his second consecutive Division I state tournament berth. A year ago, the 220-pounder went 45-3, finishing as sectional and district runner-up.

A new era for the Groveport Madison wrestling team began Jan. 7 with a 36-30 victory over host Westland.

Not only was it the Cruisers' first match under Kwan Bailey, first-year coach and former program great, it also marked the beginning of a season in which senior Jake Nelson will vie for his second consecutive Division I state tournament appearance and sophomore Derrick Sells will battle for a second district berth in a row.

“We’re thrilled for the guys to finally get going,” assistant coach Jacob Schultz said. “We’re putting them through some high-level training, and we expect a lot out of them. With the practice time we had, we took the opportunity to get in better shape and go through a lot of conditioning.”

Nelson, a 220-pounder, went 45-3 last season and was sectional and district runner-up. The state tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Like last season, Sells will wrestle at 182.

Sophomore C.J. Barnett (138) and freshman Jace Nincehelser (145) recorded pins against the Cougars. The match replaced an OCC-Buckeye Division dual against Reynoldsburg, which was postponed from Jan. 7 because the Raiders were in quarantine.

Bailey, a 2010 graduate, was a three-time state tournament qualifier and placed fourth at 171 as a senior. He played one season of football at Ohio Dominican before transferring to Kent State, where he wrestled from 2011-13.

Bailey succeeds Brian Brison, who resigned May 4 after four seasons. The Cruisers went 18-2 in OCC-Capital duals during his tenure and won league championships in 2018 and 2019 before finishing second at 4-1 behind Big Walnut (5-0) last season.

Rounding out the roster are senior Dylan Blackburn (132), juniors Jake Chilcote (132), Cohen Hartner (132), Jacob Johnston (152), Jayahn King (160), Cameron Ross (145) and Ryan Schieser (170), sophomores C.J. Barnett (138), Tyler Brown (132), Ethan Byerly (126), Evan Karns (106) and David Sells (195) and freshmen Zander Jones (170) and Jace Nincehelser (145/152).

Groveport’s basketball teams opened Jan. 2 when the boys lost 75-69 at Harvest Prep and the girls lost 58-47 at Logan.

Against the Warriors, Kenyatta Whiteside led the boys team with 16 points. Three nights later, the Cruisers beat host Logan 67-48 as Scotty Lomax scored a game-high 18 points and Marlon Elliott Jr. and Whiteside each added 11.

“All of our scrimmages got canceled and all our games in December got canceled, but that was sort of a blessing in disguise because we got to work on ourselves when we weren’t shut down,” first-year boys coach Lamont Hampton said. “(The opener) was like a scrimmage for us in terms of getting out there and competing.”

Casey Humphrey’s game-high 19 points paced the girls team against Logan.

• The Groveport boys and girls bowling teams split their opener Jan. 5 against Newark at Park Lanes. Hunter Rathburn’s 390 series led the boys to a 2,081-1,853 win, and Kayla Sheets rolled a 281 series as the girls lost 1,847-1,195.

• The Cruisers swimming team’s first meet is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Grove City YMCA against the host Greyhounds and Grandview Heights.

• The Canal Winchester boys and girls basketball teams enjoyed balanced scoring through their first four games.

Kevian Poindexter averaged 9.8 points, just ahead of Anthony Millner (9.5) and Stephan Byrd (7.3) for the boys team, which was 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Capital under first-year coach Zach Olson before playing Delaware on Jan. 8.

Kate Ratliff’s 10.8 points per game led the girls team, which was 1-3 overall and in the league before a Jan. 8 game at Delaware. Maddie Frank was averaging 9.8 points and Kierstyn Liming 9.3, including a 20-point performance Dec. 19 in a 55-45 win over Worthington Kilbourne. 

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave