Delaware Hayes Roundup: Wrestlers jump out to strong start

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Delaware Hayes' Clay Ours battles Ready's Jerad Koboi at 195 pounds during the Pacers' 72-6 win Dec. 30 at Central Crossing. Ours, a senior who qualified for state last season, was 4-0 entering the Pacers' OCC-Capital opener Jan. 7 at Worthington Kilbourne.

Despite losing multiple key contributors to graduation and facing the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Delaware Hayes wrestling team has enjoyed a solid start to the season. 

Seeking to pick up where they left off last year, when they qualified a program-record six wrestlers for the Division I state tournament and won the OCC-Cardinal Division title, the Pacers opened Dec. 18 at Upper Arlington. 

They lost to the Golden Bears 38-28, but co-coach Kevin Rieman said the team was shorthanded because of coronavirus contact tracing. 

“We had a few guys out, but we were competitive in that dual,” he said. “It was exciting to get on the mat for the first time.” 

The Pacers followed with a 43-28 win at Big Walnut on Dec. 22 and competed in a quad at Central Crossing on Dec. 30, defeating Ready 72-6 and the host Comets 36-30. 

Clay Ours (195 pounds) has led the Pacers after qualifying for state last season. The senior was 4-0 entering Delaware’s OCC-Capital opener Jan. 7 at Worthington Kilbourne.

“Ours has looked great so far,” Rieman said. “He’s been dominant in all of his matches. He’s wrestling as expected and has looked quite impressive.” 

Rieman said other wrestlers who have impressed are Devin Halliday (160), Marshall Klingel (heavyweight) and Maddox Edwards (170). All were 4-0.

Wilson Zembo (145) and Tamas Eder (126) both were 3-1 and also have looked strong, Rieman said. 

Eder said the Pacers have the same expectations as last year’s group despite being younger and less experienced. Graduation losses included five of the six state qualifiers in Tristan Burton, Emmett Cain, Corbin May, Nathan Robinson and Mason Sutandar.

“We're still moving forward with the same mentality,” Eder said. “Some of the younger members are stepping up and really giving it their all, and it’s starting to encourage the rest of us to work harder.”

Rieman said he has been pleased with the Pacers’ conditioning, citing their stamina in the third period. 

“Overall, there are a few guys that need to work on their conditioning individually, but as a team that looks to be a strength of ours,” he said. “I think we’re competing well in the third period and that usually demonstrates strong mentality and good conditioning, so I’m happy about that.”

Rieman said his wrestlers still need to perfect some technique, which was expected early in the season given the Pacers' losses in terms of experience and leadership. 

“There are a lot of technical things we need to clean up, but that kind of goes with the territory,” he said. “We’re slowing down a lot this year and just getting through things week by week.” 

Delaware was scheduled to play host to a quad Jan. 9 featuring Olentangy, Watkins Memorial and DeSales. The Pacers also are scheduled to face Westerville Central on Thursday, Jan. 14, at home and compete against host Olentangy Orange and Gahanna in a quad Saturday, Jan. 16. 

The girls team, which features a 22-wrestler roster after having six last year, is still learning the basics of the sport, said Rieman, who added he has been encouraged by the growth he has seen. 

The girls opened in a home quad Dec. 19, winning 54-30 against Rocky River Lutheran West and losing 48-36 to Harrison and 60-24 to Marysville.

“It was very eye-opening for our girls,” Rieman said. 

The girls followed up with an exhibition Dec. 22 at Orange.

“You could see the growth already within one week,” Rieman said. “Getting the experience of competing, being able to go back in the room and talk about what we saw and clean things up, it’s exciting because they’re really growing every day.”

Rieman said sophomore Kelcey Dew (121), who placed third in the inaugural girls state tournament last season, has been leading the way. Dew is 4-2 entering a home match Wednesday, Jan. 13, against Mason, having bounced back from going 1-2 on Dec. 19.

“That’s kind of the first little stretch of adversity she’s faced in her career, but I was really happy with how she handled it,” Rieman said. “She came back in the room asking questions, working hard, not thinking it’s the end of the world, keeping a positive attitude so we can clean things up and hopefully flip those results in the future.” 

Freshman Jesse Burris was averaging a team-high 14.2 points through five games for the Pacers.

Boys basketball team

seeking growth

The boys basketball team has endured a tough start to the season, losing its first five games. 

The Pacers lost 57-30 in their season and OCC-Capital opener Dec. 18 at Kilbourne. They then lost 42-38 at Buckeye Valley on Dec. 19, 70-44 to Westerville South on Dec. 22 in league play, 43-42 at Berlin on Dec. 28 and 44-42 at Wadsworth in overtime Dec. 30. 

“We’ve had a couple one-possession games,” coach Adam Vincenzo said. “We’re learning a lot and getting experience.”

Vincenzo said some of the Pacers’ key priorities include “putting a complete game together,” focusing on defensive details and fine-tuning fundamentals, especially taking care of the ball. 

But he said he’s encouraged by the progress he’s seen from the team, which is younger following the graduation of key players such as Nate Griggs, Addison Harvey and Paul Burris, who helped carry Delaware to a Division I district final last season.

“In those close games that we’ve had, we’re just not doing enough little things, and that comes with experience,” Vincenzo said. “But we’re a group that’s growing game by game. We’ve definitely seen the improvement. We just have to put it together.”

Vincenzo said freshman Jesse Burris, a 6-foot-2 forward, is making an impression, averaging a team-high 14.2 points through five games. 

“He deserves everything that’s coming his way,” Vincenzo said. “He’s a gym rat. He’s put the time in. Some people may be surprised, but I’m not surprised with what he’s doing so far. He’s going to have a really good career for us.” 

Ryan Smudz was second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.4 points. 

The Pacers were scheduled to play Jan. 9 at Big Walnut in OCC-Capital play, followed by league games Tuesday, Jan. 12, at home against Westerville North and Friday, Jan. 15, at home against  Franklin Heights. They also are scheduled to play host to Olentangy on Saturday, Jan. 16. 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve