Notebook: Central Crossing Comets wrestlers see practice time pay off

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Central Crossing's Jamie Ramirez and Westerville South's Orlando Lizama battle in a 138-pound match during the Comets' 54-24 win Dec. 30. Also in the home quad, the Comets beat Ready 54-16 and lost to Delaware 36-30.

Coach Jamie Ramirez is learning more about his Central Crossing wrestling team despite limited competition.

The Comets saw their workouts in the practice room pay off with strong performances during the holiday break.

During a home quad Dec. 30, they defeated Westerville South 54-24 and Ready 54-16 and lost to Central District-power Delaware 36-30 to move to 5-3 in dual competitions.

“We’ve added quite a bit of duals,” said Ramirez, whose team opened OCC-Buckeye Division action Jan. 7 against Lancaster. “(Normally) by this time we would’ve had two or three tournaments.

“It’s just different. The kids have been working really hard in the wrestling room, so it’s good to put everything on display and show what they can do. They were in shape and they were aggressive and they were fighting.”

Senior Abel Garantche (220 pounds) went 3-0 to improve to 7-1.

“I feel like my skills have improved highly from going to camps and wrestling practice over the summer,” Garantche said. “I’m a senior, so I have to be a leader. It’s my job to lead the youngsters and to teach them how to be responsible and respectful.”

Junior Tra Helsel (182), sophomores Donnie Morris (132) and Jamie Ramirez (138) and freshman Braden Sheets (145) also went 3-0.

“It can be tough to stick things out in your freshman and sophomore years, but Tra Halsel did and he went 3-0 (on Dec. 30),” said coach Ramirez, whose team has a league dual at Pickerington Central on Thursday, Jan. 14. 

“Braden Sheets is a freshman 145-pounder and he had some good wins. He came up through our youth program and we’re finally starting to see some of the kids come through after coming up through that. It’s fun to see that.”

Coach Ramirez said some athletes have left the program since the start of training, but that he now has a group willing to put in the necessary work for success.

“We’re young and I think we have three seniors and two or three juniors,” he said. “We only have 18, but we have a big sophomore class and things are spread out for us. We’re forfeiting one weight class now, and we have a few injuries we’re dealing with.

“With (the) COVID(-19 coronavirus pandemic), you were never really sure how many we would have. We went on Thanksgiving break remotely and we lost a handful of kids because of that. We have guys that want to be here now, so that’s when it’s fun. The same kids are here every day and that’s when you start to see improvement.”

Grove City's Josiah Bever (front) competes against Thomas Worthington's Majed Ahmad in a 160-pound match Dec. 30.

•The Grove City wrestling team hopes to be at its best once the postseason begins. 

The Greyhounds competed in just two events in December and were 3-2 before opening OCC-Ohio action Jan. 7 at New Albany. 

Braxton Sheets was 3-0 at 120 before Jan. 7. 

“We’ll get in the meat of our schedule in January,” coach Ryan Mitchell said. “This is when we’re really going to ramp up.” 

The Greyhounds play host to Westerville Central in a league match Thursday, Jan. 14. 

“The present looks good and the future looks really bright because we’re focusing a lot this year on building the culture of what it takes to win,” Mitchell said. “It’s more than just learning technique. We have to get our mindset to where we are focused every single day, every single practice on a micro level of focusing in on the task at hand of doing things well and doing things with aggression.” 

Grove City lost a key wrestler when junior Francesca Lanese decided to sit out the season because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. She won the title at 160 in the first girls state tournament last season. 

“She opted out of the season because so many of the girls’ events were canceled,” Mitchell said. “She said she’s going to come back next year. They had not made an official decision on the girls state tournament yet and she told me that she wanted to do some different type of training. It’s disappointing for me and her development, but it’s understandable.” 

—Frank DiRenna

•The Grove City girls basketball team received balanced performances in its first five games, with three different high scorers in those contests.

“I like that because you can’t really key on one player,” coach Joel Taylor said. “It means our scoring is balanced from game to game and that’s a luxury we haven’t had here in the last couple of years.” 

The Greyhounds were 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on Jan. 8. 

Ellie Pollock-Ballard scored 15 points and Olivia Kenney added 11 in a 54-37 win at Groveport on Jan. 6. 

The Greyhounds visit Westland on Friday, Jan. 15. 

The team was in quarantine for 10 days after a member of the program tested positive for COVID-19. Grove City returned to practice Jan. 2 after having games  postponed against Franklin Heights on Dec. 28 and Watkins Memorial on Dec. 30. 

“We’re right there,” Taylor said. “Before the 10-day layoff, we were getting better and starting to turn the corner a little bit, but we’ll see how that goes.” 

—Frank DiRenna

•The Central Crossing girls basketball team defeated Westland 45-30 on Jan. 5 for its first victory.

Senior guard Sydney McCullough scored 21 points with four 3-pointers, and freshman guard Amayah Bridges added nine points.

“Our girls were ready for a win,” said coach Ann Tiefenthaler, whose team plays a league game at home against Groveport on Friday, Jan. 15, and visits Grove City on Tuesday, Jan. 19. “They wanted to execute and come out strong, and they did.

“We've been working on building trust and working together, and that was evident in our press and transition. The girls fueled a fire within each other by being coachable and bouncing back. They saw progress, and that progress is key to our culture and camaraderie.”

The Comets were 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye before facing Reynoldsburg on Jan. 8.

McCullough was averaging a team-best 11.4 points.

—Scott Hennen

•The Grove City boys basketball team returned to quarantine for the second time this season because of COVID-19 issues. 

The Greyhounds were scheduled to return to practice Jan. 13 and resume games Friday, Jan. 15, against visiting Westland. 

Grove City is 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio. 

Brock Waits scored 14 points and Alex Coffey added 10 in a 63-37 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Jan. 5. 

—Frank DiRenna

•With no seniors on the roster, Grove City Christian boys basketball coach Chris Timlin realized his team would face growing pains. 

The Eagles were 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the MSL-Cardinal before playing Fisher Catholic on Jan. 8. 

“With our roster, it’s a young crew, so we’re going to have these battles that we’re going to have to fight through,” Timlin said. “We’re going to have these battles where things are going really well and things are going to need a lot of work.” 

Grove City Christian trimmed a 50-30 deficit after three quarters to nine points before falling 61-49 to Horizon Science on Jan. 4. 

Freshman Caleb Ransom led the Eagles with 19 points. 

“It was a good effort,” Timlin said. “It’s unfortunate that it took as long as it did to play at that high of a level.” 

A highlight this season was sophomore Will Lucas making a program-record eight 3-pointers in a 75-49 loss to Berne Union on Dec. 15. Lucas finished with 24 points. 

“That was a great evening for him,” Timlin said. “He’s a hot-and-cold guy right now, but when he’s hot he’s definitely hot. On that night, he could not miss.” 

Tristan Taylor set the previous record of seven 3s in the 2012-13 season. 

—Frank DiRenna

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