New Albany Roundup: Michael Roth, Colin Swincicki lead Eagles wrestlers into sectional

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Colin Swincicki (right) has been one of the top competitors for New Albany, which competes in a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

The person most surprised by New Albany sophomore wrestler Michael Roth’s success this season might be Roth himself.

Having gone up two weight classes, from 182 pounds last year to 220 this season, Roth is at home in his “natural class.” He already has exceeded his win total from last year and stands at 19-5 entering a Division I sectional tournament Feb. 27 at Newark, first on the team in victories ahead of Colin Swincicki’s 18-4 record at 120 and 126.

“Especially from last year, no, I did not expect this,” said Roth, who went 16-29 as a freshman. “I feel like this is a natural class for me. Being strong from the other sports I play (football and track and field) has been important. I’ve had to change how I wrestle a little bit. There are certain positions where you don’t want to be, like down, but that’s how I wrestle. I’m almost always underneath.”

Roth, who is a two-way lineman in the football program and a thrower for the track team, lost about 15 pounds last year but gained that back through weightlifting. He was a district alternate at 182 by virtue of his fifth-place finish at sectional but did not compete at that stage.

“The weight just keep falling off him last year so he ended up easily going down to 182,” coach Larry Reichard said. “This year he came in weighing 215 so he made the choice to stay up (at 220) and see what he could do there. …

“The thing with Michael is he’s a sophomore in a big weight class with a lot of older guys so strength can be an issue, but he is able to move with them. He has speed and technique he’s able to use. If he’s on bottom, he can use his strengths to his advantage.”

Colin Swincicki (left) and Michael Roth have led the Eagles all season. While Swincicki is trying to become a four-time Division I district qualifier, Roth has found substantially more success this year at 220 pounds than last season at 182.

Swincicki is seeking to become a four-time district qualifier but spent the past few weeks recovering from a left knee injury suffered late in the regular season. He went 41-29 last season, placing fifth at district at 120, and has a career record of 123-59.

“After the success I had last season, I knew this was pretty much where I wanted to stay,” said Swincicki, who started the season at 126 and said he is strongest on top and in neutral. “It’s helped me out a lot. Wrestling kids at 126 got me prepared for going to 120, and now I get to see the guys I’ll probably wrestle in the postseason.

“I want to work what I know how to do. I don’t want my opponent to dictate the match. I want to dictate everything during the match.”

At sectional, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

New Albany went 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio Division and has not had a match since Feb. 13, giving the team a chance to reset.

“It (was) a time to heal and prepare and get ready for hopefully a long postseason,” Reichard said. “We have a few guys we think can do really well at the end of the year and we want to make sure we’re in the right spot where they can be successful. That’s been our goal for the whole year.”

Three divers

head to state

Emma Skinner will appear in her second consecutive Division I state diving meet Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, leading a contingent of three divers who will represent the Eagles at state.

Skinner finished third (448.8 points) in the district meet Feb. 15 at Jefferson Country Club as the top five placers advanced to state. The junior will be joined by freshmen Hamish Patel and Collin Morr, who finished third (532.8) and sixth (409.95), respectively, in the boys meet that evening.

The top seven boys advanced to state.

Also competing but failing to advance were boys divers Tyler Ballman (16th, 293.45) and Axel Morey (23rd, 124.4) and Payton Burds of the girls team (24th, 128.4).

Skinner finished 13th at state last year.

“I really just wanted to make state and stay consistent. That’s how it’s been for me this year, staying consistent every dive to make the top,” Skinner said. “It’s been a weird season compared to past years since we didn’t have a lot of meets or many practices, so with that mindset, I just wanted to do the best with any practice I’ve had.”

The divers’ swimming teammates sought to join them during their district meet Feb. 21 at Bowling Green. The top two finishers in each event advanced to state, and 16 swimmers in each event earned at-large berths based on times statewide.

Josh Haywood and New Albany opened the district tournament Feb. 19 against Cincinnati Sycamore.

Hockey team

strings wins together

The hockey team tripled its win total for the entire season in a 24-hour stretch during the Blue Jackets Cup despite having only 10 skaters, defeating DeSales and Olentangy in consolation bracket action Feb. 12 and 13 before falling to 10th-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier 7-4 in the consolation final Feb. 14 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.

The Eagles, who were shorthanded because of injuries or COVID-19 quarantines, were 3-14-0-3 before playing 23rd-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore on Feb. 19 in the first round of the district tournament. In the Blue Jackets Cup, ninth-seeded New Albany beat 18th-seeded DeSales 9-1 in a quarterfinal and 13th-seeded Olentangy 5-2 in a semifinal.

Colin Appell and Victor Appell combined for 12 goals – eight for Colin and four for Victor – and 21 points in the three games.

“We’ve come a long way together,” coach Matt Buss said. “We got the most out of everybody. I think our team got better (during the Blue Jackets Cup). It was good for our guys physically and mentally. They’ve grown a lot from the trials during the season. I think we were in a good spot (after the Cup). We got some excellent play. All we were lacking were the bodies.”

New Albany was seeded 12th in the 25-team district tournament.

The New Albany-Sycamore winner played top-seeded St. Charles in a second-round game Feb. 20. That winner will take on eighth-seeded Thomas Worthington, ninth-seeded Dublin Jerome, 22nd-seeded DeSales or 25th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district quarterfinal Feb. 27 at the Ice Haus.

The district semifinal is Feb. 28 at the Ice Haus, and the district final is March 6.

New Albany lost to Jerome 4-0 on Jan. 3 and Thomas 3-2 on Jan. 31.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave