DeSales Roundup: Talented youth setting pace for Stallions wrestlers
Collin Palmer’s primary mission in the two years since he took over the DeSales wrestling team has been to rebuild the program into a regular contender for league, district and state championships.
That road map has included competitors who have learned the sport in Palmer’s CP Wrestling Club, and Palmer sees signs that his plan is moving into its next phase.
Two freshmen – Zack Lopez (126 pounds) and Max Shulaw (195/220) – were 14-0 before a Jan. 23 quad at Toledo Whitmer. Classmate Aidan Rush was 13-1 at 138 and sophomore Owen Eagan (120), a Division II district qualifier last season, was 11-3, rounding out a quartet Palmer called his “fab four” because of their talent and work ethic.
“They’re the most invested. They’re showing the most improvement and they’re dedicated,” Palmer said. “These are four guys leading our team in the right direction with practice, pace, matches, everything else.
“Usually it’s seniors who are team captains and all that stuff, but we’re in a situation where we had five wrestlers two years ago. They’re the building blocks of what we hope is the start of the dynasty.”
All but one DeSales wrestler, senior Romiaun Speed, is either a freshman or sophomore.
Lopez, who has wrestled for Palmer since fifth grade, immediately set his varsity goals.
“Either a pin or tech (fall) every match,” Lopez said. “I want to qualify and place at state. If I keep working hard, I think I can do it. I go into every match with confidence, but I never think I can just go in and beat somebody up. I think I get more aggressive later in periods. The first period, I’m not that aggressive. But the longer a match goes, I feel like I’m in more of a groove.”
Shulaw is coming off a football season in which he helped the Stallions to a 9-2 record and a Division III state runner-up finish as a linebacker.
Eagan went 31-13 at 132 last season and competed as a district alternate.
“My neutral is pretty solid but I thought if I got better on top and bottom, I’d have a much better season and I think I’ve done that,” Eagan said. “I experienced so much last year and with the new guys coming in, I just have to help pick everybody up.
“A guy like Cole Potts last year (who won 137 career matches and now plays football at James Madison) just picked everyone up when we were competing. Even though I’m just a sophomore, I want to be that kind of leader for my junior and senior years, too.”
Lopez, Rush and Shulaw all went 2-0 in the CCL duals Jan. 13 at DeSales. The Stallions split their matches, losing 40-24 to Hartley before defeating Ready 36-29.
Watterson did not participate because it was in COVID-19 quarantine, but the Stallions hope to schedule a match with the Eagles later this season.
Assistant coach Ryan Munday is confident that the quartet’s work ethic will lift the rest of the team.
“When you have a group of guys who come together, latch onto each other and are going twice a night quite a bit, plus making weightlifting at 6 a.m., you can’t argue with their work ethic,” Munday said. “That’s contagious.”
Boys basketball team
The manner in which the boys basketball team recovered from two recent bouts with adversity only reinforced coach Pat Murphy’s high expectations of his players.
DeSales won five of its first six games after a two-week COVID-19 quarantine and was 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the CCL before playing Hartley on Jan. 22. The Stallions won their first game out of quarantine, 61-60 in overtime at Johnstown on Jan. 6, and rebounded from an 89-64 loss at Olentangy Orange on Jan. 9 with victories over Dublin Jerome (55-46 on Jan. 13), Watterson (60-48 on Jan. 15 and 59-56 in overtime Jan. 20) and Pickerington Central (58-57 on Jan. 18).
The Stallions outscored Jerome 16-7 in the final three minutes and held off Central after leading by as many as 17 in the third quarter.
Desmond Watson had 21 points against Central, his third consecutive game with at least 20. Obed Achirem added 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Watson followed that up with 32 points in the Jan. 20 game against Watterson.
“Our guys have responded well … but it doesn’t get any easier,” Murphy said. “It seems like every one of (our opponents) will be in the conversation for district finals. We wanted to challenge our guys this year and this is part of the reason why. It’s a hard game to be at your best every night, but they’ve responded the way we expected.
“We’re starting to get in some rhythm and continuity. We tell the guys to take it one day at a time and focus on what we can do that day.”
for league meet
The boys and girls swimming teams will compete in the CCL meet Jan. 30 at St. Charles hoping to improve on last year’s finishes, when the boys were second and the girls third.
Boys swimmer Brady McInerney is seeking his third consecutive 500-yard freestyle title, and Reece Hanley, Wyatt Hanley and McInerney return from last year’s runner-up 200 medley relay. The fourth swimmer, Aaron Spittell, now is an assistant coach for the Stallions.
Wyatt Hanley was runner-up in both the 100 backstroke and 200 free, and the 200 free and 400 free relays also were second a year ago.
St. Charles is seeking its 22nd consecutive league championship but will compete under assistant coach Kyle Goodrich at the CCL meet. Coach Geoff Gear resigned Jan. 15 in his 12th season leading the program.
No DeSales girls swimmers won CCL races last season, but Libby Ruff was second in the 500 free and third in the 200 free and was on the runner-up 200 free and 400 free relays.
Unlike in previous years, boys and girls races will be run at separate times.
The boys meet is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., while girls races are set to begin at 3:30 p.m.