Wrestling: David Carte leads veteran, 'hungry' Pickerington North Panthers
The results of last season might have made this year’s goals even more clear than usual for the Pickerington North wrestling team.
The Panthers went 4-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish second behind Lancaster (5-0) and saw senior David Carte qualify for the Division I state tournament as an alternate, although the event ultimately was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
With most of his lineup back, mixed with an infusion of promising underclassmen, third-year coach Derek Oney sees little reason to think North’s goals will be any less lofty this season.
“They are hungry to compete. They are recognizing the targets and goals of the team this year and working toward them,” Oney said. “The biggest improvement that I have seen this year is the attention to detail as a whole. Each one of my wrestlers has made a commitment to do the little things right. There are so many little details that can determine the outcome of a match. We want to make sure to do all of them right to the best of our ability.”
North is scheduled to open Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Olentangy Berlin Duals.
Carte went a team-best 36-10 as a junior, finishing fifth at district at 138 pounds to earn a state alternate spot. Junior Braden Watts was 25-17 at 220 and senior Kyle Coffey was 18-15 at 152.
Carte planned to begin the season at 145, and Coffey was slated to move up to 160.
Also returning are seniors Dashar El-Amin (182/195), Erik Gomez (138) and Tyce Neu (heavyweight), junior Macston Reed (126) and sophomore Lee Anderson (132).
Junior Maggie Mann competed in the inaugural girls state tournament last season and went 1-2 at 143.
“My team’s strength will come from the seniors,” Oney said. “They have been with me for three years now and know what is expected day in and day out. They are also teaching the freshmen the expectations and leading by example.”
According to Oney, other contributors will include junior Joey Casa (120), sophomores Dana Bass (132), Osi Chukwunyere (138), Colin Touvell (138) and Dane Walock (152/160) and freshmen Luke Harris (113), Drennan Landenberger (132) and Donovan Watts (152).
North begins OCC-Ohio competition Jan. 7 at Westerville Central.
“We have a few holes in the lineup,” Oney said, adding that some wrestlers did not return to the program because of COVID-related concerns. “It’s been a wild year to say the least.”
to pace Tigers
First-year Central coach Ryan DiSabato is looking to a handful of veterans and some promising underclassmen as he takes over the Tigers after one year at Franklin Heights and several years before that coaching at various levels in the Olentangy Orange system.
Senior Brycen Rogers (106) went 22-10 last season to lead all returnees, a group that also includes classmates Nick Chesser (152/160) and Cameron Griffith (220), junior Mekhi Hargrow (145/152) and sophomores Dylan Downey (138/145) and Gavin Meek (138/145).
“I would say our middleweights are going to be our strength this year based on a combination of depth and experience,” DiSabato said. “This is the part of our lineup where we return the most letterwinners from last season. Depth is going to be critical this year with the potential for guys to be out at any given time and we have the most roster flexibility between 138 and 160.”
DiSabato succeeded Jason Allen, who coached at Central for 11 seasons and had 11 state qualifiers, including Bo Branson last year at 126. Branson went 125-34 in his career, including 36-9 last season, and also reached state as a freshman.
A 2009 graduate of Olentangy, DiSabato wrestled and played football for the Braves.
“Coach Allen and his staff did a great job with teaching technique. All of the returning wrestlers are fundamentally sound,” DiSabato said. “We have a few experienced guys that have some great athleticism (and) are technically sound. I am excited to see if they can take the next step.”
Rounding out the roster are senior Nnamdi Ikwuakam (heavyweight), junior Ian Camp (145/152), sophomores Brodie Bosworth (138/145), Landon Gentry (126/132), Caden Gilbert (138/145) and Onye Ikwuakam (170/182) and freshmen Austin DiNardo (195/220), Ray Jackson (heavyweight), Justus Rawls (182/195), Ethan Ross (113/120) and Macaiah Thompson (113/120).
Central is scheduled to open Tuesday, Dec. 22, at home against Teays Valley and Westland. The Tigers begin OCC-Buckeye competition Jan. 7 at Newark.
•Coach: Ryan DiSabato, first season
•Top athletes: Nick Chesser, Cameron Griffith, Mekhi Hargrow, Gavin Meek and Brycen Rogers
•Key losses: Bo Branson, Garrett Meek and Marcus Zullo
•2019-20 OCC-Ohio standings: Lancaster (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1), Grove City (3-2), Gahanna (2-3), Pickerington Central (1-4), Reynoldsburg (0-5)
•2020 postseason: Tied for seventh at sectional, 20th at district
•Coach: Derek Oney, third season
•Top athletes: David Carte, Kyle Coffey, Erik Gomez, Tyce Neu and Braden Watts
•Key losses: Rajesh Bomjan and Josiah George
•2020 postseason: Fifth at sectional, tied for 28th at district