Reynoldsburg Roundup: Wrestling team primed for successful season

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Reynoldsburg's Gracie Straughter tangles with Casstown Miami East's Lily Bruggeman during the inaugural girls state tournament last February. The junior is ranked fourth in the state preseason rankings at 111 pounds, according to Raiders coach Jon Forgy.

The weekend before the state tournament was postponed last March, the Reynoldsburg wrestling program had its first Division I state qualifier in six years when Noah Ratliff advanced by placing third at district at 152 pounds.

The Raiders lost Ratliff to graduation — he went 45-7 last season and finished 119-35 for his career — but they don’t believe they’ll endure a similar drought between qualifiers going forward.

Leading a group of talented returnees is sophomore Logan Smalley, who won a sectional championship at 120 and was 30-5 before being unable to compete at district because of injury. 

The state tournament eventually was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Raiders are scheduled to open Tuesday, Dec. 22, at Thomas Worthington and to begin action in their new league, the OCC-Buckeye Division, on Jan. 7 at Groveport.

Lancaster, which won the OCC-Ohio last season, and Pickerington Central also have moved to the OCC-Buckeye from the OCC-Ohio. Central Crossing and Newark round out the league.

“I can see us having many wrestlers vying for a trip to districts and to the state meet,” coach Jon Forgy said. “We have a great group this season. In the short amount of time we’ve had with them, they’ve shown great work ethic and are buying into what we’re trying to do. 

“We have a good mix of newcomers with a great young core. We have a small group of seniors, but I’m very excited for them to have the chance to do well this season and I hope these seniors get the opportunity.”

Senior Dalton Hall is another returning district qualifier. He’ll again compete at heavyweight after going 22-16 last winter.

Senior Gaven Miller (182), junior Gracie Straughter (113) and sophomores Steven Schulze (220) and Caleb Smiley (145) were others in Reynoldsburg’s postseason lineup.

Straughter competed in last year’s inaugural girls state tournament and is ranked fourth in the state preseason rankings at 111, according to Forgy.

Senior Michael Dawkins (132) was expected to be a key wrestler last season but was out with injury, and Yoni Bisrat (120) is another senior who should fill a spot in the lineup.

Freshman Summer Batts is expected to be at 106 after Straughter filled that spot last year. Forgy said Batts is sixth in the state preseason girls rankings at 101.

Junior Bill Popich (170), sophomores Landon Bray (126), Marcus Collins (132), Drake Hall (145), Chris Karr (152) and Aden Neil (126) and freshmen Evan Patton (195) and Tucker Phillips (160) also are looking to contribute.

“As a team, we have a great opportunity to be competitive in the OCC this season, if we can stay healthy and get some people in the right place (weight-wise),” Forgy said. “This season is going to be a very different season with minimal to no tournaments. 

“It’s really going to be important for our team to want to do well for each other, with us having mostly duals and (tri-meets). If our team can do this, we can have a winning dual record and compete against anyone.”

Senior Dhishan Kashyap and the Reynoldsburg swimming program are hoping to build on last season's strong finish. "Our team has remained positive and focused," coach Josh Dorsett said.

Swimmers staying

‘positive and focused’

The swimming and diving program is hoping to build on what coach Josh Dorsett believes was a strong finish last winter.

Senior Nate Gaver of the boys team and senior Kasey Lichtner of the girls squad have returned after leading the way last season, when the boys finished third in the OCC-Ohio and the girls were fourth.

Reynoldsburg is now in the OCC-Buckeye.

“Our team has remained positive and focused,” Dorsett said. “The past few months, we’ve had some speed bumps with trying to find a practice facility and being able to provide a meet schedule that will push our swimmers and help develop their swimming skills in the most effective ways possible. We’re handling all that we can and preparing ourselves as much as possible. We’re preparing as though if the season would begin tomorrow (that) we’ll be ready.”

In last year’s Division I state meet, Gaver finished seventh in the 50-yard freestyle (20.91 seconds) and seventh in the 100 free (46.11).

Seniors Jonathan Begeny and Dhishan Kashyap and junior Max Hutson-Comeaux also have returned after being key contributors and should be on relays.

Dorsett expects freshman Andrew Taulbee to make an immediate impact, and sophomore Freddie Culbert is the program’s only diver.

Lichtner leads the girls team after competing at district in the 50 free and 100 butterfly last season, and junior Anna Haines and freshmen Araceli Gaver and AnnaLiess Stith also should be key swimmers.

“Last season ended off on a very high note (for the boys team) with three relays at district and (an individual at state),” Dorsett said. “We’re looking to continue the momentum into this season and get more individuals swimming at districts and relays competing at an even more competitive level.

“(The girls finished) last season on a very high note with our first girls relay in some time (qualifying) for districts. We’re really trying to bring in some of our new swimmers to allow our girls to really find their niche with the team and play their part to making a super successful season for the entire team.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

SWIMMING & DIVING

Coach: Josh Dorsett, third season

Top athletes: Boys — Jonathan Begeny, Freddie Culbert, Nate Gaver, Max Hutson-Comeaux, Dhishan Kashyap and Andrew Taulbee; Girls — Araceli Gaver, Anna Haines, Kasey Lichtner and AnnaLiess Stith

Key losses: Boys — Luke Wyandt; Girls — Bella Hutson-Comeaux

2019-20 OCC-Ohio standings: Boys — Gahanna (484.5), Pickerington North (468), Reynoldsburg (284), Grove City (229), Pickerington Central (205.5), Lancaster (202); Girls — Gahanna (623), North (473), Lancaster (230), Reynoldsburg (197), Grove City (197), Central (129)

2020 postseason: Boys — Fourth at sectional, 17th at district, tied for 24th at state; Girls — Ninth at sectional, did not score at district

WRESTLING

Coach: Jon Forgy, fifth season

Top athletes: Summer Batts, Michael Dawkins, Dalton Hall, Chris Karr, Gaven Miller, Steven Schulze, Caleb Smiley, Logan Smalley and Gracie Straughter

Key losses: Isaiah Boateng, Zach Frye, Luke Goeschl, Peighton Irish-Arnett, Aaron Reynolds and Romeo White

2019-20 OCC-Ohio standings: Lancaster (5-0), North (4-1), Grove City (3-2), Central (2-3), Gahanna (1-4), Reynoldsburg (0-5)

2020 postseason: Seventh at sectional, 24th at district