Westland Roundup: Jakob Hurley, Bryson Palmer ready to lead wrestling team

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Tyler Jude (front) is among the top returnees for the Westland wrestling team and third-year coach Brent Allerding, who has high expectations despite having a small roster.

Although his team lacks depth, Westland wrestling coach Brent Allerding believes it again has the potential to advance several athletes deep into the postseason.

The Cougars had two wrestlers qualify for the Division I state tournament last season, but the event was postponed and later canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Bryson Palmer qualified for state at 126 pounds and Jakob Hurley advanced at 145.

“Our numbers aren’t where we wanted them to be, but our culture is in a really good spot and we have some good talent,” said Allerding, who is in his third season. “We’re going to have low numbers this year — it could be because of COVID — but we have high expectations for our kids. I just wish we had bigger numbers.”

Palmer and Hurley both return and are motivated to earn another state berth.

After both won sectional titles last winter, Palmer placed third at district to finish the season 41-8 and Hurley also finished third to close the season 37-6.

“They’re pretty focused as far as getting back there and making some noise,” Allerding said. “They’re pretty locked in. It’s been impressive.”

Palmer, who is the only senior on the team, should again compete at 126, while Hurley, a junior, should wrestle at 152.

“(The state tournament cancellation) fuels my energy for this year because last year I was so pumped,” Hurley said. “That’s just a year I don’t have to place at the state tournament. I was hoping to use last year’s experience and come back this year and make it on the podium, but I didn’t have that experience. I think I’ll be fine.”

Other returning district qualifiers are junior twins Trent Jude and Tyler Jude.

Tyler, who is expected to wrestle at 106, competed at 113 in last year's postseason and finished 36-15. Trent, who will wrestle at 113, competed at 120 in the postseason and finished 27-9.

“We’re all coming back and we’ve gotten better over the summer,” Hurley said.

Other returnees are juniors Colby Lightfoot (138) and Jacob Mullens (195) and sophomore Abdalla Sharif (heavyweight).

Other wrestlers are sophomores Collin Crosier (145) and David Ivan Medina (132) and freshmen Richard Alonso (132) and Ricardo Gomez (120).

“We’re struggling with numbers this year, which stinks,” Hurley said. “The good thing about that is we have all our assistant coaches who can focus on us and that’s going to be a really big thing. We’re not going to be a very good dual team and we’ve accepted that, but for tournaments we’re going to have six studs.”

Westland will compete in the OCC-Ohio Division with Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Pickerington North and Westerville Central. Last season, the Cougars went 2-3 in the OCC-Central to finish fourth behind champion Dublin Coffman (5-0).

The start of the season was delayed by the pandemic, with Westland scheduled to open Dec. 22 in a quad at Pickerington Central.

“We feel pretty confident that we can get a number of them to state and we’ll be able to do pretty well in the district (tournament),” Allerding said. “We’ll be more of a tournament team than a dual team.”

A key loss to graduation was Johnny Douglas, who earned a district berth last season at 152 and finished 26-19.

Young swimmers

look for progress

Swimming and diving coach Robert Boggs believes his roster has potential.

The Cougars return seven swimmers with varsity experience.

“It is a young team again, but we expect big things from them,” said Boggs, who is in his sixth season.

The returnees include senior Brenna Gilliam (butterfly, freestyle) and sophomores Joy Puhlman (backstroke, breaststroke, fly, free) and Kaylee Mullins (breast, free). They joined 2020 graduate Rachel Binion in setting a program record of 4 minutes, 39.61 seconds in the 400-yard freestyle relay while placing ninth last season in a Division I sectional.

Also back are seniors Elizabeth Green (breast, free) and Peyton Madden (back, breast, fly, free) and sophomore Mataya Forster (free).

Junior Anissa Mitchell (free) rounds out the girls team.

“We will be relying on Peyton, Brenna, Joy and Kaylee for our relays,” Boggs said.

The boys team should be led by sophomore Zach Iles (back, free). He is in his second year with the program.

Other swimmers are senior Dominik Forster (free) and freshman Josh Ashmore (back, free).

“Zach is returning and has improved immensely from the beginning of last year,” Boggs said. “Josh has swum before so we will work to bring him along and improve his times and develop other strokes. Dominik, having seen his younger sister (Mataya) have so much fun last year, decided he’d try swimming his senior year.”

The Cougars are scheduled to open Jan. 14 in a quad at Pickaway County YMCA.

“We’re not sure how things are going to turn out this season because of COVID, but we are trying to keep a positive outlook and make the best of what we have,” Boggs said. “The kids really need this social interaction, even if it is with social distancing.”

Binion was the lone graduation loss in the program. A four-year competitor, she owns program records in the 50 free (27.89), 100 free (1:00.9), 200 free (2:16.93), 200 individual medley (2:40.23), 500 free (6:26.28), 100 fly (1:07.34) and 100 back (1:14.32). Along with the 400 free relay, she also was a member of the program-record 200 medley relay (2:16.07) and 200 free relay (2:00.16).

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

SWIMMING & DIVING

Coach: Robert Boggs, sixth season

Top athletes: Boys — Zach Iles; Girls — Brenna Gilliam, Peyton Madden, Kaylee Mullins and Joy Puhlman

Key losses: Boys — None; Girls — Rachel Binion

2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Boys — Upper Arlington (600), Hilliard Davidson (400), Dublin Coffman (316), Marysville (217), Central Crossing (112), Westland (did not score); Girls — UA (773), Coffman (456), Marysville (288), Davidson (241), Central Crossing (163), Westland (70)

2020 postseason: Boys — Did not score at sectional; Girls — 12th at sectional

WRESTLING

Coach: Brent Allerding, third season

Top athletes: Jakob Hurley, Trent Jude, Tyler Jude and Bryson Palmer

Key losses: Johnny Douglas, Darius Lightfoot and Axel Ventura

2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Coffman (5-0), UA (4-1), Marysville (3-2), Westland (2-3), Davidson (1-4), Central Crossing (0-5)

2020 postseason: Eighth at sectional, 10th at district