Ready Roundup: Final wrestling season working out for Silver Knights' Aiden Aiello

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Ready senior Aiden Aiello nearly didn't compete this season so he could focus on preparing for his college football career at Otterbein. Now as the postseason nears, he's focused on earning a third consecutive berth to the Division III state tournament.

Having turned his focus toward preparing for a future in college football, Aiden Aiello originally decided he wasn’t going to wrestle for Ready this winter. 

As he continued to process what it might be like to not compete after he reached the Division III state tournament in each of the past two seasons, the senior reconsidered. 

Aiello went 0-2 at state as a sophomore and qualified last season before the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“I started two weeks later than everyone because I wasn’t planning on wrestling,” said Aiello, who will compete at 145 pounds in the postseason. “My dad (coach Anthony Aiello) and everyone kept asking me why and that they thought I had a good shot at placing at state if I didn’t waste the opportunity. I think I would have regretted it if I didn’t come back.” 

The Silver Knights have had what coach Aiello admits has been a challenging season, as junior Devin Malone and sophomores Logan Dimel, Jerad Koboi and Lee Tracy Jr. all have been lost to season-ending injuries. 

Sophomore Brian Fitzsimmons (182) also has been out for much of the season with injury. 

However, Aiden Aiello and junior Paul Martello (160) have been thriving, even though the season didn’t begin until late December because of the pandemic. 

The Knights finished 0-3 in the CCL and are preparing for the postseason, which begins with sectional competition Feb. 26 and 27 at Madison Plains. 

While Martello was 13-1 after his team’s matches Jan. 30, Aiello was 14-0 on the season and 103-30 for his prep career.  

“This is the best I’ve wrestled in all my four years,” Aiello said. “My offense and my shooting is a lot better and my confidence has helped with that a lot.” 

In addition to Aiello and Martello, the Knights expect to have juniors Aidan Montgomery (220) and Evan O’Connell (145), sophomores Noah Hamilton (132) and Dylan Melrose (heavyweight) and freshman Ryan Schnarr (120) among their entrants in the postseason. 

Junior Ricky Schnarr (138) won’t be able to compete because of the OHSAA transfer rule. 

Aiello’s brother, Austin Aiello, is a 2019 Ready graduate who plays football for Wilmington and spent time over the holiday break conditioning with Aiden, helping him add muscle. 

Aiden has committed to play football for Otterbein as a safety. 

He and his father both believe he could have a more successful postseason because he’ll be what Anthony considers a “pretty big 145-pounder.” 

“He loves football, but I feel like he’s really getting into (wrestling) this year,” coach Aiello said. “It’s not always easy coaching your son, but it hasn’t been that bad. I’ll obviously miss him next year. It’s been great, obviously, having him qualify for state the last two years, watching him get better each year and more confident. 

“He’s only about 5-8, 5-9, and he only played football at 140 pounds. His brother came home and they lifted together for about a month. Aiden got to 155 and that’s why (he was) wrestling at 152 and that was his goal, to wrestle up against bigger kids and then when he drops back down to 145 (for the postseason) he’ll obviously feel a lot lighter.” 

Ready's Michelle Vanegas was 12th in the 50 free and 100 free in the CCL meet Jan. 30 at St. Charles.

Swimmers begin 

postseason action 

The boys and girls swimming teams opened the postseason with Division II sectional competition, which concluded Feb. 13 at Columbus Academy. 

There were no automatic berths to the district meet Feb. 18 at Bowling Green. The top 24 in individual events advanced based on sectional times. 

Senior Elaine Smith was optimistic about having a strong postseason after her performances in the CCL meet Jan. 30 at St. Charles, where she was runner-up in the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 4.42 seconds) and 500 free (5:32.72). 

Even though she hadn’t tapered yet, Smith’s times were on par with what she was swimming last season at district when she finished 12th in the 500 free (5:39.19) and 17th in the 200 free (2:05.32). 

“(Those two events have been) going really well this season,” Smith said. “I’m hopeful.” 

Also for the girls team in the CCL meet, senior Michelle Vanegas was 12th in the 50 free (42.93) and 100 free (1:41.93) as Ready finished fourth (28) behind champion Watterson (462). 

The boys team has one competitor in freshman Tyler Fields, who was 11th in the 100 free (1:20.69) and 15th in the 50 free (34.59). 

“(Fields) did well (in the league meet), dropping five seconds in his 50 free and 100 free,” coach Ann Smith said. “Michelle had a really good meet and was right at her personal best, so she’s right there.” 

Basketball teams 

to start tourney play 

The boys and girls basketball teams are preparing for the Division III postseason. 

On Feb. 17, the 15th-seeded girls squad plays at fifth-seeded Mount Gilead, with the winner to play host to 17th-seeded Grandview in a second-round game Feb. 20.  

If Ready wins its first two tournament games, it would play top-seeded Worthington Christian or 18th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in a district semifinal Feb. 23. 

The girls team beat Franklin Heights 45-19 on Jan. 27 but found out the next day that it was entering its third quarantine of the season.

The Knights were 1-6 overall and 0-1 in the CCL before returning to action Feb. 11 against Hartley. They will play each team in the CCL only once this winter.

The seventh-seeded boys squad opens the district tournament Feb. 24 at home against 17th-seeded Marion Elgin. 

The Knights were 8-5 overall and 4-3 in the CCL after losing 61-60 to Watterson on Feb. 5. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek