Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Wrestling team hopes to reach potential

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Junior Shea Jordan and the Whitehall-Yearling wrestling team have been preparing for the season. Jordan, who competes at 106 pounds, went 33-13 with 12 pins last season and is 56-31 for his career.

Whitehall-Yearling wrestling coach Steve Pennington sees much potential within his program. He’s just hoping his wrestlers get the chance to display those skills.

The start of the season has been delayed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with the Rams scheduled to open Tuesday, Dec. 22, at Thomas Worthington.

“We just want to compete,” said Pennington, who is in his 18th season. “We just have to be diligent and doing our daily checks on our wrestlers, keeping track of their family and just trying to keep everybody safe. There’s a way to do it.”

A key returnee is junior Shea Jordan at 106 pounds. He finished 33-13 with 12 pins last season and is 56-31 for his career.

“We have several new kids who have some talent,” Jordan said. “I’m really looking forward to this year. I want to go to state. I have to practice really hard and I need to stay calm in matches when things don’t go my way. … I’m hoping we’ll finally have a winning dual record.”

Also back is sophomore Damion Black (120), who was a Division I district alternate and finished 19-21 with 14 pins.

Junior Austin Whistle (132) went 15-13 with seven pins, and classmate Noah Church (heavyweight) finished 14-26 at 220 with six pins.

“We’re having fun,” Church said. “This sport is really important to me. I really didn’t used to have confidence, but there’s something about this sport. It’s just a blessing that I can wrestle. … I’ve definitely gotten better. My freshman year I didn’t shoot. I got more disciplined and my technique has improved.”

Senior David Winegarner (195) went 10-10 last season with seven pins, and sophomore Nakylan Haley (145) finished 10-19 with four pins.

Other returnees are senior Maurkel Anderson (195) and juniors Erik Taraj (145) and Selena Lenigar (220). The roster also includes juniors Dorrin Mixon (160), Tyrese Taylor (152) and Tyler Woodson-Levey (heavyweight), sophomore Burton Solomon (220) and freshmen Ben Carter (160), Nick Cunningham (145), Miles Krieger (182), Malachi Martinez (heavyweight), Mike Park (106) and Ma’Kel Parker (120).

“I have some tough kids on the team,” Pennington said. “I have a bunch of returners that put in some time during the offseason and have improved. I have a couple of freshmen that I like that I’m looking forward to getting into competition and seeing how they’ve grown. … We have several kids who could qualify for the district tournament.”

Because of the pandemic, the MSL-Ohio Division will not hold a league tournament. Instead, teams will follow a dual-meet schedule starting in January. 

Last season, Whitehall finished third (70) in the league tournament behind Buckeye Valley (83) and Bexley (82) as Black (120) and Church (220) captured titles.

Key losses to graduation were Steven Fancelli (113) and Andrew Dickens (heavyweight). Both went 0-2 at district last season.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

WRESTLING

Coach: Steve Pennington, 18th season

Top athletes: Damion Black, Noah Church, Shea Jordan, Austin Whistle and David Winegarner

Key losses: Andrew Dickens and Steven Fancelli

2019-20 MSL-Ohio standings: Buckeye Valley (83), Bexley (82), Whitehall (70), Columbus Academy (35), Grandview (23)

2020 postseason: Ninth at sectional, did not score at district