City League Roundup: Wrestling seasons in full swing for Centennial Stars, Northland Vikings
Include Alvin Forte among those who didn’t realize how much he missed wrestling until it looked like he wouldn’t be able to compete this winter.
The Centennial junior went 31-13 at 160 pounds last season, including finishing second in the City League tournament and winning a sectional match, and then moved into a more prominent role for the football team last fall.
This winter, Columbus City Schools didn’t allow sports to proceed until mid-January.
Forte, who won eight of his first nine matches, will be among a small group of Stars wrestlers who open the postseason with Division II sectional competition Feb. 26 and 27 at Licking Valley.
“Being back out here is a miracle,” Forte said. “This summer I (attended) a camp and had to follow all of these precautions. I had another (wrestling) camp a few weeks ago before the season started. We had a football season and then I just had to do stuff on my own. (Competing in wrestling again) was really fun. I forgot how fun it was, I really did.”
Also expected to compete for Centennial in the postseason is junior Oliver Kohler (120). He went 21-17 last season, including finishing second in the City at 113.
“It’s very exciting to have a season,” coach Brian Knisley said. “We’re finally getting some matches in. These guys are so far behind, which is obviously expected. A couple matches here and there makes a difference.”
Northland is preparing for a Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Marysville. There are nine competitors for the Vikings, with juniors Correy Craddolph (220) and Abdi Moualem (113) leading the way and Jaylen Broadus (heavyweight) as the only senior.
Others on the team include juniors Lazero Buezo (170) and Emmanuel Sandoval (120), sophomores Jordan Blankson (195) and Chrysanthus Ampaah (182) and freshman Akom Sume (138).
Junior Nahjae Alcorn (121) entered the girls district tournament, which was held Feb. 14.
The Vikings are coached by Rocky Carreker, who took over this winter after serving as East’s coach for seven seasons. Joe Murray had been the coach the past three seasons.
Last winter, 2020 graduate Ammaar Salaam became East’s first state qualifier since 2004 before the state tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re getting better every week with what’s been provided to us,” Carreker said. “We’re still making the simple mistakes, like where to place the hands, just the basics because a lot of focus has got to go into conditioning. If they can’t focus past the first period, everything goes out the window. It’s definitely a challenge this year.”
to have season
City swimming programs began their respective postseasons with sectional competition that wrapped up Feb. 13.
Only three programs competed in the City meet Feb. 6 at Columbus Aquatics Center, with the Centennial girls scoring 101 points to beat Whetstone (97) and Beechcroft (30) and the Whetstone boys scoring 120 to defeat Centennial (95) and Beechcroft (12).
The Stars had seven girls and seven boys compete, and the Cougars had three girls and one boy.
Senior Joy Chambers led the Stars girls, winning the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 39.59 seconds) and 50 free (31.79) and swimming on the winning 400 free relay (4:52.33) with senior Summer Kaiser, junior Maddie Nelson and freshman Audrey Strayer.
Also winning for Centennial were Nelson in the 500 free (6:41.34), Strayer in the 100 breaststroke (1:30.05) and junior Sophia Lang in diving (200.6).
Centennial also won the girls title last season.
“It feels great,” Chambers said. “I know all of us have worked really, really hard to pull this off. We only had eight days of practice, so I’m really excited that we got to show our skills and do it for our seniors.”
For the Centennial boys, junior Alec Proudfoot was first (477.2) and junior Aiden Szolosi was second (301.3) as the only diving competitors. Proudfoot also won the 100 free (57.34).
“They did pretty well,” coach Leanne Rubadue said. “We had two boys qualify for districts with their dives and (Lang) also qualified by doing an 11-dive meet. We’re looking for Alec to make it to state in diving this year and actually probably end up on the podium, hopefully. He repeated as City champion in the 100 free as well. We’ve only had about eight days of practice, so we don’t have a lot of times to base it on, but they were faster than they were (a few days ago).”
For the Beechcroft girls, junior Nyrobi Whitfield won the 200 individual medley (2:36.79) and 100 free (1:00.41), junior Lily Braaksma was second in the 50 free (31.91) and fourth in the 200 free (2:47.76) and freshman Maci Braaksma was third in the 100 backstroke (1:27.92) and 100 free (1:12.83).
“I was really excited,” Whitfield said. “Honestly I didn’t think we’d have a season so I was prepared, but now that we do, I’m glad we’re having it.”
Senior Daylen Allen represented the Beechcroft boys, placing first in the 100 breast (1:10.37) and second in the 200 free (2:04.04).
“Daylen Allen lost the 200 free and that’s the first time he’s lost all year, but he did great,” coach Dan Zedeker said. “We had a great day. You don’t win much when you only have four kids, but we did well.”
advance to boys final
The Africentric boys basketball team will represent the City-South Division in the league championship game at noon Feb. 20 on its home court.
The Nubians improved to 7-1 overall and finished 7-0 in the City-South with a 56-55 victory over South on Feb. 8. Walnut Ridge went 6-1 to place second.
Dailyn Swain was averaging a team-high 17.5 points for the Nubians through six games.
While Africentric reached the City final for the first time since 2013, Beechcroft will represent the City-North in the title game.
The Cougars beat Northland 65-50 on Feb. 10 to improve to 7-0 overall and finish with the same record in the league.
Northland finished 6-1 in the league and dropped to 6-2 overall.
The Cougars last made an appearance in the City final when they won the championship in 2018.
Last season, Walnut Ridge beat Linden-McKinley 74-59 to win the City title.
Beechcroft set itself up for the first-place battle with Northland when it got a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Amani Lyles to beat Linden 62-61 on Feb. 8.
In a 99-55 win over Centennial on Feb. 8, Makhale Massey and Rob Dorsey both had 21 points and Shemar Watson and Stephan Reavish both scored 17 for Northland.