SPRINGFIELD TWP. – The focus at St. Xavier High School is on the short term.
“If we focus on the short-term goals, in the long run they’ll work themselves out,” said St. X coach Tom Wynn. “What we talk about is just winning the battles we can, one period at a time.”
The Bombers are coming off a more than memorable season. They finished 12th overall in the state and Joe Heyob, who graduated, was a state champion at 170 pounds.
Seniors Cole Jones and Ben Heyob are both returning state qualifiers. Jones placed fourth at 195, but he’ll likely wrestle at 220 this season. It was Ben’s second time qualifying for state, and he’ll be at 145 this year.
Junior Nick Falke also returns, a district qualifier last season. Sophomore Conner Yauss was a sectional qualifier last year. Sophomore Sam Kreiter’s a transfer (from La Salle) and he won’t be eligible until later this season, but Wynn said he will help out.
“I like the fact that the guys are gritty; they just work hard,” Wynn said.
North College Hill’s looking for its eighth-straight Miami Valley Conference championship this season on the mats.
There are three returning starters that will help lead the Trojans. Junior Mekhi Jones will compete at 132 pounds this season. Jones is coming off an MVC league title (at 126) and a sixth-place finish at the district tournament.
Junior Ki’Eran Friend is another returner who was a district alternate last season; he’ll wrestle at 145 this year.
Senior Anthony Curry will wrestle at 195, maybe 182 pounds. Curry won the MVC and was a sectional placer last season.
Also look for senior Zari Caudill at 120 pounds. Caudill was a backup last season, but 10th-year coach Tim Sies thinks he can wrestle at districts this year.
Sies has 28 guys on the team, and only nine of them are upperclassmen (four seniors).
“We’re packed with freshman and first-year wrestlers,” Sies said. “If I can keep everyone and build a love of sport and instill in them the ideals to be a good wrestler, then it’s exciting for the future. But, we’re not looking past this year.”
On Dec. 13, the Trojans hosted the third annual Everette Howard Memorial Invitational.
There are three returning starters at Winton Woods this season. Second-year coach Jason Dean said the Warriors are young, but he likes their work ethic and willingness to learn.
“We only have two seniors on the team,” Dean said. “Once we get the technique down we’ll be okay.”
Back for the Warriors are juniors Cole Rucker and Jaymes Robinson. Rucker won 13 matches last season, but an injury cut last year short for him. Robinson will wrestle at 120 this year.
Sophomore Jamir Thompson’s a returning starter at 126 pounds.
Dean also said the Warriors are athletic.
“We have the athletes and it looks like we have the desire to do well,” said Dean. “We need to get better at mat wrestling. We’re good on our feet…we’re still not real good on top, controlling guys on the mat.”
Winton Woods traveled to North College Hill Dec. 13 for the Trojans’ Invitational.
Now in his third season at Roger Bacon, coach Chris Harrison continues to fight to overcome low numbers within the program.
“Last year we only had seven guys; this year we have nine,” Harrison said.
Four guys return this season with some experience for the Spartans. Junior Brian Stentz is a returning sectional qualifier at 138 pounds. Seniors Mike Frederick and Kevin Dinh are both back to provide some experience and leadership. Sophomore Zac Baur is a returning starter who will wrestle at 160 pounds and can also make 152 as needed.
“We keep building and keep getting bigger,” Harrison said. “Constant improvement is what we’re looking for. Trying to drill in their heads that wrestling is a commitment.”
Harrison said the goal right now is consistency and “trying to get them in the room every single day.”
Mt. Healthy has five starters returning from last year’s roster. Three of the seniors have been with the program since the seventh grade and are trying to finish out their careers on a strong note.
The Owls return a district qualifier in senior Danny Johnson along with fellow seniors Ke’Eryon Deal, Brian Pringle and Leon Currie-Davis. Junior Tobias Froehlich also returns for Mt. Healthy.
“We have wrestlers who are hungry and desire to grow in the sport, which makes practice intense and enjoyable as a coach,” head coach Joe Dixon said.
Four guys and one girl make up the wrestling team at Aiken this season, led by first-year coach Mike Ward.
Aiken’s roster is comprised of junior Jose Garcia, freshman David Shaw, sophomore Tylee Dubose, sophomore Nikqel Nevins and freshman Saphire Smith.
“Some of the kids already have experience,” Ward said. “For one guy, it’s his first year wrestling so it’s back to basics for him. The ones with experience I just have to polish a little.”
Ward’s an Aiken alum and wrestled for the Falcons from 1984-86.
Last season, La Salle finished 28th overall in the state wrestling tournament. The Lancers had four state qualifiers (two of those placed) last season and all four return this year.
“We’re very excited,” said seventh-year La Salle coach Avery Zerkle. “It’s been a little different with football still going, but we’re excited to get everybody together.”
Sophomores Corey Shie and Andrew Sams both placed at state last season. Shie was fifth at 120 pounds; Sams was eighth at 126.
Zerkle said Shie’s a full-time wrestler and competed in roughly 50 matches, at a national level, this summer.
Sophomore Eric Beck is another returning state qualifier, along with senior John Shirkey who’s looking to return from injury sometime after Christmas.
La Salle also gets back junior Jared Thiemann, sophomore Hunter Perdue and junior Deshon Coptman.
Zerkle said that sophomore Coltyn Keairns, who missed all of last season due to injury, has a lot of potential at 285. Also look for freshman Blake Wilson who placed third at the junior high state meet last season and already has a tournament win this season.
La Salle will be at the Coaches Classic tournament Dec. 20-21 at Harrison.