GRANVILLE – A returning state qualifier, several district qualifiers and a strong freshman class have Granville’s wrestling team thinking big for 2015-16.
The Blue Aces graduated All-Ohioan Christian Price, but state qualifier Luke Mendicino is back, bigger and better. After wrestling in the Division II state meet at 126 pounds last year, he’s up to 160 as a junior. He also won the Licking County League at 126.
“The extra weight has not hurt him at all. It’s almost better for him, because he has great technique from being in a smaller weight class,” coach Marvin Bright said.
Of the 27 wrestlers, 15 are freshmen.
“They’re a good and hungry class,” Bright said as Granville prepares to host its invitational Saturday. “They had six state junior high qualifiers, and they don’t like to get beat. Our seniors and juniors have all had success and can show them the way.”
Granville returns a trio of two-time district qualifiers in senior Mason Holt (138) and juniors Alex Eckels (195) and Matthieu Holt (182). Tristan Haley (132) made it to the district meet as a freshman.
There are only two other seniors, Caleb Chapdelaine (145), who was a district alternate last year, and Caleb Brown (220), who was 11-2 last year before getting injured. He’s still recovering from a football injury and is the only potential heavyweight on the roster.
“From 132 through 195, we’re solid,” Bright said. “But around that, on either end, we really don’t have many people.”
Sophomore Braxton Smith will wrestle at either 138 or 145. Then, there are the freshmen.
Keegan VanMeter (152) was a junior high state placer. Brandon Haley (170), a starting running back in football, is strong, quick and very athletic. There also are the Steffeny twins, Justin (152) and Jaxtin (160), who are expected to contribute.
Utica and Lakewood are among the teams in Saturday’s 12-team Granville Blue Ace Invitational. Individual pool wrestling starts at 10 a.m., with the team duals expected to start around 3 p.m.
Granville has another ambitious schedule as it tries to maintain the recent tradition of getting at least two wrestlers to the state meet. The Blue Aces will compete at the Kilter Klassic at Highland, the Defiance Invitational, the Tri-Valley Big Dawg Duals, the Marion County Wrestling Invitational and the Jimmy Wood Memorial at New Lexington. They also have a dual match against Upper Arlington. The LCL Tournament will be at Newark Catholic.