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Carpenter leading Utica wrestling, waiting for reinforcements

12:00 AM, Dec. 06, 2012 EST

Utica's Nick Carpenter tries to get a pin at 182 pounds during the Granville Invitational on Saturday. Carpenter was unbeaten. / Michael Lehmkuhle/The Advocate


It was easier for Utica senior Nick Carpenter to recite who actually was in the lineup Saturday.

Carpenter was a little lonely for the Granville Invitational because several of the experienced Redskins are out with injuries. Carpenter fought the good fight for Utica, finishing unbeaten at 182 pounds to help them to a sixth-place finish.

"I want state real bad," said Carpenter, who was 2-2 at the district tournament each of the past two years. "I gained a little weight in football. There are bigger guys, but I feel better because I don't have to cut any weight. I feel healthier when I wrestle. I have more energy."

Among those missing Saturday were returning district qualifiers Dillon Fletcher and Kevin Bigler, who tore his ACL during football, and Mitchell Peck and Joey Pelletier. Carpenter and Will Sturm, another district qualifier, combined for eight victories at Granville.

Mid-Buckeye Conference foe Centerburg won the event, and Danville edged Utica for fifth. Had the Redskins been at full strength, they might have been able to challenge the title, and they certainly will have a different look by the time the MBC meet is held in early February.

"We have a bunch of people hurt, but our younger guys have really stepped up," Carpenter said. "All of them have a lot of fight. They don't want to get pinned. That makes me glad to see because that will help us a lot when we get a lot of our guys back."

Valley on schedule

Licking Valley is starting out with a young team, but coach Jeremy Tate is confident by January, the Panthers will have everyone needed in place.

"We'll probably have four or five freshmen in the lineup, but they're pretty skilled kids and they were all state qualifiers or placers in junior high," he said. "We hope to have everyone in the right weight class by the start of the year."

Valley competed last weekend in the 17-team Cambridge Invitational, with senior Nate McCown turning in a stellar performance. He went 5-0 to win at 182 pounds, including a 3-1 win against Sheridan's R.J. Waugh in the final. Waugh was fifth in the state in 2011-12.

Freshman Garrett Robinson (4-1) took third at 152, sophomore Bo Redman (4-1) finished fifth at 220 and senior Steven Nethers (3-2) placed sixth at 120.

Senior Tommy Wogan (170) and junior Blake Owens (195) return from suspension this week, while junior Logan Johnson (130), a district qualifier in 2011-12, is returning soon from a back injury.

Tate said the Panthers might be hard-pressed to defend a Mid-State League-Ohio Division title they've won the past four years.

"Whitehall has nine seniors and they're the favorite," he said. "Granville and Newark Catholic also have good teams."

Riding the Wave

In 2011-12, Newark Catholic won its first sectional title and sent four wrestlers to the state.

Coach Jason Boucher thinks he can get four there again, with good chances to place.

"We started with this group with the biddy program in 2003, and this just re-affirms we were doing things the right way," Boucher said.

Three of the four state qualifiers return: senior D.J. DeVito and juniors Caleb Ohl and Evan Hansel. Sophomore Jake Smith (132) was knocking on the door to the state.

DeVito, getting a late start because of the Green Wave's football success, will move up from 113 to 120. He also still is recovering from a football injury.

"We'll be careful with him in December," Boucher said. "We're moving him up, but he's so explosive offensively, we think it will alleviate that move."

Ohl will move up from 106 to 113, and has put the work in to reach his goal of placing in the state. So has Hansel at 138.

Another football player, Cameron DeBevoise, will compete at 170, and Boucher is hoping all of his football success will translate to confidence on the mat. Some other football players are also considering wrestling.

"We'd like to think we can contend in the league, but our numbers hurt us," Boucher said. "We can't fill all of our weight classes."




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