After a big junior season, senior Jake O'Hara is off to a great start with the Columbia University wrestling team this season.
O'Hara (Crestwood) is 10-1 at 157 pounds with three major decisions. He had a breakout season last year, posting a 30-16 record with a 3-2 mark in the Ivy League. He had two pins and a team-high 10 major decisions. He was 9-9 at 141 pounds as a freshman and 12-17 as a sophomore in his first season wrestling at 157.
Jake has done a terrific job over the past four years, coach Carl Fronhofer said. Last year he made a big jump qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and gained some quality experience needed for his senior season.
Fronhofer feels that this could be a special year for O'Hara.
Jake has a great opportunity to finish his career as an All-American and we are all confident that he is doing the things necessary to achieve that goal. He is also one of our captains and has been a tremendous leader in and out of the wrestling room.
The Lions will compete in the Midlands Saturday and Sunday in Evansville, Ill.
TAMANININI HELPS WILDCATS: Sophomore Chris Tamanini is a solid performer for the Villanova men's swim team.
Tamanini (Dallas) competes and scores points in the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly for the Wildcats as well as competing with the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams.
We just finished our midseason invitational where our men's team finished third, and Chris was a big part of that success, coach Richard Simpson said. He has made a couple of very important improvements to his races that really made a big impact on his 100 back and 100 fly. He has really worked on his walls and his underwater work and it has really paid off.
According to Simpson, Tamanini has set himself up as a team leader as well.
We will lose a number of swimmers due to graduation after this year and will be a young team, the coach said. Chris should have no problem stepping in and filling the leadership void.
Villanova kicks off the second half of the season Jan. 4 in a non-league meet against Princeton in Princeton, N.J.
CASADEVALL STARTING: Freshman Ruth Casadevall came off the bench the first three games for the Stevenson women's basketball team, but the 5-foot-11 forward is starting for the Mustangs now.
Casadevall, from Wilkes-Barre (Wallenpaupack), is averaging 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds with 11 steals. She had eight points and three steals in a 65-61 victory over Roanoke the final game of the first half.
Ruth has been doing very well, coach Jackie Boswell said. She playing about 20 minutes a game and had a big game in an overtime victory over Keystone when she came off the bench and grabbed three straight offensive rebounds to either score or set it up for someone else to score.
The coach feels that Casadevall is adjusting both to college basketball and college life.
Ruth comes to practice prepared to work hard every day and her attitude is great, Boswell said. We as a coaching staff are happy to have her. She is a great addition to our team and her future is bright.
The 4-3 Mustangs open the second half of their season with a toughie, facing No. 5-ranked Lebanon Valley in a Commonwealth Conference game in Annville.
INJURIES SLOW POPPLE: Sophomore Josh Popple (Coughlin) is 5-4 at 184 pound in the early going for the Harvard wrestling team. He had his best effort in the recent Cliff Kean Las Vegas Invitational when he posted a 2-2 record. He lost in the opening round, but came back with two victories, including an 8-4 decision over No. 10-seed Stephen Doty of Virginia, before losing in the consolation bracket.
Josh has a bright future with our wrestling program, coach Jay Weiss said. Unfortunately he's been dealing with some injuries, but when we can get him healthy I feel he will be able to compete with the best in the country. He's a great addition to our family here at Harvard in more ways than just his wrestling talent.
The Crimson will compete in the Midlands in Evanston, Ill., Saturday and Sunday.
LIMITED DUTY FOR SLUSSER: Alyssa Slusser (Berwick) is a three-time Middle Atlantic Conference qualifier, but the senior isn't seeing much action in the pool this season with the Lebanon Valley women's swim team.
Slusser qualified for the MACs in the 100 breaststroke and 400 IM as a junior and in the 100 backstroke as a sophomore. This season, she's competing in the 100 breaststroke, the 200 IM and with the 200 and 400 medley relays.
Alyssa has been bogged down with classes (physical therapy major) and although she is close to qualifying, she has not been to the pool very much, coach Mary Gardner said.
DYMOND WORKING HARD: Steph Dymond (Tunkhannock) is a versatile performer for the Indiana (Pa.) women's swim team. The sophomore competes and scores points in all the sprint freestyle events, in the 100 backstroke and with all the freestyle relays and the 200 medley relay for the Crimson Hawks. The 50 free is her best event.
Steph has done a great job this year, coach Chris Villa said. She has really matured this year in her work ethic and dedication to our program. She has made great improvements and has a lot of potential to impact our team.
ACCORDINO'S RANKED: Hofstra grad student Justin Accordino (Coughlin) is ranked in two polls at 149 pounds despite the fact that he has not wrestled a match this season.
Accordino, who earned All-American honors after finishing sixth in the NCAA Division I Championships in St. Louis, is ranked sixth by InterMat and seventh by WIN. He was expected to compete at the Northeast Duals in November in Troy, N.Y., but tweaked his leg just days before the event and was scratched. He didn't compete as the Pride dropped matches to No. 4 Ohio State (38-3) and No. 5 Iowa (42-0) Dec. 16 in New York's Madison Square Garden.
The Pride will compete in the Midlands Saturday and Sunday in Evanston, Ill.
Bill Arsenault covers local athletes competing on the collegiate level. Reach him at email@example.com.