They are among the best moments and stories from an entire calendar year full of highlights and memorable sporting events at the highest level.
The area showcased its talent with some of the brightest performances ever seen.
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Post 83 Legion baseball
The best of the best in area baseball became the top legion team in Ohio, winning the state tournament in convincing fashion on the arms of its stud pitchers.
With the season pushing into the start of August football practice, coach Ray Neill turned to textbook pitching from Western Reserve graduate Andrew Chafin, Danbury’s Mike Hamann and Perkins’ Ryan Krumlauf.
Mix in timely hitting and a team that improved defensively as the season went along, you get the first state title in six appearances for a legion program that has sent players to the Majors.
“This team has team unity and respect,” Neill said. “And they have it maybe a little better then some other teams here have had. We try to put that type of team together.”
When the team traveled to Chillicothe for the Great Lakes Regional, only 12-14 players of the 18-man roster played on a daily basis, earning them the nickname ‘The Dirty Dozen.’
Perkins wins track title
Behind three individual first-place finishes and a pair of seconds, the Pirates hoisted the Division II state championship in June at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Cory Leslie ran away from the competition on the second day, winning the 1600 in convincing style before coming back an hour later and breaking the record in the 800. A day earlier, Leslie, carrying the baton for the final leg of the 4x800 relay team, was passed at the finish line and shouldered the blame.
He atoned for it 24 hours later, and got help from every participant with him.
Then-sophomore Matthew Hoty tossed a record distance in the shot put to claim a state crown, and thrower Kyle Steinhauser was second in the discus. Ben Kalis was seventh in the 110 hurdles.
Clyde also won the 4x400 relay behind Ryan Scharf, Rick Webber, Aric Thurn and Justin Cook, and SMCC’s Evan Slattery and St. Paul’s Wes Stein were second in the pole vault and discus in Div. III.
‘Where is Monroeville?’
It was the most popular question among spectators in late February at the state meet in Columbus.
When the finals ended on March 1, everyone knew the location of the small community after its Fab Four turned their repsective brackets into a wrestling clinic.
A whopping 13 area wrestlers made the finals, and nine individual champions were crowned — four from Monroeville and three from Oak Harbor, which finished second in Division II.
The Eagles’ Logan Stieber, then a sophomore who earned the school’s first state title a year earlier, was joined atop the podium by freshmen Hunter Stieber, Cam Tessari and Chris Phillips.
Oak Harbor’s Cody Magrum, who became the school’s first-ever three-time state champion, was thrilled to stand atop the podium with his two best friends — Kirk Tank, who had an overtime win, and Keith Witt — for their first state titles.
Perkins’ Matt Fisher and Bellevue’s Dawson Riedy both won their Division II bouts, raising their arms in triumph on the mat.
The weekend had its share of Cinderella’s, too: Sandusky’s Delonne Baker powered his way into the heavyweight finals.
For tradition-rich St. Mary CC, it was the end of an era — the Opfer Era — as the last of the four brothers donned the Panther blue and gold for the final time.
They’re young, and they’re good.
Behind a talented group of underclassmen, Clyde won a share of the Sandusky Bay Conference crown and became the first area team to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Pitcher Brooke Billings was lights out on the mound, taking the ball for what seemed like every inning of every game. And she still has three years of eligibility left.
The top moment for the Lady Fliers’ run may have been the ‘Miracle in Milan,’ when a throw from a Lexington outfielder went wide and squeezed through a gap in the fence, resulting in an extra two bases for a walk-off 2-1 win.
Huron, Clyde get state-of-the-art
Huron’ Memorial Stadium and Clyde’s Bob Biship Stadium both got an attractive new look for the fall football season when athletic turf was installed at each facility.
In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, both booster clubs used two different fundraising styles to generate the more-than-$500,000 needed for the luxury turf. Huron went to Kalahari Resorts, and Clyde got it from its community.
The best of the rest
- Vermilion graduate Andrew Oliver’s ongoing lawsuit with the NCAA after Oklahoma State suspended the standout pitcher before the start of the College World Series.
- The final season of the Sandusky Bay Conference’s ‘Big Three’ in girls basketball. Perkins’ Cierra Bravard and Trisha Krewson and Margaretta’s Kayla Keegan earned All-Ohio honors and all earned scholarships to play college basketball. The Pirates and Polar Bears saw their seasons come to and end at the regional tournament.
- Edison and Huron become the first area girls’ golf teams to qualify for the state tournament in Columbus.
- Boys’ swimming adds a second division, and no team expects to reap the benifits than talent-rich Perkins when the state swim meet rolls around in February in Canton.
- St. Paul goes through the regular season undefeated before falling in regional title match in Tiffin. Five Flyers earned All-Ohio honors, including quarterback Eric Schweiterman, who was named the Division VI Offensive Play of the Year.