Sports Illustrated recently tabbed 2008 the Best Sports Year Ever.
It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to consider 2008 in similar terms
for prep sports in Ohio. Whether you like football, basketball, wrestling, track or whatever, 2008 was a remarkable year across the board. Starting today we will unveil the Top 30 high school sports stories from the past 12 months.
Sports Illustrated recently tabbed 2008 the Best Sports Year Ever. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to consider 2008 in similar terms for prep sports in Ohio.
Whether you like football, basketball, wrestling, track or whatever, 2008 was a remarkable year across the board.
Starting today we will unveil the Top 30 high school sports stories from the past 12 months.
I’m sure some will disagree so I invite you to email me and let me know what I have wrong (and right) and what I may have missed.
We unleash Nos. 30-21 today, 20-11 on Wednesday and 10-1 on Thursday.
Let the games – or rather countdown, recognition and debate – begin.
21. Upper Arlington wins its fourth straight D-I girls state swimming title: The Golden Bears captured their fourth consecutive title and fifth in sixth years with a record 419 points in Canton in February. Cincinnati Ursuline Academy was runner-up for the sixth straight year with 222 points. UA was led by junior Darcy Fishback, who won her third straight 100-meter butterfly with state and tournament records (53.85) and was on the winning 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams that both set state and tournament records (1:44.47 in the 200 medley relay; 1:35.08 in the 200 freestyle relay).
22. Troy Christian’s Wells sets state pole vault record: After missing the entire track season last year with injuries to both ankles, Troy Christian senior Mackenzie Wells rebounded this year to win the D-III state title and set an all-divisions state record by clearing 13-0 at the Milton-Union district meet. Wells set a record at nearly every event she competed in including district, regional and state marks.
23. Minster ties record for most girls cross country state titles: The Wildcats won their seventh state cross country title on Nov. 1, moving into a first place tie with Cleveland Beaumont for the most ever regardless of division. Minster has won six titles in the last 10 years.
24. Brecksville Broadview Heights wins fifth straight state gymnastics title: The Bees captured their seventh title in eight years and tied Thomas Worthington for most gymnastics titles in history with eight thanks to edging Rocky River Magnificat in the second closest finish in tournament history in March. With senior Andrea Kinzer scoring 9.725 points in the vault, the last event of the day, the Bees beat Magnificat 147.4-147.05.
25. Marion Local defends D-IV state volleyball title despite having five new starters: Despite returning just three girls with varsity experience and one starter from last year’s state championship team, the Flyers defended their state title in D-IV with a win over Jackson Center on Nov. 8. JC had beaten the Flyers earlier in the season.
26. Logan Elm football records remarkable turnaround: Last year at this time the Logan Elm football program was coming off an 0-10 regular season. This year the Braves are celebrating something else. Under the direction of first-year head coach Scott Bartholomew, Logan Elm went from 0-10 to 10-0. In addition to winning the Mid-State League title and hosting the school’s first playoff game, the Braves recorded the first postseason win in history and advanced all the way to the D-III regional finals. Remarkable.
27. Columbus St. Charles ends Cincinnati St. Xavier’s nine-year state title streak in boys swimming: The Cardinals, state runners-up the last two seasons, broke through for a historic win when they beat the Bombers 266-246 for the D-I boys state swimming title in Canton on Feb. 23.
28. Toledo Libbey’s Buford claims Mr. Basketball: Cowboys senior William Buford captured the coveted Mr. Basketball award after ending his career as the Toledo City League’s second leading career scorer (2,059 points). Only Ohio State legend Jim Jackson scored more (2,328) while at now defunct Toledo Macomber. Like Jackson, Buford now plays for Ohio State.
29. Cleveland Heights ends Glenville’s five-year reign in D-I boys track: For the first time since 2002, Glenville did not win the D-I boys track title. Instead another Cleveland school did. Heights qualified athletes to the state meet in every event except the 400 and won the state team title despite not having a single state champion.
30. Cincinnati St. Ursula wins fourth girls soccer state title, ties record: In a rematch of the 2007 D-I girls soccer state championship, No. 2 St. Ursula again beat No. 6 Strongsville 1-0 at Columbus Crew Stadium on Nov. 8. St. Ursula, which beat Strongsville 2-0 last year, tied Clayton Northmont and Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit for the most girls soccer championships in history with four.
Gilmour Academy freshman Davis cruises to D-II tennis title: That one player dominated the girls Division II state tennis tournament is a bit unusual. That she surrendered one measly game until the title match and just five throughout the event is amazing. That she was a freshman is absurd. But indeed, that was the scenario played out by Gates Mills Gilmour Academy’s Lauren Davis, who swept through the entire season without so much as losing a set. And in Columbus, she won her first two matches without dropping a game, blitzed her semifinal foe, 6-1, 6-0, then polished off tough Gabby Steele of Cincinnati Country Day, 6-4, 6-0, for the title. Certainly, however, Davis was no underdog. Despite just having turned 15, she is second in the nation in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) 16-and-under rankings. After she won the 2008 National 16-and-under Hard Court Championship in San Diego last August, local newspapers were comparing her to Tracy Austin and legendary Chris Evert. Stay tuned.
Berlin Hiland wins its fourth D-IV girls state basketball title and third in four years: Led by the school’s all-time leading scorer (boys and girls) Jena Stutzman (1,645 points), the Hawks continued their mastery of small school hoops with a convincing 44-37 win over No. 1 ranked and defending state champion Columbus Africentric on March 10.
Dayton dominates boys and girls bowling – again: The Miami Valley has a successful history in all sports, but it’s suddenly become a hotbed for bowling. Although the OHSAA has only held two official state tournaments in the sport, Dayton-area teams have dominated. The 17-team Greater Western Ohio Conference has produced all four girls state champions (two team and two individual) the past two years, while Centerville was the boys team runner-up this year. All four semifinalists in the girls competition this year were from the GWOC. Dayton Stebbins, a member of the Central Buckeye Conference, was the boys state champ. Last year Coldwater won the boys state championship over St. Henry. Individually, Brice Ream from Urbana (another CBC school) was the boys individual state champion this year.
Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit wins third D-II baseball title in last four years: The Warriors won their fourth title overall with a 6-0 win over Canal Winchester on June 7.
Elyria and North Lewisburg Triad reach third straight softball state finals: The Pioneers and Cardinals each reached their third straight softball state finals in D-I and IV, respectively, but neither could capture that elusive state title. Never before had a school lost three straight softball state finals. Now two have.
Peninsula Woodbridge wins third straight D-II boys cross country title: Woodbridge became just the second school in history to win three straight D-II boys cross country titles on Nov. 1, matching the feat first down by Sandusky Perkins in 1987-89. The Bulldogs edged runner-up Tippecanoe 96-99.
Mason ties state record for lowest score in D-I girls golf state final: In just its second state tournament appearance, Mason took home its first D-I girls golf state title in record fashion on Oct. 18. The Comets’ 630 was 26 strokes better than runner-up Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit and tied Dublin Coffman’s 2000 squad for the lowest team score in Ohio girls state tournament history. Three Mason golfers placed in the top 10 overall standings: sophomore Erin Michel (No. 3 with a 153), senior Alexis Nelson (No. 7 with a 158) and sophomore Emily Wright (No. 10 with a 160).
Ottawa Hills becomes first Toledo-area school to win a state soccer title: Senior midfielder Sam Kuehnle’s 30-yard strike in the 51st minute gave Ottawa Hills a 1-0 win over Worthington Christian in the boys D-III soccer state championship at Columbus Crew Stadium on Nov. 7. As a result, the Green Bears are the first Toledo-area school to win a boys or girls soccer state championship. Unranked entering the postseason, Ottawa Hills knocked off the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Gates Mills Hawken, 3-0 in the state semifinals and the state’s No. 2-ranked team, Worthington Christian, in the finals.
Wednesday: Stories 11-20
Thursday: Stories 1-10