Year in Review: 2008 top story countdown concludes with Ohio’s best


The top 10 stories of 2008

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. Today we conclude our countdown and unveil the Top 10 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.

Today we conclude our look at the Top 30 high school sports stories from the past 12 months and reveal the Top 10.

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.

Let the games – or rather countdown, recognition and debate – continue and conclude.

1. Hillsboro’s Carter captivates the country: Hillsboro senior Dustin Carter achieved his dream and completed an unlikely journey by qualifying for the Division II state wrestling meet. Carter, born with the rare blood disease known as meningococcemia, which is from the same bacteria that causes a severe form of meningitis, lost both arms and legs to amputation at age five. Despite his handicap, Carter showed he was anything but. Able to get around with the help of prosthetic legs, Carter shed those and the competition when he got on a wrestling mat. As a senior, Carter went 40-2 and earned a berth in the D-II 103 bracket by finishing runner-up at the Goshen district. Carter won the Chillicothe sectional. At state, Carter won his first round match 2-1 in overtime over Cambridge’s Andrew Bertubin. He lost his next two matches and was eliminated. Carter was introduced to the crowd once more prior to the championship semifinals on Feb. 29 as his story was retold on the video screen at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. Carter received the largest cheers of the weekend and a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. Carter’s story made national news and was told on the Today Show as well as broadcast on other news outlets. His picture recently appeared in Sports Illustrated – again.

2. Cleveland St. Ignatius wins 10th state football title:
In a state defined by football, St. Ignatius reinforced its place in Ohio high school gridiron history. It can be argued that Massillon Washington has more state football titles than any other football program in Ohio, but in regards to titles earned by a tournament as opposed to voting, there is no argument – St. Ignatius is the most successful program in Ohio history. The Wildcats won their 10th D-I state title (all since 1988) and first since 2001 with a 28-20 win over Cincinnati Elder on Nov. 30. No other Ohio high school has double-digit titles since the playoff system was implemented in 1972. Chuck Kyle has been the head coach for all 10 titles and all 21 Ignatius playoff appearances. The Wildcats first made the postseason in 1988 and have been back every year since.

3. Graham wins National Wrestling Championship:
The Falcons beat both fabled Blair Academy of New Jesrsey and Ohio stalwart Lakewood St. Edward at last year’s Walsh Ironman Tournament to propel them to No. 1 in the country. Graham never slowed down. Despite being a D-II school the Falcons captured their first national championship and eighth straight D-II state title on March 1. In addition to winning its 10th state championship overall and moving into a second place tie with Maple Heights for the most ever regardless of division in Ohio, the Falcons also broke their own D-II state meet points record with 221.5. The old standard of 208.5 lasted just one year. Graham entered the finals with 202 points and six wrestlers vying for first place. Four Falcons captured crowns as Graham outdistanced second place Oak Harbor by 140.5 points.

Steubenville puts together sixth straight undefeated regular season in football and becomes just third school in state history to win 700 games all-time: In Week 10 of the high school football regular season, the Big Red recorded a 34-14 win over Tonawanda (N.Y.) Cardinal O’Hara 34-14 to wrap its sixth straight undefeated regular season and become just the third school in Ohio history with 700 all-time wins. Only Massillon Washington and Canton McKinley have more career victories. There are also less than 30 programs nationwide that own 700 all-time wins in football. Steubenville has played football for 109 years.

5. Bluffton’s Guagenti wins four events at the D-III state track meet:
Ohio has held a boys state track meet for 101 years and only 10 times
has an athlete won four events. Bluffton senior John Guagenti became
just the third to do so in the last 56 years when he captured the 200
and 400 and anchored the winning 800 and 1,600 relays in June. The
effort also helped Bluffton win its first state track title as a team.

6. Two jumpers clear 7-foot at state track meet: After a disappointing finish last year (sixth) following a state title as a sophomore, Napoleon senior Ryan Fleck rebounded to win the D-II state championship with a state and meet record leap of 7-1.25. The previous D-II state meet record of 7-0 was set by Bellbrook’s Kevin Bryant in 1977. The previous D-II state record of 7-0.25 was set by Columbus Wherle’s Jaye Bailey in 1982. In addition to Fleck’s heroics, Toledo Rogers junior Erick Kynard won the D-I title with a leap of 7-0. Kynard was the first D-I athlete to clear 7-0 since 1992. In all just nine athletes in Ohio high school history have conquered 7-0.

7. The Midwest Athletic Conference claims seventh state football title in four years:
It might be a small school conference but the 10-team MAC is anything but small when it comes to the state football scene. The conference, made up of schools from the rural Western Ohio counties of Drake, Auglaize, Mercer and Allen counties, claimed its seventh state title in four years on Nov. 28 when Delphos St. John’s won the D-VI crown. In the last four years, DSJ (two), Coldwater (two) Marion Local (two) and St. Henry all have titles. DSJ finished the season 13-2 after going 2-8 last year.

8. Lakewood St. Edward plays for D-I boys basketball, ice hockey, wrestling and baseball state titles: St. Edward, an all boys school in Cleveland, flexed its muscle in 2008 to the tune of four state finals appearances. In hockey the Eagles won their 11th state title with a 3-1 win over Gates Mills Gilmour Academy. In wrestling they claimed their 12th straight and 24th title overall and in baseball they won their second championship. St. Ed lost to Newark in the D-I boys basketball final.

9. GGCL shut out at state volleyball tournament:
Every year since 1992 at least one team from the Girls Greater Cincinnati League had captured a volleyball state championship. That streak ended on Nov. 8. Cincinnati Ursuline lost to Olmsted Falls in the D-I final, while Kettering Alter fell to Parma Padua in the D-II final. Olmsted Falls and Ursuline also set a record for scoring (since the inception of the rally scoring format in 2004) when their first game went 39-37 with the Bulldogs winning.

10. Lakewood St. Edward wins record 24th state wrestling title and 12th in a row:
This might be higher on the list if the Eagles weren’t so dominant and heavily favored at the beginning of every season. St. Ed has owned Division I wrestling through the years and 2008 was no different. Doubt 2009 will be either.


Stories 11-20

Stories 21-30 and honorable mention

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