2009 Year in Review: Sullinger, Stallions, Six titles and stories 30-21


2009 Year in Review: Stories 30-21

Ohio has long been known for its
athletic prowess in high school sports, and 2009 was no different.
Whether you like football, basketball, wrestling, track or whatever,
2009 was a remarkable year across the board. Legends were born, history
was rewritten and records were bounced. Today we continue our countdown of the Top 50 stories from the last 12 months.

Ohio has long been known for its athletic prowess in high school sports, and 2009 was no different.

you like football, basketball, wrestling, track or whatever, 2009 was a
remarkable year across the board. Legends were born, history was
rewritten and records were bounced.

How impressive was it? See
for yourself. Starting today we will unveil the Top 50 high school
sports stories from the past 12 months.

I’m sure some will
disagree – this is the Huddle after all – so I invite you to email me
and let me know what I have wrong (and right) and what I may have

Today we unleash stories 30-21. Nos. 20-11 will be released on
Thursday and 10-1 on Friday (New Year’s Day).

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



30. League rivals meet with state title on the line: Parma Padua Franciscan defended its Division II volleyball title on Nov. 14, but not without having to earn it. The Bruins dropped the first two sets to North Coast League rival Mentor Lake Catholic before rallying for a five-set win at Wright State’s Nutter Center. The Bruins beat the Cougars 16-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-9, 15-9. The match featured 38 ties and 22 lead changes. The teams met twice during the regular season, with Padua winning in three and four sets, respectively.

29. Peninsula Woodridge continues mastery of D-II cross country: In boys Division II cross country, Woodridge captured its fourth straight state title. The streak marks the most consecutive boys state titles since Caldwell won eight in a row from 1985-1992 in Class A (1985-88) and Division III (1989-92). The Bulldogs’ top five runners finished eighth, 11th, 16th, 25th and 33rd, respectively.

28. Future OSU teammates face off again: In a rematch of last year’s Division I singles title match, New Albany senior Peter Kobelt extracted some revenge by outlasting West Chester Lakota West senior Wyatt Lippert 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours and 38 minutes. Lippert won their 2008 championship meeting, which also went three sets, and ends his career with four top-four finishes. Both Kobelt and Lippert will be teammates next year at Ohio State.

27. Marion Local volleyball continues its torrid streak: The Flyers captured their third straight D-IV volleyball state title and capped an undefeated season (28-0) with a 25-17, 20-25, 25-10, 25-13 win over Norwalk St. Paul on Nov. 14 at Wright State’s Nutter Center. ML is 82-4 over the past three years and became the seventh program in state history to win three straight state titles and first since 2001. The Flyers are also just the second public school to accomplish the feat.

26. Versailles girls punch ticket to the state tournament – four times: The Tigers didn’t win a state title in the last 12 months, but they came close to claiming four. Versailles finished third at the D-III state cross country meet and was runner-up at the D-III state track meet, where it’s 62 total points would have won the state title from 1972-2007. Gilmour claimed the title with 73. The Tigers also made the D-III state semifinals in volleyball and basketball. Versailles run to the basketball Final Four was its third straight and somewhat shocking considering the Tigers went just 3-6 in the Midwest Athletic Conference during the regular season.

25. Upper Arlington girls swimming wins fifth straight D-I state title: The Golden Bears have become the program of note in D-I swimming. Led by Darcy Fishback, UA beat Central Ohio rival Watterson 349-176 on Feb. 28 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. The title is the Golden Bears sixth overall. Fishback, an Auburn recruit, won her fourth consecutive title in the 100 butterfly (53.83) and set a state record in the prelims (53.38). She was also the anchor on the 200 freestyle relay that set a state record in 1:34.24.

24. Pickerington no longer alone as state’s best: Pickerington now has company. With a 63-48 win over Oak Hill in the D-III championship at the 34th Annual Girls State Basketball Tournament on March 21 at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center, South Euclid Regina joined the traditional Central Ohio power as the only girls programs to claim six state basketball titles. The Royals, which have never lost a state championship game, won a record four straight titles from 2000-2003 and another in 2005. They have made seven state tournament appearances with the only loss coming to Versailles last year in the semifinals. Regina was the only team this season to go undefeated in winning a title.

23. Six and counting: No family ever has dominated a field event like the Pendleton’s of Elmore. Senior Erin Pendleton captured the family’s sixth – and her second – straight D-III discus title with a throw of 160-00 on June 5 at Jesse Owens memorial Stadium in Columbus.  She won last year’s title with a meet record 168-10. Those two championships go with the four her sister Emily earned from 2004-07. Pendleton’s farthest throw this spring (167-6) was the second farthest in the country by a high school girl. Pendleton has since joined her sister at Michigan.

22. Stallions put together a dominant display: No matter which side of the “parochial vs private” argument you reside on, everyone needs to respect what Columbus DeSales’ boys athletic teams have done in the last 12 months. The Stallions have made four state tournaments. They reached the state semifinals in baseball and basketball, finished state runner-up in football and won a state title in soccer.

21. Sullinger nets redemption, state title: No matter how the D-I boys basketball state final finished the ending was going to be storybook. Turns out it was Northland that got to live happily ever after. A year after watching his team lose with him on the bench, Northland star and 2009 Ohio Mr. Basketball Jared Sullinger delivered in the clutch, draining two free throws with 2.7 seconds left to lift the Vikings past Princeton 60-58 in a clash of Ohio goliaths and nationally-ranked teams before 12,104 at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center on March 28.

Northland, the No. 16 team in the USA Today Super 25 and No. 1 team in the state poll, finished the season 27-1, while Princeton, ranked No. 15 by USA Today and No. 2 in the state, wrapped its season at 25-2.

The win was sweet for Northland, and especially its star. In leading the Vikings to just the second title by a Columbus City League school since Walnut Ridge in 1971 (Brookhaven won the D-I title in 2002), Sullinger, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound specimen, lifted an immense weight off his shoulders. Strongly regarded as the No. 1 high school player in the country for the Class of 2010, Sullinger was sat out of last year’s district semifinals against Westerville South due to a self-imposed sentence for sloppy schoolwork by his father. The Vikings, ranked No. 2 in the state, were upset and sent home.

The burden has at times been nearly unbearable. Now it’s gone.


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