2009 Year in Review: Falcons, Wildcats, Tigers, Bombers and the Top 10


2009 Year in Review: Stories 10-1

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 conclude our countdown of the Top 50 stories from the last 12 months. What was No. 1?

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 conclude our countdown with the unveiling of the Top 10!

What was No. 1?





10. Toledo Rogers’ Kynard leads long list of standout high jumpers: The high jump competition at this year’s D-I state track and field championships offered arguably the deepest, most talented and toughest field in the 102-year history of the event. Fittingly the state’s record holder in the event won it. Toledo Rogers senior Erik Kynard captured his second straight state title and survived a gauntlet that featured four competitors that cleared 7-0 this spring. Kynard’s winning leap of 7-1 ranks as the fourth best mark all-time at the state meet. After sailing 7-4.5 during the indoor season, Kynard opened the outdoor season by winning the fabled Mehock Relays in Mansfield with a leap of 7-2.5. Kynard’s best jump during the outdoor season was 7-3.5 at the Toledo City League Championships, which set the state record.

9. St. Edward wins 13th straight D-I wrestling title: Much was made this year of St. Edward’s possible demise. Who’s laughing now? That chuckle you hear is from Lakewood. The Eagles withstood challenges from Wadsworth, Massillon Perry and surprise Brecksville-Broadview Heights to capture their 13th straight D-I title and 25th overall at the state wrestling tournament on March 8 at the Schottenstein Center.
During the regular season the Eagles lost twice to Wadsworth in duals and lost to Massillon Perry at the Medina Invitational. Both teams were still in contention after the first two sessions, but St. Ed separated itself during the semifinals.

The Eagles advanced four to finals and took home two titles: junior Jamie Clark (119) and senior Collin Palmer (140).

St. Edward ended with 111.5 points, while Perry was second – for the sixth time in seven years – with 91. Broadview Heights (84) was third and Cleveland St. Ignatius fourth (76.5). Wadsworth finished fifth (74).

8. Mooney Wins seventh state football title: Five of the last six years the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney football team has played for a state championship. This season the Cardinals won their seventh title overall to add to their already staggering legacy. With its 35-7 dismantling of Columbus DeSales in the D-III state final on Dec. 4 at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Mooney added its name to Ohio’s list of elite programs. Only Cleveland St. Ignatius (10) and Newark Catholic (8) have more state football titles than Mooney. Cincinnati Moeller also has seven. Overall, the win improved Mooney’s postseason record to 49-16 in 23 trips. The Cardinals are 7-3 in state title games.

7. Minster Girls XC sets state record with eighth state title: Few programs have dominated a sport like the Minster girls cross country team has so it’s fitting that the Wildcats are now the best program ever in girls cross country. Minster claimed its eighth state title with a victory in D-III at Scioto Downs Race Track in Columbus on Nov. 7. Minster’s latest championship broke a tie with Cleveland Heights Beaumont who is now second historically with seven championships.

6. Magnificat magnificent at State Cross Country: The most dominating performance in the history of the cross country state championships was turned in by the Rocky River Magnificat girls team at Scioto Downs Race Track in Columbus on Nov. 7. En route to capturing the D-I title, the Magnificat girls’ top five runners finished second, third, fourth, ninth and 10th, respectively, to amass a total of only 28 points, breaking the previous best girls score by five points as well as the best boys score by one point. Since the cross country state championships were first held in 1928, the lowest overall team score had been 29 points by the Salem boys team in 1931. The previous best girls team score had been 33 points by the 1995 Cleveland Heights Beaumont squad.

5. Lutz becomes Ohio’s winnigest football coach: To say Ironton football coach Bob Lutz is a legend is an understatement. Even so, now he has more credentials that solidify that statement. Lutz became the state’s all-time winningest football coach, passing Hamilton Badin’s Terry Malone, when he notched his 361st win on Oct. 23 as Ironton beat Nelsonville-York 32-12. Lutz, who has led the Tigers for 40 years, is now 364-85-5 in his career. Ironton finished 10-3 this year and earned its 27th playoff berth. Lutz has led Ironton to eight state finals and two state titles.

4. St. Xavier boys swimming gets title No. 30: The Bombers boys swimming program accomplished a staggering feat this year that no other sports program in the state – regardless of gender – can match. With its 322-265 win over Columbus St. Charles on Feb. 28 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, the Bombers collected their record 30th state swimming title. Only one other program (Lakewood St. Edward wrestling) has even 20 state titles. Last year St. Charles snapped the Bombers streak of consecutive state titles at nine, but St. X rebounded this year. 

St. Xavier took first in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, and junior Matt Columbus won the 500 freestyle.

3. Clash of the Titans: There have been several wrestling greats walk the halls of St. Paris Graham High School. David Taylor is arguably the best. Count Lakewood St. Edward’s Collin Palmer among the believers. In one of the most memorable matches in the history of Ohio High School wrestling – and the first between two three-time state champions –Taylor beat Palmer 8-5 at 140 pounds on Feb. 28 in a match up of elite wrestlers at Graham. Taylor usually wrestles at 135. Both were No. 1 in the country at their respective weight classes. This match – witnessed before a standing room only crowd – was memorable, historical and any number of other adjectives. It was also arguably the biggest ever between two Ohio kids.

Both wrestlers won three junior high state titles and in March became Ohio’s 17th and 18th wrestlers to win four state titles.

The loss was Palmer’s first – and only – to an Ohio wrestler during his career. His closest match against in-state competition prior was a 5-2 win over Maple Heights’ Tim Peskar his freshman year.

Taylor capped his career as one of the most decorated wrestlers ever in state history with four state titles, five Junior & Cadet National Championships, two Super 32 Challenge titles and a Beast of the East crown. Taylor is also the only four-time winner in the history of the nationally renowned Walsh Ironman.

Palmer is now at Ohio State, while Taylor is at Penn State.

2. Best ever gets the boot? It was a story that gripped the state and one that had a lot of people shaking their heads. Eventually it led to a two-month long saga and countless board meetings and verbal volleys. After leading Kalida to the D-IV state championship game in March, which it lost in double-OT, boys basketball head coach Dick Kortokrax appeared to be out of a job. Did we mention Kortokrax is the state’s all-time winningest coach? Due to a contract extension he signed two years ago that exhausted itself following the state final, Kortokrax was not offered a new extension although he said he wanted to keep coaching. The debacle set off community and statewide fireworks, which were finally put out in May when the Kalida BOE restructured its requirements for the coaching vacancy and all other candidates dropped themselves from consideration. Kortokrax (and his 785 victories) was eventually rehired by the BOE for the 2009-10 season. Kortokrax has coached boys basketball for 50 years, the last 35 at Kalida.

1. Graham wrestlers pin history: Can you picture a football team scoring 100 points in a state final? How about a basketball team scoring 200? That’s the equivalent of what St. Paris Graham did en route to winning its ninth Division II state title and 11th overall on March 7 at the Schottenstein Center.

The Falcons scored a head-shaking 282 points and produced seven individual champions. Both are state records.

The previous points record of 229 was set by Lakewood St. Edward in 2007. Graham had 221 after the semifinals.

The D-II runner-up – Uhrichsville Claymont – finished a full 201 points behind.

As for the seven individual state titles, that mark breaks the old record of six set by Cleveland West in 1951.

Graham qualified 13 wrestlers to state and all of them stood on the podium. The Falcons also had wrestlers place second (two), third (three) and seventh.

“I’m very happy with our performance,” Graham head coach Jeff Jordan said. “A lot of people were talking about the record and whether we could break six and get seven and I said somebody is going to have to step up and do something. We were kind of favored in five of them, but when Kyle Ryan won that one I said ‘Well you know maybe this is possible.’

“This is a great team and this is probably the closest team I’ve ever coached. We’re all on the same page. It’s a real privilege to be the head coach of this team.”

Graham’s winners were: sophomore Nick Brascetta (103), senior Zach Neibert (125), freshman Felipe Martinez (130), senior David Taylor (135), senior Brian Stephens (145), sophomore Kyle Ryan (160) and junior Max Thomusseit (189).

Thomusseit pushed the Falcons past the brink with a hard-fought 4-1 win over University School senior Nick Mills. Taylor and Martinez won by pin. Brascetta and Stephens won by major decision.

It was a third place finish by senior James Mannier at 171 that gave the Falcons the scoring record.

“James Mannier had a heartbreak when he lost in the semis,” Jordan said. “He’s the only senior who didn’t win a title but you know what? He’s the one who broke the (scoring) record when he pinned the guy. That got us over 229 points and I’m real happy James did that. I’m really happy that Max finished off the night with the win too.”

Jordan joked that Thomussiet had told him he hadn’t been able to sleep for three weeks prior to the state tournament.

“He would just lie in bed thinking about winning a state title,” Jordan said. “Now hopefully he’ll be able to get some sleep.”

ZZZs were easier for the coach to catch too following Graham’s record-setting performance.

“I never thought that we’d break that record,” Jordan said. “But once we put the guys in the finals we knew we had a legitimate shot at it.

“Boy, did we perform.”





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