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Sports Today: Happy birthday, Woody Hayes!

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 10:01 AM

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 1957, file photo, Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes, center, gets a clothes-on dunking in the Ohio State dressing room shortly after Ohio State University won the Big Ten championship and clinched a Rose Bowl bid by defeating Iowa 17-13, in Columbus, Ohio. The Associated Press has been ranking the best teams in college football for the last 80 seasons. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 1957, file photo, Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes, center, gets a clothes-on dunking in the Ohio State dressing room shortly after Ohio State University won the Big Ten championship and clinched a Rose Bowl bid by defeating Iowa 17-13, in Columbus, Ohio. The Associated Press has been ranking the best teams in college football for the last 80 seasons. (AP Photo/File)

On this day 105 years ago, the patron saint of Ohio State football was born in Greene or Clark County. 

Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes famously liked to say folks from one claimed he was from the other, but as a Greene County native I will say we will gladly take him. 

RELATED: 5 things to know about Ohio State football for 2018

A fiery, proud and accomplished man known almost as much for his faults as his strengths, Hayes is a fitting representative for his home state and his favorite sport as much now as ever. 

He preached hard work and perseverance even if patience wasn’t among his most-practice virtues. 

Hayes was known for his “three yards and a cloud of dust” offensive mentality, but in reality he was more innovative than most know. 

He ushered in the first and the second golden ages of Ohio State football, first steamrolling opponents with his beloved T formation in the 1950s then scorching teams with the I formation and option football in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. 

Both strategies were still dominant when I was learning the game in (or adjacent to) his native county nearly two decades after he coached his last game. 

RELATED: Assessing Ohio State’s Big Ten title chances as Reds head to spring training

Hayes overcame the devastating setback of 1961, when he was told by the Ohio State faculty council he could not take his team to the Rose Bowl, by expanding Ohio State recruiting beyond the Midwest and building his best team. 

In 28 years as the coach of the Buckeyes, Hayes elevated the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry in a way only someone of his immense personality could. 

<<< 7 things to know about the Ohio State-Michigan series

When the Wolverines couldn’t beat Hayes consistently in the first half of his tenure, they turned to his spitting image to re-invigorate their program. 

Bo Schembechler, who like Hayes is part of Miami University’s Cradle of Coaches, upset the best Ohio State team ever assembled to kick off the famed “10-year War” that made OSU-Michigan the nation’s premier game every season, a legacy that endures today. 

And on this Valentine’s Day, it’s probably safe to say Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer developed their love of Ohio State football in no small part thanks to Woody Hayes, who served as an idol to both men as they grew up in Northeast Ohio… 

Speaking of Ohio State-Michiganhere’s a weird story from the relatively new realm grad transfer recruiting

Calvin Anderson, a three-year starter at Rice who is looking to finish his career at a Power 5 school, told 247Sports “the thing that sets Michigan apart” from other schools he is considering is the opportunity to face Nick Bosa and Ohio State.

“I’ve never spoken to him," Anderson said. "I’ve only watched him from afar, but I know his brother is outstanding in the NFL. I know he’s a great player and wouldn’t know me, but I’d be honored to play against a guy of that caliber. He would be a great example of playing against someone at the next level. That would be very appealing to me because I want to be an elite play. You can’t be elite until you play against elite players.”

I’ve covered college football and recruiting for a while, and I can’t remember ever hearing a story quite like that one. 

But you have to admire Anderson’s desire for a challenge, and he gets bonus points for singling out Bosa without calling him out, per se. 

The quarterback competition (and eligibility of Shea Patterson) will dominate offseason talk about the Wolverines, but the key to their success will be finally developing a strong offensive line. 

Michigan already has elite running backs, so merely competent quarterback play could make for a pretty good offense — if they can control the line of scrimmage… 

Speaking of Urban Meyer, he has taken that whole “recruit beyond Ohio” thing to a much higher level over the past couple of years, but he did something this week that could bolster in-state efforts. 

New cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson is a Cincinnati native who recruited Northeast Ohio for Tressel during his first stint as an assistant at Ohio State. 

He is a member of the Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor… 

Finally, spring training is officially up and running for the Cincinnati Reds, who reported yesterday and begin workouts today. 

The first day already included some interesting news from Bryan Price, who wasted no time reducing the field of candidates for his starting rotation. 

We’ll see if this approach works. Apparently the idea is to give Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano a chance to not only prove themselves but get into a regular groove without guaranteeing either of them a spot in the big-league rotation. 

Seems to me the mentality of competition is one of the biggest topics in all of sports these days. 

Coaches in various sports talk frequently about players needing to be self-starters more than ever, and as we get better and better at identifying and cultivating raw talent, the difference more and more is confidence. 

Nick Senzel headlines a group that includes a couple of players recently added to the 40-man roster

Stephenson and Romano both finished last season strong when they started attacking the strike zone more without giving in and delivering too many cookies.

Can they pick up where they left off? 

Price also took some time to praise Luis Castillo, the young fireballer who is penciled in as part of the rotation and has the look of a future ace. 

“His velocity sets him apart,” Price said. “You don’t see a lot of guys throw 95-97 for seven innings and the stuff to pitch in the big leagues, but it is rare for a young pitcher to have the presence and the comfortability that he showed last year. He fields his position, and he’s quick to the plate to control the running game. There is a lot to like.”


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Staten’s huddle with LeBron recaptured by ESPN

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 4:30 PM

            Thurgood Marshall’s Juwan Staten is comforted by Cleveland Cavalier star and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary alum LeBron James following their 59-53 loss in the D-II state championship finals in 2009. Staff Photo by Jim Witmer
Thurgood Marshall’s Juwan Staten is comforted by Cleveland Cavalier star and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary alum LeBron James following their 59-53 loss in the D-II state championship finals in 2009. Staff Photo by Jim Witmer

Overcome with grief after having lost a state championship basketball game, former Thurgood Marshall High School standout Juwan Staten was consoled by the best: LeBron James.

»RELATED: Area teams advance on the tourney trails

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne

Staten’s well-documented brush with the NBA trend-setter received added mileage on on Monday.

Staten was an elusive and high-scoring junior guard in leading Thurgood to a Division II state championship showdown against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in 2009. He tallied 28 points in a 59-53 loss.

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track and field at Piqua

»RELATED: Butler making surprise D-I baseball run

Afterward, he broke down. James, an Akron SVSM alum who already had established himself with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was among the first to console Staten at Ohio State University Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

“[James] grabbed me close,” ESPN quoted Staten. “He told me that he lost a state final his junior year. He told me I was a special player and to keep my head up. He told me to remember the moment for the rest of my life. He told me to let that drive me for the rest of my life, never to feel like that again. Those were wise words, and I’ve tried to live by them.”

»RELATED: Elks’ vaulters push each other to the limit

»RELATED: D-I baseball sectional photo gallery

A photo capturing the moment was shot by former Dayton Daily News photographer Jim Witmer.

That was one of 13 memorable instances ESPN recalled of LeBron through the years. It coincides with his 13 appearances in the NBA playoffs.

»OHSAA: No more stacking teams

»RELATED: Wildcats take their place in track history

That would be the last game Staten would play for Thurgood. He transferred to national prep power Oak Hill Academy (Va.) for his senior season. He started as a freshman guard at the University of Dayton in the 2010-11 season, then transferred to West Virginia, where he played for Bob Huggins his final three seasons.

»RELATED: Senior basketball standout a one-season track hit

Staten averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 assists as the Finnish League Foreign MVP in 2017 for the Salon Vilpas Vikings.

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Multiple regional qualifiers boost district-champ WL-Salem girls

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 2:30 PM

West Liberty-Salem sophomore vaulter Lydia Moell. GREG BILLING / CONTRIBUTED
West Liberty-Salem sophomore vaulter Lydia Moell. GREG BILLING / CONTRIBUTED

Then a seventh grader, Lydia Moell couldn’t have picked a better day for her first pole vault lesson three years ago. Well, except for that winter blast Lydia and her father drove through to get to Columbus.

“I remember because it was on Valentine’s Day and my husband drove her over in a snowstorm,” said Becky Moell, Lydia’s mother and West Liberty-Salem’s pole vault coach.

»RELATED: Area teams advance on the tourney trails

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne

Moell, now a Tigers’ sophomore, has been devoted to the sport ever since. On Saturday, Moell cleared a personal-best 10 feet, 9-inches to win the Division III district championship at Piqua High School. She enters the D-III regional championships at Troy on Wednesday with the third-best vault out of 16 competitors, with the top four qualifying for the state championships.

“I’d seen people do it before and I thought it looked really fun,” Moell said of what drew her to the sport.

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track and field at Piqua

»RELATED: Butler making surprise D-I baseball run

And after that first lesson?

“I was obsessed with it,” she said.

»RELATED: Elks’ vaulters push each other to the limit

Moell highlights a strong contingent of Tigers heading into the regional as 10 different West Liberty-Salem girls athletes qualified in 11 different events. The girls program record is 12 in 2013.

Moell advanced in four events (800 relay, 300 hurdles, long jump and pole vault), along with senior Taylor Lauck (400 relay, 800 relay, 1,60 relay and 400 run) and freshman Katelyn Stapleton (800, 1,600, 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay).

»RELATED: D-I baseball sectional photo gallery

West Liberty-Salem used that surge to win the girls district championship with 114 points, a four-point victory over Covington.

The Tigers won district championships with senior Reghan Bieleski in the 3,200-meter run, Stapleton in the 800 and 1,600 runs, Moell in the pole vault and in the 400 relay with freshman Kaylee LeVan, Lauck, senior Janie Kopus and sophomore Alex Burton.

“We’re super excited we got all four relays out,” Moell said. “I’m excited and I’m ready to go.”

»OHSAA: No more stacking teams

Moell’s best event to qualify for state is the pole vault. She’s considering dropping the long jump competition to keep her legs fresher for that and the hurdles since both the pole vault and long jump competitions are at the same time. Becky Moell said he calculated on Saturday Lydia performed 12 pole vault attempts and six long jump attempts in addition to her relay race and the hurdles.

“It can be kind of hard to focus,” Lydia said of going from event to event. “You just have to relax and try to think about what you’re doing in the moment. Just go with the flow.”

»RELATED: Wildcats take their place in track history

Her goal for the pole vault is to clear 11-0. She cleared 10-0 at regional last year to finish seventh.

In addition to those drives to the Buckeye Pole Vault Academy in Columbus for lessons, Moell has had other family assistance in the sport. Moell’s grandmother ran a gymnastics school in West Liberty.

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“It’s helped me so much with my body awareness and just knowing what’s going to work and what’s not,” Moell said. “It’s having more control when I’m doing it and what it should feel like.”

Her mom, Becky, qualified for state all four years in relays and middle distance at West Liberty-Salem and ran with current head coach Ann Vogel.

»RELATED: Senior basketball standout a one-season track hit

“She was a track star so I’m trying to be as good as her, maybe better,” Moell said of her mother, whose best finish at state was third in the 3,200 relay. “I feel like I have a better chance (to qualify this season). If I do my best I’ll definitely be where I want to be.”

If all goes well, that means heading toward Columbus. And this time with better weather.

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Bengals signs first-round draft choice from Ohio State

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 2:16 PM
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 2:25 PM

            Ohio States Billy Price plays against Army on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
Ohio States Billy Price plays against Army on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

The Cincinnati Bengals signed first-round draft pick Billy Price on Monday.

A center, Price was selected in the first round and 21st overall out of Ohio State University. The Bengals agreed to a four-year contract with an option to extend one year through 2022.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder was a four-year starter for the Buckeyes. He was a guard for three seasons, when switched to center as a senior.

A two-time Buckeyes captain, he earned multiple awards and was a two-time All-American. He set an all-time OSU record with 55 total and consecutive starts.

The Bengals have signed all but two of their 11 draft choices, defensive end Sam Hubbard also of OSU (third round) and linebacker Malik Jefferson of Texas (third round).

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District softball: Kenton Ridge beats Monroe to reach regionals

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 9:27 PM

Highlights: Kenton Ridge beats Monroe in district softball

Kenton Ridge and Monroe dealt with postponements of their Division II district softball final on Friday and Saturday and then watched a storm roll past Brookville High School at 6 p.m. Sunday just when they were supposed to start play. Players waited inside the high school, hoping they would be able to play before it got dark.

"It's stressful," Kenton Ridge pitcher Carly Turner said of the waiting.

Turner overcame stress of a different sort when the game finally did begin at 7 p.m. An umpire called her for several illegal pitch violations. She didn't let it rattle her, however. She struck out nine batters as the Cougars advanced with a 6-2 victory.

"She knows how to correct that," Kenton Ridge coach Sarah Schalnat said. "That's the biggest thing, just slowing it down when that happens and regaining focus. She does a great job."

» PHOTOS: Kenton Ridge vs. Monroe

Turner also drove in the first run of the game in a three-run fourth inning. Paige Williams's single scored the second run. Then a squeeze bunt by Madison Hall scored a third run.

Lexee Trainer made it 4-0 with an RBI single in the fifth. Jordan Rucker drove in two runs with a triple in the sixth.

Turner didn't allow a run until the seventh inning. Monroe senior Faith Hensley, a Ball State recruit, hit a two-run home run in the last at-bat of her high school career.

"I'm really happy for Faith," Monroe coach Tim Kellis said. "Her last at-bat was a dinger. The same thing happened last year. We had a girl (Alexis Arnold), a senior shortstop going down to Georgetown (College), and her last at-bat in the sectional was a two-run home run."

» RELATED: Bradford wins district softball title | Lebanon beats Fairfield

Monroe, which was seeking its first district championship, finished the season 18-3.

"What I'm going to remember about this group is a lot of people aren't aware we lost six four-year starters last year, a team that went 23-3 but got beat in the sectional finals," Kellis said. "Then we started the season and lost two first basemen before we played our second game. We basically started the season with seven kids playing a position they had never played before. We got run-ruled at Brookville at our place in the very first game — and I think most people probably gave them up for dead — and we came back here a week later and beat Brookville and then they go through the rest of the league season and they've gone as far as any team at Monroe as gone."

» EARLIER COVERAGE: Kenton Ridge beats Northwestern in sectional final

The Cougars (23-1), ranked second in the state, will play another Central Buckeye Conference team, Jonathan Alder, at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Mason High School. No. 4 Greenville and No. 7 Clinton Massie will play at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the other semifinal.

Kenton Ridge and Jonathan Alder split two games in the regular season. Both games went to extra innings. Kenton Ridge won 4-3 in Springfield on April 18 and lost 7-6 at Jonathan Alder on April 27.

"It'll be a very good game," Schalnat said. "We've just got to be ready to go. We've got graduation coming up (on Tuesday). We've got to remain focused and have good practices the next couple days."


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