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Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:30 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 8:05 AM
— Answers. That’s all anyone interested in the impending breakup of the Greater Western Ohio Conference wants to hear.
That would include Kevin Bell, the superintendent of Trotwood-Madison City Schools. That’s the school district and GWOC member identified as key in 10 member schools likely leaving and starting a league of their own.
News of that isn’t yet 48 hours old, but it continues to resonate throughout at least 20 area communities. That’s how many schools make up the two-conference, four-division GWOC, easily the area’s largest high school affiliation. Half of those schools - Butler, Fairborn, Greenville, Piqua, Sidney, Stebbins, Tippecanoe, Troy, West Carrollton and Xenia – announced on Wednesday their intention to eventually bolt the GWOC, probably at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
What those school administrators, athletic directors and coaches haven’t said is why. Trotwood’s dominance in football and boys basketball apparently is a key reason.
»SPLIT DECISION: 5 things to know about the GWOC’s breakup
Here are five things Bell had to say about the issue in an interview with WHIO-TV’s Caroline Reinwald on Thursday:
1. When you heard about the announcement what was your reaction? “At this point, we just want the answer to the question why have the 10 schools that have decided to leave the GWOC. Why are they forming a league of their own? Why isn’t Trotwood invited to be part of their (new) league? …
What was part of that decision-making process? How did they ultimately arrive there? Why wasn’t Trotwood even part of the conversation or even thought of as being one of the contenders to being part of the new league?”
2. Is it possible because Trotwood dominated in the GWOC this past year? “I don’t want to speculate. I would like for those individuals to step forward and give their reasoning. Maybe that is part of what underlies in why they made the decision to exit the GWOC and have a league of their own. Maybe they for a chance to get to a state semifinal and Trotwood gets in the way of doing that.”
3. Would you want to respond to what your principal at the high school said about this being the only African-American school being left out of that decision? “Ultimately, there are some concerns as far as racial makeup because Trotwood-Madison is predominantly an African-American school. Did that have something to do with it? When you look at the break off of schools, they’re not primarily African-American. They do have African-American students who attend those school buildings, but if you look at the demographics, it makes one ask some questions.”
4. What’s the message this sends to your students, players? “For (our students), they have to ask why don’t these other schools want to compete with us? Kids are kids and they just want to compete. They want to have good rivalries and enjoy the sport. At the kid level, I don’t see any concern or issue. … What’s the problem all of a sudden? Ultimately, it’s an adult-based concern.”
5. Have you heard anything from parents yet? “Not yet. We’re just going to keep messaging that our kids are great kids. They do some wonderful things athletically. When it comes to scholarship offerings to them, we have an abundance, whether it’s academic- or athletic-based scholarships. We had over $6 million last year in scholarship offerings. …
Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 2:11 PM
— It’s debatable what soared higher Saturday afternoon, the go-ahead home run Wright State junior Peyton Burdick launched in the bottom of the seventh inning, or the bat he flung in the air halfway down the first base line to celebrate the shot.
Burdick’s two-run homer off UIC reliever Alex Padilla capped the comeback after a disastrous fourth inning as WSU won the Horizon League championship and earned a berth to the NCAA tournament with an 11-9 victory at Nischwitz Stadium.
“(Padilla) spiked a curveball the pitch before, and I told myself ‘he’s going to throw a fastball here,’” Burdick said. “I just told myself ‘don’t miss,’ and I didn’t miss.”
On his trot toward first base, Burdick looked into the WSU dugout and put a finger to his lips in a “ssshhhh” motion.
“(The Flames) started chirping and I couldn’t do that to their dugout, so I had to keep it within ours,” said Burdick, who flipped the bat as high as he could after making the gesture.
The victory sends WSU to the NCAA tournament for the ninth time as a Division I program, and third in the last four years. The Raiders will find out Monday at noon whom they will play and where.
Burdick’s ninth home run of the season helped him earn tournament MVP honors, but it was teammate Zach Weatherford who was the catalyst to the comeback after UIC erased an early 5-0 deficit with a seven-run fourth to go up 8-5.
Weatherford’s solo home run with one out in the seventh preceded Burdick’s game-winning homer, and he added an RBI double in the ninth for an insurance run as part of his four-hit afternoon.
“After Z hit his, it was like ‘all right, now it’s my turn to do something,” Burdick said.
The Raiders outscored their three opponents 31-12 in the tournament, winning their first two games easily before surviving the wild championship game.
Wright State scored five runs in the first inning to jump out to an early lead, but UIC got seven in the fourth via three extra-base hits, four walks, two WSU errors and a hit batter.
“I brought the guys up after that and said ‘If you thought this was going to be easy, you’re crazy,’” WSU coach Jeff Mercer said. “That got a little bit of a laugh and a smile, and I said, ‘We’re going to be fine. We’re going to be fine because we’re the better team and we’re more prepared and we’re tough as hell. We’re going to keep coming and keep chugging along and we did just that.”
The Raiders got an RBI single by Zane Harris in the fourth to make it 8-6 and closed within 8-7 on a Seth Gray RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, but UIC’s Aaron Ackerman led off the seventh with a solo home run to push the lead back to two.
Then Weatherford and Burdick struck.
“When you’ve got superstar players that are able to go out there and compete like crazy, you keep putting the bat in their hand and they’re eventually going to find a way to come through for you,” said Mercer, the HL Coach of the Year. “It was the first time we’ve shown that resiliency. We’ve done it every day all year, and we did it again today. I expected that from them.”
After Burdick gave WSU the lead, Daniel Kreuzer retired UIC in order in the eighth, and staff ace Ryan Weiss, who started Thursday’s tournament opener, nailed down the save with a perfect ninth to set off the celebration.
In addition to Burdick and Weatherford, HL Player of the Year Gabe Snyder also had a big day, going 4 for 4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base.
Jeremy Randolph earned the win in relief after bouncing back from a rough start that saw him walk the first three batters he faced in UIC’s seven-run fourth.
Weatherford somehow was omitted from the all-tournament team despite hitting .462 (6 for 13) with six RBIs, three runs scored and two stolen bases.
The six RBIs were the most of any player, and his six hits and one home run were tied for the most, while his 10 total bases were one shy of the tournament lead.
Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 11:26 AM
HUBER HEIGHTS — Zarik Brown was walking near the podium next to the Wayne High School track Friday night when his teammate Joel Craig turned around and said, “You’re so loud over there.”
Brown just smiled. The four medals clanging around his neck were making all the noise. But not as much noise as Brown and his Wayne teammates made at the Division I regional. The Warriors won their eighth regional title and first since 2012 on the legs of Brown, Justin Harris, two relay teams and Craig, the shot put champion.
“(Friday) was one of their best efforts of the year and we’re peaking at the right time,” said longtime Wayne coach Mike Fernandez.
» PHOTO GALLERY: D-I regional track and field at Wayne
Harris and Brown, both juniors, will compete in four events at next weekend’s state meet at Ohio State as will Springfield sprinter and long jumper Quincy Scott. Wayne will try to add an outdoor team title to the indoor title they won earlier this year.
Harris won the 110-meter hurdles (14.13) and the 300 hurdles (37.61), denying runner-up Joshua Byars-Mason of Trotwood-Madison in both races.
“It was a pretty good day overall,” Harris said. “I should be dropping more times coming into the state meet, so I feel good coming into next week.”
»NO JOKE: Northwestern teammates are a 1-3 punch
»REGIONAL TRACK: “It’s all about moving on”
Brown and Scott raced each other to the finish three times. Scott won the 100 (10.80) and Brown was second (10.86). Brown won the 200 (21.31) and Scott was runner-up (21.61). They ran anchor in the 400 relay and Wayne’s team of Jaden Roberts, Diante Lesperance, Harris and Brown (41.69) held off runner-up Springfield.
“It really pushes me to go to my max,” Brown said of his races against Scott. “Every meet we see each other we know it’s going to be tough. We usually end up PR’ing a lot.”
»IT’S A RECORD: Lakota East flash passes mark that stood since 1990
»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne
The race for the team title was completed (Wayne 83, Centerville 68, Springfield 41) in the 4x400 relay. Wayne’s team of Harris, Davontae McKee, Lucas Houk and Brown won (3:17.90) and Centerville was third.
“The fours, they call it a man’s race, so you gotta finish it through all the way,” Harris said. “I love the 400.”
So does Brown. He took the baton for the last leg in fourth place and started to gain ground immediately.
“That’s his best race, and the irony is I took him out of the open 400 because I needed him for the 4x400, 200, 4x100 and 100,” said Fernandez, who made that decision to maximize team points. “Our goal is to see if we can win next week as a team.”
»RELATED: Butler making surprise D-I baseball run
Craig will be a big part of that effort. He won the shot put (56-0.25). His finished seventh at state last year at 56-11.5.
“I know I’ve got way more energy in my body,” said Craig, who also placed fifth in discus. . “I’ve been practicing for it, I’ve been wanting it, I’ve been thirsty, I’ve been hungry, I’m going to get it.”
Wayne will also be represented in the girls meet by Taylor Robertson and the 400 relay. Robertson placed second in the long jump and fourth in pole vault.
»OHSAA: No more stacking teams
Beavercreek sophomore Eileen Yang won her second regional pole vault title (12-4). She placed ninth at state last year.
“Last year’s regionals I was kind of a nervous wreck and pacing a lot and breathing really hard,” she said. “This year I got used to it and it was familiar territory because I practice here a lot.”
Troy sophomore Lenea Browder won the discus (149-2) to go with her runner-up shot put finish on Wednesday.
“I did not imagine coming in my freshman year doing it and then my sophomore year doing so much better,” Browder said. “This has been truly a blessing. I’m so happy and I’m so thankful.”
Centerville senior Andrew Craig won the 800 to return to state, where he placed fourth last year. Miamisburg senior Jason Hubbard won the high jump (6-7).
»RELATED: D-I baseball sectional photo gallery
• Minster won four events, including a distance sweep by Emma Watcke, to win the girls team title in the D-III regional at Troy’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, 85-60 over runner-up Columbus Grove.
A sophomore, Watcke placed first in the 1600 (5:01.59) and followed that with a win in the 3200 (11:13.08). Also winning for the Wildcats on Friday was jnior Madeline Magoto in the 800 (2:16.73).
Minster added seconds in the 4x400 relay and senior Grace Butler in the pole vault. On Wednesday, Minster won the 4x800 relay (9:25.32).
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:59 PM
MASON — The goal for the Chaminade Julienne baseball team ever since it walked off the field at Huntington Park last June was to earn another chance to play for the state championship.
Last winter, in the weight room at the high school, the Eagles kept track of how many days remained until they would get the chance.
"They had a board in there, and they had a countdown," CJ coach Mike Barhorst said. "It was 78 or 80 days or whatever when we started it."
» PHOTOS: CJ vs. CHCA
On Friday before a Division II regional championship game against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Barhorst reminded them of the countdown.
"One day left until we make it to Huntington," Barhorst said.
The Eagles really have to wait another week, but after beating CHCA 5-4 at Mason High School, they will get the chance to avenge that 4-0 loss to Tallmadge in the state title game, and this time, Tallmadge will be opponent in the semifinals. The teams play at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus.
The other state semifinal in Division II will pit Circleville against Wapakoneta or Ontario, who play their regional final at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tallmadge beat Canfield 17-0 on Friday to win its regional. Chaminade Julienne didn't have quite the same easy night. For the second straight day, it experienced a dramatic seventh inning in Mason.
The Eagles gave up a game-tying run to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the top of the seventh inning Thursday before winning the regional semifinal on a walk-off single by Sebastian Gongora in the bottom of the inning. This time, after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error, CJ had a 5-2 lead entering the seventh.
Nick Wissman walked the lead-off batter but then struck out the next two batters. After another walk, CHCA’s Lucas Rotello doubled to left field, scoring two runs.
With the tying run on second, however, Wissman got a groundout to second baseman A.J. Solomon to end the game.
“With a three-run lead, I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape, and then the next thing you know ...,” Barhorst said. “I had a lot of confidence Nick was going to get out of that, but it’s a little too close for comfort.”
Wissman took over in the sixth inning after five solid innings by Gongora, who struck out four and allowed two earned runs. Wissman retired the side in order in the sixth and earned the save in the seventh.
“Sebastian didn’t have his breaking ball early on, but he was still fighting through with his fastball and making good pitches,” Barhorst said. “Nick came in, and I kind of wanted to change things up. I didn’t want to give them another look at Sebastian just in case they started figuring him out. Just to change their view a little bit, I brought in the right-hander, throwing a little harder. It worked out.”
Chaminade Julienne fell behind early for the second straight day but didn’t trail for long. Ryan Peltier hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game.
“We gave them that one run in the first inning on another error,” Peltier said. “I watched a ball go by and was expecting fastball. I hopped on it and let it fly.”
» REGIONAL TRACK: Northwestern takes two of top three spots in discus
In the second inning, Chaminade Julienne took a 3-1 lead. A single by David Ernst scored Solomon. A double by Ben Thomas scored Ernst.
Chaminade Julienne had chances to extend the lead in the next three innings, stranding a total of eight runners and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth.
In the sixth, Andrew Simones and Peltier walked to lead off the inning. Wissman put down a sacrifice bunt, and the catcher threw the ball past first base, allowing two runs to score as CJ extended its lead to 5-2. It needed both runs to earn its second straight trip to Columbus.
“We wanted to get back,” Peltier said. “We knew we had the team to get back. We just had to take it game by game.”
Chaminade Julienne advances to face Tallmadge in state semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus. Tallmadge best CJ in title game a year ago. @cjeaglesBB @BarhorstMike @daytonsports @MarcPendleton pic.twitter.com/MydfHIc2NW— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 25, 2018
Back in the second, David Ernst drove in the first run for CJ and scored the second run. pic.twitter.com/zSRaXdYTLp— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 25, 2018
Ryan Peltier homers for CJ, tying CHCA 1-1 in first. pic.twitter.com/S4p1rcEuDd— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 25, 2018
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:30 PM
— Wright State coach Jeff Mercer used an unusual, yet thoroughly accurate word to describe his slight-framed starting pitcher Friday afternoon.
“That guy’s a monster,” Mercer said of Caleb Sampen after the lanky, 185-pound sophomore took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the winners bracket final of the Horizon League tournament.
Sampen lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh on a solid single to left, but WSU had a double-digit lead by then, well on its way to a 10-1 triumph of UIC at Nischwitz Stadium.
“Going in I knew they were a very well-pitched, well-coached team so it was going to be a pitchers’ duel,” Sampen said. “So we talked about mixing early all of my pitches and getting everything in the zone. Just make them beat you. Being able to throw all my pitches for strikes was probably the biggest thing today.”
Sampen (5-0) allowed just one baserunner through 5.2 innings, but he issued back-to-back walks and hit a batter to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. But Sampen got UIC cleanup hitter Scott Ota to ground into an inning-ending force out to keep his no-hitter intact.
“Caleb Sampen was absolutely tremendous,” Mercer said. “He’s a guy you can really rely on, and he showed up today. Great players are tough and competitive, they love the spotlight and they love to be in the big moment, and Caleb’s that guy to a T.”
After Sampen got out of his only jam in the top of the sixth, the WSU offense scored six runs with two outs to blow things open with a 10-0 lead that marked the fifth consecutive game the Raiders have scored in double figures.
“We know we’re capable of, and we had good at-bats all day,” said WSU No. 9 hitter Zach Weatherford, who was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
Weatherford’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth was the first hit of the game sparked the four-run frame.
Then his RBI bunt single with two outs in the sixth started the six-run onslaught.
“The call came from the dugout because the third baseman was back, and I just trusted it and put it down,” Weatherford said.
UIC manager Mike Dee, still stewing from a missed call a few minutes earlier on a pickoff throw to third base that would have ended the inning, earned an ejection just seconds after walking out to question whether Weatherford beat the throw at the first.
The Raiders added five more runs after the ejection on two-run singles by JD Orr and pinch-hitter Alex Alders and an RBI single by Peyton Burdick.
“We hammered balls the few innings and had nothing to show for it,” Mercer said. “Finally the competitiveness of our at-bats kind of wore on them and our ability to take balls and make (UIC starter Charle Cerny) be in the zone. And as good as he is, he eventually kind of lost feel.”
UIC scored its lone run on a play that put a scare into the WSU dugout. With the bases loaded and two outs, Raiders first baseman Gabe Snyder — the Horizon League Player of the Year — made a diving catch in foul territory in shallow right field and nearly threw out UIC’s Joshua Figueroa at the plate after he tagged up.
Snyder hurt his left arm on the dive and had to come out of the game, but Mercer said he didn’t think the injury was serious.
“He just slammed the inside of his elbow and hopefully he just kind of hyper-extended it and kind of hit the funny bone,” Mercer said. “I almost yelled ‘don’t catch it.’ I didn’t care about that. We’re up by 10 runs. But players want to make plays. So you can’t take that competitiveness out of them.
“It was a great catch, but I just want to keep the best player maybe in program history healthy,” he added.
WSU goes into Saturday’s 12 p.m. game against the winner of the UIC-Milwaukee game needing to win one of two games to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.