After the girls’ basketball team made history with its first ever district championship, the Norwalk boys’ tennis team etched its name in the history books as the winningest program in Northern Ohio League history.
On Wednesday, the Truckers squeezed in two NOL matches in four hours to finish the season with a spotless conference record capturing the 27th NOL title in team history giving them the most NOL title from a single team in any sport. They did it with a 4-1 win over Willard to start the day then traveled back to Norwalk to host Sandusky and take a 5-0 victory in that match to finish with an undefeated season.
Entering the day owning at least a share of the NOL championship, the Truckers took care of business by first traveling to Willard for a 3:15 p.m. match and taking a 4-1 victory. Damon Mohan and Austin Brown made quick work of their opponents Jackson Schaffer and Graham Wiers in first doubles winning 6-0 and 6-0.
Jacob Coe won a marathon match in second singles defeating Levi Hill 6-3 and 7-6 and Evan Hohman took down Kolin McKelvey in third singles 6-4 and 6-0. Andrew Herner dropped a tough match to Tyler Vanichek in first singles after a 10-point tie breaker in the third set. Their scores were 4-6, 6-1 and 7-10.
The Truckers then went back home to host Sandusky earning a clean sweep across the board. Herner rebounded from his defeat at Willard with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Skylar Kane, Mohan switched to second singles earning a 6-0, 6-0 win over Bricen Haar and Austin Brown took his shot at third singles winning 6-0, 6-0 over Hunter Heyberger.
Coe and Hohman teamed up in first doubles defeating Damo Reed and Shawn Swopes 6-3 and 6-3 while Max Berry and Jacob Gran saw their first action of the day in second doubles with a 6-0, 6-9 win over Brayden Clark and Tyler Franklin. That win pushed the Truckers to 18-2 overall and 12-0 in the NOL.
Mohan, a senior, finishes his career with two NOL titles after winning one last season.
“It means a lot because first of all it is a school title,” Mohan said. “Any time you can bring a championship to your high school is always special. Secondly, I always wanted to add another number to that board we have at our tennis court. That thing is filled with NOL titles and it is very rewarding to be a part of all of that history.”
Mohan’s partner in first doubles, Brown, is just a sophomore and will be looked at to carry on the tradition for the next two seasons.
“The players and coaches put so much work and time into this program,” Brown said. “It is always a pleasure to bring home more titles. Whenever I find myself in a close match, I always push a little extra harder for the seniors in order to help them add another win to their career record.”
Established in 1944, the Northern Ohio League disbands after 73 years of competition at season’s end. The Truckers became the winningest program in history with the latest title closing out a huge chapter in high school sports history.
“If the Northern Ohio League is to never occur ever again, that is going to be a great honor to carry,” Norwalk coach Chris Higgins said. “To have the most amount of NOL championships of any single team in any sport is amazing. Think of all of those other teams. It doesn’t matter what sport, they were all trying to win championships and we somehow have the most. It is an awesome feeling.”
Next season, Norwalk — a charter member of the NOL — will compete in the Sandusky Bay Conference, but a sign signifying the rich history on the tennis courts will remain with a mind-boggling about of numbers. The Truckers won their first NOL title in 1977 starting a chain reaction of complete dominance.
They won titles form 1985-91, 94-95, 97-2007, 2010-2013, 2016 and finished up with a title this season to make it 27. But Higgins and the Truckers had 2017 circled for many years thanks to a talented senior class including Herner, Coe, Mohan, Hohman and Max Berry.
“I know we have looked forward to this 2017 season for so many years because of this senior class,” Higgins said. “They came in and took care of this championship for us and they followed through. I am just so happy for this class and this team.”
As the Truckers transition to a new league and a new chapter, they cannot help but to reflect on a historic run though the record books.
“I just sit and think about all of the people who have been involved in those 27 championships,” Higgins said. “Coaches, players and parents all dedicated themselves to this program. Our tradition is one of the best in North Central Ohio and I am incredibly proud to be a part of that.”
“The best part about this entire journey is this is the last NOL title any team will ever win, and it is ours,” Mohan said with a huge grin. “No other team can claim another NOL championship and to thing about that is amazing. I think No. 27 is the sweetest one of all.”