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Top 10 local sports stories of 2017

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Updated Jan 8, 2018 at 2:25 PM

Here are the top 10 local sports stories of 2017:

 

1. Edison wins Div. III state duals title

Back in the eight-team field in Columbus, the Chargers had to beat Swanton (42-22), beat top-seeded Mechanisburg by a point (32-31) and undefeated Massillon Tuslaw. Edison made its way through, eventually defeating Tuslaw, 29-25, to win the dual team state championship on Feb. 12.

“We have been saying since Day 1 that this was the year,” Edison coach Davy Hermes said. “We started this a couple of years ago with the seniors we have. They have fought.”

 

2. St. Paul football crowned AP poll champions

Since 2009, there hasn’t been a single trophy or individual award the St. Paul football team had not earned.

Except one.

But in 2017, St. Paul again ran the table in the regular season, extending a streak of 27 that dates back to 2015. It won a sixth straight Firelands Conference title — and in Week 8 moved into the top ranking in the Div. VII AP poll.

The Flyers finished No. 1 to become just the second team (St. Paul 1969) to ever win the AP poll title in the 78-year history of the award. They went on to win three playoff games and an eighth regional title in program history before falling to eventual state champion Minster in the state semifinals.

 

3. College of Wooster coach Steve Moore wins 800th game

At the forefront, Wooster’s 76-72 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Feb. 25 was the Fighting Scotts winning yet another North Coast Atlantic Conference championship — and an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III championships.

But not lost in the win was the fact that it was the 800th career coaching win for head coach Steve Moore, a 1970 Monroeville graduate, making him just the 18th coach in men’s basketball history to reach the milestone. 

Moore moved into second all-time in Div. III coaching victories in 2016-17. Before the season began on Nov. 4, Wooster played Div. II Ashland University in an exhibition at the new Monroeville Athletic Complex. The school then unveiled a surprise honor, as a banner dropped to show the gym is named Steve Moore Court.

 

4. Norwalk girls win first-ever district title in thriller

Winless in five district tries over 43 years, the Norwalk girls blew past Shelby (71-56) in the semifinals to reach a third matchup with powerhouse Bellevue in a Div. II district title game at Willard on March 4.

With 7:44 left, Jiselle Thomas, who earlier in the game scored her 2,000th point, went down with a severe ankle sprain. Without its top player and trailing 31-25 with six minutes left, five different players scored for Norwalk to close the game on a 9-1 scoring run for a stunning 34-32 win.

Prior to its 55-50 loss to Norton in the regional semifinals, Norwalk earned wins over Associated Press No. 6 Upper Sandusky, No. 10 Shelby and six-time defending league champion Bellevue.

 

5. Willard girls bowl way to state runners-up

Making its first-ever state appearance, the Willard girls bowling team didn’t come home from Columbus empty-handed.

Kourtney Craft rolled a 524 series (194-161-169), leading three Willard girls (Kathleen Schaaf, Hannah McClanahan) in the top 42 en route to the Division II state runners-up trophy on March 3.

Fourth after team qualifying, the Flashes advanced to the state final by way of a 3-2 quarterfinal win over Minerva and a 3-1 win in the semifinals over top-seeded Springfield Northwestern.

Willard fell to Coldwater, 3-0 (227-167-187 to 168-159-148) in the state championship match.

 

6. Edison’s Barnett wins individual state title

Brady Barnett was one of two Sandusky Bay Conference seniors (Oak Harbor’s Dylan Thorp) who kept a tradition going in the area and SBC itself by winning their first state titles on March 11 in Columbus.

Barnett, who had lost in the title match in two straight years prior, controlled his 138-pound Div. III title match vs. Archbold’s Noah Mattin from start to finish. He scored a 7-1 decision for his gold medal.

 

7. St. Paul volleyball coach Nancy Miller wins 500th match

After a dominant FC win at Plymouth on Sept. 21, Nancy Miller unofficially became the 24th coach in Ohio history to achieve 500 coaching wins — all at St. Paul.

During her tenure, the Lady Flyers have won 16 FC titles and 24 sectional championships in 25 seasons. St. Paul has also won seven district titles and four regional titles under Miller, culminating in two Div. IV state championships (2002, 2006) and two state runners-ups (2007, 2009).

Entering 2018, Miller has a career record of 512-120, including 316-34 in FC matches.

 

8. FC baseball’s banner season

Three area Firelands Conference baseball teams combined for 58 wins as they battled it out at the top — and in the district tournament — in April and May.

St. Paul split a pair of meetings with New London, Western Reserve and Crestview, and swept Plymouth en route to a 20-6 record and a 11-3 mark in the FC. It marked the first league title for the Flyers in 32 seasons dating back to 1985.

The Wildcats (19-8, 11-3) still earned a share of the title — the fifth straight for the program — by way of splitting with the Flyers, Mapleton and Plymouth. The Big Red came up short in the FC title hunt, but still won 19 games, won a game against New London — and lost three games to St. Paul by a combined four runs, including in a Division IV district semifinal.

The Flyers and Wildcats then rematched in the district title game, with the ‘Cats winning the rubber matchup, 8-2, to advance to the regional semifinals for a second straight season.

 

9. Geena Freriks wins SEC title in 200 freestyle for UK

Swimming the 200 freestyle at the SEC championships in Knoxville, Tenn., University of Kentucky sophomore Geena Freriks became the first UK woman to win the event in 22 years. Her time of 1:44.26 also broke a school record.

A 2015 Sandusky graduate and lifelong Norwalk resident, Freriks went on to earn All-American status in four events at the NCAA championships — and from June 27-July 1, placed 37th in the 100, 15th in the 200 and 16th in the 400 at the U.S. World championship team trials.

 

10. Edison’s Ostheimer earns All-Ohio sweep in 2016-17

The state was set for Edison senior Bryce Ostheimer at the state track and field championships on June 3.

Earlier in the same school year, he was a first-team All-Ohio selection at defensive back in football (Div. V) for the state semifinalist Chargers (12-2) after intercepting seven passes and making 30 tackles.

Ostheimer followed that up with special mention All-Ohio honors in basketball (Div. III) after averaging 14.5 points and four rebounds as Edison reached the regional semifinals.

Then, running the Div. II 300-meter hurdles, Ostheimer finished second in the state by .15 seconds, becoming an All-Ohioan in three different sports in the same school year.

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