Sunday, June 30, 2013

Offseason barely exists anymore

It seemed like there was a time not all that long ago when there was a buffer between high school sports seasons, particularly during the summer.

Everyone would be able to get in a nice extended break before starting things up all over again.

So here's a scary thought: As I type this in the waning hours of June, we are about a month and a half away from the start of fall sports with golf teeing off and a little less than two months away from the kickoff of high school football.

Football in this area has always been fascinating to me in the sense it seems like the season never really quite ends. Bring it up at any given point in a calendar year, and someone will inevitably want to talk about it. That's wonderful, mind you - it just shows the power of its popularity.

Fall always runs into winter - just ask any athletic director who has had to change up a basketball schedule because of a playoff run in football.

Winter always runs into spring - just ask any of us who have had to stand outside at a track and field meet when it's 37 degrees in April.

And spring always runs into summer - it's always seemed odd to call, say, track and field a "spring sport" when we're standing at the state meet in the first week of June.

Mix in conditioning and club endeavors and indoor versions of certain sports, and it never really ends.

So as a vacation week awaits in early July, I'm going to enjoy getting away, but will be fully aware that another high school sports year - my (gulp) 15th at The News-Herald - isn't terribly far off.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Flair, Piper on 'Celebrity Wife Swap'

Fans of Ric Flair and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper should tune in Sunday at 8 p.m. on WEWS.

The ex-professional wrestlers and former rivals from the 1980s and 90s will trade places with each other on "Celebrity Wife Swap."

According to reports, "The Nature Boy" swapped his girlfriend, Wendy, with Piper's longtime wife, Kity, for one week.

No word if Wendy will make a trip to "Piper's Pit," the former heel's TV spot for interviews and the usual beatdown of some schmuck, but get ready for a few "Woooos!!!" from Flair. Bet on that.

I've never watched "Celebrity Wife Swap," but I'm setting the DVR for Sunday. With Flair and Piper involved, it should be a TV trainwreck, but in a good way.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My all-time baseball movie starting 9

It's summertime so that means, among other things, it's time for baseball.

For me, it also means baseball movies, which tend to be the best kind of sports films. So, in honor of some of my favorite baseball movies, and their fictional characters, here's one man's all-time starting lineup:

Willie Mays Hayes ("Major League") CF - Not sure where Hayes came from, but there's no other choice at the top of this lineup with his blazing speed. Defensively, he's enjoys entertaining the crowd with Willie Mays-style basket catches, but that came to a halt one opening day.

Benjamin Rodriguez ("The Sandlot") 2B - Rodriguez is an all-around talent whose best trait is as a base stealer, especially home plate. A natural leader who's good at taking inexperienced players under his wing. His best friend is a sports writer, which you don't find much in baseball these days.

Kelly Leak ("The Bad News Bears") LF - Every lineup needs its bad boy, but Leak is so good at the plate and in the field, it's easy to ignore Leak's past indiscretions. 

Roy Hobbs ("The Natural") RF - You want power? Mr. Hobbs, ladies and gentlemen. 

Jack Elliott ("Mr. Baseball") 1B - After an attitude adjustment, Elliott is a now a manager's dream. Leak, Hobbs and the mustache-wearing Elliott form a murder's row in the heart of this lineup.

Crash Davis ("Bull Durham") C - Davis handles a pitching staff, especially hot-shot rookies, just fine. It's wise not to shake him off behind the plate. Offensively, he's got some pop as a switch-hitter.

Roger Dorn ("Major League") 3B - At times, Dorn can be preoccupied with life after baseball, but when he puts his mind to it, he's a solid pro.

Tanner Boyle ("The Bad News Bears") SS - He doesn't look like much, but they don't come much tougher than this pitbull-type player at shortstop.

Billy Chapel ("For The Love of The Game") P - Nuke LaLoosh ("Bull Durham") and Rick Vaughn ("Major League") were close calls here, but perfect games don't grow on trees, so Chapel gets the start.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Sunday, June 23, 2013

World Cup update

It's hard to believe we're less than a year away already from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

We're also inching closer to having a field for the tournament.

Here, as I will occasionally do in this space, is a look at where qualifying stands in each region:

The final group matches in Round 2 will be played Sept. 6. The 10 group winners will advance to Round 3 and be drawn into five series from which the World Cup qualifiers will come. Ethiopia (Group A), Tunisia (B), Ivory Coast (C), Egypt (G) and Algeria (H) are in for that next round. Ghana and Zambia (D); Congo, Burkina Faso and Gabon (E); Nigeria and Malawi (F); Libya, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo (I); and Senegal and Uganda (I) are all still mathematically alive in their respective groups.

This part of the world is never hesitant with its qualifying phase. After group play in Round 4, the four World Cup qualifiers are set: Iran and South Korea out of Group A and Japan and Australia out of Group B. Uzbekistan and Jordan will play a series, and the winner will advance to an intercontinental playoff for a World Cup berth.

Most sides still have three or four matches remaining in group play, so there is still a lot of ground left to cover. With that in mind, we'll leave well enough alone for the time being and link to the current standings. The nine group winners advance to the World Cup, and the eight best group runners-up will be drawn into four series to determine the remaining European spots.

Now in Round 4, well known as the Hexagonal, the United States leads on 13 points, two ahead of Costa Rica and five ahead of third-place Mexico, which after six matches has a 1-0-5 record. With four matches left, the top three advance to the World Cup, and the fourth-place side heads to a playoff.

This region is an easy one to explain, much like Asia, because we're done - New Zealand is through to the next round and awaits the CONCACAF fourth-place team in a playoff for a World Cup berth.

Brazil has a berth automatically as the host, and its remaining neighbors are locked in a tight battle. With four matches left in group play for most sides, it's a lot like Europe with a lot of ground left to cover. Here are the current standings.

We'll revisit things when business picks back up in September and October, and by then, we can guarantee much more clarity in the race for 2014.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, June 21, 2013

OHSAA football realignment: Winners and losers

Let’s look at the winners and losers in the OHSAA football divisional realignment:


The OHSAA: A new seventh division and the extra playoff games that go with it means more revenue. Also, improving the odds of making it to the postseason for Division I schools means the extra games will be the ones with the best money-making potential.

Powerhouse Division I teams: With 32 of 72 schools in the new big-school division in the postseason, schools like Mentor, St. Ignatius, St. Edward and the traditional powers in Cincinnati will be almost guaranteed playoff spots each year, if not first-round home games. Boys winter sports at those schools would be wise to push back their season-openers.

Former Division I teams now in Division II: If this plan was in place in 2012, South would have been the No. 1 seed in the new Division II, Region 3. Mayfield, which snuck in as the eighth seed last year, would have had a home game. Brush and Riverside, which weren’t close to making it last year, would have been in the Week 11 field.

Big CVC Chagrin schools: Kenston and Aurora, which formerly were in Division II, will be in Division III. That gives them some breathing room. Previously, they had to schedule up in the nonconference and hope their computer rating wasn’t weighed down by the smaller or not-as-successful teams in the Chagrin.

Geography: If you’re a traditionalist who prefers a team take a more direct path to Columbus instead of zig-zagging around the map, this realignment isn’t for you. On the surface, it seems odd that teams will be driving by plenty of comparable schools while traveling to their playoff games. But schools have made it clear that competitive balance is the overwhelming most important issue with prep sports. If it means going an extra 50 miles out of the way for a game, so be it.

Massillon: The tradition-rich school that has famously never won a big-school state championship in the playoff era (1972-present) isn’t even a big school anymore. The Tigers’ boys enrollment figure is 547, well short of the D-I cutoff of 608. Also worth noting: Massillon’s rival, Canton McKinley, is one of the smallest D-I schools in Ohio, with a boys enrollment figure of 612.

Division I coaches on the hot seat: With 44 percent of the field making the playoffs in Division I, that means if a team doesn’t make the playoffs two years in a row, the heat from parents and boosters might be turned up earlier than before.

-- Howard Primer

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Growing up as a tomboy has its benefits

Growing up as a tomboy has its benefits and I saw that yesterday when I went to visit my niece Cameron in my hometown of Vermilion.
When I arrived at my youngest sister Mary's house, Cameron, my Goddaughter, was riding around a pink bike Aunt Kelly bought her for her birthday.
She was so proud.
She especially enjoys ringing the bell to let everyone know she's coming up the driveway. Her first bike reminded me of my first bike. My grandpa actually found it in the trash on someone's front lawn. He spray painted it green and put new tires on it. To me, it drove like it was brand new.
Cameron got off her bike, hopped in the back seat of my car and proceeded to talk for 10 minutes straight until we arrived at the restaurant for lunch.
She is going into third grade so her conversations are very entertaining.
"What are you going to do all summer?" I asked her.
"Swim," she said.
It's exactly the way I spent my summers. My mom took me and my four siblings to the Valley View pool every morning for swimming lessons. Later in the afternoon, we'd swim around for hours like we were experts. By the end of the summer, we had the best tans at the pool.
After lunch (at the old McGarvey's), we went to Main Street Beach where Cameron hopped on one of biggest landmarks in Vermilion - the large anchor in front of the lighthouse. She showed no fear when she balanced herself at the top and put her thumb in the air. It was a windy day and her hair was blowing everywhere, but she didn't care.
She just wanted me to take the picture of her with Lake Erie in the background.
Our last stop was a playground at Sherrod Park, where I spent all of my summers jogging to and from day after day.
The first thing Cameron did was jump on the monkey bars. She bet my mom, sister and I each $5 that she could get to the other side of the playground without stopping. She proceeded to prove it to us three times in a row and collected $15.
Just for a challenge, I jumped on the monkey bars myself. I went about five bars before my arms gave out. My mom, sister and Cameron were laughing at me hysterically.
When I dropped Cameron back off at home, she got out of my car and immediately hopped on her bike.
"Let's go for a walk mommy," she told my sister.
When I drove away, I was so proud to watch Cameron in my rearview mirror riding her bike with a big smile on her face.
There's no better life than growing up as a tomboy.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ohio's smallest football schools: How they fared

While much of the attention with the new divisional alignments for Ohio high school football will be focused on the larger schools, it never hurts to take a look at the other end of the spectrum as well.

In the debuting Division VII, many teams will take the field this fall with a new boys enrollment figure for their school of 50 or fewer. Obviously, not all of those students will be participating in the sport, so you have to give due to these teams who make do with what they have.

According to the new OHSAA figures, the smallest football schools in the state by enrollment are:

Vanlue: 30
Bellaire St. John Central: 32
Portsmouth Notre Dame: 35
Tiffin Calvert: 45
Beallsville: 46
Open Door: 47
Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans: 48
Dola Hardin Northern: 50

How they fared a year ago is included above, if applicable as an OHSAA team, with a link to that team's page on

What's striking is you would assume many of these schools would struggle with such small enrollments. Some did -  Vanlue is the smallest school with a football team in Ohio, and its lone win in 2012 was over fellow small-school Dola Hardin Northern in Week 10. Hardin Northern has a proud history that includes 12 playoff appearances and a state championship in 2004, but unfortunately last year was rough, going 0-10 and getting outscored, 498-32.

On the other hand, some fared very well under those circumstances in 2012.

Tiffin Calvert went 6-4 in the regular season and qualified for the playoffs in Region 22. The Senecas even won a regional quarterfinal, routing Norwalk St. Paul, before bowing out to McComb.

Bishop Rosecrans went 7-3 in the regular season and beat Symmes Valley in a Region 23 quarterfinal before having its season ended by Danville.

The point is, even with numbers limitations, there is no reason to assume Week 11 is too lofty of an aspiration. It is possible to win games in this state and pack a big punch with a small enrollment.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, June 15, 2013

HS football: First-round matchups from '12 using new model

Euclid coach Tom Gibbons isn't a big fan of the new set-up for the Division I football playoffs.

Well, the good news is if the new regional set-up for the 2013 season was used last season, the Panthers, 7-3 in 2012, would have been playoff-bound. As it was, Euclid missed the playoffs last season. Still, for Gibbons not much has changed in D-I.

"It's the same old grind," he said of the new format.

More bad news for Gibbons: Euclid would have been the 16th and final seed and played its first-round playoff game at St. Edward. That would have been a tough matchup, but at least the Panthers would have been in the dance.

Nonetheless, the new format - two regions divided into a north and south region - is a bold and innovative move by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Sixteen teams from each region, the 35-team North and the 37-team South, make the playoffs starting this fall. Read more about new set-up in D-I here and here.

What will be interesting is the potential for much different first-round matchups, geographically speaking. The North Region matchups for the first round of the playoffs had the new format been in place last season, with seeding in parenthesis:

Euclid (16) at St. Edward (1)
Westerville Central (15) at Toledo Whitmer (2)
Brunswick (14) at St. Ignatius (3)
Cleveland Heights (13) at Mentor (4)
Findlay (12) at Canton GlenOak (5)
Austintown-Fitch (11) at Warren Harding (6)
Hudson (10) at North Royalton (7)
Canton McKinely (9) at North Canton Hoover (8)

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, June 14, 2013

Largest high schools in Ohio, by 2013-15 OHSAA enrollment figures

With the OHSAA’s release of the 2013-15 enrollment figures, here is a look at the 10 biggest high schools in Ohio.

The enrollment figures are based on students in grades 9 through 11 in October 2012. Also, they are not subject to any potential competitive-balance ruling, which would not take effect until 2015 or later.

1. Mason 2,559

2. Fairfield 2,452

3. Lakota East 2,330

4. Lakota West 2,166

5. Cincinnati Oak Hills 2,087

6. Centerville 2,063

7. Mentor 2,059

8. Brunswick 2,041

9. Hamilton 2,011

10. Lorain1,871

A couple notes:

Berea-Midpark’s enrollment hasn’t been released yet, but the schools’ combined OHSAA total for 2011-13 was 1,831.

Including Cincinnati St. Xavier and St. Ignatius, the top 10 for boys is Mason (1,266), Fairfield (1,229), St. Xavier (1,181), Lakota East (1,165), St. Ignatius (1,086), Oak Hills (1,068), Lakota West (1,046), Centerville (1,043), Mentor (1,031) and Brunswick (1,021).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin interviews

The Indians' first-round draft picks in 2011, shortstop Francisco Lindor, and 2012, outfielder Tyler Naquin, recently were named to the Carolina League/California League All-Star Game.

Lindor and Naquin, of the Advanced Single-A Carolina Mudcats, talked about their all-star selections, courtesy of Check out the video here:

Naquin and Lindor have each played 62 games this season. Naquin is batting .307 with six home runs, 27 RBI, 18 doubles and three triples. Lindor is batting .297 with a homer, 21 RBI, 14 doubles, four triples and 15 stolen bases.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Please share your Johnnycake Jog story ideas

Have you signed up for the 37th annual Johnnycake Jog yet?
If not, what are you waiting for?
The race is in a few weeks on July 21.
It's an area race that is loved by so many people. I've enjoyed covering it for the past few years mainly because there are so many friendly people who participate in the race.
One of my favorite memories is Jessica Odorcic's performance last year. She became the Johnnycake Jog's only male or female five-time winner.
She won the race in a women's course-record time of 26 minutes, 19 seconds. Ordocic, of Madison, broke the previous record of 26:31 set by Mindy Schmidt in 1992.
Last year, 830 runners and 325 walkers registered for the race. I hope we have another good turnout this year.
I'm looking for story ideas leading up to the race. Are you running to honor someone's memory? Are you running to set a personal record? Are you running as part of a weight loss program?
I'd love to hear from you.
I know everyone has a story and I'd love to hear yours.
Please e-mail me at:
To more information on the Jog, go to:

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Third annual News-Herald Senior Bowl isn't far away

Are you ready for some football?

We at the News-Herald are - and we're not alone.

In less than a week, practice sessions for the third annual News-Herald Senior Bowl, presented by Hooley House, will begin at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium in Mentor. What an exciting time it will be.

While, naturally, most everyone is anticipating the 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday, June 21 - when the actual GAME will be played - players and coaches are equally excited about Monday.... the first day of practice for the Blue and White teams.

Coach Tom Gibbons' White squad will practice from 5-7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with a walk-through on Thursday. Coach Brandon Lauer's Blue team will practice from 7-9 p.m. the first three days, then have a walk-through on Thursday.

What's so exciting about practice?

Consider this: Many, if not most of the players taking part in this game, don't even know each other, let alone haven't shared the field of battle with each other. To many of these players, the only familiarity is from what they've read about them in the sports section or heard about them in football circles.

And now they are coming together to form two teams and play in a benefit football game where proceeds benefit charity (Clothe-a-Child).

We've had two promotional shows at Hooley House over the past month, and it's plain to see the players are excited. For many, it's the last high school game they'll play before embarking on a college career. For others, it's the last high school game they'll play - Period.

Between the blending of talents from all over the News-Herald coverage area, to the short week of preparation to the reality of it being the last high school sporting event for the players, there is a buzz around the area as the June 21 Senior Bowl approaches.

Presale tickets are $5 at The News-Herald and Hooley House. Tickets are $7 at the gate on game day.
If you haven't already done so, make plans to join is on June 21 at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium. You will be glad you did.

- John Kampf

Track's longest race can be its best

To those who don’t follow track, the longest race may not seem like the most exciting. Only the very best can finish in under nine minutes. Yes, the 3200 might not be as action-packed as an average football or basketball game, but the race has given me one of my favorite sportswriting memories.

In 2011, I worked for The Morning Journal out of Lorain, which is a sister newspaper of the News-Herald. At the state track meet, Bay’s Michael Brajdic was the clear front-runner in the 3200. He finished second the previous year after losing a substantial lead to Elyria Catholic’s Marty Coolidge in the final 200 meters. Brajdic and Coolidge were rivals – the two schools are just 14 miles apart – with Coolidge winning the state championship over Brajdic in cross country that previous fall.

But a year later, Brajdic was coming off a state title in cross country himself in the fall of 2010. He was leading after the first four laps, but then something strange happened. When Brajdic passed by where I was standing, near the finish line, one of his shoes was … missing. It turns out he lost his right shoe halfway through race.

Runners' socks aren't the thickest, and we're talking about four laps. Using adrenaline as his pain killer, Brajdic kept running. He finshed the race six seconds faster than Tipp City’s Sam Wharton – who, coincidentally – beat Chardon’s Nick Elswick for first place in the 3200 this year. 

Brajdic said his foot, running on a his sock for a full mile, didn’t hurt during the race, but he had a silver-dollar size blister on his right foot that must have left him limping for days.

-- Cory Schuett

Sunday, June 9, 2013

State wheelchair races inspire all

The loudest cheers Saturday at the state high school track and field meet were easy to detect.

For the first time in meet history, wheelchair athletes were given the opportunity to compete in the 100, 400, 800 and shot put.

If you didn't get the opportunity to see it in person, words cannot express properly just how beautiful of a moment it was.

In the morning during Division III competition came the first event, with two heats of the 100 meters. Ravenna Southeast's Jenna Fesemyer earned the warmest ovation as the lone female competitor, getting a chance to race the boys.

Every so often at state track and field, you just know a moment is special. Regardless of the nonsense some national pundits attached to it afterward, the scene of Meghan Vogel helping Arden McMath finish the D-III 3,200 last year had that sense in reserve.

And so did this.

My colleague Tony Lange of the Chagrin Valley Times, as the 800 was being contested in the wheelchair division, turned to me on the infield and said, "I'm going to tell my grandchildren about this."

It was that special for those who witnessed it, and just imagine what it was like for the athletes who deservedly graced the stage.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, June 7, 2013

Clint Frazier a Captain? Check back in '14

The deadline for players selected in this weekend's baseball draft to sign with their respective team or go back into next year's draft is July 12.

There shouldn't be such a problem with Clint Frazier, the No. 5 overall pick by the Indians out of Loganville (Ga.) High School. The Tribe should come to terms with Frazier, who told reporters Thursday night after being drafted he's looking forward to the start of his pro career.

The only question is where does it start? The logical location for Frazier after he signs is either the Arizona Fall League or short-season Mahoning Valley. There's no need to rush the first-round pick beyond those levels in 2013.

After Mahoning Valley, though, the next destination up the Indians' farm system is Single-A Lake County, which is great news for Captains fans. Similar to Francisco Lindor, selected No. 8 overall by the Indians two seasons ago and sent to Lake County the next season, Frazier could be primed and ready for a full season at Classic Park in 2014.

If the buzz on Frazier is real, that could be a fun season for Captains fans. Frazier's high school coach at Loganville, Jeff Segars, said in a phone interview this week fans will be wowed by his former player's bat speed.

"Get ready to see some power," said Segars.

Stay tuned for 2014 Captains fans. Frazier could be on his way.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Looking at area trends in new OHSAA enrollment figures

The OHSAA released enrollment figures for the 2013-14 and 14-15 school years earlier this week. Let's look at a few trends for area schools.

(A quick note: The enrollment figures are based on students in grades 9 through 11 in October 2012. Also, they are not subject to any potential competitive-balance ruling, which would not take effect until 2015).

-- One can see why the Chagrin Valley Conference is  on the verge of collapse, at least as far as the Chagrin Division for football. Look at the male enrollment figures: Kenston 395, Aurora 387, West Geauga 362, Harvey 355, Perry 256, Orange 252, Chagrin Falls 221, Wickliffe 197. That's with Kenston losing 21 boys over the past two years. Wickliffe is nearly twice as small as Aurora and Kenston, and it's smaller than the Metro Division's Beachwood (200).

-- For boys sports in the Premier Athletic Conference, South picked up 54 boys and North added 31, while Riverside took a tumble, losing 45. Here are the male enrollments: North 587, South 583, Riverside 566, Lakeside 490, Madison 452, Chardon 388, Geneva 327, University 309.

-- What division will reigning small-school state champion Villa Angela-St. Joseph be in for boys basketball the next two seasons? It could come down one student. VASJ's male enrollment increased from 105 to 122. It's going to be close to the dividing line between Division III and D-IV. A couple things to consider:
- The cutoff for Division IV the past two years was 122 boys, and there were 201 schools in D-IV for boys hoops.
- For 2013-15, VASJ is one of 206 schools with 122 or fewer boys (and one of four that have exactly 122).
It can't be assumed that every school in the 2013-15 figures has boys basketball. So as tempting as it is to speculate, we'll have to wait until the OHSAA announces the cutoffs for each division.

-- Some of our online commentors like to deride Mentor as "the biggest school in Ohio." While that hasn't been true in almost a decade, fear not for the Cardinals. Mentor checks in at a boys/girls total of 2,059, up 50 from 2011-13 and easily the biggest school in the area.  

-- Other big gains: Madison's total of 452 is up 50 from 2011-13 . ... Perry's boys enrollment increased by 22, and Wickliffe's girls total is up by 30. ... Cornerstone Christian and Fairport increased by 26 and 23 students, respectively. That might not sound like much, but they are two of the smallest schools in the area. Cornerstone is up to 122, and Fairport is at 150.

-- Other notable decreases: Beaumont dropped 57 girls. ... Berkshire's combined total is down 30. ... Chagrin Falls lost 22 boys. ... Euclid lost 92 total, including 59 fewer boys. ... NDCL dropped by 67.

- Howard Primer

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Keep in mind, you may be watching a future Olympian at the OHSAA state track meet

I'm in the office today working on state track preview capsules and all I can think of is driving down to Columbus tomorrow to cover the OHSAA state track meet.
It's an exhausting and exhilarating event to cover for a high school reporter.
When I worked at The Morning Journal in Lorain for the first 13 years of my career, I covered the state meet on my own. I remember one time when the meet was moved to Dayton for a few years, I had to write four stories on this dinky little computer the newspaper gave me. The screen was so small you could only read four lines at a time.
For whatever reason, I was unable to send my stories through the telephone line so I had to dictate all four. I was the last person to leave Welcome Stadium that night.
Some people ask me how I can sit through an entire track meet. If you aren't a track person, you probably wouldn't understand. Honestly, I enjoy it so much that five hours sometimes feels like 30 minutes because there is so much going on. There are so many different story angles you can go with as a reporter. There are solid performances going on all over the track and it's my job to keep track of my area athletes and highlight as many of their accomplishments as I can.
The greatest high school track athlete I ever covered was Elyria's Tianna Madison. I remember meeting her when she was a freshman in high school and thinking, "this girl has more potential than she realizes."
During her brilliant high school career, she won nine state championships including seven in individual events. She became only the third athlete in Ohio to win four events at a state championship meet two years in a row (2002 and 2003). The others on that list? Cleveland East Tech/U.S. Olympic legend Jesse Owens (1932-33) and Zanesville Rosecrans star Susan Nash (1983-84).
In 2003, she led Elyria to a Division I state championship. She won the long jump that year with a leap of 20 feet, 5 3/4 inches. It's a state record that still stands today.
Madison went on to run at the University of Tennessee where she had a successful collegiate career. Last year, she won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. She lead off the women's 4x100 which  set a world record in 40.82. I cried when I watched the race because I was so happy for Tianna, her family and her coaches. Especially her high school coach Jackie Below.
It all started somewhere for Tianna and that was the OHSAA state track meet. It's pretty amazing when you think about it.
So if you go down to the state meet this year, keep in mind, you may be watching some future Olympians.
It's an event where stories are told and some go on to win gold.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Recent USMNT history in Ohio impressive

Being preoccupied this past Wednesday down in Youngstown for Division I high school regional track and field, it was a little tough to return home and hear about the United States men's soccer team's 4-2 setback to Belgium at FirstEnergy Stadium.

It was a friendly, and Belgium is a very good European side so there's no shame in the result, but at the same time it would have been nice for the USMNT to look a little better on the scoreboard in a match that occurred in our own backyard.

It also would have been nice to continue an impressive little streak in the Buckeye State for international matches within its borders. Since the turn of the millennium, Wednesday's loss marked the first time the U.S. had lost a match played in Ohio:

May 29, 2013: lost to Belgium, 4-2
May 26, 2006:def. Venezuela, 2-0

COLUMBUS (6-0-3)
Sept. 11, 2012: def. Jamaica, 1-0*
Feb. 11, 2009: def. Mexico, 2-0*
Sept. 3, 2005: def. Mexico, 2-0*
Nov. 17, 2004: tied Jamaica, 1-1*
June 13, 2004: def. Grenada, 3-0*
July 6, 2003: def. Paraguay, 2-0
June 7, 2001: tied Ecuador, 1-1
Feb. 28, 2001: def. Mexico, 2-0*
Oct. 11, 2000: tied Costa Rica, 0-0

Columbus is well-known for being a preferred destination for home matches against Mexico - that success rate above would make anyone a little superstitious. So it's no surprise that Sept. 10, the U.S. will return to Ohio's capital for a World Cup qualifier against El Tri.

Here's to hoping the USMNT can get a result and add to an already impressive run while in Ohio.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH