The 2013-14 high school sports year in Ohio provided the usual thrills and excitement. It had everything. Great state championship match-ups, unbelievable individual performances, Cinderella runs through the state playoffs, and the crowning of new and repeat state champions. Cleveland area schools were right in the middle of all of these sports:
Football.... We saw a repeat champion in Division I as Cincinnati Moeller survived a furious rally by Mentor in the fourth quarter to win 55-52, in one of the wildest state football finals you will ever see. Huge performances were given by both Moeller quarterback Gus Ragland and Mentor quarterback Cole Krizancic. In Division II, Glenville made their second appearance in the state championship game, only to fall to Loveland. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary rolled to a state championship, defeating Trotwood-Madison 24-0 in the championship game, behind huge performances by Ohio State recruits Dante Booker and Parris Campbell. Kirtland proved they were the best team in Division VI, as they rolled past Haviland Wayne Trace 41-16, led by the rushing attack of Adam Hess and Sam Kukura.
Boys Basketball.... If their were story lines to be told, the boys basketball season had most of them. St. Edward won the Division I state final, defeating Upper Arlington in overtime. Marsalis Hamilton of the Eagles may have hit the shot of the year in boys basketball, as he hit a fall away three pointer at the fourth quarter buzzer sending the game into overtime. The Eagles had to beat the "feel good" story of the year in East Tech to get to the final. The Scarabs pulled upset after upset in being the first Cleveland public school to reach the final four since East High in 1985. East Tech defeated powers Mentor, then Shaker Heights in the regional semi-final, before defeating highly regarded Uniontown Lake to reach Columbus. VASJ had their dream of a repeat state championship come undone, as they fell in the Division III title game to Lima Central Catholic. The Vikings, thought by many to be the best team in Ohio regardless of Division, will return all five starters in 2014-15.
Girls Basketball.... Northeast Ohio had a number of very good girls basketball teams, but none to compare with Cincinnati Princeton, which defeated North Canton Hoover to win the Division I state championship. Hoover, which will have four starters playing college basketball next season, defeated the best team in the Cleveland area, Solon, to get to Columbus. The Comets of Solon had a season to talk about as they defeated top ranked Wadsworth during the regular season. They parlayed that win, and a 23-3 overall record into their third straight regional finals appearance.
Wrestling.... It was a year of change on the wrestling mat, especially in Northeast Ohio. The St. Edward reign as the top wrestling team in Ohio came to an end this year, and it came to an end with an emphatic THUMP. Massillon Perry is the new champ of Ohio wrestling, as they cruised to a team title A balanced team from top to bottom, Perry gave a preview of what the state tournament would look like when they handily beat both St. Edward and Brecksville during the state Duals Championship. On an individual level, one had to enjoy the journey of CVCA's Tyler MacLellan. Overlooked, and flying under the radar all season, MacLellan out-worked, out-thought, and out-hustled his opponents to a Division III state championship at 197 pounds. His championship showed that hard work, sacrifice, and a total believe in yourself can lead to good things. It's what Tyler MacLellan is all about.
Hockey.... It was a game that will never be forgotten for years to come. It was a game that eventually changed the landscape of how overtime games in hockey will now come to an end. St. Ignatius and Sylvania Northview put on a game for the ages. It was a seven overtime thriller, that officials at the OHSAA put an end to, citing player safety. Both teams were awarded by being named state champions. After this "tie" controversy, the OHSAA passed new legislation, adopting new overtime rules, so this fiasco does not happen again.
Baseball.... Northeastern Ohio had a stellar year on the baseball field. Walsh Jesuit, Mentor and St. Ignatius were among the top teams in the state going into the season. Hudson flew under the radar all year, even beating Walsh in the district final. The story of the year, however, was the North Royalton Bears. What the Bears acheived in the state tournament was truly remarkable. They defeated perennial powers Strongsville, St. Ignatius, and St. Edward in route to the regional final. They then defeated Northwest Ohio power Sylvania Southview to reach the state final four. The Bears weren't done. In the state semi-final, the Bears took on Gahanna Lincoln, a state semi-finalist last season. Behind the stellar pitching of Frank Frate, the Bears defeated Gahanna Lincoln to advance to the state championship game. They would eventually fall to Massillon Jackson, but no one around the Cleveland area will forget the run the Bears took us on.
Track.... Two Cleveland area teams walked away with both the boys and girls state championships. Glenville returned to the top of Ohio track on the boys side. Davon Anderson led the way for the Tarblooders with four trips to the podium, including two wins On the girls side, Solon looked to repeat as state champions from a year ago. It wasn't easy, but the Comets, led by Jelvon Butler, took home the team title by one point. The Comets were led in the field by Alexis Gray in the discus and shot put, and on the track by Butler in the sprints. It was Butler's .001 second win in the 200 meters that provided the team victory for the Comets.