By John Bombatch
GREENE COUNTY — The Greene County area enjoyed plenty of highs and lows in sports during 2015. Here’s a look at the Top Five Sports Moments of 2015, in ascending order.
Number 5: Tourney runs aplenty!
In Xenia, the boys high school basketball team won the Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division title. Xenia Christian’s Eric Knowles won the Division II boys 200-meter Individual Medley title at the State Swimming and Diving Championships in Canton.
The Bellbrook baseball team (22-8) made its best tournament run in school history, claiming Division II district title before bowing out to Columbus Watterson in the regional finals.
Number 4: Xenia Scouts’ record-setting season
First, the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League had six Xenia Scouts (Benjamin Aldridge, John Crawford, Quentin McGrath, David Gauntt, Kyle Carnahan and Lee Solomon) earn spots in the college baseball league’s annual all-star game, where they helped the GLSCL’s Red Team to a 6-0 shutout win down in Mason.
Then, the Xenia Scouts made a playoff run that came just shy of vying for the league title.
All in all, the Scouts set team records for wins in a season (26), home runs (7), walks (34) and pitching wins (6) as part of a 24-16 season.
Number 3: State titles abound in the Greene County
It’s okay if you mistake Beavercreek for Titletown these days. Residents will surely understand. Their girls high school bowling team finished third in the Division I state championships, and the boys won the state crown! The Beavers ice hockey team won the Southwestern Ohio Hockey League Divisional title, and Beavercreek resident Susan Randall left Ocean Township, N.J. with the 40-kilometer Racewalk Championship.
In high school wrestling, Bellbrook’s Cameron Kelly, Jamestown residents Tommy Hoskins and Logan Lacure, who wrestled for Dayton Christian, each won state wrestling titles in their respective weight classes.
Number 2: Toliver and Thobe are let go
Longtime area high school coaches Terry Toliver, formerly of the Xenia High School girls basketball program, and Roy Thobe, former football coach at Fairborn High, were let go by their respective athletic departments.
Toliver unintentionally ran a practice at Wilberforce University that was not sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. By doing so, he caused as many as 60 area high school girls basketball players, believed to be from Xenia, Beavercreek, Springfield Kenton Ridge, Kettering Fairmont and Springboro, under a two-game suspension for their involvement in the practice.
Snow canceled a number of games that took place after the practice, which fortunately prevented several teams from having to forfeit postseason tournament games for accidentally playing ineligible players.
Roy Thobe had coached at Fairborn High for more than a decade, but Fairborn Athletic Department officials said they wanted to go in a new direction with the football program. Thobe, whom students and friends had unsuccessfully signed petitions in hopes of their beloved coach retaining his coaching job, still teaches math at FHS and is listed as the school’s track and field coach for this Spring.
Number 1: Grace Norman
The Xenia Christian High School senior’s claim to fame started in January when she set a T-44 (below knee amputee)-class world record time in the 800-meter run, and it was formally recognized by the International Paralympic Committee.
Norman won the PT4-class women’s national title at the USA Paratriathlon Nationals in Austin, Texas in May. Later that month, she became the first amputee student-athlete to qualify to the Ohio High School Track & Field championships, and she made even more history there by becoming the first amazing amputee student-athlete to finish on the podium, thanks to a eighth-place finish with a time of 5:14.09.
She wasn’t about to rest on her high school laurels. In June she set potential world records in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs after stunning performances as the Fast Cow Invitational track and field event in Indianapolis.
Norman was named a Paralympic High School All-American and the U.S.A. Paralympics organization’s Female Athlete of the Year in September, and later finished second in the women’s World Paratriathlon Championships in Chicago that same month.
Along the way, Norman was with Team USA competing in Doha, Qatar, too.
In November, Norman teamed with Rachel Sweeney, Tori Estepp, Renee Fear, Ann Kensinger, Ariana Nelson and Sarah Wade to earn Xenia Christian a seventh place finish in the Division III girls state cross country championships at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
Norman also competed with Team USA at the Olympic test session in Rio de Janeiro and is expected to be a team member when the team competes in the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio.
Congratulations to Grace and all of our Greene County area success stories in 2015. Here’s wishing each of you even more success and joy in 2016!