A year of historic triumph mixed with tragedy for one high school was the top local sports of 2017.
Perry High School, which had never competed in a boys state basketball tournament, reached the Division IV state semifinals in March. Then in the fall, the Commodores’ football team qualified for the playoffs for the first time in school history.
Both those firsts were even more emotional than usual because of their connection to Herb Lane, the head football coach at Perry and an assistant basketball coach, who died in a car crash after practice the day before Perry played Fort Loramie in a regional semifinal game.
Perry won that game 52-50, then beat Fairfield Cincinnati Christian 57-44 for the trip to the state tournament.
A 6-4 regular season, including a 6-1 record in the Northwest Central Conference, put the Commodores into the football postseason for the first time.
The shocking revelation that a Lima legend is battling a rare disease was the No. 2 story of the year.
Former Lima Senior and Ohio State football standout William White talked about being treated for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a neurodegenerative disease which gradually weakens muscles, while in Lima for a fund raiser for Lima Senior High School.
White was diagnosed during a routine physical in late 2016. He is being treated at Ohio State University Hospitals with Radiclava, a recently approved drug which lessens the effects of ALS. He also has established a fund for ALS research at Ohio State.
The Lima Locos winning the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League for the second time in three years was the No. 3 story of the year.
The Locos’ 30-11 record during the regular season was the best in the GLSCL. After losing the first game of the championship series to the Grand Lake Mariners, they got back-to-back shutout wins to take the championship.
Bath graduate Colin Gossard threw 8 1/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 win in the deciding game.
No. 4 on the list was something that might seem unfathomable to many people – Chris Adams not coaching.
The University of Northwestern Ohio athletic director and men’s basketball coach announced that he was stepping away from the coaching part of his job after 10 seasons there and 21 seasons as Elida High School’s coach. He was replaced by assistant coach Caleb Williams.
Another unexpected coaching move was the No. 5 story of 2017.
When John Zerbe retired as Spencerville’s football coach, his replacement was Chris Sommers, the head coach at Delphos Jefferson, which has been the Bearcats’ biggest rival over the years.
Jefferson had won the Northwest Conference each of Sommers’ three seasons as head coach and that success continued at Spencerville when the Bearcats went through the NWC unbeaten and won the league championship.
A big year for girls basketball in Putnam County was the No. 6 story of the year.
Ottawa-Glandorf played in the state tournament for the third year in a row. Ottoville reached the Final Four for the sixth time. And three players, all of them juniors, who played for schools in Putnam County were named first-team All-Ohio: Ottawa-Glandorf’s Kadie Hempfling, Columbus Grove’s Paige Bellman and Ottoville’s Bridget Landin.
No. 7 on the list was the Midwest Athletic Conference doing what it always does – win state championships.
MAC teams won seven state championships this year. Minster won baseball, girls cross country and football. Marion Local won in football. New Bremen and Versailles won in volleyball (and Versailles beat fellow MAC team Coldwater in its state championship game). And Coldwater’s girls won in bowling.
New Bremen’s championship was the first state title by a Cardinals team and meant that every school in the MAC has now won a team state championship.
The No. 8 story was another first. This one happened at the state track meet.
Temple Christian’s Madison Yingst became the first Pioneers athlete to win an event at the state meet when she crossed the finish line first in the Division III 300-meter hurdles in 43.93 seconds, more than a half second ahead of the second-place runner.
The ninth story on the list recalls a bygone era when Hawthorne Hills was one of the busiest and one of the most popular golf courses in western Ohio, maybe in all of Ohio.
Bo Contini, the pro, general manager and public face of the course to many people for more than three decades, died at the age of 84, is the No. 9 story.
At No. 10, three former area high school basketball players earned All-American honors in college basketball.
Columbus Grove’s Will Vorhees was a Division II first-team All-American at Notre Dame College in Cleveland. Findlay’s Martyce Kimbrough, from Lima Central Catholic, was honorable mention All-American in Division II.
Shawnee graduate Britt Lauck was a Division III first-team All-American for Ohio Northern, which finished its season with a 30-1 record, the best in the Polar Bears women’s program’s history.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.