The No. 1 local sports story of the year has never been more obvious.
Locally, as it was state wide, nationally and internationally, the coronavirus’ impact dominated the sports world from early March and on through the rest of the year.
But even in the midst of a pandemic, there were other stories. Here are the rest of the Top Ten local sports stories of the last year:
The No. 2 story of 2020 is Lima Central Catholic’s girls golf team winning the Division II state championship for a third consecutive year.
The Thunderbirds became the first D-II team to win three state championships in a row, led by Mary Kelly Mulcahy with a 73-74-147 and Erin Mulcahy with a 75-74-149. Emma Mayers shot 80-85-165, Bridget Mulcahy shot 82-87-169 and Carlie VanMeter shot 87-88-175.
LCC won by 53 strokes over runner-up Tuscawaras Valley.
The No. 3 story is Elida’s Dakota Mathias reaching a long-held goal of playing in the NBA.
Mathias, the boys basketball career scoring leader at Elida, finished his college career at Purdue in 2018 with 1,140 points and 250 3-pointers but went undrafted. After an injury-shortened season in one of the top leagues in Spain, he averaged 18 points a game for the Dallas Mavericks’ G-League team last season.
But it was the Philadelphia 76ers who gave the 6-4 guard the chance to wear an NBA uniform this season. He scored 8 points in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 27 in his first appearance in a regular season game for the 76ers.
The No. 4 story is the loss of four notable area sports figures who died in 2020 – two coaches and two media members.
Leonard Rush was the coach of Lima Senior’s 1996 state champion football team. He was the Spartans’ head coach for 17 years and had six teams reach the playoffs.
Rick Vaughn was the defensive coordinator of the Spartans’ state championship team and later was the head coach at Senior High.
Vince Koza grew up idolizing legendary Cleveland sports broadcaster Joe Tait and his unique style, then spent nearly 40 years becoming a Lima media legend with his own unique style – 27 years at WLIO-TV and 12 years on the radio at 93.1 The Fan. Jack Hammill recorded the feats of Lima area bowler for 22 years as the bowling columnist at The Lima News and was a frequent guest on Koza’s radio show to talk about bowling.
The No. 5 story is Shawnee’s George Mangas being selected as the Division II boys basketball Player of the Year on the All-Ohio team.
Mangas, a 6-3 junior, averaged 30.2 points a game. He shot 69 percent overall on field goals and made 75 percent of his two-point attempts on an unbeaten team.
The No. 6 story is Van Wert’s football team winning the Division IV state championship and bringing home the first team state championship in school history.
The Cougars came back from being behind by two touchdowns in the second half of the state championship game to win 31-28 on a field goal by Damon McCracken as time ran out.
The No. 7 story is Lima Senior hiring Alphonso “Biggie” Townsend, a former All-Ohio player for the Spartans, as its football coach.
The No. 8 story is Crestview’s Kalen Etzler signing to play basketball at Ohio State. The 6-8 forward is ranked the No. 3 recruit in Ohio in the 2021 recruiting class in 247sports.com’s composite rankings.
The No. 9 story is Xavier Simpson finishing his college basketball career at the University of Michigan No. 2 on the all-time assists leaders list there. He was the Wolverines’ starting point guard for three seasons and scored 1,073 points in his career.
The No. 10 story is New Bremen winning the Division VII football state championship and becoming the ninth of the Midwest Athletic Conference’s 10 football playing schools to win a state title. Also, Coldwater won the Division VI championship to give the MAC 37 football state championships and 139 state championships overall.