Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Midwestern Ohio Memories from the 50’s & 60’s

This is a guest post by a Fish Report reader that will remain anonymous for now. This is also the first in a series of periodic posts that will focus on cherished memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Summer brought family reunions and always a fun day. My parents had literally dozens of brothers and sisters so the affairs were quite a gathering and a bunch of fun. In fact to this day one side still holds a reunion each year. Besides the hotdogs, pop and games, the really best part of the reunion came afterwards, when my brothers and sisters would spend the following week with our cousins in Dayton. It was a fun-filled week away from milking cows, feeding pigs and gathering chicken eggs. We would swim in real pools, not the muddy creek running behind our place. And ride bikes on hard surfaces instead of our gravel lane. And they had air conditioning, not only in their house but in the car! I still remember my very first ride in an A/C equipped vehicle; all the way back in the third row of a station wagon. It felt so cool even back there. Who knows, but maybe that experience led me to take my very first job at Copeland’s (now Emerson’s) in Sidney to work on the A/C compressor machining line during the summer after graduation from high school before heading for college. For certain, those summer vacations with our cousins in Dayton likely lead me consider a life beyond the farm, but the memories of those farm days will never fade. 

Taken at St. Patrick’s School in the summer of 1947

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Back to state with Russia thrower Nick Colby...

Nick and his fans are back in Columbus this weekend for the State Meet

Nick Colby may have already graduated from Russia High School a couple weeks ago, but he's still representing the Raiders this weekend at the OHSAA D-III Track & Field State Championships. For the second consecutive year Nick will compete at state in the discus throw. We recently chatted with the Russia star about his sport and this is what he had to say...

FR: What has been the biggest change in your throwing from your junior to senior year?
NC: Honestly, not a whole lot has changed with my throwing specifically. I think my strength and conditioning work throughout the fall and winter really helped me get to where I am today. Also, I believe the confidence and excitement I gained at the end of my junior year pushed me to work extra hard for my final season as a Raider.

FR: What kind of distance are you capable of this Friday and what does it take to win it?
NC: All I know for sure is that the competition this Friday is going to extremely exciting. Personally, I believe I am capable of a throw between 165’ and 175’. However, I am going to have to have one of the best throws of my life. Everything would have to go perfect, but I truly believe I have what it takes to accomplish that. If I learned anything from the Regional meet, it only takes one good throw. Currently seeded first for the State Meet is senior Christian Smith from McDonald High School. Earlier in the season he broke the Division III State Record with a throw of 203’ and some change. He has been constantly throwing in the upper 190s and lower 200s all season and is seeded with his throw from regionals at 198’ 9”.

FR: Can you summarize your day leading up to the competition on Friday?
NC: Well I will begin the day with a substantial breakfast, and then I head over to Jesse Owens Stadium to watch the Division III Prelims and cheer on my fellow state qualifiers. Then, at around 1 or 2 o’clock, I will head back to the hotel to eat lunch and rest up a little bit before heading back to the stadium. By 3 o’clock I am at the throwing circle weighing in my discuses and getting ready to compete. The competition begins at 4 o’clock

FR: Describe your mental approach to throwing, do you try to visualize anything specific?
NC: Just like any other event or sport, the mental aspect of throwing is crucial for success. The most important thing mentally is to stay positive. It sounds simple, but can be one of the hardest parts of a competition. When I step into the circle before my throw, I visualize the discus soaring through the sky to keep myself focused and relaxed.

FR: How cool was it to see your classmate, David York, qualify last Friday after you already qualified on Wednesday?
NC: It was awesome to see David on the 3rd place podium at regionals! Being the only boy last year was fun, but I cannot wait to share the experience with lifelong classmate and 6 year teammate. I think this will be an experience that we will both remember for a long time.

FR: After all this is over, what’s next for Nick Colby?
NC: Unfortunately, the state meet will be the last time I will ever compete in a Russia Raider uniform. However, it will not be the end of my track and field career. This upcoming fall, I will be attending John Carroll University where I will be throwing on the varsity track and field team. Academically, I will be majoring in cellular and molecular biology where I hope to eventually attend medical school and become a pediatric oncologist. I am extremely excited for this next chapter of my life, but sad that my career as a Raider is ending. I would like thank my team and coaches for pushing me to be the best person I can be every day. I would also like to thank the Russia community for the continued support throughout my Raider career. Thank you so much for having me on the Fish Report and I hope to keep in touch.

For those interested in watching Nick or any of the other athletes at the state meet this weekend, click on these links to the Schedule of Events and the Facility Diagram.

Nick is hoping to improve upon the Russia School record he set 
last week at the Regional Meet with a throw of 162-feet 9-inches

Thursday, April 30, 2015

End of an era...

After 31 years as the head coach of Russia boys basketball, Paul Bremigan retired from the Raiders program on Wednesday, April 29th. Coach Bremigan took over in the 1984-85 season and eventually built the Raiders into a powerhouse in the Shelby County League. In his last 17 years at Russia, the Raiders won eight outright league titles and had only one losing season. Coach Bremigan became Shelby County's all-time winningest boys basketball coach and tallied 437 victories overall, including 44 his last two seasons. His greatest accomplishment will always be remembered by Russia fans as the 2001-02 season when the Raiders won a school record 24 games and made it to the state finals. Below is Coach Bremigan's record year-by-year

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

These Russia seniors had class...

Russia played at Trent Arena twice this season. A rare opportunity
that came about because of exceptional talent and hard work

Ten Russia seniors wrapped up their basketball careers on the floor of Trent Arena Tuesday night, falling in the regional semifinals to Tri-Village 59-50. As the clock ticked down the final seconds, fans dressed in mostly gold stood up to applaud. Applaud the efforts of a hard fought battle and recognize a group of boys who put Russia hoops back in the regional spotlight again.

It was most of these same classmates that carried Russia to the regional tournament last year. Before 2014 it had been eight years since the Raiders last played in the regionals. That was back in 2006 when the venue was at Miami University and the Russia program was still riding the wave of annual success from the 2002 state runner-up team. What seems like yesterday for many faithful Raider fans was too long ago for most of the current seniors to remember.

Starting in junior high this special group of boys began to establish a reputation for winning. Capturing league titles in 7th and 8th-grade only fueled expectations for what was to come. As they entered high school the classmates that played together so well were split between the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams. Then, as juniors, most of them reunited. It only took a short while to find that same chemistry they once enjoyed and the boys put together a 22-5 season, including a tournament run that brought home a district title over talented Cincinnati Aiken. The 2014 season eventually ended against Marion Local in the regional semifinals, but the taste of success only increased their appetite for their final year together.

Nolan Francis was a floor leader for the Raiders in junior high.
In high school he led Russia in scoring with over 1000 points

To say this last season of basketball for ten friends has been enjoyable would be a huge understatement. Another 22-5 season, titles in the SCAL, sectional tournament and one more district championship over Cincinnati Aiken this year was just part of the fun. Winning the Piqua holiday tournament and playing at Flyin' To The Hoop were moments that Raider fans may never experience again. Those ten seniors and Russia followers got to enjoy the fruit of six years in the making. Most of all though, this group did everything the right way. Great sportsmanship, hard work and starting the next wave of success for Raider basketball will be what they are remembered for. The boys may not have achieved everything they hoped for, but they were a class with class. And that's something to be proud of.

The 2015 seniors joined the class of 1995 as the only two teams 
in school history to win district titles in both boys and girls
basketball in the same season. Quite an accomplishment

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jared Hoying doing all he can do...

Jared Hoying's production through one week of Spring Training

Jared Hoying is doing all he can do to prove he deserves on the Texas Rangers major league roster when the regular season starts the beginning of April. Last year the Ft. Loramie product spent his entire season at Triple-A Round Rock and this year he is making the most of his first-ever invitation to big league camp. In the first six games of Rangers spring training the center fielder has played in five of those games and hammered out the line above. In doing so, #71 has garnered the attention of several baseball columnists and sports bloggers.

The media guys have noticed Jared's arrival at camp

Most fans back in west central Ohio are wondering though, how much attention he's getting from the Rangers organization. Last season at Round Rock, Jared batted .271 with 26 homeruns and 78 RBI. That kind of production is what landed him in the Triple-A all-star game and obviously what merited his invitation this spring with the big boys. Texas Rangers minor league guru for the Newberg Report, Scott Lucas, speculated on Twitter that the reason Jared isn't already ensconced as the 4th or 5th outfielder for the Rangers is due to his .318 on-base percentage (OBP) at the minor league level. No doubt fans back home will point to Jared's .500 OBP so far this spring training. Lucas further tweeted that if Rangers outfield prospect Delino DeShields (who was the lone player Texas selected in the Rule 5 draft back in December) doesn't pan out, Jared is an option for backup outfielder due to his defense, power and speed. So far this spring DeShields is 1-for-9 in five games with a triple and a .200 OBP.

If Jared continues to produce as he has this past week, heads of the organization will have to take notice. Texas finished 2014 with the American League's worst record at 67-95 and used a major league record of 64 players during the season. In order for the Rangers to enjoy any type of success similar to their 2010 and 2011 World Series teams, they need stability. And a 25-year old power-hitter that swings from the left side of the plate just like Texas star Prince Fielder would be a good start.

Doing little things like this should lead to big things for Jared

Friday, March 6, 2015

Kudos to these sports people...

I blogged about a similar thing last Friday and it was so much fun, I figured I'd do it again. This Friday I thought I'd give kudos to a few people that impressed me in local sports this past week (kudos means praise for exceptional achievement, by the way)...

Stats Man
If you follow @Fish_Report on Twitter, you probably noticed I tweeted out some complete box scores on several girls and boys tournament games this past week. When I say complete, I mean play-by-play with every statistic imaginable. Don't give me the credit, it's all the hard work of Russia alum Matt Zircher, seated on press row with his laptop and printer. Matt has been a stats man his whole life. His full-time job is the Associate Director of Athletic Communications at Wright State University, but in his spare time he does things like write for the Sidney Daily News, he works part-time as official scorer for the Dayton Dragons, and he also donates his time every year at his hometown Russia Alumni Softball Tournament to take care of everything from the official book to running the scoreboard. Matt is a very generous person and was doing a service at the sectional tournaments last week that media people typically don't see until the state tournament. Kudos to Matt.

Matt produced seven pages of stats (yes, seven) after
each of five games he covered last Saturday in Sidney

Best in the MAC
Last week I gave my opinion on the All-MAC girls honorees. This week the All-MAC boys came out and what a decision Player of the Year had to be. I can just see the coaches of the Midwest Athletic Conference shaking their heads thinking, "do we give it to the kid that's heading to Michigan State to play for Tom Izzo or the other kid that's going to Dayton to play for Archie Miller?" In the end the coaches chose future Flyer Ryan Mikesell of St. Henry over future Spartan Kyle Ahrens of Versailles. I'm pretty positive it had nothing to do with one being more talented than the other since both are extremely gifted. Rather, St. Henry simply won the conference championship and the head-to-head matchup this year. I was also glad to see the coaches didn't take the easy way out and just announce Ryan and Kyle were co-winners. Kudos to Ryan Mikesell on probably the toughest vote in MAC history.

Ryan Mikesell ramming one home against Russia earlier this year

Luke in the Limelight
Ohio's Mr. Basketball, Luke Kennard, started down the tournament trail on the right foot so far (or maybe that should be left foot since the sharpshooter is lefthanded?). Franklin, a D-II #1-seed, easily beat a couple opponents in the early rounds of the sectional tournament. The Wildcats now face Ponitz from the Dayton City League in the sectional championship at UD Arena on Saturday night at 7:30 pm. Franklin has been beat at this exact point in tournament the last three consecutive years. The Wildcats lost to Thurgood Marshall last year, Dunbar in 2013 and Thurgood again in 2012. The only thing that's for sure is fans will be lined up outside UD Arena for perhaps one last chance to see Luke in a high school uniform. I really hope Franklin wins this game. For no other reason than I enjoy reading about the hysteria of Luke Kennard. Kudos to Luke for everything he's accomplished so far.

Some fans claim Ohio high school hoops hasn't seen 
demand for tickets like this since LeBron James played

Future Hall of Famers
Indoor collegiate track doesn't typically dominate the headlines of the sport pages, but a couple local track stars are dominating at the Division-I universities they represent. Former Tri-Village running star Clayton Murphy is just a sophomore for the University of Akron, but this past weekend he was awarded as the Outstanding Track Athlete of the Meet at the Mid-American Conference Championships. Clayton led Akron to a MAC title winning both the 800 and 1600. Afterward, he was just one of just 16 selected to compete in the 800 at the NCAA National Championships coming up next weekend in Arkansas. On the girls side, Russia alum Katie Borchers continues to carve out history as a senior at The Ohio State University. Katie's Buckeyes also won an indoor title last weekend in the Big Ten and Katie was a significant part of that, winning the 800 and breaking her own school record in the process. Katie, like Clayton, was also just one of 16 selected to compete in the 800 next weekend at Nationals. I'll say it now... both will be future Hall of Famers at their respective universities some day. Kudos to Clayton and Katie.

Clayton and Katie are two of the premier runners in all of the nation right now

Friday, February 27, 2015

The best of the week in sports...

What a fun time of year if you're a high school basketball fan in this area. Tournament madness is here for most schools, post season awards are coming out, and milestone achievements seem to be taking place in bunches. Here's the best of what happened this week in my eyes...

Redskins do it again
The post season All-SCAL awards were released on Wednesday and once again the Ft. Loramie Redskins were honored with the girls Player of the Year. Junior Jessica Boerger was the top vote-getter among county coaches, following in the footsteps of her cousin Darian Rose who was the co-player of the year in 2014 and outright player of the year in 2013. While past performance doesn't guarantee future results, it would appear Jessica is the logical front-runner for next year's top award. Just don't tell that to Fairlawn super sophomore Audrey Francis, the only other underclassman on the 1st-team roster. I thought every girl on the all-county list was deserving of recognition, but the one omission that stuck out for me was Russia senior Claudia Monnin. Claudia missed most of her junior year due to ACL surgery and bounced back this season in a big way. Her best game may have been the 18 points she scored at Fairlawn to lead the Lady Raiders in a key league win back in early January. The good news for Russia fans is Claudia is still playing tournament ball...and maybe her best is yet to come!

Claudia draining a 3-pointer against Ft. Loramie early this season

All-MAC is almost right
The All-MAC girls awards were announced the same day as the All-SCAL and Marion Local super senior Allie Thobe was honored with Player of the Year. The MAC got it right it my opinion. Allie was the best player in that tough conference and very deserving of the award from everything I heard. I'm not sure who came in second, but I thought if anyone might challenge Allie it could be another senior, Meg Reineke of New Knoxville. When the Lady Rangers hosted Russia earlier this season I listened to the game on radio as Meg carried the Lady Rangers to an overtime victory over my Raiders almost single-handedly. Speaking of seniors stars, the only injustice I saw in the voting was Coldwater senior Sarah Kanney slipping to 2nd-team. How can a 1000 point scorer not be one of the top 12 girls in the conference? Sarah responded on Wednesday night like she always does...she lead her team to a tournament victory with 20 points!

Sarah is just one of two MAC girls to reach 1000 points so 
far this year. The other is Player of the Year, Allie Thobe. 
Meg Reineke is currently at 970 heading into tournament.

Newton girls easy to root for
Do you know who this year's Newton girls basketball team reminds me of? It's their Cross County Conference foe from last year, the Bradford Lady Railroaders. Newton extended their school record win total to 22 on Wednesday night with a tournament victory over Dayton Christian. The Lady Indians will now play for their first sectional title in school history this Saturday against Southeastern.  Last year Bradford also set a school record for total victories with 20 and went on to win their first sectional title in school history before losing to Ft. Loramie in the district tournament. Both seasons seem kind of magical considering their programs overall history and it makes them easy to root for. I jumped on the Bradford bandwagon last year and I'm on the Newton bandwagon this year...for now at least!

300 wins for Coach Lee
Minster boys basketball coach Mike Lee racked up his 300th career victory on Thursday night with a 71-39 win over Bradford. He's coached the Wildcats for 22 seasons now and always ran a first-class program in my opinion. Before this week I had never met Coach Lee, but always respected him from afar. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike on Fish Report LIVE! this week and my opinion of him was confirmed. While the interview only lasted five minutes, I could have easily talked to him for 30 minutes. When asked to name a couple memorable games over the last 22 years, Coach Lee eluded to his first game against former Marion Local coach Jack Albers, a big regional tournament victory over Jackson Center, and his 2005 state team. Minster, like many MAC schools, has a lot of things to be proud of...and a boys basketball coach with 300 victories is one of them!

Another 1000 point club inductee
It was just a couple weeks ago when Russia added a new 1000 point scorer to their record books with senior Kylie Wilson. Kylie became the 7th girl in school history and the first since Anita Bulcher in 2005 to join the 1000 point club for the Raiders. This Friday Russia should have another inductee. Kylie's classmate Nolan Francis is 14 points from the milestone and should no doubt hit the mark as his #1-seed Raiders open tournament play. When Nolan scores his 1000th he will become the 6th boy at Russia to do it and the first since Brent Pleiman in 2006. Quite an accomplishment considering all the factors that go into scoring 1000 points. Raider fans will want to savor this rare moment in boys basketball history...with the log jam of talent they currently have, it may be a while before it happens again!

Nolan driving in for two of his 20 points against St. Henry