Thursday, October 27, 2016

Regional Cross Country Preview...

The OHSAA Southwest Regional Cross Country Championships in Troy are always exciting

I have great news if you haven't been to a single high school cross country meet all season. You can see the best races of the year this Saturday at the Southwest Regional in Troy. I would know because I've been watching cross country for 30 years and I say the same thing every October! My biggest interest lies in Division-III where plenty of local schools will be represented by both teams and individual competitors. For me, there's nothing quite like watching small-town athletes run until exhaustion turns their legs into spaghetti, all for the chance to make it to state and represent their school. If you're hesitant to make the short trip to Troy because you don't know anything about cross country, below is your guide to the D-III races:

Ft. Loramie is state-ranked #3 and will be aiming for a regional championship on Saturday

Starting Time: 11:00
Record: 15:32.7, Sam Prakel, Versailles, 2011
14 Teams, 19 Individuals =117 runners from 29 schools
Advancing to State: Top 4 teams and Top 16 individuals minus team results

The southwest region hasn't produced a D-III boy's state championship team since 1995 when Anna coach Dean Stewart's Rockets brought home the title. Is this the year for the Troy Regional? Coach Stewart has another good team this season. His star is senior Lucas Huber who finished runner-up at last Saturday's southwest district meet in Cedarville and led Anna to a second place finish in the team results. The actual district winner was Ft. Loramie, currently ranked #3 in the state coaches poll. The Redskins will be aiming to avenge their 10-point loss to Anna at last year's regional meet and further prove their 5th-place finish at the state meet was no fluke. I think Coach Dennis Prenger has all the ingredients for big performances these next two Saturdays. Not only are his boys extremely fast, but I've observed complete humbleness from top five runners Jake Rethman, Joe Ballas, Tom Ballas, Noah Siegel and Alan Holdheide in the several races I've watched this year. I suspect the Redskins will take care of business in Troy and put the traditionally dominant region of northeast Ohio on alert for the following weekend.

As far as the individual race winner goes, I look for another strong performance from Bethel's Korry Hamlin, just a junior. Korry is a multi-sport athlete that has forever split his time in the fall between cross country and soccer, and not always in that order! Korry won the southwest district race at Cedarville last week in 16:26 and will get his biggest challenge from Chase Gardner of Seven Hills who also ran a 16:26 to win the West Chester district. Another notable contender includes Ryan Estes of Clark Montessori who finished runner-up at West Chester in 16:28.

Fish Report Predictions
State Bound Teams: Ft. Loramie, Anna, Summit Country Day, Clark Montessori
Bubble Team: National Trail
State Bound Locals: Korry Hamlin, Bethel; Cole Good, Franklin-Monroe; Nick Williams, West Liberty-Salem; Austin Fullenkamp, Botkins; Gavin Horne, Miami East; Tristin Freistuhler, Houston

Covington won the Southwest District at Cedarville and are slight favorites coming into Troy

Starting Time: 1:30
Record: 17:51.6, Sunni Olding, Minster, 2003
12 Teams, 16 Individuals =100 runners from 25 schools
Advancing to State: Top 4 teams and Top 16 individuals minus team results

Get ready for a good one folks. Who wins the girl's race is a toss-up in my opinion. Russia is riding an amazing streak of three consecutive regional championships and last year edged Covington by just six points for the title. The Lady Raiders have been led by three different girls this season in senior Audrey Gariety, junior Megan Frazier and sophomore Anna Fiessinger. Other top five runners include senior Shae Goubeaux and sophomore Claire Meyer who both have experience from Russia's run to the state meet last year. However, the Covington girls come into this weekend as slight favorites after beating Russia by ten points just a week ago at the district meet in Cedarville. The Lady Buccs have a definite leader in senior Anna Dunn who finished 5th overall in that race and would likely enjoy nothing more than one regional championship before she ends her career. Close behind Anna is a young group of teammates that includes sophomores Paige Boehringer and Ashlyn Plessinger, and rounding out the top five are juniors Kelsey Dysinger and Danielle Alexander.

Individuals competing for the race winner is highlighted by Bradford sophomore star Karmen Knepp. Karmen won last Saturday's Cedarville district by two seconds in 18:58, out-kicking Springfield Catholic Central freshman Addy Engel. Addy does double-duty as a runner and soccer player, and actually played in Catholic Central's tournament game later on Saturday night. Those two should go at it again this Saturday and I expect no competition from other individuals from the Cedarville district or the West Chester district where the top finisher won in 20:35.

Fish Report Predictions
State Bound Teams: Russia, Covington, Ft. Loramie, West Liberty
Bubble Team: Miami East
State Bound Locals: Karmen Knepp, Bradford; Lorenza Savini, Miami East; Marcy Bradshaw, Arcanum; Marie Ewing, Miami East; Lindsey Yingst, Miami East; Alanna O'Leary, Lehman

Note: If you're a Russia fan like I am, you're invited to the annual Raiders pre-race/post-race tailgate party. Just look for the largest camper in the Troy Memorial Stadium parking lot with lots of fans dressed in Blue & Gold. A large pot will be cooking chicken noodle soup to be served between the boys race at 11:00 am and the girls race at 1:30 pm. Feel free to bring your own chicken noodle soup to add to the pot or whatever else you like! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Indians in the World Series - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Indians in the World Series
(This blog is dedicated to my brother-in-law Fred)

One of my earliest recollections about major league baseball was as a six year old in 1954 when the Indians made it to the World Series. Dad wasn’t really an Indians fan, but since his favorite team, the Reds, were habitual cellar dwellers during the ’50’s, it was easy to root for a winner. In fact, Dad would always say that sports team allegiances in our area of mid-western Ohio seemed to flow with the water. In other words, if the land drained to the Ohio River, like our farm, you rooted for the Reds. But if it flowed north to Lake Erie, you were an Indians fan. Since the watershed was just three farms north of our place, Dad (and I) tended to root for whichever team was winning. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948, the year I was born, so here’s hoping they can finally do it again. About half as long as the Cubs drought, but whose counting!

Quoting from Wikipedia, "1954 was the winningest season in franchise history, when the Indians finished the season with a record of 111–43 (.721). That mark set an American League record for wins which stood for 44 years until the Yankees won 114 games in 1998 (a 162-game regular season). The Indians 1954 winning percentage of .721 is still an American League record. The Indians were a powerhouse team composed of Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Minnie Miñoso, Luke Easter, Bobby Ávila, Al Rosen, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Vic Wertz and Mike Garcia, many of whom are now Hall of Famers. I had many of their baseball cards at the time, but this previous blog post referenced the demise of those priceless gems by my younger brother after I left for college!

More from Wikipedia: The ’54 Indians made it to the World Series to face the New York Giants. The team could not bring home the title, however, ultimately being upset by the Giants in a sweep. The series was notable for Willie Mays' over-the-shoulder catch off the bat of Vic Wertz in Game 1”.

A little know fact about the Indians is that the team originated in Michigan as a minor league team in 1894 as the Grand Rapids Rustlers, moving to Cleveland in 1900.

Get inspired for a big Indians World Series win with this Wild Thing video.

Go Tribe!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Follow-up to Recent Blogs - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Follow-up to Recent Blogs

My blog posts over the last couple weeks about working for our neighboring farmer back in the ’60’s caught the attention of several readers who provided some further insights into those times.

For example, my sister pointed out that our neighboring farmer, Jim Bornhorst, whom I worked for and wrote about, was inducted to the Ft. Loramie Schools Wall of Honor in 2015. Here’s the closing sentence of his induction announcement:

Jim Bornhorst has always been a “behind the scenes” kind of guy. He has a lot of good ideas and follows through on getting things accomplished. Jim has instilled his children with those same values of service and volunteerism to their communities.

Not only did he instill service and volunteerism traits to his children, his influence extended to his youthful employees like me, as I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps by similarly offering my services for the betterment of the community, having also been elected, like Jim, to our school board and local government leadership positions.

Jim Bornhorst
My story about plowing a straight furrow garnered the following note from cousin Jack Hoying, local carpenter & photographer (he’s literally a Jack-of-all-trades!), about his memories as a kid working the fields on his Dad’s farm near St. Patrick:

"The story on our farm was that the first time Dad had one of the boys start a field (I think it was a disc, not plow), Dad said "Drive straight to where that cow is standing". Well someone forgot to tell the cow to stand still, and there was a huge arcing first pass!"

The other comment came from my younger brother who shared this story from that era that he had never divulged until now, and which I vehemently deny:

"Yes, I do remember that summer. I believe it was the same time but I recall coming home from Jim’s place because I was playing with his son, Tony, a classmate of mine, and Dave picked me up after his long Saturday of painting or plowing. Rather than going right home to the farm, we went into town. For some reason, the power steering pump went out on his '62 Chevy and as we were coming out of the alley next to Gaier's garage, Dave couldn't make the turn and knocked over a stop sign. Of course he told me to keep my mouth shut and never to tell anybody so I kept that a secret until now. LOL!"

Even though this alleged incident happened 50 years ago, the fact that the stop sign was next to Gaier’s garage, which is owned by my sister’s husband, and who's son-in-law Nate is the current constable in Ft. Loramie, the case may be re-opened. I’ll have to be very careful driving through Ft. Loramie over the upcoming holidays when we visit as there may be an APB out on me!

Keep those cards and letters coming, but leave the incriminating stuff to yourselves.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Plowing a Straight Furrow - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Plowing a Straight Furrow

My Dad learned to plow as a kid from my Grandfather using a team of horses before the advent of tractors. Read this previous blog post for more about those times. My Grandfather always prided himself on being able to plow a very straight furrow even though he was born with only one hand. He passed those skills onto my Dad, who carried over that ability once he acquired his first tractor (shown below) in the ’30’s. In fact, in those days Dad even participated in plowing competitions, where a straight furrow was a must.

During the spring of my Junior year in high school, I had the opportunity to also learn the skill, although I never mastered it like my Dad or Grandfather. As described in last week’s blog a neighboring farmer, Jim, had bought a second farm of 160 acres near our farm, so I helped him prepare the land for crops that spring.

Since Jim did not plan to raise livestock on his new farm, he decided to first tear out all the fences on the property so the farm became one huge field about a half mile square as shown in the current aerial photo above, with a house and barn plus several parcels of woods tucked in the corners. After we removed the fence rows, it was my job to plow the gigantic field and prep it for planting corn and beans. I had never plowed such a long strip before, so sought Dad's advice. He said to find an appropriate landmark on the horizon, aim the centerline of the tractor at the target, start plowing, using your knees as well as your hands to hold the steering wheel rock steady on the target, and most importantly for only the first furrow, never look back to see if the furrow is straight or the plow is functioning properly, as that action tends to pull the steering wheel off line. I suppose with today’s laser guided farm equipment, such skills are now obsolete.

Well Dad’s advice worked, sort of. The first furrow was straight enough but tended to tail off at the end as my knees and hands got very tired and must have wobbled a little. Also, the furrow deviated slightly whenever I had to plow through an old fence line. Regardless, Jim commended me on the straightness of the furrow, which made my day, as well as my Dad’s when I told him. With that first furrow in place, then the monotonous and time consuming job of plowing, discing, harrowing and cultipacking the acreage was required to prepare the soil properly.

Disc, Harrow and Cultipacker

Planting the corn and beans came next, which Jim performed himself as I was making one last pass over the acreage ahead of the planter with the harrow and cultipacker to break up any remaining clods of dirt. And when it came time to load up the planter with more seed and fertilizer, I'd assist Jim. Our goal was to get the corn planted before mid-May and the beans by Memorial Day, which we just made even though rains interrupted our work several days. Whenever it rained, I was directed to head to the hog stable on his other farm and load manure into a spreader, a job I detested for obvious reasons. So did Jim; that’s why I got the assignment!

Corn Planter and Manure Spreader

This first job provided many lessons learned while also putting money in my pocket; for that I’m grateful to Jim, Dad and Grandpa.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Working Too Hard or Playing Too Hard? - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

Blog about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Working Too Hard or Playing Too Hard?

My right wrist recently flared up and naturally I tried to figure out what caused the problem. It could be my larger headed tennis racket that may strain the wrist more than my old racket. Or possibly my latest golf clubs with metal shafts rather than the more forgiving composite-shafted irons. Perhaps the cause is overuse from off-road biking. Then again, maybe it’s something out of the past like all those years throwing a baseball and softball, sliding headfirst like Pete Rose and jamming my hand into the base, or hitting my wrist real hard against the rim after the basketball slipped out during an attempted dunk. In the end, I concluded it couldn’t have been overuse from all these sports-related activities, rather it was a job injury way back in the summer of 1965 between my junior and senior years in high school while painting a neighbor’s house and barn!

Ok, so maybe that is a stretch and I should go see a doctor for a proper diagnosis, but my flawed thought process did bring back memories of that painting job. A neighboring farmer, Jim, a good friend of Dad’s, had just bought a second farm of 160 acres near our farm west of Ft. Loramie and asked my Dad if I might be available to lend a hand at the new place over the next several months. Since my younger brother was getting to the age where he could help Dad on our farm, he said yes. That meant I had landed my first real job, earning more than the $1.25 allowance money my parents gave us each week. Plus it meant my brother would finally earn his allowance! If I recall correctly, my wage was that much an hour instead of a week. But the work was tough and the hours were long!

After helping Jim get the crops planted, he directed me to paint the long neglected house and barn. He wanted to rent out the house so it needed a fresh coat of white paint. And the barn’s red paint was well worn. So starting on the house that summer, I quickly learned to paint on the side with the shade; however, Jim wanted the front of the house painted first so it looked more presentable (and rent-able) from the road. Fortunately, there was a large porch on that side of the house to provide the desired shade. After several weeks, the house was done so then I started painting the barn, which took the rest of the summer. To help cut the boredom, I rigged up an extension cord and radio for listening to the latest hits that summer; and there were many good tunes as listed below. Whenever I hear one of those oldies, to the annoyance of my wife, I sing along to every word just like in karaoke, until she’s had enough, at which time I use the opportunity to play more tennis, golfing and bike riding. Aha - another theory to explain my sore wrist!

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