Friday, December 29, 2017

Fish Report's 2017 Year in Pictures

As we usher in a new year this weekend, Fish Report looks back on the year that was. While some of the pictures below were taken through my lens, most belong to other talented photographers that regularly filled the pages of Fish Report over the past 12 months. We saw triumph, heartbreak and even some humor in 2017. I hope you enjoy the memories below and here's to many more in 2018.


The 2016-17 Russia boys basketball team said farewell to their long-standing appearance in the Piqua Holiday Tournament with another championship. 

We doctored some photos for our cover shot of the two hottest shooters in the SCAL. Seniors Nathan Lessing of Fairlawn averaged 28.1 points and Botkins' Luke Bergman was next best at 23.0. 

One neat thing about small town basketball is playing with family and against family. So was the case with first cousins Laurissa Poling of Russia and Danielle Winner of Versailles.

Shelby County's all-time career scoring record of 1,834 points held by Tom Brandewie of Ft. Loramie since 1989 was finally broken by Nathan Lessing of Fairlawn


The Ft. Loramie girls ran into a buzzsaw against their league rivals from Russia. The Raiders won the regular season matchups and later beat the Redskins in tournament for their first 3-game sweep in perhaps forever.

There was no better atmosphere in high school basketball than the Clair C. Naveau Gymnasium at Russia on a Friday night.

Michigan State canned 10 three-pointers to beat the Ohio State in East Lansing 74-66, including one by Versailles alum Kyle Ahrens. 


Russia hosted the CYO State Basketball Tournament and the St. Remy Wildcats were awarded the lone David Anthony Vinson Sportsmanship Award.

Jackson Center used a patient offense that averaged just 38 points per game in March to knock off state-ranked teams Tri-Village and Minster at the regional tournament. The Lady Tigers would eventually fall in the state semis to Waterford by a score of 37-35.

The Versailles girls basketball program, winners of two previous state titles, fell in the Division III state championship game to Gates Mills Gilmour Academy 56-54 as the Lancers won it all for the first time in school history.


Russia senior Maria Herron, who broke 13 school records in softball and was recognized on numerous occasions at the local and state level, announced her decision to play at Otterbein.

Tri-Village alum Clayton Murphy became the best 800 meter runner in the world after blasting Ferguson Rotich of Kenya over the final 100 meters to anchor the United States to 4×800 gold at the World Relays in The Bahamas.

Ft. Loramie's 4x800 relay team of Alan Holdheide, Tom Ballas, Joe Ballas and Jake Rethman won in thrilling fashion against a loaded Division I field at the Wayne Invitational. The boys were unbeatable all season until the season-ending state meet in June when they finished third.


Sam Prakel of Versailles anchored Oregon to victories at the prestigious Penn Relays in two distance events and was awarded the male collegiate relay performer of the meet.

Russia softball was all smiles after shortstop Lexi Monnin ended a Bradford rally with an inning-ending highlight and the Raiders won a sectional semifinal game 4-2. 

Jared Hoying of Ft. Loramie had a career night for the Texas Rangers when he went 4-for-4 with two singles, a double and belted his first big league homer. 

In case their was any doubt, the Covington girls track & field team defended their 2016 district championship with yet another one in 2017.


Unranked Russia baseball knocked off state-ranked #2 Lehman, #3 Newton, #18 Ft. Loramie, #21 Newark Catholic and #27 Dalton in route to the state championship game. The Raiders finally fell against #8 Minster with two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning after the Wildcats hit a walk-off single to win 2-1.

Seniors Shae Goubeaux of Russia and Breanna Schulze of St. Henry epitomized sportsmanship and six years of competition against one another as they hugged before their final race at the state championships.

Covington alum and Akron junior Jackie Siefring earned the title of First-Team All-American competing in the Heptathlon at the NCAA Women's Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.


Minster running coach and former Michigan All-American Molly Watcke proved she still has what it takes finishing 2nd-place in the Master's Division at the Atlanta Journal Constitution Peachtree Road Race, a 10K that attracts over 55,000 runners.

After months of speculation and being drafted in the 19th round by the Cincinnati Reds in June, Celina alum Seth Lonsway announced he would honor his commitment to play for Ohio State.

Summer softball tournaments made memories for lots of young girls, including this Russia 12U team who won it all at the Minster Classic.

The tennis courts in the Village of Russia that saw little use for years came alive again with the introduction of Pickle Ball.


Summer little league baseball ended with Russia's 12U winning the Dylan Williams Invitational. In an emotional trophy presentation, the Williams family presented Russia with an Automated External Defibrillator in memory of their son Dylan, who would have been 12 years old this year.

The annual Ft. Loramie Alumni Softball Tournament was won by the oldest team in the tournament.

A week later, the annual Russia Alumni Softball Tournament was won by the Classes of 2005 & 2006.

Doug Borchers of Russia and president of Superior Aluminum Products was surprised by employees when he learned he would be throwing out first pitch on Superior Aluminum night at the Fifth Third Field.


Russia volleyball beat Anna in an early season five-set thriller that would set the tone for an exciting league race. In the end, Anna won the county title by one game over both Russia and Ft. Loramie who tied for second.

During a night cross country race at Centerville High School, Troy senior Morgan Gigandet battled from second place to beat the #1 ranked girl in the nation, Anne Forsythe of Ann Harbor, Michigan. Morgan's 22 second victory and time of 17:06 was the 5th fastest time in the country.

A group of Russia friends bonded while taking on the Philadelphia Half Marathon.


The Anna girls soccer team rolled to a 17-0 record before battling Lehman in the district final. The Rockets played without their starting goalie and lost to the Cavaliers 4-0.

Opposing volleyball coaches were quoted as saying New Bremen senior Paige Jones was the best player they had faced all season. Paige would lead the Lady Cardinals to their first state championship in school history.    

For the sixth consecutive year Russia girls cross country advanced to the state meet, extending their streak as the longest current Division III team in Southwest Ohio.

Russia Local School celebrated academic success with an aerial photo of the entire student body K-12.


Minster girls cross country added another chapter to Ohio history with their 11th state title. No program, girls or boys, in any division matches their excellence.

After finishing 3rd-place in the Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball standings, Versailles brought home the state trophy in Division III.

Dion Puthoff of Russia and Jon Niemeyer of Minster were honored by The Musial Awards in St. Louis for their story of sportsmanship at the state baseball tournament.

Teammates and brothers Ethan and Eli Wolf of Minster would play for the last time on the same field at the University of Tennessee.

Unlike anything the Village of Ansonia had seen before, thousands of patrons traveled to the Whistle Stop all year long for their weekly Queen of Hearts drawing. 


Marion Local continued their amazing dominance in football and won their 10th state title since the year 2000.

A new season of Russia girls basketball meant a new look for the team, but one thing remained constant - outstanding school spirit from the students.

Minster's 14-year old Jackson Hogenkamp was adopted by the Miami Redhawks basketball team while battling a rare form of cancer, and smiled when he got his own locker.

Seasons come and go, players eventually graduate, but Shelby County basketball will always be worth a trip to the gym.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Avoiding Senioritis - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Avoiding Senioritis

Ok, Fish Report readers, this blog is aimed at you seniors in high school out there rather than the old time seniors that typically read my blog. The subject is senioritis; the ailment that has afflicted many high school seniors for generations.

Check out this link for an entertaining music video about senioritis. There’s a hilarious movie about several students with senioritis called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s a classic and definitely one of my favorites.

Senioritis happened to me way back when, so perhaps if I share my story you won’t repeat my mistakes.

As the lone senior starter on Ft. Loramie’s basketball team back in the mid ’60’s, we began the season with two quick losses against Botkins and Anna, but quickly recovered and won all of our games up until the Christmas break, including a win over league-leading Jackson Center and overtime wins against Minster and Holy Angels. We participated in a Holiday tournament, winning the first game and losing to Triad in the finals by 2. Had I not traveled on a breakaway dunk as documented in this previous blog, we might have won. The underclassmen starters were really coming around, especially junior point guard Mike Ernst, #34 below, who could dribble, drive, dish off, shoot and play defense like Stephen Curry.


So all was going great, until the Christmas break that is. Back in those days, an annual Christmas dance was held at Lindhaus Park near Newport. Plus, there was a New Years Eve dance at the Loramie Legion. Senioritis kicked in big time starting with those two events. At both dances, my fellow seniors, who as you recall, weren’t basketball players, snuck in some sloe gin that when mixed with a cola tasted just like a Cherry Coke, a favorite of mine that I always ordered at Frisch’s.


Needless to say, I broke training and once we started practicing again after the first of the year, I was out of shape and had lost a step or two. As a senior leader on the team, I blew it big time. We ended up losing 4 games out of 5 in January, including the first game to Anna 68-112! You read that right, a gigantic blowout. I fouled out in the 3rd quarter with two points. I totally lost my focus, which subsequently lead to injuries like a sprained ankle, stowed thumb, elbow to the eye requiring stitches and a busted front tooth from accidentally butting heads with a fellow teammate during practice. And the same was occurring in the classroom. Because I had enough credits to graduate, I ended up taking classes like typing and mechanical drawing with a bunch of freshmen students. I was cruising to graduation without a care in the world!

For all you Senior scholar athletes out there, tread carefully this holiday season. Get off your high horse and buckle down. Make a new years resolution to not lose focus and break training like I did, causing one of the few regrets in my life.

Happy New Year to all Fish Report readers!

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