As the 2019 spring sports season was wrapping up for area high schools late in May, a number of athletes were selected to all-league, all-county and all-Ohio teams.
Olmsted Falls head coach Todd Urban and senior pitcher Teddy Grendzynski were named the Southwestern Conference Coach of the Year and Most Valuable Player, respectively, after the Bulldogs won the league. Overall, they had four players make All-SWC first and second team.
North Ridgeville, which overcame an 0-4 start to finish 14-12, had four players make first and second team All-SWC, while head coach Matt Ponting was named All-Lorain County Coach of the Year in Division I. Ryan Calvert was named to the All-SWC and All-Lorain County first team, while Cade Riley (All-SWC) and Mikey Richmond (All-Lorain) were also first-teamers.
The Rangers’ resilience stuck out most to Ponting, who attributed his Coach of the Year award to his players. This season marked the first time since 2007 that the Rangers posted a record above .500.
“At that point (starting 0-4), we as a team just committed to showing up every day and working hard and playing for each other,” Ponting said. “We were able to go 14-8 from that point. It just showed the true character of the guys to be in a tough situation and fight their way out of it.”
Elyria senior Noah France was named All-Lorain County Player of the Year for Div. I.
Local All-SWC first-teamers included Ryan Shinko of Avon Lake, Clay Rainey and Travis Vitaz of North Olmsted, Josh Rattay of Avon, Jack Spellacy and Zach Vas of Olmsted Falls and Jared Yocabet of Lakewood. Shinko joined Avon teammates Rattay and Nate Brooks on the All-Lorain Div. I first team.
In its final season, the Patriot Athletic Conference also announced its all-league awards, with the Lutheran West trio of Jake Albrecht, John Smolik and Ryan Szczepinski making first team All-Stripes Division. Fairview’s Timmy Hollander and Jeremy Sassano made second team. In the Stars Division, Brookside’s Mason Besserer made second team.
Locally, coaches were in agreement in their voting, as Avon coach Ken Matuszak was named SWC and Lorain County Div. I Coach of the Year following the Eagles’ run to Districts. Ashlee Torbert made first team for both, as well.
The Eagles, who finished second to Amherst in the SWC this season, ended the year in wild fashion, losing 4-3 in a District semifinal to Elyria on a controversial call. While the disappointment could’ve lingered, Matuszak’s team rebounded almost immediately.
“What will stick with me forever will be how our coaches, players and fans handled that situation,” he said. “We handled it with the utmost sportsmanship and character. We were disappointed but played with heart and character the very next day against Avon Lake.”
The Eagles beat the Shoregals in five innings, 16-0, and closed their regular season on a high note.
“I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of athletes than I was that day,” Matuszak said. “Many teams would’ve folded or gave up because they felt like they were slighted (in the District game), but the players gave their very best only 24 hours after the loss to Elyria.”
Matuszak shared SWC Coach of the Year honors with Amherst’s Lacey Reichert, who helmed an SWC champion for the fourth straight season. Her top pitcher, Madison O’Berg, was named SWC Most Valuable Player, as well as Lorain County Div. I Pitcher of the Year.
North Ridgeville, which lost to Amherst in a District final, had multiple SWC and Lorain County first-teamers in Katie Barnhart, Daylan Baker and Rachel Mease. Anna Lengel made All-Lorain second team.
The All-SWC first team also included Brynn Longo and Ashley Zgodzinski of Olmsted Falls, Stephanie Randar of Westlake and Jessie Varnis of North Olmsted. Brookside’s Leah Musall and Hanna Begany were named to the All-Lorain County first team for Div. III and IV.
In the PAC, Brookside’s Ken Collins was named Stars Division Coach of the Year, while Musall made first team. Lutheran West’s Bella DiCicco, Kristen Zak and Lauryn Leslie, as well as Fairview’s Angelina Lopez and Elizabeth Williams were named first team All-Stripes.
TRACK AND FIELD
In mid-May, the SWC announced its top track and field performers, determined by a combination of coach voting and league meet performance.
In boys competition, Westlake senior Kevin Walls was named SWC Most Valuable Player following first place finishes in four events at the league meet in Amherst. Avon junior Joe Svec was named Field Athlete of the Year after winning the shot put and discus.
For the girls, Avon sophomore Molly Radcliffe was named Field Athlete of the Year after winning the shot put and discus, while Eagles head coach Sam Ulery, who oversaw the eventual SWC team champions, earned Coach of the Year honors.
Last week, several local athletes were named to the All-Ohio team for lacrosse, headlined by Div. II Coach of the Year Bobby Perez of Rocky River.
Bay’s Jamie O’Leary and Rocky River’s Blade Cintron were named to the second team, while Cameron Shank (Bay) and Brandon Hohman (Westlake) made third team. Avon’s Joey Allen and River’s Charlie Hudson were honorable mentions.
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