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Olympic medalists, Kovac’s rise to MVP head top 20 list

Two local products who went on to win Olympic medals in 2012 head The Press’ list of top 20 sports events of 2012.

Oak Harbor native Jacob Wukie, 26, competing alongside teammates Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski, earned a silver medal for the United States in the archery team competition, falling to Italy by a point, 219-218. It was the first medal the U.S. won in London.

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Jacob Wukie

Zena Cole of Oregon returned home from a month in London where she won a bronze medal in the Paralympic Games and set a new American record for the discus throw for a quadriplegic.

Cole, the oldest member of the American team at 55, broke her own Americas record for her class with a throw of 5.25 meters (18.04 feet). Twenty six year-old Josie Pearson of Australia won gold with a throw of 6.58 meters.

Here are the best of the rest from 2012, with an even longer list at www.presspublications.com/sports.

2. University of Michigan senior safety Jordan Kovacs (Clay), a former walk-on, was named the Wolverine’s MVP in voting among his teammates. Kovacs, a 2012 All-Big Ten second team choice, started 45 of 49 career games and has 331 tackles, 26 for losses, seven sacks, five interceptions, six forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered. Kovacs' 331 career tackles rank 12th in UM history, while his six forced fumbles rank tied for third.

3. University of Findlay senior Derrick Vicars (Genoa) won the NCAA Division II national shot put title. Vicars’ winning throw of 62-10 came on his second attempt in the finals. He won the NCAA D-II national discus title two years earlier.

4. Florida State’s 6-foot-3 forward Natasha Howard (Waite) is named to pre-season Naismith and Wooden watch lists for 2012-13. Howard led the Atlantic Coast Conference in double-doubles (12) a year ago and averaged a league best 9.4 boards in 16 games. She was named to the All-ACC third team and the ACC All-Defensive squad. 

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Zena Cole

5. “Gibsonburg,” an independent film chronicling the Golden Bears baseball team’s run to the 2005 Division IV state championship, finished post production on March 1. It shows at the Dances With Films film festival at the Hollywood Chinese Theater, formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and the 2012 Ohio Independent Film Festival at the Beachwood Ballroom in Cleveland’s historic Waterloo Arts District.

6. Penn State football coaching controversy hits home, Genoa’s Air America Aerial Ads LLC gets national press after a client contracts to have them carry a banner urging the college to take down a statue depicting long time coach Joe Paterno. Less than a week later, the statue came down. A few weeks later, Oregon native and All-MAC lineman Eric Herman relishes in Ohio University’s win over Penn State.

7. Clay qualifies seven wrestlers to state and six place, including state runner-up Garrett Gray (285), as the team finishes fifth in Division I. Gray finished with 125 career victories after posting a 44-7 record his senior year and was the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Most Outstanding Wrestler,

8. School records are shattered in prep football. Lake sophomore quarterback Jared Rettig, a first team Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press selection, threw for 602 yards against Elmwood. This season, Rettig threw for 2,838 yards, completing 176 of 278 passes (63.3 percent) with 32 touchdowns, even though he missed at least one game because of an injury.

Meanwhile, Genoa senior running back Kyle Nutter rushed for 2,058 yards (5,835 career) in 230 attempts (8.9 yards per carry) and 34 touchdowns while repeating as All-Press Offensive Player of the Year and setting multiple school records. Northwood six-foot, 243 pound senior linebacker Nick Whitmore repeats as All-Press Defensive POY. Genoa and Northwood both win their league and qualify for playoffs. Oak Harbor senior running back Mark Konieczny also set a school career rushing mark, one of his five school records.

9. Three Ottawa County wrestlers, Kent State freshman Ian Miller (Oak Harbor), junior Keith Witt (Oak Harbor), and Ohio University redshirt senior wrestler Nick Purdue (Genoa), win Mid-American Conference championships, and all qualify for the NCAA along with Ohio State redshirt junior Cody “C.J.” Magrum (Oak Harbor).

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Jordan Kovacs

10. Three talented divers place at state. Lake senior diver Samantha TenEyck places third at the state D-II meet, Genoa junior Bailey Dipman places fifth in D-II, and Clay junior Megan Siford places 13th in D-I.

11. Woodmore senior golfer Mikayla Baer competed in her third state girls’ golf tournament at Ohio State University’s Gray Course, and she brought home another all-state honor after finishing in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Division II event. She shot 36-41—77 on the first day and 37-42—79 on the second day for a 156 total.

11. The Clay gymnastics team made its second straight trip to the state meet, finishing eighth. Kylee Ault, Clay’s lone senior, was joined by sophomore Jody Demeo in being selcted first team All-Ohio. It was Ault’s third trip to state as an individual. Other team members were Emilie Roman, Erin Gyurke, Amtheyst Floyd, Sierra Watson, and Sydney McGath. The Eagles are coached by Nick Distel.

13. Oak Harbor senior Ashley LaFountain earned second team All-Ohio honors after qualifying for her fourth trip to the state tennis meet. She was undefeated during the regular season and set a school record for career wins.

14. Clay junior Erin Gyurke makes return trip to the D-I state cross country meet and finishes eighth with a time of 18:10.77. Also qualifying for state from Clay in D-I were sisters Haley and Hannah Hess, and in D-II Maddie Jackson (Eastwood) and Carly Gose (Genoa).

15. Genoa area resident Derich Weiland plays role as wide receiver, defensive back, and kick returner in Central Catholic’s D-II state football championship. He was first team All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference at all three positions and led the Fighting Irish in receiving.

16. Oregon native Ashley Frazier (Central Catholic) sets new volleyball records at the University of Kentucky. A two-time All-Southeast Conference selection, Frazier became the 15th player in UK history to amass 1,000 career kills on Sept. 23. She currently leads the Wildcats in kills for the season and charted a career-high 20 at No. 1 Nebraska earlier this season.

17. Four local residents were way too young when they passed away; affecting Eastwood, Clay, and Genoa sports programs. Clay hockey player Cody Van Hersett, a 16-year-old sophomore forward, was killed when a 78-year-old tractor trailer driver named Lyle Schmidt turned into his path on Navarre Avenue.

Gary Nachtrab, who passed away from colon cancer at age 52, was part of a core group of parents and coaches who helped turn the Eastwood wrestling program into a Suburban Lakes League power and a major player at the D-II level in Ohio. He was behind the creation of the Eagle Wrestling Club, a non-profit offseason biddy travel program.

Mitch Aring, 30, died when the vehicle he was riding in, driven by Matthew Nissen, went off the road and struck a tree in Wood County’s Bloom Township. After wrestling at Eastwood, Aring earned a scholarship to the University of Findlay, where he wrestled at 125 pounds, won multiple conference championships, and was an NCAA tournament qualifier. He had just begun as an assistant under first-year head coach Ralph Cubberly at Clay.

Ryan McDaniel, born April 26, 1976, played baseball at Genoa and Ashland before becoming an assistant coach at Tiffin University. He lost his battle with cancer on August 15, 2011, but the Genoa Little League felt it important to honor Ryan by emblazoning his familiar No. 25 on every one of their players' uniforms during the 2012 season.

18. J.D. Bergman (Oak Harbor) and East Toledo native Shawn Contos wrestle at U.S. Olympic Trials, but fall short of making the American team. Track and field thrower Justin Welch (Eastwood) also just misses qualifying for U.S. Team at the Olympic trials.

19. NCAA Division I wrestling teams hold matches at local high schools — Central Michigan and Purdue wrestle in front of a packed house at Clay High School. In 2012, it is announced that No. 5 ranked Ohio State will wrestle Illinois in a Big Ten match at Oak Harbor High School on Feb. 1, 2013.

20. Clay female hockey senior goaltender Alyssa Batch is featured on MTV reality show, “Made,” which is in its 11th season. The episode aired Jan. 31.

21. Gary Tscherne, 53, who lives in Oregon, shot his first hole-in-one – technically a double eagle – on May 15 at Stephens Park Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. Tscherne used a driver to ace the 365 yd., par four 13th hole.

22. Lake celebrates 40 years of hockey by hosting an alumni game at the Huntington Center. Hockey had been sustained as a varsity program for 35 years at Lake until scholastic budget cuts claimed the program as one of its victims following the 2006-07 year. It continues today as a club team today.

23. Walsh University inducted former running back Derek Besgrove (Clay), into the school’s Athletic Wall of Fame. Besgrove, who stood 6-foot-2, 214 pounds during his playing days, was at Walsh from 2000-03. He carried the football to the Walsh and NAIA record books in a sensational four-year career. 

24. Towering in at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds and possessing all of the abilities to flush a basketball with authority, University of Toledo sophomore center (now a junior on team) Richard Wonnell (Genoa) begins playing a key role with the Rockets, including starting some games.

25. Elmore resident and Woodmore High School student Kathy Reynolds wins her third USA Karate Elite Champions Cup Title on June 10 in Pittsburgh.  This tournament follows a two-day Intensive Training Camp run by USA Karate National team coaches. The camp is attended by USA Karate’s Top athletes as they focus their training on the USA Team Trials and National Championships.

26. Twenty eight-year-old, 6-foot-3, 220 pound left-handed pitcher Justin Thomas (Clay/Youngstown State) makes his first Major League Baseball opening day roster in his seventh year of professional baseball with the Boston Red Sox.

27. After several years of taking second and third place at national and world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, 2002 Woodmore graduate Matt Garber took first place at the 2012 Pan Am Championships Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament held in Irvine, Calif. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Garber competed in the purple belt adult ultra heavyweight division (225 and up).

28. The Ohio Elite All Stars of Kid’s World Gymnastics and Cheerleading in Millbury has national bragging rights. The senior co-ed level three cheer team won the senior level three division at the Greater Midwest Cheer Expo’s Open National Championships in Dayton. The team racked up a cumulative score of 88.2 out of 100 points, beating the second place team by more than six points.

29. After a very long 13-hour show at the Fulton County Fairgrounds, the Lake equestrian team came home with their third straight state championship. The team is Ashley Landers with her horse named Pete, Ellen Johns with Oakley, Alissa Knieriem with Bristol, Rhianna Reaume with Dance, Lauren Nissen with Alex, Taylor Barndt with Sassy and Kylee Smith with Lola.

30. Genoa sophomore place kicker Cody Pickard sets state record with six field goals in one game. Pickard, a first team All-Press kicker and punter, Pickard finished third among 10 area schools in scoring with 12 field goals, 57 extra points, and one touchdown — good for 99 points after the 10-game regular season.

$15 Hourly wage

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