In their four years at Oak Harbor High School, Mark Konieczny, A.J. Cecil and Austin Wiegand certainly left an imprint within the athletic department.
From 2009-13, the senior trio helped to rebuild the basketball program, return the football team to prominence and lead the baseball team to a its first league title in 20 years while getting to within one game of the state tournament.
Konieczny, who will be attending Ohio State University in the fall, was the star running back on the football team for two seasons and lettered four times as a baseball player, leaving as one of the best players in the program's history.
|Oak Harbor senior running back Mark Konieczny(22) heads downfield
with offensive lineman Nate Segaard(70) blocking against Genoa.
(Press file photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.smugmug.com)
The starting running back for two seasons, Konieczny holds five school records, including) rushing yards in a career (3,405), single-season rushing yards (1,881), single-game rushing yards (307), single-game touchdowns (5) and yards-per-carry average for a season (7.3).
During his three years on the varsity football squad, the Rockets went 20-10 and finished second in the Sandusky Bay Conference twice after going 6-14 in the two years prior. For his efforts, Konieczny was a unanimous All-SBC selection during his junior and senior seasons. Despite being a successful prep gridiron player, Konieczny initially didn't have much interest in the sport at a younger age.
“My dad always told me that football was fun and I was always on the edge of playing. I finally went out for the team in seventh grade. I didn't want to go but Dad encouraged me to go to practice and I scored two touchdowns so I started to like it. And then I convinced A.J. to come out for conditioning in eighth grade,” Konieczny said.
Konieczny was just as good, if not better, at baseball. He was a first-team All-SBC selection twice and hit .437 with a .562 on-base percentage this season, following an even more impressive season last year (.489 BA, .718 OBP). His season came as a freshman when he hit .293 and he never had a season with an on-base percentage of less than .487.
Konieczny says his sister Julia, a standout in softball and tennis, had a great deal of influence on him. Julia's success in athletics, specifically softball, served as a motivating force.
“I think (playing sports in the backyard) was probably a majority of the reason I got into (sports),” Konieczny said. “Dad would take (Julia and I) out in the backyard every night — we were always very active playing baseball. I don't think he played baseball, but he would read books and learn techniques and skills needed to be taught and then he would teach them to us. He had drills and all kinds of crap we had to do. Having Julia around was important because we would always manage to somehow play one-on-one baseball games.”
Probably his best accomplishment came with the baseball team came in 2011 when the “Cardiac” Rockets, after struggling to a 9-8 record in the regular season, won five straight games in the Division II tournament, the last four of which came in their final at bat. The group, which consisted of star players like Joey and Brian Mallernee, Phil Bryant and Cecil, went on an incredible run that saw them fall in the regional final to Parma Heights Holy Name, 9-4. Konieczny served as the leadoff hitter on the team, played shortstop and pitched very well out of the bullpen during the postseason run.
“There were a lot of guys that helped the team and did the same stuff I did,” Konieczny said modestly. “I think a lot of it was us coming together as a team during the regional run. With the league title, we started off playing together as a team in the beginning. (The guys) worked hard for four years and it all paid off.”
Cecil heading to John Carroll
Cecil, who will be playing baseball at John Carroll Univeresity next year, was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. In football, he was a second-team selection as both a wide receiver and a defensive back this season, as well as being a second-team pick in basketball. This season, he caught 31 passes for 634 yards (20.5 per-catch), setting the school record for receiving yards in a season. A two-year starter at wide receiver and cornerback, Cecil earned three letters and was one of the best receivers in the program's history.
A three-year letter winner in basketball, Cecil started for two years as a shooting guard and averaged 12.8 points this year, second on the team to Greg Haar. He helped the Rockets improve from a 3-18 mark the previous year to 11-12 this season before they lost in heartbreaking fashion, 50-47, to Clyde in the sectional tournament. The Rockets went 7-7 in the SBC, good enough to finish fourth in the league. In fact, it was the first time in seven years that the team hadn't finished last or second-to-last in the league.
But it's baseball where he was most effective, also, earning first-team All-SBC honors in all four years, a feat few accomplish. He never hit worse than .355 and was over the .400 mark the last three years (.400, .435, .414) while maintaining an on-base percentage of at least .520 in the last three seasons.
Wiegand unsung hero
As for Wiegand, he was the unsung hero of the group, rarely receiving any of the accolades while still serving as an important member of the football and basketball squads.
Football is where he stood out, earning three varsity letters as a wide receiver and quarterback. During his junior year, he set the school's single-season record for receptions with 34 while helping Oak Harbor to a 6-4 record. But it was his senior year at quarterback where he was most effective, completing 50-of-86 passes for 866 yards with 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
A dual threat because of his athleticism, Wiegand was also a good runner, rushing for 362 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, his talents were never fully utilized as a receiver or quarterback because the Rockets employed an offense that was so focused on running the ball.
In basketball, Wiegand started for two years at forward, lettered three times and was instrumental in helping to turn the program around under head coach Eric Sweet. This season, he sacrificed for the good of the team by moving from small forward to power forward to help make up for the absence of some key players. The move cause Wiegand, normally a wing, to play against some of the taller post players in the league, but he managed to hold his own as Oak Harbor's defense became a force to be reckoned with.
Wiegand, who graduated as the class salutatorian and will be attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio this fall, spoke about the camaraderie of his teammates and how that helped them to work so well together.
“It was great to play with all of those guys,” Wiegand said. “We all got along so well and were great friends. All of us worked together to try and do some great things and I'm proud of what we accomplished.”