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Kovacs now a Dolphin See page B-2



Clay sends team to state

November 4, 2013

R E S Sports S

Sandusky Bay Conference Most Outstanding Performer, Oak Harbor freshman midfielder Emma Barney (10) competes for control with Woodmore senior defender Grace Weirich. (Press photo by Russ Lytle)

NOVEMBER 4, 2013

See page B-3

Oak Harbor junior defender Karis DeWalt gets a steal in the Rocket’s 5-0 district final win over Woodmore. (Press photo by Russ Lytle)

Oak Harbor girls’ soccer closes in on state final four By Yaneek Smith Press Contributing Writer Finally — after advancing to the district finals in five of the previous 10 years, the Oak Harbor girls’ soccer team got over the proverbial hump with its 5-0 defeat over Woodmore to win a championship and advanced to regional play. But it didn’t end there — the run was still continuing at last look. The victory over the Wildcats, which avenged an early-season defeat to the Northern Buckeye Conference champions, came in the Division III district finals at Lake Community Stadium. The Rockets (18-11) advanced to the regional tournament for the first time in the program’s history. And with their 3-0 defeat of Continental last Tuesday, Oak Harbor (18-1-1) was now one win away from a spot in the final four heading into the weekend. The 10th ranked Rockets took on undefeated and No. 5 ranked Liberty-Benton (18-0-1) at Clyde High School Saturday for the right to go to state. The state semifinal will be Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at a site to be announced against the winner of the No. 3 Gates Mills Hawken (14-1-5)-Elyria Catholic (14-3-3) with the state championship Nov. 8 at noon at Columbus Crew Stadium. The other four teams in the elite eight were No. 6 Lynchburg-Clay (19-0-1), Middletown Bishop

Fenwick (10-5-5), No. 2 Sidney Lehman Catholic (17-1-1), and Hamilton Badin (124-4). Oak Harbor’s regional semifinal victory over the Pirates came on two goals from SBC Player of the Year Emma Barney, a freshman who has 33 goals, and another from forward Alexa Weis. Barney and Weis led the Rockets with four goals apiece in the postseason. The other Rocket wins in the tournament were a 2-0 victory over Swanton in the district semifinal and a 5-1 win over Cardinal Stritch Catholic in the sectional final. Woodmore is the only team the Rockets faced that has received votes in the state coaches poll heading into the match with L-B. “Everybody was excited,” veteran coach Renee Goldstein said. “The girls were hoping to play Woodmore again because they were upset about the loss. And moving down to Division III did make a difference – not having to play (D-II) Ontario or Clear Fork is huge because they’re amazing teams.” The run through the tournament, which has seen the Rockets win four games by a combined score of 15-1, has brought the community together. People from town have gathered in multitudes at games throughout the regular season and again now in the postseason, something Goldstein says has given the team a source of pride.

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“It’s nice to see the community come together,” Goldstein said. “It’s great having their support.” These Rockets have three top scorers in Barney, Weis and Paige Velliquette, who leads the team with 34 goals, a defense led by goalkeeper Ivy Martin, and chemistry that helps the players to maintain a cohesiveness and focus. “It was really great (to get to regionals) and I’m just so happy that we’ve made it this far,” senior co-captain Amanda Hetrick said. “I hope we can keep this going.” Hetrick said the group’s camaraderie and her role as an upperclassmen is meant to help the freshmen and sophomores feel like they’re a part of the group. “We all get along really well,” Hetrick said. “There isn’t really any conflict, and when there is, it’s taken care of. We all depend on each other and work together as a team. I think our job (as seniors) is to make the (younger players) feel comfortable. We always try to make them feel welcome and never put them down.” When it comes to team chemistry, Goldstein says this bunch has it. “This group of girls gets along so well together, they communicate so well. They’re all friends. It’s no surprise to see a senior with one of the freshman. They’re constantly interacting with each other,” Goldstein said. In all, the Rockets had three first team (Barney, Velliquette, Karis Dewalt) and

two second-team (Martin, Hetrick) AllSandusky Bay Conference selections with Weis, Maddy Rathbun, Hannah Hess, Noelle Petersen and Emily Winters earning honorable-mention status. Oak Harbor, which runs a 4-4-2 formation, has Martin in goal with Dewalt, Rathbun, Hess and Petersen playing defense. The starting midfielders are, from left to right, Winters, Hetrick, Barney and Ally Croy with Eriel Davis, Tessa Tyburski, Brittany Watkins and Addie Barton backing them up. And the starting forwards, who are Alexa Weis and Velliquette, are sometimes spelled by the likes of Nikki Weis, Miki Blunt, Mackenzie Auger and Emily Kamann, some of whom have also seen action at midfield. Despite having a loaded freshman class, the Rockets had to replace a number of key players like Amber Burnette and Makayla Carpenter, their top two scorers last year, and Jordan Giesler, Sidney Allen, Sydney Street, Kelsey Lacer and Erin Bryant — five of whom were starters last season. Goldstein credits her three seniors, Hetrick, Hess and Nikki Weis, all captains, with maintaining a focus on their goals. “I think (the seniors) have stuck together and supported each other,” Goldstein said. “They make it evident that they want to finish this year strong and they aren’t going to sit back. They aren’t letting anybody slack.”

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Nothing’s too big for Jordan Kovacs, not even the NFL By Mark Griffin Press Contributing Writer Miami is a long way from Oregon, and it’s even farther from Ann Arbor, Mich. Kovacs, a Clay grad who went on to become an All-Big Ten safety at the University of Michigan, is now living his dream with the Miami Dolphins. This week marked his fifth week on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster. “It’s exciting,” Kovacs said. “I’ve approached (playing in the NFL) one step at a time. I just want to enjoy it. It’s really cool.” Kovacs, 23, has come a long way from playing in the Big House to playing in the Big Time. The former walk-on was the Bo Schembechler MVP Award winner and a second-team All-Big Ten selection following the 2012 season at UM. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Kovacs went undrafted in the NFL draft last spring but was later chosen as one of the Dolphins’ 16 rookie free agents. He began this season on the Dolphins’ practice squad and finally got “bumped up” to the active roster the week of Miami’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 6. “More than anything I just missed playing on Sundays,” Kovacs said. “I missed playing in any competitive environment. Baltimore was my first game and I played on all of our special teams. We go four deep (on the roster) at safety. We have two starters and one guy who would roll in if anything would happen at safety. Then, I’m next in line.” Kovacs has been credited with one tackle (solo) this season, against Baltimore on the Dolphins’ kickoff coverage. He was on the field with three different special teams units last Sunday in the Dolphins’ 27-17 loss at New England. Miami, which won its first three games, fell to 3-4 with its fourth straight loss heading into Thursday night’s game against the Bengals. Kovacs said he took his opportunity to make the Dolphins’ roster one day at a time. “Every day you saw new faces, and you didn’t know when your last day was going

Miami Dolphins rookie Jordan Kovacs (Clay/ Michigan). (Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins) to be,” he said. “You just take it week by week and day by day. They started (training camp) with 90 guys. They had to whittle those guys down to 53 active guys, and eight more on the practice squad.” The Dolphins placed Kovacs on their practice squad, and he then cleared waivers. Around that time, he tweaked a previous hamstring injury in a preseason game against Houston.

“Finally, it healed up and in week five I was called up and made my NFL debut,” Kovacs said. “I was on all four special teams. I was the right wing on the punt team, on kickoff I was a contain player, on kickoff return I was the left tackle and punt return I was the rusher.” On his first NFL play, a Miami punt, Kovacs found himself lined up opposite the Ravens’ Courtney Upshaw, a 6-2, 272-

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pound second-year linebacker from Alabama. “The first thing that went through my head was, who do I have to block,” Kovacs recalled. “This guy was wearing No. 91 and it was Courtney Upshaw, who weighs probably 280. I was like, ‘you have to be kidding me.’ He ran at me as hard as he could. I knew it would be tough getting off his block. That was my rookie moment, my ‘welcome to the NFL’ moment.” Kovacs played on three different special teams units last week against the Patriots, so he got to watch quarterback Tom Brady up close. He said its “pretty surreal” facing NFL players he grew up watching on TV. “We played Brady pretty tough,” Kovacs said. “When we played in New Orleans, we played Drew Bees and what was really eye-opening was how slim the margin of error is when you play against a quarterback of that caliber. Our defensive backs looked like they were in perfect coverage, and he was putting it where only his guy could catch it. It’s a unique experience to see that first hand from the sideline.” Kovacs said playing in the NFL has been an eye-opening experience. “Every player on that field is just a super athlete,” he said. “They were the studs at their respective colleges. You watch TV and see them and you say, ‘I can do that.’ No, you can’t. Could Alabama or the best team in college football beat, say Jacksonville? Not a chance. It’s just a whole other ballgame. I’m blocking guys I’ve never heard of, and they’re unreal athletes.” Kovacs said it appears one of the best ways to stay in Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin’s good graces is to make himself as versatile as possible. “I’ve realized that very few guys aren’t expendable,” Kovacs said. “The best way to make yourself more secure in the NFL, which is what we all want, is to play safety, special teams … You have to be able to do it all, so when it comes to the chopping board they can’t say, ‘We can get rid of this guy.’ I feel very comfortable. I’m a competitor. I expected to be able to compete with these guys.”

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Clay sends entire team to state cross country meet

By Mark Griffin Press Contributing Writer

We had two team goals this year, to win the league champioinship and to make it to state as a team.

Clay sophomore Haley Hess realized she actually had a chance to become the school’s second individual regional cross country meet champion about one mile into last Saturday’s Division I race at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin. “I was feeling good,” she said. Hess passed teammate Erin Gyurke, who finished eighth at last year’s state meet, just before the mile marker and went on to win the regional title with a time of 18:31.26, her season best. Her PR up to that point was 18:42, which she ran at the Three Rivers Athletic Conference meet a week earlier, helping the Eagles claim their first conference championship. “I was very excited,” Hess said of the regional win. “I ran a good time, my fastest time. I train with Erin every day. She’s a little faster than me and she sets the pace. Usually she’s in front of me.” The Eagles, who also got a 16thplace finish from freshman Sydney Hess (19:21.5), grabbed the fourth and final qualifying spot to this Saturday’s state meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. The top four teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state. Also contributing to Clay’s girls advancing to their first-ever state meet were freshman Caitlyn Kuecher (27th, 19:45.3), sophomore Hannah Hess (64th, 20:33.7), junior Brooke Gyori (87th, 20:53.9) and freshman Madison Miller (97th, 21:09.7). “We’re excited,” Clay coach Dave Hess said. “We had two team goals this year, to win the league champioinship and to make it to state as a team. We were sixth as a team last year in the regional, so our goal was to definitely get out this year. It wasn’t pretty, but we moved out.” Gyurke, a two-time state qualifier, did not finish the regional race. “She’s been dealing with an issue in her hip,” coach Hess said. “We don’t believe it’s related to that. We don’t know. She was just out of it. The pace wasn’t too fast for her. Something just wasn’t clicking for her. She acted like a runner who was

Clay cross country runner Erin Gyurke during the Three Rivers Athletic Conference meet, which the Eagles won. (Press photo by Scott Grau) completely spent and had nothing left. We knew the pace wasn’t too fast for her; she’s run faster than that. With about 300 meters to go, she just couldn’t go any further.” Hess said he expects Gyurke to compete at the state meet. He added that he was

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proud of the other team members for stepping up and getting Clay a top-four finish. “We thought we had missed out on it,” he said. “It was a rollercoaster of emotions for a little while. We had five girls who ran PR’s or season bests. A lot of people don’t

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think of cross country as a team sport, but those of us in the sport know how much of a team sport it is. What happened Saturday just reinforced it more. Hopefully, this will give one of the best girls in the state a chance to run another race on Saturday.” Haley Hess became the Eagles’ second individual regional champion, joining Kati Sekinger. Hess was a state qualifier last fall, finishing 56th in 19:05.0. “Haley’s shown all season that she’s right there,” coach Hess said. “She trains with Erin every day in practice. She showed what kind of runner she is. She was mentally tough and raced for her teammates. I’m not surprised.” Haley Hess said getting the entire squad to the state meet is a “good feeling.” “As a team, we’re all really close,” she said. “We get along really well and I’m really excited we’re all going together as a team. If everyone runs 100 percent, we hope to finish in the top five.” Hannah Hess also qualified to the state meet as an individual last season and placed 83rd in 19:30.3. “Hannah’s just looking for a solid performance,” coach Hess said. “Hopefully she can do better than last year. She has a foot injury that has been bothering her, and she was a minute off at the regional this year. We’ll just try to get her back to where she normally is, in the 19:40s, and get Erin to run what she is capable of. We know we can compete as a team down there.”

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Whatever he confronts, Chris Blazevich meets head-on By Jeffrey D. Norwalk Press Contributing Writer Standout Cardinal Stritch Catholic football player Chris Blazevich has never really been one to take the easy way out. The 16-year-old Northwood native opts to balance his PlayStation sessions — his favorite games are “Call of Duty” and “Assassin’s Creed” — by plying the oftenrough waters of Lake Erie and Maumee Bay in his family’s 1984 25-foot Catalina sailboat. When he graduates from Stritch in 2015, the hard-working junior Blazevich is kicking around a major in engineering, dreams of going to the University of Michigan, and would like to become a pilot or work on airplanes, all of which his skyhigh 4.2 GPA and his iron will to succeed would deem possible. At a recent Friday night showdown with longtime Toledo Area Athletic Conference rival Ottawa Hills at Clay Memorial Stadium in early October, Blazevich could’ve unbuckled his chinstrap and called it a night after he suffered a nasty hyper-extended left arm on the Cardinals’ first offensive possession of the evening. Instead, the Stritch back iced it for the rest of the first half, got it wrapped at halftime, and proceeded to come back in the second half to lead his Cards with four receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown in a nail biter of a losing effort, 21-14 on Senior Night. “I was happy with what I did on the field that night, but it wasn’t enough, because we couldn’t get a win,” reasons 6 foot tall, 160 pound Blazevich. “My only goals on the football field are to help this team win, earn some respect for the program, and to build some momentum going into next year. I’ll do whatever I need to do for this team to win,” states Blazevich. First-year Stritch coach Brian Wical said, “Chris is a great leader for us because he has a tremendous football IQ. He is probably the smartest football mind we’ve had on the team this year, and he uses that mind to put both himself, and his teammates in good positions on the football field.” “Chris has started all season at cornerback for us, and I think he’s a first-team all-league type of player,” continues Coach. “But, Chris has also always done just what the coaching staff has asked of him. He handles transition well, and played at wide receiver for the first week for us, and then was moved to quarterback for the next four weeks due to an injury to week one starter

At quarterback, Chris Blazevich hands off. (Press photo by Doug Karns) Joe Sinay, and then was moved back to wide receiver. Chris has now committed himself to becoming a better wide receiver for our football team, and as a coaching staff that’s all we can ever ask.” “Chris played great for us that night against Ottawa Hills, especially considering the injury in the first half,” continues Wical. “He made some big-time plays for us, and had his best offensive game of the season. That’s a testament of what kind of kid Chris is. He’s truly a team-first player.” Blazevich also serves as the Cardinals’ top shut-down cornerback. “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter where I’m at on the football field,” Blazevich continues, “as long as I’m in the best possible position to help this team win, which is why I’ve stepped up at quarterback at times this year, when (starting quarterback) Joe (Sinay, a 6-2, 210 pound junior) couldn’t go because of an injured finger. I also started at quarterback two games last year, when Joe went down with an injury.

“I don’t have one favorite position,” he adds, “because each position has different aspects about it that I like. Like when I’m at QB, I get to control the offense. But then again, I also like playing receiver, because I get the opportunity to get the football in open spaces, and make plays for us. At corner, I love the one-on-one competition between the receiver and me. I love trying to shut him down every Friday night. I love challenges. “I don’t mind facing adversity like this, as long as whatever’s happening to me is what’s best for my team,” says Blazevich. “Personally, I think adversity can help build a person, make that person stronger, and make them realize that life isn’t always easy. Nothing comes for free in life, and everything you do, you have to earn. My personal goal for football the rest of the way out is just to finish strong, with no letdowns for myself or my team.” Despite what their 0-9, 0-6 (TAAC) record says, with only perennial TAAC




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powerhouse and 2013 champions the Northwood Rangers waiting for them last Friday night at 7-2 and 6-0, Blazevich hasn’t let these Cardinals down. This looks to be a key building block on a team that could very well be on the rise throughout his swan-song senior season in ‘14, under new coach Brian Wical, who has been in the coaching profession for a long time, including a celebrated five-year run at Lima Central Catholic, where he spent four seasons as the Thunderbirds’ offensive coordinator, helping to lead his team to a 42-6 record, including a trip to the Division V state semifinals in ‘10. Not convinced? Consider the foundation the wide receiver/cornerback/quarterback has already started to lay for the future via his ‘13 stat line, which reads 13 receptions, for 230 yards, and two TDs, plus too many tackles, and passes broken up from his left corner position to tally. Highlight reel moments? No. 2 has had a few of those, too, for a Cards’ team that is young, suffering growing pains, and let’s face it, not always first-and-foremost on sportswriters’ minds. Those moments included a close to 100-yard rushing night against a resurgent Woodmore team in week two; passing for two touchdowns in a comeback against Lakota that fell just short, 21-16, in week three; and of course, the week seven explosion against Ottawa Hills, when he ignited his team by snaring a slant pass from QB Brooks Gasser and then proceeded to outrace the entire Green Bear defense 70 yards to the house. The only TAAC leader board that has Blazevich listed in the local sports pages is that of quarterback, where he checks in at No. 9 with 22 completions, on 62 attempts, for 321 yards, and three touchdown tosses. That puts him at one more TD pass than current Cards’ starting signal-caller Gasser, a senior, who has thrown for 58 more yards than Blazevich, on 38 completions on 86 attempts. One would think with Blazevich’s 4.8 speed, he’d also solidly be among the TAAC’s elite leaders at receiver, but he falls 65 yards shy of Gibsonburg’s Adam Copley and Hilltop’s Chad Champion, the TAAC’s tenth and ninth leading receivers, Blazevich would rather boast on how proud he is to be a part of it all. “I really feel our record has no implications on what kind of team we are,” Blazevich said. “This football program has faced a lot of adversity, but I think it’s made us stronger as a team.”


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The Press Box Express soccer enters tourney at No. 19 nationally By J. Patrick Eaken Press Sports Editor The Owens Community College women’s soccer team entered the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) D-I poll at No. 19. It is the first time the team has been ranked this season despite a program record 13-game winning streak, which included a 2-1 double overtime victory over current No. 15 Schoolcraft College along the way. During their 13-game winning streak, the Express has outscored opponents 59-9. Additionally, they have allowed one goal or less in 12 of those matches (11 straight) and pitched five shutouts over that period. Local sophomores include defender Tara Preble (Lake), forward/midfielders Taylor Avers (Woodmore) and Jessica Grindle (Northwood), defender Marissa Ramirez (Northwood), midfielder/defender Samantha Starkey (Eastwood), and midfielder Kelly Zurvalec (Oak Harbor). Local freshmen include midfielder Abby Groll (Clay), forward/midfielder Kendyl Christian (Clay), midfielder/goalkeeper Megan Soncrant (Clay), and forward Amber Burnette (Oak Harbor). Third-year head coach Mary Whisler is assisted by secondyear coach Caitlyn Theaker and first-year coach Stacey Lucas. Janeen Ramirez is in her first season as the team’s athletic trainer. The Express, who are currently 15-2 overall, entered this past weekend’s Region XII tournament as the No. 2 seed behind Schoolcraft College. They opened up play in the four-team tournament against No. 3 seed Delta College on Saturday with the championship Sunday. The winner advances to the 12-team NJCAA D-I National Championship tourna-

Abby Groll and the No. 19 Express women’s soccer team played in the Region XII tournament this past weekend. (Photo by Nicholas Huenefeld/ Owens Sports Information) ment in Melbourne, Fla. Nov. 18-23. With the addition of the women’s soccer team being ranked, the Express athletic department currently has four teams ranked in the nation’s top 20. The others are men’s golf (No. 1 at the NJCAA D-II level), women’s basketball (No. 9 at the NJCAA D-II level) and men’s basketball (No. 8 at the NJCAA D-II level).

Heading to World Series Harry Young Builders captured the Mid-American Masters Baseball League (45 and over) championship by posting a 22-0 record and are heading to the Roy Hobbs World Series at the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins spring training stadiums in Fort Myers, Fla. East Side representatives for the Builders are Keith Belcik (Clay 1979), Mike Kornasiewicz (Rossford 1985), and Dave Minarcin (Northwood 1987).

Howard national candidate Florida State senior forward Natasha Howard (Waite) has been named one of just 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, announced on Wednesday by the annual award’s voting committee. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty

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Team Overall Genoa (6-0, NBC) 9-0 Northwood (6-0, TAAC) 7-2 Eastwood (5-1, NBC) 7-2 Lake (4-2, NBC) 7-2 Woodmore (3-3, NBC) 6-3 Gibsonburg (4-2, TAAC) 5-4 Oak Harbor (3-3, SBC) 4-5 Clay (0-6, TRAC) 2-7 Waite (1-3, TCL) 1-8 Card Stritch (0-6, TAAC) 0-9 and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Candidates selected have made a strong impact in the four C’s - community, classroom, character and competition. Howard has been a visible presence on the court heading into her final year as a ‘Nole. As an All-America contender this upcoming season, she is one of just 10 Seminoles ever to score 1,000 points and grab 700 rebounds in her career. The versatile performer is also on track toward breaking the school record for career double-doubles, sitting just six away with 26 in her first three seasons. Howard is a three-time all-conference player who earned first-team accolades last season averaging 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Howard was named the sole captain of the 2013-14 FSU women’s basketball team by head coach Sue Semrau, exemplifying how far her leadership principles have come. The Social Sciences major has proven to be a leader by example and has thrived in the maturation process that be-

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gan in her freshman season in 2010-11 and has culminated to her current reign as team captain. Like many of her teammates, Howard has been an extremely active member in the community. Just this year, she has participated in many charity functions including the Big Bend Heart Walk to promote heart disease awareness, as well as fundraising for a United Way event for City of Tallahassee employees.

Northwood 2014 ball registration Boys and girls ages 5-14 who would like to play coach pitch/t-ball/baseball or softball for the 2014 season may register on Nov. 17 and Nov. 24 from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Josie Reinhart Community Center, corner of Oram and Wales Road, or Nov. 18-22 at the municipal office from 8 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Deadline is Nov. 24. Parents must accompany children to sign registration cards and non-returnable copies of birth certificates are required. The registration fee may be higher than last year, and it is non-refundable and due at time of registration. Families that meet low-income requirements may obtain a fee waiver, but a request must be made in writing. Umpires and coaches should also register. Call 419-693-9328.



NOVEMBER 4, 2013

Comet football using technology to gain advantage By Mark Griffin Press Contributing Writer The only thing Carol Rozek is interested in on Friday nights is watching her two sons, Tyler and Kyle, play football at Genoa. Rozek, however, has multiple sclerosis and is bound to a wheelchair, and prior to this season she had to use binoculars to see her two boys in action on the football field. “With binoculars I can only focus on one or two people,” Carol said. “I have one kid on one end of the field and another kid on another end of the field. Sometimes I miss things with binoculars.” Tom Baker, the technical coordinator at Genoa, and Comets coach Tim Spiess solved that dilemma for Carol Rozek. The Comets this season have mounted an end zone camera on top of a 30-foot, four-legged device called a Sport Scope and are able to shoot live video of the game and transmit it locally via a WiFi network. “The Ohio High School Athletic Association changed the way coaches are allowed to use video during the course of the game,” Spiess said. “Beginning this year, coaches are now allowed to have running video on their sidelines during the course of a game. It has been a welcome change to the rules which govern high school football. We purchased a new end zone camera as well as some Tablets to be used by our coaches during the course of the game.” Genoa’s camera is mounted on the Sport Scope in the end zone, and cameraman Zeke Herrera, a Genoa sophomore, takes care of the rest. Herrera stands on the ground and monitors the camera angles on a computer screen. He controls the camera using a joystick.

Zeke Herrera, an injured sophomore lineman, uses a joystick to operate the camera that is mounted on a 30 foot pole. To Herrera’s left is Tom Baker, Genoa High School technology director. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/ “Coach Spiess approached me at the beginning of the year and said, ‘This is a new rule where we can watch the feed on the sideline. Make it happen,’ ” Baker said. “We broadcast the signal from the camera wirelessly. It’s not on the Internet. It’s only broadcast in the stadium. It’s strictly a private network we set up for Genoa’s use.

Anyone with the credential to connect to the wireless router has the ability to connect to the website that has the streaming video. “Mrs. Rozek has a Kindle device. I connected it to the network and then they just use a web browser to view the streaming video. It’s live as the game is going on. This

gives (the coaches) a different angle to view the game, from the end zone. The end zone gives them a better idea where the offense and defense are lining up.” Spiess said Baker has been “an invaluable asset in this process.” The third-ranked Comets (9-0) end the regular season Friday night at home against Woodmore. “Tom’s knowledge in this field has given us a great advantage on Friday nights,” Spiess said. “Randy Rozek approached us about the needs of his wife, so we made this same tool available to Carol so she can follow her sons a little closer.” Genoa uses the camera and wireless feed at home and away games. Carol Rozek, who uses a Kindle device to watch the game, is grateful. “I really like it,” she said, “because I can see the whole field instead of just one or two people, like when we’re passing or my son makes a tackle.” Randy Rozek, Carol’s husband, said the family is already planning to upgrade for next season, when Kyle is a senior. Tyler is a senior this year. “I think we need to upgrade,” Randy said. “Carol’s using a Kindle Fire, and I think if we have an iPad it would work much better. The technology on the iPad would process it much quicker. She can watch the game much better than before. The quality of the picture is really clear. “There are other people who could probably use the same technology we’re using,” he added. “They just don’t know about it yet. Carol can see the players’ numbers now, whereas with the binoculars it’s difficult to focus on the fast-paced game. This is a step forward for helping people see the game. It is definitely an improvement for people in her condition.”

Eagles send 3 to state; Rockets, Flyers add another By Yaneek Smith and J. Patrick Eaken Just three weeks after leading the Eastwood girls’ cross-country team to its third consecutive league title, Hannah Sponaugle and Maddie Jackson headed to the Division II state cross country meet in Columbus. Sponaugle, a freshman, ran a 19:25 to finish seventh at the regional meet and Jackson, a senior, ran a 19:32 to come in 10th, leading the team to a seventh-place finish. The week before, Sponaugle and Jackson finished first and second, respectively, in 19:47 and 20:01, leading the Eagles to a district title. Meagan Kaminski (fourth in 20:15), Ashley Madaras (17th in 21:21) and Lexi Clark (27th in 21:59) rounded out the top five with Emily Zielinski and Jenna Selhorst also running. Joining them in Columbus was junior Tim Hoodlebrink, a first-year runner who decided to take on cross country to prepare him for track season. Hoodlebrink advanced to the state meet by just over one second, beating out Van Wert’s Connor Shaffer by a time of 16:46.08 to 16:47.13 to claim 16th place, the final qualifying spot. Two other area runners, Tyler Sievert of Oak Harbor, who was 14th in 16:36.40, and Tyler Rickman of Lake, who was 11th in 16:33.04, joined Hoodlebrink in Columbus. Lake Seniors Scott Brittenham and Rickman both participated in the regional meet at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin. Both of Lake coach Ken Mysinger’s runners raced in the regional race the past three years. For Eastwood, getting three to Columbus is another notch for a program already a perennial champion. “They started early in the summer to prepare, they spent time in the weight room with the summer miles and then the season started and they bought into our program, what we needed to do, and continued to put the miles in, put the speed work in, and everything came together,” Eastwood coach Stephanie Schneider-Sims said. Schneider-Sims, who coaches both the

Eastwood state qualifiers Tim Hoodlebrink, Hannah Sponaugle and Maddie Jackson. (Press photo by J. Patrick Eaken) Eastwood boys and girls teams, said Hoodlebrink had a brilliant finish that saw him pass three runners at the very end of the 5-kilometer race. “We knew going in that if Tim ran what he was capable of running, he could make it to state,” Schneider-Sims said. “With about 1,000 meters to go we told him he was in 19th place. He passed one person and he passed two guys right before the (finish) line. He went into the shoot so fast that if anybody had been standing there, I’m afraid he would’ve taken somebody out. It’s one of the most amazing finishes I’ve seen.” Hoodlebrink said, “At the end, she (Schneider-Sims) was screaming at me. I ran next to (a teammate) during the first

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two miles, which helped.” Jackson finished 38th at the state meet last year and will graduate as one of the most decorated runners in school history. She stressed that hours of hard work resulted in her and Sponaugle’s performance, adding that she put in a lot more miles during the offseason. “I run every day in the summer and we’re in the weight room a lot,” Jackson said. “The difference between this summer and last summer is that Hannah is running with me. Having Hannah here really helped me. She runs the mile at a little bit of a faster pace and it helped me improve my time. “I’ve been the No. 1 runner through-

out high school and I’ve had a lot of drive, thinking ‘Don’t let her beat you.’ Even though Hannah did beat me, I was happy about it. In the back of my mind, I am always trying to compete with her and she’s done the same.” Sponaugle added, “I did way better than I thought I would this year,” adding that she ran through middle school and also increased her mileage this year. Schneider-Sims says Jackson had expectations of making a return trip to state, which weighed heavily on her. “When she puts her mind to something, it’s kind of hard to stop her,” Schneider-Sims said. “She put her mind to it, and even though she didn’t have the league meet that she wanted, she knew she had to focus on the next two weeks and she did. I knew going into Saturday (regional) how determined she was.” Jackson says Schneider-Sims, previous coach Richard Morgan, and other Eastwood coaches always do well in preparing the runners for big meets. For 15 years, Eastwood has consistently placed among the best track and field and cross country programs in Northwest Ohio. “Besides the workouts, the coaches have a desire to help us get better,” Jackson said. “We’ll do speed workouts on certain days of the week and then we do a long run on one of the days and a shorter run with some tempo.” If nothing else, Jackson was hoping for an impressive finish to her cross country career. “I placed 38th last year and I would love to do better than that. I would be ecstatic to get top 25 and earn All-Ohio status. That’s a goal, I’ve been running my fastest times this year and I’d be really happy if I could take a second or two off my time.” Schneider-Sims notes that the community has been very supportive of her athletes. “The reception has been great,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of support and we do have a Facebook cross country page and the reception there has been great.”

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