The top local sports story for 2013 came just before the year ended.
The announcement in mid-December that AcuSport Corp. is pledging $750,000 to a stadium project at Bellefontaine High School highlighted a busy local sports year.
AcuSport, which has been producing shooting sports products in Bellefontaine since 1965, is the chief donor for a project that will cost about $1.5 million.
It will include the installation of an artificial turf field, a new scoreboard, a multi-purpose building and the resurfacing of the track. To date, about $1.2 million has been raised. The Bellefontaine booster club has started a public campaign to raise the rest of the money needed.
The improvements are expected to be done in time for the start of the 2014 football season.
(GRAPHICS | THOMAS & MARKER CONSTRUCTION)
There were numerous other newsworthy sports happenings over the last 12 months. The following is a run down of ones that made the biggest splash.
Sheeley climbs ladder in UFC
Local fight instructor and trainer Scott Sheeley made a big career move in 2013 as he enjoyed a great deal of success training fighters in the UFC.
Bellefontaine’s Scott Sheeley, left, works with UFC fighter Matt Brown during a workout this summer in Colorado. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Sheeley was in the corner for several wins by Matt Brown and has become the right-hand man for UFC star Cung Le. Sheeley was also selected to take part in the Ultimate Fighter China television show. Le made a local appearance with Sheeley during 2013 at one of Sheeley’s Iron Tiger Fight Series events in Bellefontaine.
Vito has another successful campaign
Louie Vito continued his halfpipe success in 2013. It was an important year as Vito tuned up for the 2014 Sochi Olympic qualifiers.
Vito took gold in the superpipe at Winter X Games Europe for his second win in that event in the last three years. He was third at the Burton U.S. Open and was sixth at the ESPN Winter X Games.
Toby Smith changes schools
After a highly successful run at West Liberty-Salem, Toby Smith in February accepted the head coaching job in Bellefontaine’s football program.
Smith led the Chiefs to a 5-5 record in his first season following a 1-8 campaign the year before.
Smith was one of three longtime coaches to step away at WL-Salem over the last year. Lanay Detwiler left the Tigers’ softball program after a career in which she guided the team to three state final fours and Aaron Hollar stepped down after 15 seasons at the helm of the boys basketball program.
Local runners impacted by Boston Marathon explosions
The Boston Marathon bombings in April rocked the country, and two local runners were near the finish line when the explosions occurred.
Huntsville resident Mary Jenkins was approximately 30 feet from the first blast. Carol Souza, also of Huntsville, was about a half mile from the finish line at the time of the explosions.
State wrestling meet
Three local wrestlers placed at the state wrestling meet in March. Indian Lake’s Heath Lange and L.J. Henderson each finished fourth in Division II, while West Liberty-Salem freshman Trevor Anderson placed sixth in Division III.
Triad softball team goes deep in tourney
Triad’s softball team came up just one game short of advancing to the state final four last spring.
The Cardinals won the Division IV district championship and beat Newton in the regional semifinal round. In the regional finals, Triad lost to Covington 4-2.
WL-Salem golfers make state
The West Liberty-Salem boys golf team capped an impressive season by earning a trip to the Division III state tournament in Columbus. The Tigers placed fifth out of 12 teams. They were led by junior Nick Sims, who earned second-team all-Ohio honors with a two-round 155 on the Ohio State University Scarlet Course.
Tigers highlight state track meet
West Liberty-Salem placed in three events at the state track and field meet in June. Meghan Vogel was third in the 1,600-meter run, while the girls 400 relay of Michaela Rausch, Abigail Rabenstein, Megan Etgen and Morgan Freyhof finished third as well. For the Tiger boys, the 1,600 relay team of Ross Hickenbottom, Taylor Cordell, Kelvin Shank and Conner Karg took sixth.
Also placing in Columbus was Bellefontaine sophomore Brenda Johnson, who took sixth in the shot put.
Local bowlers win state titles
Bellefontaine’s T-P Lanes has annually sent a large group of bowlers to the state tournament, and 2013 was a banner year for the local contingent.
Local bowlers captured four state championship at the Ohio USBC men’s and women’s state tournaments.
Kalisha Hefner was part of three state titles. She won the all-events handicap, doubles handicap and a team handicap championships.
She won the doubles title with Brandy McCoy. Along with Hefner and McCoy, the state championship squad included Cassandra Zedlitz, Ashley Knight and Chastity Neal.
Jesse Hefner, husband of Kalisha, got in on the act with a men’s singles handicap championship.
WL-Salem boys return to state CC meet
It was another stellar fall season for the West Liberty-Salem boys cross country squad as it earned its third consecutive berth to the state cross country meet. The Tigers won the Ohio Heritage Conference and district meets.
Triad football has best season in school history
It was a season to remember for Triad this fall as the Cardinals recorded their first unbeaten regular season. They went on to advance to the regional finals with playoff wins over Cedarville and Lehman Catholic.
Triad bowed out with a 12-1 record after a loss to eventual state champion Marion Local in the regional championship game.
Tigers make regional football finals
West Liberty-Salem’s football team went the deepest it ever has in the postseason by advancing to the regional finals.
The Tigers, who were led by first-year coach Dan McGill, suffered an overtime loss to Mechanicsburg in the regional championship game to finish with a 10-3 record.