Northwest News

Athletes of the Year

Area's top performers highlight spring season

As another sports season has ended, it's time to announce the spring Athletes of the Year. Here are the honorees:

Alec Tuohy

BASEBALL

Tuohy pitched Gahanna to a win in a Division I district final in 2011 but dealt with a learning curve a year ago while adjusting to being the Lions' top starting pitcher and shortstop.

The senior thrived in both roles this season, having a team-high .454 batting average and going 9-2 on the mound with a 2.37 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings. He was named district Player of the Year, second-team all-state and first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.

Tuohy struck out 14 in a 7-2 win over Upper Arlington in a district semifinal May 20, breaking the program record for most strikeouts in a seven-inning game, and he homered and had six strikeouts in six innings in a 10-1 win over Marysville in a regional semifinal May 30.

The University at Buffalo recruit won 19 games over the last three seasons. This season, the Lions went 22-10 and reached a state semifinal for the first time.

"He just took his game to the next level and just had a great year," Gahanna coach Mike Shade said. "This year in the tournament, he went out and basically just took over."

Emma Cornell

SOFTBALL

This season, Cornell helped lead Grove City to the second of back-to-back Division I district and OCC-Ohio Division championships.

The junior left-handed pitcher and designated player went 17-4 in the circle with a 1.14 ERA and 130 strikeouts and only 22 walks in 112 2/3 innings. At the plate, she had a .467 batting average with 25 RBI, 28 runs and seven doubles.

"Emma did an outstanding job," Greyhounds coach Ted Williams said. "She kept us in every ballgame we were in. ... She hit the ball well on top of pitching. You can't ask for anymore from a young lady."

Cornell was named first-team all-state and all-district and league Player of the Year, as the Greyhounds finished 27-5 and reached a regional final before losing to eventual state champion North Canton Hoover 4-1 on June 1 at Ohio State.

"I gained a couple mph on my fastball," said Cornell, who said her top speed this season was approximately 63 mph. "I feel like I have progressed a lot this year, mentally and physically, playing ball."

Jack Warmolts

BOYS LACROSSE

Warmolts, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior goalkeeper, averaged eight saves per game as Upper Arlington won its second consecutive Division I state championship, third in four years and 14th overall.

A three-year starter, Warmolts earned first-team all-state, all-Central Region and all-OCC-Buckeye Division honors for the second consecutive year. He also was a first-team All-American this season along with two teammates, midfielder Gus Ackley and defender Jake Nolan, as the Golden Bears finished 20-2 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.

Warmolts, whose only shutout this season came in a 6-0 win over Thomas Worthington on April 13, will play at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

"Jack's a class act, from the standpoint of being a great kid before he's a great ballplayer," UA coach Ted Wolford said. "He's worked so hard all the way through toward having the ability to be a leader, and now all the way through to where he's an All-American. That's something you feel really good about. ... He's a solid, solid kid."

Elaina Enich

GIRLS LACROSSE

Enich, a senior attacker, scored 87 goals and had six assists this season to help lead New Albany to the Division II state championship.

The University of Cincinnati signee scored a program-record nine goals in a 19-12 win over Olentangy Liberty on April 18 and tied the record in an 18-6 win over Granville on May 16.

Enich had six goals in a 19-17 win over Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown in a state semifinal May 31 and scored four in an 11-10 win over Worthington Kilbourne in the state final June 1.

Enich, who missed the end of her junior season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, was named first-team All-American as well as first-team all-state, all-South/Central Region and all-OCC-Buckeye Division. She is the first two-time All-American in program history.

"There was never a doubt that she would return to play her senior year and continue to be a dominant player," Eagles coach Dave Ferguson said. "She was regarded as one of the most dangerous offensive players in the state by many coaches."

Stu Little

BOYS TENNIS

An Upper Arlington senior and University of Pennsylvania recruit, Little placed third in singles in the Division I state tournament and led the Golden Bears to their third Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team championship in four years.

A four-time state qualifier who teamed with 2011 graduate Billy Weldon to win state doubles titles in 2010 and 2011, Little lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's Aaron Sandberg 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) in a state semifinal June 1 at Ohio State before defeating Gahanna's Canyon Teague 6-3, 6-3 in the third-place match later that day.

Despite his achievements, Little, who lost in a state quarterfinal in singles in 2012, said he will rue the state titles he didn't win.

"That's just the kind of kid Stu is," UA coach Amos Allison said. "Years down the road, he'll look back and still kick himself for a few points he didn't get in his semifinal match. At the same time, he'll realize what he did and what he was a part of. It's one of the most impressive things a kid can do."

Desmond Palmer

BOYS TRACK & FIELD

Pickerington North might have been the deepest boys team in central Ohio this season, but the Panthers wouldn't have earned their second consecutive Division I state runner-up finish without Palmer.

The senior and University of Pittsburgh signee helped score 40 of North's 47 points in the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, as the Panthers placed second to Lakewood St. Edward (62) for the second year in a row.

Palmer won state championships in the 110-meter hurdles (14.03 seconds) and 300 hurdles (36.31) and anchored the winning 800 relay (1:26.14) and the first-place 1,600 relay (3:14.73).

On June 20, Palmer, who also won district and regional titles in all four events, was named Gatorade Ohio Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. His time in the 300 hurdles at state ranked third in the nation in 2013 at the time the Gatorade honor was announced.

"(State) was one of those meets where Desmond said, 'Jump on my back,' and we got four first-place finishes," North coach Dave Spring said.

Aaliyah Barnes

GIRLS TRACK & FIELD

Barnes believes she's ready to compete at the collegiate level given her performance in the Division II state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.

The Eastmoor Academy senior qualified for state in three individual events and on a relay and elected to compete in all four events. She finished the meet with two first-place finishes, a second-place finish and a third-place finish, scoring 34 points as the Warriors won the team title.

Barnes has signed with Ohio State.

"Although I didn't get first in everything, I'm so proud of myself that I even (competed in three individual events at state)," she said. "This will get me ready for next year."

At regional May 30 and June 1 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, Barnes won the 100 meters (12.51 seconds) and 200 (25.36), placed second in the 400 (56.44) and was on the winning 800 relay (1:41.2).

At state, she won the 100 (11.9), placed second in the 400 (55.77) and third in the 200 (24.7) and was on the winning 800 relay (1:40.38).

Barnes finished her prep career with seven state titles.

Jarrod Kelso

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

Kelso, a 6-foot-6 middle hitter, helped lead Hilliard Darby to its first Division I state championship.

In 26 matches, the senior had 259 kills, 59 blocks and a .657 hitting percentage to lead the Panthers, who finished 24-2 and defeated Cincinnati Elder 25-17, 25-15, 25-27, 25-23 in the state final May 26 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.

Kelso was named state and East Region Player of the Year in Division I and the OCC-Ohio Division Player of the Year. As a junior, he was second-team all-state and first-team all-region.

"Jarrod Kelso was our best offensive player (in the 2012) season and he had a .415 hitting percentage," Darby coach Bryan Webb said. "He's worked hard on his craft and he (was) at .600 this year, which is almost unheard of. He (was) literally unstoppable, especially in the state tournament."

Kelso has committed to play for Quincy University in Illinois. Quincy is one of eight teams in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, which also includes Ohio State.

—From staff reports

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