For the first time, ThisWeek is honoring a Coach of the Year for each of the nine winter sports. Here are the winter's top coaches:

Johnathan Hedgepeth

PICKERINGTON CENTRAL

GIRLS BASKETBALL

It seems only fitting that the program to end central Ohio's 19-year drought of big-school girls basketball high school state championships has the most titles in the 43-year history of the state tournament.

Pickerington Central, under the guidance of Hedgepeth, added title No. 7 on March 18 when it edged Solon 49-45 in the Division I state final at Ohio State to finish 28-2 overall.

The previous time an area team captured the Division I state title was 1999 when former coach Dave Butcher won the last of his six championships at the school formerly known as Pickerington.

Hedgepeth, who guided the Tigers to regional semifinal appearances in 2016 and '17, is 107-27 in five seasons at Central. The Tigers also shared the OCC-Ohio Division title with Reynoldsburg this season, going 9-1 in league play.

Kelly Ferguson

GAHANNA

GIRLS BOWLING

Under Ferguson, Gahanna became the first central Ohio girls program to win a championship in the history of the 12-year state tournament.

The Lions entered the championship round of the Division I state tournament March 10 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl as the No. 1 seed and beat eighth-seeded North Canton Hoover 3-0, fourth-seeded Centerville 3-1 and third-seeded Kettering Fairmont 3-0 in the best-of-five Baker series to capture the title.

Gahanna also went undefeated in Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference and OCC-Central matches and won sectional and district titles.

The Lions went 12-0 in the COHSBC-A Division and 6-0 in the OCC-Central.

Patrick Johnston

DUBLIN JEROME

BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING

In its second season under Johnston, Jerome won OCC-Cardinal and Division I sectional titles and earned the first district championship in program history.

Then in the state meet that concluded Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, the Celtics placed 10th (80 points) as 51 teams scored and their 200-yard freestyle relay of Grant Cicci, Westin Fishel, Elek Kayuha and Max Scott (1 minute, 23.36 seconds) shared the title with Cincinnati St. Xavier.

It was Jerome's first relay to win a state title.

Misty Lloyd-Mathews

OLENTANGY

GYMNASTICS

Despite not having any gymnasts competing in the all-around in the state team meet March 2 at Hilliard Bradley, Lloyd-Matthews guided Olentangy to a program-best fifth-place finish.

Led by seniors Lexi Jesenovec, Ellie Morgan and Stephanie Miller, junior Wen Holmes and sophomores Olivia Boone and Megan Morgan, the Braves scored a team-record 140.825 points as Brecksville-Broadview Heights won (146.7).

Olentangy, which also advanced four gymnasts to the state individual meet, finished second (139.5) in the district meet Feb. 24 behind Thornville Sheridan (145.425).

The Braves finished ninth in their first state team appearance in 2016 and seventh in 2017.

Mark Marinelli

OLENTANGY LIBERTY

WRESTLING

Coming off back-to-back third-place finishes in the Division I state tournament, Liberty lost a likely state placer in Connor Brady to injury just before the start of the postseason.

Despite Brady's absence, the Patriots again led central Ohio teams in points at the state tournament, scoring 52 to place eighth.

The Patriots had a state champion for the fourth consecutive season in Carson Kharchla (170 pounds), a state runner-up in Trevor Lawson (182) and an eighth-place finisher in Blake Saito (132) as Marinelli was named state Coach of the Year.

Liberty also won its second consecutive OCC-Buckeye title.

Pat Murphy

DUBLIN JEROME

HOCKEY

Coming off a 2016-17 season in which it placed fourth in the Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division and lost in a district semifinal, Jerome made a run to the state tournament for the second time in program history.

The Celtics, who lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 6-1 in a state semifinal March 9 at Nationwide Arena, finished 29-7-3 overall, went 15-1 to earn the CHC-Red title and won their second consecutive Blue Jackets Cup championship as Murphy was named state Coach of the Year.

Jerome is 338-144-43 in 14 seasons under Murphy.

Humphrey Simmons

BEECHCROFT

BOYS BASKETBALL

After posting three consecutive 14-win seasons, Beechcroft had a breakthrough season.

The Cougars beat Eastmoor Academy 71-66 on Feb. 17 to capture their first City League championship since 1983. Beechcroft was the first City-North representative in the City title game other than Northland or Brookhaven since the Cougars' previous appearance in the game in 1994.

Simmons also guided Beechcroft to its first district championship since 2007. The Cougars lost to Bay Village Bay 67-59 in a Division II regional semifinal March 15 at Bowling Green to finish 25-2.

Steven VonSchriltz

DUBLIN COFFMAN

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING

With talented freshman Ellie Andrews joining a nucleus that included Hannah Bailey and Kristyn Sabol, Coffman placed sixth (145 points) in the Division I state meet that concluded Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium to lead all area big-school teams.

Andrews was state runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.09), Bailey placed third in the 100 butterfly (55.2) and Sabol finished fourth in the 100 fly (55.29).

Under VonSchriltz, the Shamrocks also finished first of 10 teams in a sectional Feb. 10 at Kenyon College and placed third in the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University.

Julie Wells

WESTERVILLE CENTRAL

BOYS BOWLING

Under Wells, Central went undefeated in COHSBC and OCC-Buckeye matches, won Division I district and sectional titles and reached the state tournament for the third consecutive year.

The Warhawks, who had won the state title in 2017, entered the championship round of the state tournament March 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl as the No. 3 seed but lost to sixth-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls in a quarterfinal, falling 3-1 in the best-of-five Baker series.

Central went 12-0 in the COHSBC-A and 7-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek