With the winter season having concluded, it's time to announce our Athletes of the Year.
With the winter season having concluded, it's time to announce our Athletes of the Year. The boys and girls basketball honorees were captains of the previously announced Super 12 teams. Central Crossing's Kameron Teacher was named the top wrestler. A story on him can be found on ThisWeekSPORTS.com.Meche'la Cobb
After losing her junior season to a torn left ACL, this 6-foot guard sparked New Albany by averaging 19.9 points, 10 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals.
According to coach Jeff Blunt, Cobb inspired her teammates with her play and her positive attitude.
"She was terrific on and off the court this year, and I think a lot of that comes from her going from being individualistic to more of a team-based player," Blunt said. "As we picked up the pieces from this season, she was very concerned about missing her teammates and her coaches. She was a shoulder to lean on. She was everywhere we needed her to be."
Cobb, who will play at Ohio University, led New Albany to a 14-11 overall record and a 9-5 mark in the OCC-Capital Division, as well as to the cusp of the program's first Division I district championship. The Eagles lost to Upper Arlington 59-47 in a district final Feb. 27.
"I'm going to miss New Albany," Cobb said. "We had a great season and got farther than some people thought we would. We almost got a district championship, and I'm so happy I could do it with this team."Darian Connors
The Hilliard Bradley senior was state runner-up on the balance beam, representing the highest finish of any area competitor at state.
Connors scored a 9.4 on beam at state March 5 at Bradley to finish behind Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Alecia Farina (9.625) as 35 gymnasts competed.
Connors, in her first season with the Jaguars after competing at the club level, also reached state on vault and in the all-around. She tied for 16th (9.075) of 36 gymnasts on vault and finished 11th (35.9) of 33 in the all-around.
"We would've loved to have had Darian for all four years, not just because of her skills, but because she did a wonderful job of embracing the program and all of her teammates," coach Carol Eskay said. "She was a great fit for the team and is a hard worker. She's just a great young lady all around."
Connors won district titles in the all-around (35.75) and on beam (9.425) and placed third on vault (9.05). She also helped Bradley win its fourth consecutive OCC-Capital title by finishing first in the all-around (35.725) and placing second on beam (9.2) and vault (9.025).Alex Fleetwood
Fleetwood, a sophomore, led central Ohio with a 224 average and helped Westerville Central reach the Division I state tournament March 4 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
He also led the Warhawks to two league titles, as they won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North and OCC-Cardinal.
His average surpassed Central's program record of 223 set by Jay Foote in the 2007-08 season.
"He's an awesome kid. He's very unassuming," coach Julie Wells said. "He works hard at his game and he probably practices more than any other kid on the team."
Fleetwood, who bowls year-round, had a high game of 279 and high three-game series of 721.
"I had a great season," he said. "I never thought I would bowl this well. You just have to practice a lot. That's how it happened."
Fleetwood had a 643 series at state after rolling a 599 at district and a 607 at sectional.
Central finished seventh (3,771) of 16 teams during qualifying play at state, as the top eight advanced to the finals. The Warhawks then lost to Wapakoneta 3-1 in a best-of-five first-round match.Grant Powell
The senior goaltender helped lead Dublin Coffman to the state tournament for the first time since 2010 and nearly propelled the Shamrocks into the state final with a 38-save performance in a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Hunting Valley University School in a semifinal March 10 at Nationwide Arena.
Powell went 21-7-2 with a .908 save percentage and a 1.78 goals-against average and was named honorable mention all-state and first-team all-Capital Hockey Conference and all-CHC-Red Division.
"He's been a big part of the program for four years, he played as a freshman," coach Darcy Cahill said. "You need a goalie in (this) sport and he probably proved himself to be the top goalie in the state."
Coffman finished 25-8-3, won its second district title by defeating Upper Arlington 5-2 on March 5 and won its first Blue Jackets Cup since 2009.
"I'm pretty happy with the way I played (this season)," Powell said. "It came down to all of my focus all year and all the hard work me and a lot of my teammates put in (during) the offseason. That's what really paid off. I can't take all the credit."Madison Stiffler
The Whitehall sophomore capped an impressive season by winning the Division I individual state championship March 5 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Stiffler won the title with a 719 three-game series, finishing first of 195 bowlers.
She also was named MSL Bowler of the Year for the second consecutive season.
"I'm extremely proud," coach Jess Biller said. "She's a very dedicated person. She has a 4.3 grade-point average. She was the Mid-State League Bowler of the Year, the state champion, I couldn't be more proud."
With Stiffler leading the way with a 204.5 league average and high league game of 255, the Rams won their first Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South title since 2011, going 13-0 to finish ahead of Briggs (12-1).
Stiffler credits her teammates for assisting in the Rams' success and also the motivation of playing to honor her father, Keith, who died Sept. 27.
"I really wanted to do great for my dad and show everyone that I'm here and show all these coaches that Whitehall is a big place and they should be scared of us," Stiffler said.Cameron Thatcher
BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING
Thatcher, a senior diver at Olentangy Liberty, won his second consecutive Division I state title and built on his record-setting junior season in the process.
Thatcher scored a state meet- and pool-record 633.8 points Feb. 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, three points ahead of the previous record mark of 630.8 he set in last year's state meet.
In the district meet Feb. 19 at Ohio State, Thatcher won with a meet-record 645.3 points.
He set the state record of 650.85 in a regular-season competition in February 2015.
Thatcher, a Stanford recruit, also was second at state as a sophomore and sixth as a freshman.
In October, Thatcher and teammate Grayson Campbell won gold in 14-18 synchronized 3-meter diving at the Junior Pan American Diving Championships in Matanzas, Cuba.
"Cameron showed a very high level of calm throughout his high school season," coach Jen White said. Coming in as a defender of the state title, he was hoping to reset the state records by preparing more difficult dives by the state meet. His success is attributed to his dedication to his training."Seth Towns
This 6-7 senior forward averaged an area-best 31.6 points along with 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals, leading Northland to a 21-3 record and its ninth City League championship in 10 seasons.
Towns, who has committed to Harvard, averaged about 10 more points than last season. He shot nearly 80 percent from the free-throw line and better than 40 percent from 3-point range.
"He always plays with a chip on his shoulder because he doesn't feel he's respected," coach Sean Taylor said. "There's always this guy who's better or that guy, that he's not quick enough.
"He's put in the time and wants to get better. He's one of the best players I've ever been able to work with."
Towns is just the fourth boys basketball player to be named ThisWeek Super 12 captain two years in a row, joining 2010 Northland graduate Jared Sullinger, 2005 Brookhaven graduate Jamelle Cornley and 1997 Westland graduate Doug Davis, each of whom earned the honor as a junior and senior.
He is Northland's all-time leading scorer with 2,018 points, surpassing Sullinger (1,932).Katie Trace
GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING
Trace, a junior at Upper Arlington, won her first two Division I individual state titles this year to help the Golden Bears repeat as state champions.
Trace won the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 47.23 seconds) and 500 free (4:49.5) on Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, and was on the winning 200 free relay (1:34.07) to help UA win its 11th overall state championship.
Trace also repeated as district champion in the 500 free, won the 200 free and helped the 200 free and 400 free relays to championships.
She also has qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400-meter individual medley. The Olympic Trials will be held June 26-July 3 in Omaha, Neb.
The top two swimmers in each event earn automatic berths to the Olympic Games, which will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro.
"There is no secret as to why Katie is successful," coach Dan Peterkoski said. "I have been blessed with many kids that are willing to work very hard, and Katie is definitely one of them. Each year Katie has taken her training to another level. This is the reason for her continued improvement."