As the fall season winds down, it's time to announce our Athletes of the Year.
As the fall season winds down, it's time to announce our Athletes of the Year.
The girls soccer honoree was captain of the previously announced Super 12 team, and the boys soccer honoree, Kristo Strickler, is the captain of that Super 12 team. His bio can be found here. The football honoree is the captain of the Super 25 team, which will be announced during an awards banquet Wednesday, Nov. 30.
The Olentangy Orange sophomore had a 74.8 average and led the Pioneers to the school's first state team title in any sport.
Au shot a 72 in the Division I state tournament Oct. 22 at Ohio State's Gray Course to place third, one stroke behind co-medalists Abby Kiefer of Dublin Jerome and Madison Butler of Medina Highland. Orange and Highland both shot 311, but the Pioneers won the championship on the fifth-score tiebreaker.
Au placed second (72) at district Oct. 11 at The Links at Groveport, as Orange (327) edged Jerome (330) to win its first district title.
"I think her mentality sets Ashley apart," coach Cari DeAngelis said. "She seems be ahead of the pack by sticking with a game plan, even when things don't seem to be going right."
Orange won its first league championship, tying Jerome for the OCC-Cardinal Division title at 26-2. Au was league medalist with a 72.5 average in the four-round tournament.
"Ashley's ball-striking is very good. You don't see a lot of wayward shots from her," DeAngelis said. "She also hits the ball pretty far and gets everything out of her swing."
The junior goalkeeper helped Gahanna produce the best season in program history.
Hensley allowed only six goals in 21 games and posted 15 shutouts, including two in five postseason games, as the Lions finished 18-1-2 overall, won the OCC-Ohio title at 5-0 and reached a Division I regional final for the first time.
Hensley finished with 80 saves, including eight in a 1-0 regional final loss to Pickerington North on Nov. 5, and saved 91 percent of the shots she faced. In a regional semifinal against Olentangy Liberty on Nov. 1, she batted away the first two shootout attempts, and the Lions went on to a 2-1 victory that included a 4-2 advantage in the shootout.
Hensley, who is 5-foot-7, was named first-team all-state and all-district as well as OCC-Ohio Player of the Year and captain of the ThisWeek Super 12 team.
"Our schedule is really tough and she usually had to play all game long because we don't blow people out," coach Bob McGee said. "She's good in the air and she's smart. We're starting two freshmen (on defense), so for us to be successful, we had to have that person in the back."
Girls Cross Country
The Hilliard Davidson senior capped a stellar prep career by winning the Division I state title Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway in record fashion.
Johnson finished first of 178 runners in a course-record 17 minutes, 28.6 seconds.
She also won regional, district and OCC-Central titles.
Johnson, who has committed to compete in cross country and track and field at Michigan State, led the Wildcats to the league title Oct. 15 at Hilliard Bradley and the district 1 title Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial.
She placed second of 284 runners in a personal-record 17:07.5 in the Nike Cross Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 13 in Terre Haute, Indiana, to qualify for the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 3 in Portland, Oregon.
"India's cross country season has been a culmination of many months and years of physical and mental hard work, each season laying the groundwork for the next," coach Nathan King said. "She has pursued our team values to the highest degree: dream big, team over self and commitment to the little things. India's relentless pursuit of the next level has taken her from a mid-pack varsity runner as a freshman to a nationals qualifier as a senior."
Boys Cross Country
Moore has the ability to push himself to the limit, and beyond.
The Olentangy Orange senior won the Division I regional meet Oct. 29 at Pickerington North in 15:28.48, but collapsed while leading the state meet Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway with 400 meters remaining. He went on to finish eighth in 15:20.9, earning all-state honors for the third consecutive year.
"I have never coached a kid like Hunter before who has the right mix of work ethic and his willingness to embrace the pain of running a 5K," coach Adam Walters said. "He embraces that pain and he will push himself to the limit, and then some, just like at state."
Moore also won the district 2 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial (15:16.8) and the OCC-Buckeye meet Oct. 15 at Hilliard Bradley (15:48.59), leading the Pioneers to their second consecutive league title.
His personal-best of 14:58.4 came in the Les Eisenhart Invitational Oct. 8 at Thomas Worthington.
"Hunter broke 15 minutes and I never thought I would coach a kid that would break 15," Walters said. "He has been amazing to watch."
The 6-foot-3 senior middle hitter led the way for Hilliard Davidson, which finished 21-4 overall, placed second in the OCC-Central and was a Division I district finalist.
Paris, who has committed to the University of Kentucky, totaled 370 kills, 212 digs, 70 blocks and 29 aces and was named district and OCC-Central Player of the Year and first-team all-state.
Paris, who finished her prep career with more than 1,250 kills, also was named second-team Under Armour All-American.
"Kendyl has been a special player since her freshman year," said coach Betty Cameron, whose second-seeded Wildcats lost to third-seeded Gahanna 25-21, 25-20, 25-20 in a district final Oct. 29. "She has been very composed on the court no matter the outcome. She has been a leader, not only in her play, but also as a verbal leader, the last two years. Her overall competitive nature and the will to get better every day makes Kendyl a unique player and person. She has definitely made a positive impact at Davidson."
The Wildcats went 8-2 in the OCC-Central to finish as runners-up to Dublin Coffman (10-0).
The sophomore goalkeeper helped Thomas Worthington repeat as state champion, allowing only two goals in five postseason games.
The Cardinals captured their second consecutive title with a 3-0 win over Shaker Heights on Nov. 5 at Upper Arlington, scoring all three goals in the final 7:27.
Thomas' defense, led by Perese, kept the Cardinals in the game until their offense converted.
"She has done that all year," said coach Terri Simonetti Frost, whose team finished 18-3. "She kept us in every game. When we struggled at times offensively during the regular season, she always gave us a chance to win."
Perese, who allowed only eight goals and made 93 saves in 21 games, was named all-state.
Before the season, she was invited to take part in the United States Field Hockey Futures Program and compete in the USFHA National Futures tournament, the AAU Junior Olympics and the USFHA National Festival.
Perese also was invited to the tryouts for the U17 National Team in December and was selected as a USFHA U16 Elite Athlete, making her one of the top 100 players in the country in her age group.
Girls Water Polo
The senior stood out as a goalkeeper as Upper Arlington won its third consecutive state championship, sixth in seven years and 16th overall.
Trace, who was in her first season as UA's full-time starting goalie, stopped 200 of 327 shots (61.2 percent) in 30 games. She also made 16 steals.
UA went 27-1-1, defeating Napoleon 11-3 in the state final Oct. 22 at Cincinnati Princeton.
Trace stopped 27 of 31 shots in three state tournament games and 68 of 80 in her final eight games for the Bears, who have not lost to an in-state opponent since Oct. 26, 2013.
"She was a big reason why we had the success we did," coach Dan Peterkoski said. "Goalkeeper can be a lonely spot. She took it upon herself to work hard, and it takes a self-motivated person to do that. She improved greatly throughout the year. It was as much improvement as I've seen from anyone in any particular position."
A four-year varsity player, Trace earned some time in goal as a junior behind 2016 graduate Emma Griffith but usually played in the field before this season.
In swimming, Trace is a two-time Division I state qualifier.
The Centennial sophomore went 15-1 this season and finished third in singles in the Division I state tournament.
Weil lost to Hudson's Molly Sandberg 7-5, 6-2 in a state semifinal but bounced back to defeat Cincinnati Turpin's Caitlin Fisher 6-0, 6-1 in the third-place match Oct. 22 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Weil is believed to be the first City League tennis player to qualify for the state tournament since Walnut Ridge won the doubles title in 1986.
"She is so fun to watch, so technical and smooth," coach Barbara Stevenson said. "She's got a great serve. She volleys well and chips and charges. I could watch her play all day every day and never get tired of seeing it."
This was Weil's first year of high school competition. She is a member of Olympic Indoor Tennis and also has attended clinics at The Players' Club and Ohio State. Her mother, Susan, is the coach at Watterson.
"I had so much fun with my teammates and it was a special year," Weil said. "I don't know which is better for me in the long run – club or high school. I do know that if I play high school again, it will be at Centennial."
Boys Water Polo
Wilson had a record-setting season as Upper Arlington finished fifth at the state tournament.
The senior scored a program-record 147 goals and had 33 assists, ranking second on the team behind Gavin Voss' 36. UA finished 26-6, defeating Cincinnati Sycamore 19-3 in the fifth-place game at state Oct. 29 at Mason.
Wilson edged the single-season goals record held by assistant coach J.J. Spangler, who scored 146 as a senior in 2009.
Wilson, who had 131 goals, a program-record 144 steals and 26 blocks as a junior, also set program records in career steals (393), blocks (51) and shooting percentage (55 percent). His 327 goals rank second all-time at UA behind the 348 scored by Alex Miranda, who played from 2004-07.
"Drew has been a cornerstone of our program for his four-year career as a Bear, (during) all of which he started for us," coach Mike de Bear said. "He leaves as one of if not the best player in the history of our school, and has been a leader both in and out of the water. His career numbers show much of his legacy, but it is (about) much more than that."
Yakubov played his best in the biggest events for St. Charles.
The senior and Upper Arlington resident was co-medalist in the one-day Division I state tournament Oct. 22 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course, shooting a 71 to tie Cincinnati St. Xavier's Cameron Frazier for first.
St. Charles was state runner-up (307) to St. Xavier (303).
The Indiana University signee also was medalist at district Oct. 11 at Apple Valley, carding a 69 to lead the Cardinals to their second district title in three seasons. St. Charles shot 297 to edge Jerome (300).
Yakubov finished the season with a 72.4 average and earned first-team all-state, all-district and all-CCL honors. Last year, he averaged 75.
The Cardinals won their ninth consecutive CCL title this season, going 8-0 as Hartley and Watterson tied for second at 5-3.
"Evan had been splitting time playing tennis, but he really dedicated himself to golf over the summer," co-coach Brian Unk said. "Physically, Evan is very gifted and the mechanics of his swing are really sound. He's a really smart player and he's always working toward getting better."