Now that the school year is over and summer is upon us, it's time to announce our Athletes of the Year for the spring season. Here are the honorees:
Now that the school year is over and summer is upon us, it's time to announce our Athletes of the Year for the spring season. Here are the honorees:Cael Baker, baseball
Despite losing 13 players from 2015 to graduation, Gahanna Lincoln set the program record for wins, and the play of Baker was a big reason why.
The junior catcher batted .476 with seven home runs and 50 RBI and committed just two errors in 30 games as the Lions finished 26-4 overall.
Gahanna also won its first league championship since 2005, going 12-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division, and reached a Division I regional final before losing to eventual state champion Pickerington North 3-2 on May 27.
A University of Cincinnati recruit, Baker was named Division I state Player of the Year, becoming the second Gahanna player in three years to receive that honor after Evan White in 2014. Baker, who is the Lions' all-time leader in home runs with 15, also was named first-team all-district and OCC-Ohio Player of the Year.
"(He's a) leader on and off the field," coach Mike Shade said. "He was one of our captains as a junior, a three-year starter that just loves to compete.
"He is a game changer. He was clutch for us. When he had the opportunity to drive in a run, he did it."Dejon Clark, boys volleyball
The senior setter and outside hitter recorded 352 kills and 235 assists to lead Pickerington North to its first Division I state tournament appearance.
An Ohio State recruit, Clark made first-team all-league, all-East Region and all-state for the second consecutive season and was runner-up for state Player of the Year honors this year behind Cincinnati Moeller's David Wernery.
North finished 22-6 overall and 10-0 in the OCC-Capital, losing to Centerville 25-23, 30-28, 26-24 in a state quarterfinal May 28.
Clark owns program records for kills in a match (26), kills in a season (353), career kills (677), aces in a match (16), aces in a season (97) and career aces (246).
"Dejon has been a marquee player in our program and his legacy will live on for many years to come," coach Marci Truex said.
"He was always willing to help his teammates be better and he led by example. His ability to move on to the next ball and play will make his college career all the more exciting. ... He is smart and a hard-working student and is well respected by any and all players, opponents and coaches."Liza Hernandez, girls lacrosse
The senior attacker scored a school-record 83 goals and had 24 assists, nine interceptions and 141 draw controls to lead New Albany, which won its first regional championship since 2013 and fell two wins short of the Division I state title.
The Ohio State recruit also won 68 ground balls and caused 37 turnovers as the Eagles finished 19-4 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital. New Albany lost to Massillon Jackson 8-7 in a state semifinal June 3.
According to coach Dave Ferguson, Hernandez is believed to be the first three-time All-American from central Ohio. This year, she was named first-team all-league, all-South/Central Region and all-state.
"Liza is the most complete lacrosse player to come out of our program since its inception and we have had many great players," Ferguson said. "Her athletic ability is incredible. She is a high-impact player that separates herself from the best players on the field. She has incredible field vision (and) IQ, speed, quickness and balance. ... She is humble, a great teammate and (a great) person."Madi Huck, softball
Huck had great numbers in the circle and at the plate for Delaware Hayes.
She was the pitcher of record in every game for the Pacers (23-1) and had a 0.50 ERA with 230 strikeouts and 27 walks in 140 innings. She also batted .556 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI.
Huck was named first-team all-state for the second season in a row and was named the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year, helping Delaware set program records for wins, consecutive wins (23), shutouts (14), fewest runs allowed in a season (21) and fewest regular-season runs allowed (17). The Pacers also won the OCC-Capital title at 14-0 and were ranked first in the final Division I state poll.
"There are a lot of great softball players in central Ohio in every division, so to earn this award is special," said Huck, a Kent State signee. "They are all special. All of them also reflect on my teammates and coaches. We had a great year as a team and awards like this prove it."
Delaware lost to Olentangy Liberty 4-3 in a district semifinal May 16.
"She was a true leader and a dominant force on the team," coach Mark Thomas said.Andrew Jordan, boys tracks & field
Jordan concluded his standout career for Watkins Memorial when he won the 3,200 meters in the state meet June 4 at Ohio State.
He set the Division I state meet record and the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium record by finishing in 8 minutes, 54.96 seconds.
"When I came in as a freshman, I didn't know what I was doing," Jordan said. "This was a four-year buildup and I couldn't have asked for a better senior season."
In the fall, he won the Division I state cross country title in a course-record 14:54 at National Trail Raceway.
Jordan, who will compete in cross country and track at Iowa State, set seven Watkins Memorial track records this season. He owns individual marks in the 800 (1:53.03), 3,200 (8:46.72), 1,600 (4:10.2) and 5,000 (14:41.28) and was part of three record-setting relays -- the 3,200 (8:01.64), 6,400 relay (18:14.4) and distance medley (10:53.6), which includes the 400, 800, 1,200 and 1,600.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime kid that I'm thrilled I had the chance to coach," 38th-year coach Marty Dahlman said. "He's a national-level kid and they just don't come around often."Danny Logan, boys lacrosse
The senior midfielder helped lead Upper Arlington to its fifth Division I state championship in seven years and the program's 16th overall.
Logan scored 46 goals and made first-team all-OCC-Buckeye, all-Central Region and all-state for the second consecutive year. He also was named Player of the Year in the OCC-Buckeye, region and state as well as state Midfielder of the Year.
The Golden Bears finished 20-3 overall, 7-0 in the league and defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius 17-5 in the state championship game June 4.
Also a running back, wide receiver and punter on UA's football team and a forward on the Bears' hockey team, Logan will play lacrosse at the University of Denver. The Pioneers were national champions in 2015.
"(Logan) is a great leader for all of our guys," coach Ted Wolford said. "There is nobody that we play against that we would have a hard time matching up with (partly because of Logan), and our guys get to go against Danny every day in practice and see him do tremendous things. I just think he is phenomenal on and off the field."Abby Steiner, girls track & field
Steiner delivered one memorable performance after another for Dublin Coffman.
She won the 100 (11.87) and 200 (23.92) in the Division I state meet June 4 at Ohio State and was the anchor of the first-place 800 relay (program-record 1:38.53).
Steiner also won regional, district and OCC-Central titles in the 100 and 200.
The sophomore holds program records in the 100 (11.6) and 200 (23.75). Last season at state, she won the 200 (23.96) and was second in the 100 (11.89).
"Abby has a fanatical determination to win," coach Greg King said. "She's really, really fast and is one of the fiercest competitors that I have ever coached."
Steiner also won the 60 (7.38) and 200 (24.07) in meet-record times in the Division I state indoor meet March 5 at the University of Akron.
She is one of the state's top soccer players and plans to attend the University of Kentucky to compete in both sports. Her track participation was limited until late April because of club soccer.
"Abby has good leg turnover and has worked hard on her leg mechanics," King said. "She is not only fast, but she does it very efficiently."Jacob Wareti, boys tennis
The Columbus Academy senior capped his standout prep career by competing in a state doubleheader.
On May 28 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Wareti placed third in the Division II individual state tournament. The next day at Reynoldsburg, he helped Academy finish third in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division II team state tournament.
The Vikings lost to Cincinnati Country Day 3-2 in a semifinal before bouncing back to beat Toledo Ottawa Hills 3-0 in the third-place match.
Against Country Day, Wareti avenged his 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 loss to Kevin Yu in a semifinal of the state individual tournament by defeating Yu 7-6, 6-2.
He finished his career 105-19 and will play at Ohio State.
"As talented as he is as a tennis player, he's an even better person and leader," coach Jeff Warstler said. "He's played on four final four (OTCA) teams and has an individual doubles title and a second and a third in singles. Jake will definitely go down as one of the most decorated players in the history of Academy tennis."