Here are ThisWeek's Coaches of the Year for the fall season. The honorees were announced during the ThisWeek Sports Awards banquet Nov. 28 at Villa Milano.Ryan Beck
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Even with none of its runners finishing among the top 10 in the Division I regional meet, the Gahanna boys cross country team earned the runner-up trophy and advanced to state for the first time since 2004.
The Lions went on to place a program-best seventh (244 points) at state behind champion Hudson (107).
It was a considerable improvement from 2017 when Gahanna finished 13th at regional and had four seniors among its regional competitors.
"One of our strengths all year long has been that they're a true team, so when someone is having a rough day, someone else picks them up," said Beck, who completed his sixth season.
The biggest change from 2017 was the addition of junior Ben Towler, a former DeSales standout who teamed with junior Riley Jackson to give the Lions a strong top two.
Towler finished 21st of 186 runners at state in 16 minutes, 32 seconds, followed by Jackson (57th, 16:57), sophomores Steffano Molina (68th, 17:02.2) and Connor Hughes-Hemsoth (111th, 17:23.2), seniors Evan Pfeifer (132nd, 17:37) and Mitchell Webb (152nd, 17:51.8) and junior Ryan Mehalic (153rd, 17:52.2).
Only Molina and Pfeifer were among the Lions' top seven runners last season.
"(Beck) is so amazing," Towler said. "I've never had a coach like coach Beck. He knows everything about cross country. He lives and breathes cross country and is such a great person, too."
Pat Schlecht, Hilliard Davidson (2017)
The only coach in the history of Olentangy Liberty's program, Chapman guided the Patriots to new heights this season.
After earning its first Division I district championship in 2015, Liberty was a district runner-up each of the past two seasons.
This fall, the Patriots put together their first perfect regular season and earned the No. 1 seed in the district.
Liberty upset three-time defending regional champion Dublin Coffman 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 14-25, 25-11 in a regional semifinal and beat Olentangy Orange 31-29, 21-25, 25-17, 13-25, 15-13 for its first regional title.
The Patriots lost 25-22, 25-13, 25-19 to eventual state champion Cincinnati Ursuline in a semifinal to finish 27-1.
"I look at these girls as setting the standard," Chapman said. "They're good role models for the program and they're going to be missed next year for sure, but the standard they set, what the other underclassmen have seen, is going to do really well for our program."
Liberty, which shared the OCC-Buckeye Division title with Orange in 2017, also beat the Pioneers twice during the regular season this fall to win the league title outright.
Mary Ann Souder, Dublin Coffman (2017)
During D'Auteuil's two seasons as coach, Olentangy Liberty has yet to lose to a Central District opponent and twice was the No. 1 seed for the Division I district tournament.
The Patriots lost in a district final in 2017 when they were ranked No. 1 in the state poll for much of the season, but this fall they completed the job.
After being ranked second in the final state poll, Liberty beat Westerville Central 6-1 in a district final and followed with victories over Pickerington North (2-0) and St. Charles (2-1 in overtime) in the regional tournament.
The win in the regional final came just two days after D'Auteuil and his wife, Lauren, celebrated the birth of their third child.
Making their first state tournament appearance since 2014 and fifth overall, the Patriots lost to eventual runner-up Cin-cinnati Moeller 1-0 in overtime in a semifinal to finish 18-3.
Liberty's other losses came against Moeller (2-1) and state semifinalist Cleveland St. Ignatius (2-0) during the regular season.
"We've gotten our program back to where it was at the beginning of the decade," D'Auteuil said. "We haven't had a week where we've been ranked lower than third in the state the last two years and we've been No. 1 in area the past two years, and central Ohio has been strong the past two years in soccer."
Liberty, which has gone a combined 32-5-2 under D'Auteuil, won four more games this fall than it did in 2017 despite losing nine players to graduation, including midfielder and Marshall recruit Colin McCort.
"We've just got a really, really strong group of kids," D'Auteuil said. "They put up with me and we kind of push them."
James Gerdes, Grandview (2017)
Among the goals Watterson set this fall was winning a Division I district championship despite going just 8-8-3 a season ago.
"I can't really speak for the team last year because I was not a part of the program, but as far as this year goes, we have an exceptional team culture," said senior Emma Schossler, who played for the Eagles as a freshman but competed for a club team as a sophomore and junior. "Our team is very relaxed in big games and we tend to not overthink situations."
In his second season as coach, Dempsey guided the Eagles to an 18-2-2 record that included their first appearance in the state tournament since 1998. Watterson lost to Beavercreek 2-1 in a state semifinal.
"It's been a great year from start to finish, and the girls have really believed in everything we're trying to do," Dempsey said. "They play so well together. Last year, we played well in the second half (of the season) ... and I think we picked up where we left off."
This fall, the Eagles won the CCL at 4-0 and were sixth in the final state poll as Schossler was named first-team all-state.
Drew Pitzer, Big Walnut (2017)
BOYS WATER POLO
Gear led St. Charles to its first state title since 2014 by defeating second-ranked Cincinnati Sycamore 17-6 in the championship match at Mason.
The top-ranked Cardinals went 3-0 in the two-day state tournament to finish 38-3 in Gear's 12th season. None of their losses came against an in-state opponent.
"Coach Gear has been here awhile and has done a great job representing the school," athletics director Dave Lawler said. "He always does a great job of getting his kids prepared to play and he instills a great work ethic in his athletes."
St. Charles has won five state titles, with the first three coming in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The Cardinals were state runners-up each of the past two seasons.
"I think coach Gear is second to none in any sport," said senior center/wing player Jon Sugar, who finished the season with 101 goals, 63 assists, 67 steals and five blocks and was named state Player of the Year. "His ability to take a bunch of kids with a bunch of different egos and bring them together every single year is just incredible."
Rick Yurich, Thomas Worthington (2017)
A mainstay at Columbus Academy since 1991, Horton guided the Vikings to their Ohio-record 11th state championship.
Academy defeated Cincinnati Ursuline 3-0 in a semifinal and Hudson 3-0 in the final at Upper Arlington for its first state title since 2013. The Vikings finished 21-0 and outscored their opponents 138-1.
Against Hudson, freshman midfielder Carolyn Vaziri and sophomore attacker Charlotte Adams both scored in the first half and senior attacker Jenny L'Hommedieu added a goal in the second half, while junior goalkeeper Alex Phelps had to make just one save.
Academy earned the top seed for the district tournament and defeated fourth-seeded Watterson 1-0 in a final.
The Vikings also went 8-0 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division to win the championship.
In addition to winning 11 state titles, Horton has compiled a 475-39-27 record and won 22 district titles during her 28 seasons with the Vikings.
"She's been a great role model and pushed me to do my best," junior midfielder and North Carolina commit Kiersten Thomassey said. "I love her to death."
"She's really helped grow my game," sophomore midfielder Regan Cornelius said. "She pushes me every single day, whether it's to do better in drills or really improve the simple things of the game, because that's what really makes me good."
Terri Simonetti Frost, Thomas Worthington (2017)
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Led by King, Hilliard Davidson continues to be one of the elite programs in the state.
King has led the Wildcats to a team state berth in all seven of his seasons, including a seventh-place finish this year in Division I.
The Wildcats placed third at state in 2014 and fourth in 2015.
A day after competing in this year's state meet, Davidson finished fourth (233) of 28 teams in the NXR Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Indiana, as the North Naperville (Illinois) club team (73) won.
At state, sophomore Lindsay Stull placed ninth of 176 runners in 18:39.7 to earn all-state honors. She was followed by junior Sophia Hoersten (35th, 19:20.8), junior Sydney Petersen (54th, 19:48), senior Ellie Tighe (95th, 20:22.2), sophomore Ava Hoersten (135th, 20:52.9), senior Sophie Lewis (142nd, 20:57.2) and sophomore Justine Smith (151st, 21:12.3).
"(King) puts in so much time and effort for us," Lewis said. "He's a great coach. He's always doing the readings of everything and he's just making sure that everything is great with every part of us, mentally and physically. He's been such a great coach over the past four years. I've loved coming to practice every day and seeing him."
Also this season, Davidson won district, regional and OCC-Central Division titles.
Darrell Dewese, Olentangy Liberty (2017)
After placing second in a Division III sectional, one stroke behind 2017 state champion Worthington Christian, Wellington knew it would be in for a battle the following week for the district's only state-qualifying berth.
It again came down to one stroke between the state's top two teams, and the Jaguars shot a 295 in the district tournament to edge the Warriors and head into state as the heavy favorite.
Wellington's district score was 23 strokes better than what it shot in 2017 when it was district runner-up with the same five players competing.
"We've been close with Worthington Christian all year," Mosier said. "I couldn't be any more proud of how they held themselves together."
Then at state, the Jaguars shot a Division III state-tournament record 610, including a 295 in the opening round that also is a state record for the division.
"It's a two-day tournament for a reason," said Mosier, whose team had the second-best final round but still won the title by seven strokes.
Craig Yakscoe, Columbus Academy (2017)
GIRLS WATER POLO
Upper Arlington hasn't placed below third in the state tournament during Peterkoski's 16 seasons, but this year's state runner-up finish came with a less-experienced group than those in years past.
Despite having just two returnees, the Golden Bears went 23-12 and reached the state final, where they lost to the Cincinnati Mavericks 11-8.
Peterkoski has a 411-62-6 record at UA, which has won 11 state titles (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016) under his guidance.
This year's team peaked during the second half of the season, winning 11 consecutive games to reach the state final.
"Even though we finished second at state last year, this year it felt a lot different. This was a great accomplishment," sophomore Caroline Colombo said. "It's amazing how (Peterkoski) works so well with us."
In his second year at New Albany, Ritter led the Eagles to perhaps the greatest season in state history.
In its first state appearance, New Albany won the Division I title, shooting a state-tournament record of 592 over two rounds to defeat Olentangy Orange by 26 strokes. The Eagles' second-round score of 292 also is a tournament record.
New Albany, which finished the season 187-0, also won a sectional title by 25 strokes and the district title by 17.
"(Ritter) has helped so much, from putting us in big-time tournaments to changing how we practice. He spends so much time with us and away from his family. We appreciate him so much," senior Morgan Pankow said. "He had us read a book over the winter, 'Your 15th Club,' by Bob Rotella. It's all about the mental side of golf and discussing different methods of preparation and rebounding from adversity while we're playing. I feel like it was a huge help for the team."
Four of the Eagles' top five players are eligible to return.
Cari DeAngelis, Olentangy Orange (2017)
Storrer and members of her Olentangy Orange team set two season goals and achieved both.
One was to win the OCC-Buckeye Division championship. That goal was accomplished by going 5-0.
The second was to reach the Division I Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team state tournament for the first time. The Pioneers achieved that goal by defeating Dublin Jerome 3-0 in the district final.
In the state tournament, the Pioneers lost to Rocky River Magnificat 3-2 in a semifinal and fell to Perrysburg 3-2 in the third-place match.
"I think Susan does an excellent job of putting the right players in the right places," athletics director Buck Weaver said. "It's an individual sport, but she looks at it as a team sport.
"She is one of our better coaches at Orange. She has such high expectations for all of the girls, and she truly cares about each one of them."
Orange finished 14-4 overall this season, Storrer's third.
"Coach Storrer is big on having us set goals," said Livie Mauger, the Pioneers' lone senior. "One day before the season, we took note cards and wrote what we wanted our goals to be. We wanted to win the league and to reach the state team tournament, and we did both of those."
Ken Berlin, Dublin Jerome (2017)
In the five seasons before White took over as coach in 2011, Reynoldsburg went a combined 12-38.
The Raiders have had just one losing season since, hitting a new peak this fall by going 10-2 and winning a share of their first league title since 1993.
Reynoldsburg rallied to beat Pickerington North 33-31 in Week 6 and defeated Pickerington Central 24-21 in Week 9, marking the first time the Raiders had beaten both teams in the same season. Then in Week 10, Reynoldsburg beat Lancaster 28-7 to forge a tie for the OCC-Ohio title at 4-1 and lock up the No. 1 seed for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.
The Raiders, whose season ended with a 10-0 loss to fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal, have made two of their three playoff appearances under White, who is 51-32 in eight seasons.
"Coach White has invested so much into the Reynoldsburg football program and it is gratifying to see those efforts rewarded with the success that our team experienced this year," athletics director Jacob Perkins said. "It truly was a memorable and historic season for Raider football. In 2018, the program has taken that next step by finally beating both Pickerington schools in the same season and capturing the (OCC-Ohio) championship in arguably the toughest division in the state."
Mike LoParo, Hilliard Bradley (2017)