Here are ThisWeek's Coaches of the Year for the winter season. The honorees were announced during the ThisWeek Sports Awards banquet May 22 at Villa Milano:Brian Botzman
GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING
Botzman took a somewhat cautious approach heading into his first season as Columbus School for Girls coach.
After spending the previous six seasons as an assistant for former coach Stephanie Donley, he did not want to disrupt the program.
"I just wanted to be able to keep the ball rolling," Botzman said. "Stephanie built such a tradition and I just want the girls to have fun, work hard and reach their potential. We have a lot of talent in the program and my goal (was) to match what we did last year as a team and try to work on individual improvement."
Botzman achieved that goal and was named Central District girls Coach of the Year in Division II.
The Unicorns won their sixth consecutive CCL championship, earned their seventh consecutive district title and finished fourth (136 points) in the state meet behind champion Gates Mills Hawken (378).
Junior Jordan Aurnou-Rhees defended her state title in the 100-yard butterfly (55.23 seconds) and was runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:02.71), and sophomore Nyah Funderburke won the state title in the 50 freestyle (23.46) and placed third in the 100 fly (55.78).
Steven VonSchriltz, Dublin Coffman (2018)
In addition to being named Division III district Coach of the Year, McKinney was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year award.
He led Africentric to a 28-0 finish that was capped by a 51-47 victory over Waynesville in the state final at Ohio State, the seventh title in the program's 16-year history. The Nubians are tied with Pickerington Central and Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame for most state championships in Ohio history.
"It was just a testament to the ladies locking in," said McKinney, who is 355-63 in 16 seasons with the Nubians.
Africentric opened the season with a 60-55 win over Mount Notre Dame and beat three area Division I powers in Dublin Coffman (81-38), Westerville South (63-47) and Newark (47-45) during the season as well as Northland (64-36) in the City League final.
Ranked third in the nation by USA Today and ESPN and fourth by MaxPreps.com, Africentric also beat one of Illinois' eventual state champions, Danville Schlarman Academy (45-38), and Detroit Edison (65-60), which was ranked fifth in the nation by USA Today.
The Nubians were led by 6-foot-1 senior point guard Jordan Horston, a Tennessee signee who was named Division III state Player of the Year, but also featured one of the area's tallest lineups with 6-4 junior Sakima Walker in the post.
All five of Africentric's starters in the state final, as well as some of its backups, are getting looks from college programs.
Johnathan Hedgepeth, Pickerington Central (2018)
When Morrison took over as coach at Big Walnut, he inherited a program that finished 2-12 the previous season.
The Golden Eagles went 6-9 during his first season in 2016-17 and improved to 10-6 in 2017-18.
Their improvement was even more pronounced this season, as they went 15-2 and made their first state tournament appearance, where they finished 15th (2,686) of 16 teams.
In addition, Big Walnut tied for second in both the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division (9-2) and OCC-Buckeye (5-2).
"There's never going to be another season like this," Morrison said. "It was amazing to see the girls all come together at the same time. We went into this year thinking we all had a chance to do something special."
Kaitlyn Morrison, the coach's daughter, led Big Walnut at the Division I state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, rolling a 534 three-game series to finish 31st of 104 competitors.
Big Walnut qualified for state by finishing second (3,629) in the 16-team district tournament at HP Lanes behind Westerville Central (3,785).
Kelly Ferguson, Gahanna (2018)
A pair of second-period goals in the state final at Nationwide Arena pulled Dublin Jerome within two goals of Cleveland St. Ignatius, a program that has dominated the sport the past few seasons.
Murphy, who is 373-145-43 in 15 seasons at Jerome, didn't take the opportunity lightly.
"We basically said, 'We've got one period left. Let's try to win it,' " said Murphy, the only coach in program history. "We were trying everything we could to get back in it."
St. Ignatius added a fifth goal early in the third period on its way to a 7-2 victory and a fourth consecutive state championship, but it didn't take away from the greatest season in Jerome history.
The Celtics went 35-3-0-1 and became the first team from the area to reach the state final. Central Ohio teams had been 0-12 in state semifinals before Jerome beat Hunting Valley University School 3-2 in overtime.
The Celtics won the Blue Jackets Cup as well as the district title to advance to state for the third time.
Murphy, whose team featured the state's Offensive Player of the Year in forward Trent Belli and two second-team all-state honorees in goaltender Mark Bishopp and defenseman Ryan Jenkins, was named state Coach of the Year and earned ThisWeek Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season.
Pat Murphy, Dublin Jerome (2018)
After its best player suffered a season-ending injury, Olentangy Liberty lost its final seven games in 2017-18 to finish 11-13.
Guided by Nossaman, the Patriots had a complete turnaround this season, winning their second Division I district championship and their first regional title to reach the state tournament at Ohio State, where they lost to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 58-49 in a semifinal to finish 24-5. The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak.
Liberty defeated Hilliard Davidson 72-65 in a district final to avenge a 64-62 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 22 -- its last loss of the regular season.
The Patriots also won the OCC-Buckeye title at 9-1.
"At the beginning of the year, I thought we'd have a good team, but to get to the final four is pretty amazing," said Nossaman, who completed his 11th season with the Patriots.
Ben Roderick, a 6-foot-5 senior forward who missed the final month of last season with a left knee injury after scoring his 1,000th career point, averaged 27.5 points and 7.5 rebounds this season and was named district and OCC-Buckeye Player of the Year as well as first-team all-state.
Liberty also had a third-team all-district player in senior guard Nick Nakasian.
Humphrey Simmons, Beechcroft (2018)
====Chance Van Gundy
During his seven seasons at Dublin Coffman, Van Gundy has used what might seem like a simple mindset to help build the Shamrocks into one of central Ohio's premier programs.
"We just have to work hard, hold each other accountable and see where that lands us as a team," Van Gundy said.
This season, that meant reaching the Division I state dual tournament for the third time, winning a third consecutive league title and advancing an area-best eight wrestlers to the state tournament.
Coffman beat Marysville 40-16 in the Region 5 final to reach the state team tournament, where it lost to Lakewood St. Edward 60-15 in a quarterfinal at St. John Arena.
The Shamrocks also finished 5-0 in the OCC-Central.
In the OHSAA individual postseason, Coffman won sectional and district titles.
At the state tournament at Ohio State, Seth Shumate (195 pounds) won the championship and Lennox Wolak (182) placed fourth.
Mark Marinelli, Olentangy Liberty (2018)
Wells stepped down after 12 years at Westerville Central following the 2017-18 season, but returned early in the season when her successor, Jeff Robinson, was forced to step away because of medical reasons.
In her return, Wells led the Warhawks to a sixth-place finish in the Division I state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. Central placed third of 16 teams in the qualifying round at state before losing to sixth-seeded Ashland in a quarterfinal of the championship round, falling 3-1 in the best-of-five Baker games.
Junior Wesley Minke led the Warhawks at state, finishing 10th of 100 bowlers with a 652 three-game series to earn second-team all-state honors. Senior Devon Richardson finished 15th (636) and was honorable mention all-state.
Central won the district title as well as COHSBC-A and OCC-Buckeye titles, finishing 11-0 in the former league and 7-0 in the latter. Wells, who also was ThisWeek Coach of the Year in 2018, led the Warhawks to their first state title in 2017.
"Coach Wells brought continuity to the season," said Central girls coach Tony Gonzalez, who will oversee both the boys and girls programs next season. "The boys were excited about her return and were very comfortable with her stepping in."
Julie Wells, Westerville Central (2018)
Guiding Dublin Jerome to the state meet for just the second time in the program's 15-year history was what Willms called the "icing on the cake."
"Our motto for the year (was) progress, not perfection," said Willms, who completed her ninth season with the Celtics. "We're just trying to keep it calm and keep it cool for the day. The atmosphere was fun."
As was her goal, the Celtics did take steps forward throughout the season.
They set the program record by scoring 136.05 points in the Hilliard Invitational and surpassed that mark with a 138.9 at the OCC-Cardinal meet to finish first ahead of runner-up Olentangy Berlin (136.55).
Jerome, which won the overall league title with 31 points and a 6-1 dual record, again reset its program record with a 139.8 in the district meet to place second behind Thornville Sheridan (145.205).
Then in the state team meet at Hilliard Bradley, the Celtics scored a 134.475 to finish 11th of 12 teams.
The addition of freshman Raegan Ernst, combined with the return of junior Grace Krouse and sophomore Izzy Willms, helped the Celtics emerge as one of the top teams in the state this season.
Krouse was unable to compete at state, however, after suffering a left knee injury on her final vault at district.
Ernst was district champion in the all-around (36.65) and tied for 12th (36.225) in the state individual meet. She also was the only central Ohio gymnast to reach the state podium, placing fifth on floor exercise with a 9.375.
Misty Lloyd-Matthews, Olentangy (2018)
BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING
In his 14th season, Yakscoe guided Columbus Academy to its fourth consecutive Division II district championship and a fifth-place finish at state.
The Vikings scored 119 points in the state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton to finish behind champion Hunting Valley University School (331) as 61 teams scored.
Academy was led by senior Jacob Eismann, who anchored the runner-up 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 26.28 seconds) and placed third in the 100 backstroke (49.96). He was joined on the relay by seniors Jack Campbell and Eric DeVore and junior Mike DeAscentis.
Also at state, the 200 medley relay of Eismann, Campbell, DeVore and DeAscentis placed third (1:35.16), the 400 free relay of Campbell, DeVore, DeAscentis and junior James Cao finished sixth (3:17.07) and DeAscentis was eighth in the 100 free (48.63).
Academy also won sectional and district titles.
"Coach Yakscoe does a great job of helping his athletes relax and enjoy the competition," athletics director Dominic Facciolla said. "His teams always perform well during the season's biggest events."
Patrick Johnston, Dublin Jerome (2018)