Here are ThisWeek's Coaches of the Year for the spring season. The honorees were announced during the ThisWeek Sports Awards banquet May 22 at Villa Milano.Joe Finotti
In his eighth season as head coach and 10th in the program, Finotti led DeSales to its second Division II state championship. The first came in 2016.
DeSales went 21-1 overall, defeating Chagrin Falls 11-3 in the state final June 1.
The Stallions also went 6-0 in the Central Independent League and 3-0 in the CCL, winning those leagues for the fourth and fifth consecutive seasons, respectively. Their only loss was to eventual Division I state runner-up New Albany, 10-9 in their season opener March 16.
Finotti has career records of 121-31-2 overall, 44-9-2 in the CIL and 15-0 in the CCL. He was an assistant coach in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The Stallions finished the season ranked third in the state regardless of division by LaxNumbers.com, behind New Albany and five-time defending Division I champion Upper Arlington.
Finotti's middle daughter, 2017 DeSales graduate Jennie Finotti, scored 248 career goals for the Stallions and now plays at Cincinnati. Youngest daughter Sophia, a senior who scored 98 goals this season and 258 in her career, is a Bearcats recruit and was named first-team all-state and an All-American this year.
"My players leave it all out on the field. They make a coach's job easy," coach Finotti said. "This senior class has won more games than any other class in the history of St. Francis DeSales girls lacrosse. This is a credit to them (and to) how good they are. Not just them, but all their teammates."
Wendy Pinta, Upper Arlington (2018)
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
Pickerington Central's 16th-year coach has led the Tigers to back-to-back Division I state championships, with this year's coming in record-breaking fashion.
Central set records for points (87), margin of victory (63) and events won (7) in the state meet that concluded June 1 at Ohio State. They won the OCC-Ohio Division and all three postseason meets -- district, regional and state -- by an average of 57 points.
The Tigers have had seven individual champions and six relay titles during Roach's tenure, most of that coming in the last two years. Senior Evan Matthews, an Ohio State recruit, finished his career with back-to-back 300-meter hurdles state championships, classmate Denzell Feagin won the 100 and 200 this year and both helped the relays to a first-place sweep at state.
Roach was an assistant coach from 1995-2003 and became head boys coach when the district split into two high schools. Roach also has coached in Central's perennially successful football and wrestling programs.
"Everything that's happening in this program right now is pretty neat. Those kids are pretty special," Roach said. "They don't come along every day. In a coach's career, you're lucky to get one kid like (the individual champions), but we're fortunate that we got a few at the same time. That's what makes this team so good. If you had one now and one five years later, sure, that's good, but together these guys can do so much. I know how talented they are, but they always keep beating my expectations. I know how lucky I am to be their coach."
Adam Walters, Olentangy Orange (2018)
Coming off a 15-10 season, Gahanna emerged as one of central Ohio's best boys volleyball teams this spring.
The Lions had a 21-match winning streak that included finishing 14-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
They were the third seed for the Division I East Region tournament and lost to fourth-seeded Dublin Jerome 28-26, 25-17, 25-20 in a semifinal May 21 to finish 22-4 overall.
"The season was outstanding even though we fell short in the tournament," said Sage, who completed his 16th season. "We were two wins short of the all-time (program) record that was set by the state (runner-up team) in 1991."
Gahanna won all three of its matches in the Spike for Tykes tournament April 13 at Mount Union, including beating Cleveland St. Ignatius 25-21, 25-20. St. Ignatius qualified for the Division I state tournament.
All three of the teams the Lions lost to during the regular season advanced to state in either Division I or II.
Sage was named state and region Coach of the Year. Senior outside/opposite hitter Mason Milan was first-team all-state and all-region, senior outside hitter Adam Chandoul was second-team all-region and sophomore setter Logan Burrell was honorable mention all-region.
"For me, he's like an uncle, somebody you can always count on and depend on," said Milan, who will play for Indiana Tech. "He's always in the gym for you, wanting you to get better with every rep. He's just an amazing man, constantly involved with his players, coming to see them at club tournaments. He communicates well with club coaches and they work together, which I appreciate."
Karen Kochheiser, Olentangy (2018)
Watterson got back on track this spring after finishing just above .500 in Sauter's first season in 2018.
After reaching a Division II state semifinal in 2017, the Eagles nearly equaled that finish this year, going 17-3 and falling to second-seeded DeSales 10-6 in the Region 7 final May 23.
Watterson, which was the No. 1 seed, beat the Stallions 11-10 in overtime April 25 on its way to capturing the CCL championship.
"Coach Sauter has brought the winning tradition back to Watterson lacrosse," junior attacker Dominic Dean said. "When people hear 'Watterson lacrosse,' they are going to start thinking of a championship team and a team that will out-hustle anyone else on the field."
Dean was instrumental in helping the Eagles improve from 10-7 a season ago, as he had 71 goals and 43 assists and was named the Region 7 Attacker of the Year.
Also earning position Player of the Year honors in Region 7 were sophomore Henry Blevins (long-stick midfielder) and senior Barrett Baur (defender).
Watterson's only other losses were to Division I regional runner-up Worthington Kilbourne (10-9 on March 16) and Division II regional runner-up Cincinnati Indian Hill (9-8 on April 13).
The Eagles were forced to compete for three games early in the season without Dean because of a concussion.
"It's been truly amazing playing under coach Sauter," Dean said. "He is someone you don't just call a coach, rather a second father. He is always there for his players and he wants nothing but the best for them."
Steve Comisford, Dublin Coffman (2018)
New Albany has steadily improved throughout Starling's tenure, and this year's team went 27-2 overall and 14-1 in the OCC-Capital Division to win the league championship and its second consecutive Division I district title.
New Albany, which was ranked fourth in the final state poll, lost to Upper Arlington 5-2 in a regional semifinal May 30. The Eagles went 14-12 in 2016, 19-9 in 2017 and 20-9 last year, losing to eventual state champion Olentangy Liberty in a regional final.
The Eagles, whose only regular-season loss was to Groveport, were seeking their second state tournament appearance and first since winning the Division III championship in 2004.
Starling is 80-32 overall and 44-15 in league games at New Albany and has 478 career wins, having previously coached at his alma mater, Reynoldsburg, from 1983-2009. His Raiders teams, which included future MLB player, four-time Gold Glove winner and manager Mike Matheny and 14 MLB draftees, won five OCC championships and two district titles and reached the state tournament in 2004.
Starling also was named Division I state Coach of the Year by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.
"High school baseball in central Ohio right now is exceptional. You don't (earn awards) by yourself," he said. "I have an outstanding coaching staff. New Albany schools have given me a great opportunity. ... I have been blessed with some incredible young men."
Ty Brenning, Olentangy Liberty (2018)
Wamsley led Westerville Central to its best season, as the Warhawks competed in their first state tournament.
Central lost to Liberty Township Lakota East 4-3 in a Division I state semifinal May 31 at Firestone Stadium in Akron to finish 28-3 overall. It was the most wins in program history and improved the Warhawks to 192-81 in Wamsley's 10 seasons.
Wamsley led Central to its second consecutive district title and the Warhawks won the OCC-Buckeye title at 10-0, as Wamsley was named league Coach of the Year.
Central battled adversity all season. Wamsley's wife, Angela, was diagnosed with cancer in the fall and is continuing treatment, and assistant coach Chip Linkhorn's father, Lloyd, died May 11.
The Warhawks had two all-state players in junior pitcher Emily Ruck (first team) and junior outfielder Cami Compson (second team).
"Wamsley is my favorite person ever," senior outfielder Avrey Schumacher said. "He's not only our coach, but he's our best friend. For him to get an award like this, especially with the year that he had with his wife and everything, it couldn't have happened to a better person. He's an incredible role model for our whole team.
"Any issues that we have, anything that we need to talk about, he's always there to listen to us and help us through anything. Even if it's not softball related, he's always there for everyone."
Jennifer Segner-Maxwell and Chris Shirer, Marysville (2018)
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
Under Whittaker, who has led the Gahanna girls track program for 31 seasons, the Lions have become central Ohio's surest annual bet to battle for state supremacy in the sport.
This season was the continuation of that, even though the Lions lost their best sprinter (Amariah Thomas) and top long-distance runner (Claire Steigerwald) to graduation after winning their first outright Division I state championship in 2018.
The Lions, who won a share of the 2015 state title and were runners-up in both 2016 and 2017, finished with 40 points at state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State to place third behind Liberty Township Lakota East (65) and Mentor (41).
In January, Whittaker was named the national Coach of the Year for 2017-18 by the National Federation of State High School Associations Coaches Association.
"It's a crazy experience to have somebody that's so highly well-spoken of in the track world," senior Shynae Deas said. "He continues to get phenomenal athletes and helps them get better."
Runners such as Deas and Madison Martinez were at the center of the team's success this spring. They both ran on the 1,600-meter relay in each of their four prep seasons, and Gahanna won its fifth consecutive state title in the event.
In addition, the Lions won their seventh consecutive championships at the league and district levels and their fifth title in a row in regional competition.
Of the 13 athletes who competed at state this season for Gahanna, the only seniors were Deas, Martinez and shot-putter Brooke Johnson.
Led by Wurtzman, Columbus Academy concluded its season with a Division II state doubles championship May 25 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
The Vikings were guaranteed the title, because senior Suriya Sundaram and junior Rhian Seneviratne faced sophomore teammates Jack Madison and Arie Tuckerman in the final. Sundaram and Seneviratne won 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to give each player his first state championship.
Senior Drew Haffer also competed at state, going 1-1 in singles.
Sundaram and Seneviratne also won the district doubles title by defeating Madison and Tuckerman 6-7, 6-4, 7-5.
"One of the best things about Marc is he's just a really caring coach," athletics director Dominic Facciolla said. "He has this tremendous background. He has a high-level background and he's so unassuming and helpful to kids and just enjoys being there for them. That's what I like most about Marc. He has this great pedigree. He's a college-level coach, but he loves working with kids."
Academy won the MSL-Ohio Division title at 5-0, ahead of second-place Wellington (4-1).
The Vikings reached a Division II district final in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament, losing to eventual state champion Wellington 3-0 on May 13 to finish 15-3 overall.
Marc Thomas, New Albany (2018)