With 2020 upon on, it's time to look back at the highlights from 2019 involving central Ohio high school, college and professional athletes as well as coaches.
There were state championships in football, girls basketball and boys basketball, along with some of the state's greatest performances in boys track and field and girls golf.
The area also showed that it was up to the task in sports such as girls volleyball and hockey.
Here's how the year stacked up through the eyes of the ThisWeek sports staff:
1. ROARING BACK TO THE TOP -- For the second time in three seasons, the Pickerington Central football team won the Division I state championship.
The Tigers had a 28-game winning streak against Groveport snapped with a 19-14 loss Sept. 20 but didn't lose again.
Central avenged the loss to the Cruisers with a 23-7 victory in the Region 3 final Nov. 22 and beat previously undefeated Mentor 28-21 in a state semifinal Nov. 29 before defeating Cincinnati Elder 21-14 in the state final Dec. 6 in Canton to finish 14-1.
Against Elder, Central scored the winning touchdown on a 49-yard pass from Demeatric Crenshaw to Lorenzo Styles Jr. with 3 minutes, 41 seconds left.
"It's just a lot of hard work, starting from the end of last year, working from December all year long to get to this moment," senior linebacker Ty Hamilton said.
It marked just the fifth big-school championship won by a central Ohio program.
2. WHITE STEPS DOWN -- On Dec. 9, one of central Ohio's all-time winningest football coaches, Brian White, stepped down after 21 seasons at Hilliard Davidson.
White went 199-58 with the Wildcats, including 17 playoff appearances, 12 league titles and Division I state championships in 2006 and 2009.
Davidson advanced to a state semifinal five times under White, including 2013, when the Wildcats lost to Cincinnati Moeller 13-11 to finish 13-1. In 2001, the Wildcats went 12-1 and reached a regional final.
"It's fun to win and winning those state championships was unbelievable and literally unbelievable at the time, but the character and the friendship of the kids from 2001 and 2013 surpass even the state championship years," White said.
3. HOOP DREAMS -- The Africentric girls basketball team captured its second consecutive Division III state championship, its third title in four seasons and seventh title overall to tie for the most in Ohio history.
Senior Jordan Horston averaged 17.1 points and was named Division III state Player of the Year and Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year as the Nubians defeated Waynesville 51-47 in the state final March 16 at Ohio State to finish 28-0. Then on March 27 in Atlanta, she earned MVP honors in the McDonald's All-American Game.
Both Horston, who is now playing for Tennessee, and Dublin Coffman's Jacy Sheldon were finalists for the Ohio Ms. Basketball award.
Sheldon, who now plays for Ohio State, averaged 28.2 points and was named Division I district Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. She closed her prep career with 2,347 points to rank among the top 15 all-time in OHSAA history.
4. CAN'T CATCH THESE GUYS -- The Pickerington Central boys track and field team defended its Division I state title in record fashion.
The Tigers scored an all-time state-best 87 points in the state meet that concluded June 1 at Ohio State. They also won a state-record seven events and their 63-point margin of victory also set a state record.
Evan Matthews, who now competes for Ohio State, defended his title in the 300-meter hurdles, Denzell Feagin won the 100 and 200 and Central won all four relays.
Also winning titles were Mifflin's Aman Thornton (800), Thomas Worthington's Justin Braun (400) and Olentangy Orange's Jaeschel Acheampong (long jump) in Division I and Africentric's Anthony Bowman (high jump) and Anthony Tyler (300 hurdles) in Division III.
5. SIMPLY THE BEST -- After winning in state-record fashion in 2018, the New Albany girls golf team managed to top what it accomplished a season ago.
Sophomore Anna Ritter shot a 138 to capture medalist honors in the Division I state tournament Oct. 18 and 19 at Ohio State's Gray Course to lead the Eagles to a state-record score of 571, surpassing the 592 they shot in 2018.
New Albany's final-round score of 282 at state also was a record, breaking the mark of 289 it had set in the first round.
Senior Gwynnie Lee, junior Madison Spiess, sophomore Kary Hollenbaugh and freshman Anna Coccia were the other representatives at state for New Albany, which went 229-0 on the season to finish undefeated for the second year in a row.
6. MORE HOOP DREAMS -- The Harvest Prep boys basketball team captured its first state championship with a 55-42 victory over Cleveland Heights Lutheran East in the Division III final March 23 at Ohio State.
The Warriors, who finished 28-2, got 21 points from Christopher Anthony a week after he was named state Player of the Year.
Columbus South reached the Division II state final March 23, losing to Trotwood-Madison 77-73 to finish 28-2, while Olentangy Liberty fell to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 58-49 in a Division I state semifinal March 22.
7. LACROSSE LEGACY -- The Dublin Coffman boys lacrosse team won its first state championship, defeating Cincinnati St. Xavier 13-8 in the Division I final June 1 at Ohio Wesleyan to finish 21-1.
Girls lacrosse was ruled by central Ohio, as Upper Arlington won its fifth consecutive Division I state title and DeSales captured the Division II title.
The Golden Bears, who have won all three OHSAA-sanctioned state tournaments, beat New Albany 12-10 in the title game June 1 at OWU to finish 20-2-2.
The Stallions, who snapped UA's 42-game winning streak with an 8-5 victory in late March, beat Chagrin Falls 11-3 on June 1 at OWU to finish 21-1.
8. NET SUCCESS -- For the first time since 1982, the DeSales girls volleyball team captured a state championship.
The Stallions beat Parma Padua 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22 in the Division I final Nov. 9 at Wright State to close the season on a 15-match winning streak and finish 27-2.
Setter Bella D'Amico, a Georgia Tech commit, and hitters Emma Brown and Maryanne Boyle led the upset over a Padua team that entered at 28-0 and ranked first in the nation by USA Today.
In boys volleyball, Watterson lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 in the Division II state final June 2 at Capital to finish 17-10 and Hilliard Darby reached a Division I state semifinal.
9. WRESTLEMANIA -- Three central Ohio wrestlers won championships in the state tournament held March 7-9 at Ohio State.
Olentangy Liberty senior Carson Kharchla won his second consecutive Division I title at 170 pounds to finish 31-0 and Grandview senior Hudson Jump won his second Division III title in a row at 220 to finish 38-0. Both now compete for Ohio State.
Also capturing a Division I title was Dublin Coffman freshman Seth Shumate at 195. Shumate then competed in the United States Marine Corps Cadet Freestyle and Greco-Roman nationals in Fargo, North Dakota, in July and won two more titles.
Also at the state tournament, Hartley's Micah Norwood (138) in Division II and Liberty's Connor Brady (160) in Division I were runners-up.
On Dec. 18, Olentangy Orange won 48-36 at Casstown Miami East in the first girls dual meet in Ohio history. In June, the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association announced that Ohio would hold its first girls state tournament in 2020.
10. RUNNING FOR GLORY -- At the state cross country meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway, Pickerington North's Matt Duvall and Grandview's Derek Amicon won boys championships in Division I and Division III, respectively.
Duvall led a slew of strong area runners in the big-school race, finishing in 15:13 while Dublin Jerome's Elliott Cook (fourth), Pickerington North's Harper Moore (sixth), Worthington Kilbourne's Tanner Williams (seventh) and Dublin Coffman's Alex Dediu (eighth) all placed in the top 10.
In the girls state meet, Hilliard Davidson's Lindsay Stull placed eighth and teammate Sophia Hoersten finished 10th while regional champion Daniella Santos of Hilliard Darby was 15th.
On Dec. 14, Santos placed 28th at the Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals in San Diego.
11. DOMINANCE ON THE PITCH -- On its way to its first state title, the Wellington boys soccer team outscored its postseason opponents 40-0.
The Jaguars beat Bluffton 4-0 in the Division III final Nov. 10 at Mapfre Stadium behind three first-half goals from Ahmet Ozer to finish 18-2-3. Freddie Lin (31 goals, 13 assists) and Eli Dulle (9 goals, 14 assists) joined Ozer (18 goals, 11 assists) in leading an 11-member senior class.
Olentangy Liberty lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-0 in the Division I state final Nov. 10 to finish 18-3-1.
In girls soccer, Columbus Academy and Dublin Coffman reached state semifinals in Divisions III and I, respectively.
12. MASTERS ON THE LINKS -- The recent domination in boys golf by Dublin Jerome and Columbus Academy continued, as both teams won their third consecutive state championships.
Tyler Groomes shot a 142 in the Division I state tournament Oct. 18 and 19 on Ohio State's Scarlet Course to capture medalist honors and help the Celtics score a 607 that tied their own Division I state record from 2017.
In the Division II state tournament Oct. 11 and 12 at NorthStar, Academy shot 615 to win by 29 strokes as Russell Ahmed and Matthew Cammeyer each shot 151 to tie for second.
Wellington followed its 2018 state title by earning a Division III state runner-up finish with a 644 on Oct. 11 and 12 on Ohio State's Scarlet Course as Aiden Schumer earned medalist honors with a 148.
13. GRIDIRON BREAKTHROUGHS -- The Worthington Christian (Division VI), Centennial (Division III) and Olentangy Berlin (Division II) football teams all advanced to the playoffs for the first time.
In addition to being the only team to beat Pickerington Central, Groveport won more than one playoff game in the same season for the first time, finishing as the Region 3 runner-up.
Walnut Ridge put together a perfect regular season for the first time, finishing 11-1 with its only loss coming against eventual state champion Cincinnati La Salle in a Division II, Region 8 semifinal.
14. ICE CHIPS -- Dublin Jerome became the first central Ohio hockey team to reach the championship game of the state tournament, which began in 1978.
Nick Augenstein scored with 5:13 left in overtime to lift the Celtics past Hunting Valley University School 3-2 in a state semifinal March 8 at Nationwide Arena. Area teams had been 0-12 in state semifinals.
In the state final, the Celtics lost 7-2 as Cleveland St. Ignatius won its fourth consecutive title.
15. COMING UP ACES -- A day after finishing fourth at the Division II state individual tournament, Trevor Ball led the Wellington boys tennis team to its second consecutive Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state title May 27 at Reynoldsburg.
Also at the state individual tournament, the Columbus Academy doubles team of Suriya Sundaram and Rhian Seneviratne beat teammates Arie Tuckerman and Jack Madison 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 for the championship May 25 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
In the girls state tournament Oct. 18 and 19 in Mason, Academy's Sydni Ratliff won the Division II state singles title and the Dublin Jerome doubles team of Lalasa Nagireddy and Arya Dudipala beat teammates Reagan Resor and Katherine Wang 6-4, 7-5 for the Division I state doubles title.
16. THESE GIRLS CAN RUN -- The state girls track and field meet held May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State began with a bang as Thomas Worthington's Gia Napoleon edged Gahanna's Madison Martinez in the final leg of the 3,200 relay to win the title for the Cardinals.
The next day, Martinez anchored Gahanna's 1,600 relay to a state title as the Lions finished third.
Also winning Division I state titles were Pickerington Central's Jaydan Wood (400), Westerville Central's Mabinty Kebe (300 hurdles) and Dublin Scioto's Folake Olujide-Ajibade (100 hurdles), while Beechcroft's Makiya Montgomery (100, 200) in Division II and Grove City Christian's Calista Manns (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles) in Division III both earned two titles.
17. A MARCH TO REMEMBER -- Nick Ward, a 2016 Gahanna graduate, helped the Michigan State men's basketball team reach the Final Four, where it lost to Texas Tech 61-51 in a semifinal April 6 in Minneapolis.
Ward then opted to forego his senior season and declared for the NBA draft but went undrafted. He signed Nov. 15 with the College Park Skyhawks, the G League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks.
18. PLAYOFF MEMORIES -- The Hartley and Harvest Prep football teams finished their seasons in state semifinals.
The Hawks earned the No. 1 seed for the Division III, Region 11 playoffs and beat second-seeded Jonathan Alder 27-14 in the regional final Nov. 22 before falling to eventual champion Trotwood-Madison 24-19 on Nov. 29 to finish 12-2.
Harvest Prep battled injuries and roster changes throughout the season to reach a Division VII state semifinal, where it lost to Lucas 15-12 on Nov. 30 to finish 12-2.
19. REPEAT FOR VIKINGS -- Already the owner of the most state championships in OHSAA history, the Columbus Academy field hockey team defeated Shaker Heights 1-0 on Nov. 2 at Upper Arlington to earn its 12th title, including its second in a row.
The Vikings, who were state runners-up in 2017, have gone 495-39-28 in 29 seasons under coach Anne Horton.
20. ALSO STEPPING DOWN -- Including White, there were a number of notable area coaches who left their positions in 2019.
Shortly before his team's season was set to start, Watterson baseball coach Scott Manahan announced that 2019 would be his final season.
Manahan coached the Eagles from 1992-2007, was Hamilton Township's coach from 2008-10 and then led Watterson again from 2011-19, compiling a 640-283 career record with one state, four regional, 12 district and 19 league titles.
On Nov. 16, Craig Mosier stepped down after 12 seasons as Wellington boys golf coach. He guided the Jaguars to eight state tournament appearances, including Division III state titles in 2011 and 2018 and state runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2019.
A little more than a month after leading the Dublin Coffman boys lacrosse team to the Division I state title, Shane Comisford stepped down as coach. He compiled a 60-7 record in three seasons with the Shamrocks.
Jim Callahan led the boys and girls swimming and diving teams at Thomas Worthington for 36 seasons and the teams at Worthington Kilbourne for 26 years before retiring at the conclusion of last season. His son, Keeler Callahan, is now leading those programs.
Others who stepped down after successful tenures include Mary Anne Souder (13 seasons with Coffman girls volleyball), Monte Rhoden (29 seasons with Hilliard Davidson boys golf), Bryan Patton (nine seasons with Coffman girls basketball) and Jordan Blackburn (10 seasons with Delaware boys basketball).
21. WHERE THE PROS GO -- On Aug. 26, Pickerington Central graduate Caris LeVert signed a three-year contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets. Last season, he averaged 21 points in the Nets' first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kole Sherwood, a New Albany native, became the first player from central Ohio to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's the fifth area player from the AAA Blue Jackets to reach the NHL.
Also in hockey, Sean Kuraly, who attended Dublin Scioto, helped the Boston Bruins reach last season's Stanley Cup final, where they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Blues.
Evan White, a Gahanna graduate who was selected in the 2017 MLB draft, played in the All-Star Futures Game on July 7 and signed a six-year contract with the Seattle Mariners on Nov. 25.
22. WATER WARRIORS -- The state swimming and diving meet held the last weekend of February at Branin Natatorium in Canton featured state titles by Columbus School for Girls' Jordan Aurnou-Rhees (100-yard butterfly) and Nyah Funderburke (50 freestyle) in Division II and Dublin Coffman's Ellie Andrews (200 individual medley) and New Albany's girls 400 free relay in Division I.
In boys water polo, St. Charles defended its state championship with a 9-8 win over Upper Arlington on Oct. 26 at Mason, giving it six titles overall.
In girls water polo, Upper Arlington beat the Cincinnati Mavericks 10-8 on Oct. 19 at Cincinnati Princeton to win its fifth state title in seven seasons.
23. ON TO THE NFL -- Westerville Central graduate Benny Snell began 2019 by earning MVP honors as the Kentucky football team beat Penn State 27-24 in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day. The running back broke the Wildcats' record for career rushing yards during the game and left with 14 program marks overall, including total touchdowns (48) and 100-yard games rushing (19).
Then on April 27, Snell was selected with the 122nd overall pick in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
24. DIAMOND GEMS -- The Hilliard Darby baseball and Westerville Central softball teams each had their seasons end in Division I state semifinals.
With a 4-3 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius in 13 innings June 7 at Canal Park in Akron, Darby finished 24-8 under first-year coach Mike Weer. It marked the longest game in the 92-year history of the state tournament.
Led by pitcher Emily Ruck, an Amanda-Clearcreek transfer who has committed to Ohio State, and Cami Compson, the Warhawks lost to Liberty Township Lakota East 4-3 to finish 28-3. It was the program's first state appearance.
25. GYMNASTS SALUTE -- After helping the Dublin Jerome gymnastics team earn a district runner-up finish and its second state team berth, freshman Raegan Ernst became the first individual from the area to reach the state podium in an event since 2016 on March 2 at Hilliard Bradley.
Ernst won the all-around title at the district meet and then placed fifth on floor exercise (9.375) and tied for 12th in the all-around (36.225) at state to lead area competitors.