Ralph Young Award: Olentangy Liberty runs All-Sports streak to nine years
CORRECTION: Due to a reporter's error, the boys soccer team's league title was omitted from the list of fall sports accomplishments in the print and earlier online version of this story.
During its run to a Division I state semifinal in the 2018-19 season, the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team was led by Ohio University recruit Ben Roderick, who averaged 27.5 points and finished with a program-record 1,817 career points.
According to coach Greg Nossaman, athletes with talent of that magnitude haven't been the norm for the school.
Nonetheless, Liberty has produced consistent success in nearly every sport and earned its ninth consecutive Ralph Young All-Sports Award during the 2019-20 school year.
The Patriots totaled 77 points to finish first in the OCC-Buckeye Division, ahead of Orange (68.5), Westerville Central (51), Olentangy (46.5), Westerville North (39.5) and Westerville South (37.5).
The All-Sports Award, in its 11th year, goes to the school in each of the OCC's five divisions that performs the best in the conference's common sports over the course of the school year.
Six points were awarded for finishing first outright, five for tying for first or placing second, four for finishing third and so on.
There were 15 common sports in the OCC-Buckeye.
For the first time, only fall and winter sports point totals were tabulated because the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of the spring season.
The award is named in honor of Young, a longtime OCC secretary and track official who also managed basketball tournaments at the sectional, district and regional levels for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Young, who died in 2019, also served as athletics director at Delaware and treasurer of the OHSAA's Central District.
The other All-Sports Award winners were Big Walnut in the OCC-Capital, Dublin Jerome in the OCC-Cardinal, Gahanna in the OCC-Ohio and Upper Arlington in the OCC-Central.
"We've just got dedicated kids, dedicated coaches and everybody takes their sports very seriously," Nossaman said. "What's unique is that I don't think they're doing it to get to the next level. We've had a handful of kids go on to play college basketball, but we don't have a lot of big-time kids going to Ohio State or Michigan in a lot of the different sports. What goes along with it is the academics. Most of the kids that have excelled have gone on to college and their academics are unbelievable."
The boys basketball team tied Westerville South for first in the OCC-Buckeye at 7-3, with rising senior Henry Hinkle being named league Player of the Year.
Also in the winter season, the boys and girls swimming and diving teams both won league titles, the wrestling team placed second and the girls basketball team tied for second.
In the OCC-Buckeye meet in swimming and diving, rising senior Christian Hosler led the boys team by winning two individual events and swimming on two first-place relays and 2020 graduate Kate Saczawa won one individual event and swam on two winning relays to lead the girls squad.
"This is my third high school and I (coached) college at the Division III level and this is a unique place," Nossaman said. "We're not blessed with a lot of great big-time type of players, whether it be boys or girls, but they buy into what the coaches are doing and they've got good family support."
In the fall season, the boys and girls golf teams, the girls cross country team and the boys soccer team all won league titles, and the Patriots were runners-up in football, boys cross country and girls volleyball and placed third in girls tennis. The boys soccer team, which went on to a state runner-up finish, went 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye to win its third consecutive title. The girls cross country team was led in the league meet by 2020 graduate Linnea Kunesh, who finished fourth (19 minutes, 25.2 seconds).
The girls golf team captured its first league title, finishing 20-0 in the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament as rising senior Gracie Baun and junior Taya Buxton both earned first-team all-league honors.
The boys golf team went 19-1 in the OCC-Buckeye tournament to win its fifth consecutive league title as rising seniors Grant Smeltzer and Hunter Corbin both made first-team all-league. Smeltzer was league runner-up with a 73.25 average.
"Our athletic department has a great group of coaches that strive to win, especially when it's a league contest," boys golf coach Ryan Snivley said. "It's a steppingstone along the way to postseason play. Our kids are some of the most competitive athletes around and they want to be the best. Winning is contagious and it's always nice to kick off the fall with several OCC championships because it sets the tone for the other seasons. Hats off to our parental support and the athletes who prepare year-round to excel in their sports."