Athletes of the Year: Fall honorees thrived under pressure
ThisWeek Community News' Athletes of the Year for the fall season performed at their best when it mattered most, helping to win several individual and team state championships.
The honorees -- all Captains of ThisWeek Super teams -- were revealed during the Central Ohio All Star Preps online awards show June 18. If you missed the show, you can watch it at ThisWeekSPORTS.com.
A story on the winter Athletes of the Year will be in next week's edition, and the Coaches of the Year for fall and winter will be recognized the following week.
Here are the fall honorees:
Two years ago, Brooker began the process of becoming "probably the most dangerous player in central Ohio," according to then-Olentangy Liberty coach Marc D'Auteuil.
As a sophomore for a team that spent time ranked No. 1 in the state poll, Brooker was a role player off the bench.
He stepped into a prominent position at forward in 2018 when Liberty reached a Division I state semifinal, and last fall as a senior he blossomed into the district's Player of the Year.
"I kind of go back to two years ago when we had that really good team that was No. 1 in the state and he was a sophomore and was on the team," D'Auteuil said. "His junior year, he took that step forward. That's a credit to the work he put in in the offseason."
Liberty finished 18-3-1 overall last fall, falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-0 in the state championship game, and won the OCC-Buckeye Division title at 5-0. Brooker was league Player of the Year.
Although the Patriots played a regular-season schedule that included four eventual district champions, Brooker had at least one goal or one assist in all but two games.
He finished with 19 goals and 18 assists, including one goal in a 3-0 win over Westerville Central in a regional semifinal and one in a 5-0 victory over Worthington Kilbourne in a regional final.
Brooker, an Ohio Wesleyan commit, scored twice in a 4-0 regular-season win over eventual Division II district champion Whitehouse Anthony Wayne.
"We call him a 'soccer junkie,' " D'Auteuil said. "Outside of school, soccer is the biggest thing for him and is going to serve him well at the next level."
Manny Day, Grandview (2018); Luke Kiley, Dublin Coffman (2017); Kristo Strickler, St. Charles (2016); Ian Black, Dublin Jerome (2015); Donny Deep, Olentangy Liberty (2014); Ben Kinney, Dublin Coffman (2013); Sam DeRoy, Olentangy Liberty (2012); Brett Elder, Worthington Christian (2011); Wil Trapp, Gahanna (2009-10); Matt Wiet, Worthington Kilbourne (2008); Colby Catlett, Hilliard Davidson (2007); Michael Lavric, Gahanna (2006); Braden Fleak, Big Walnut (2005); Jeff Rusch, Worthington Kilbourne (2004); Jeff Lenix, Westerville North (2003); Tony Labudovski, Reynoldsburg (2002); Chris Wolever, Worthington Kilbourne (2001); Danny O'Rourke, Worthington Kilbourne (2000); Troy Perkins, Thomas Worthington (1999); Andy Rutledge, Thomas Worthington (1998)
GIRLS WATER POLO
Colombo scored five more goals in the 2019 season for Upper Arlington than she did the year before, but that statistic and the fact that the Golden Bears won the state championship in 2019 after consecutive runner-up finishes doesn't necessarily tell her entire story.
"Things were different this year in terms of playing time," former coach Dan Peterkoski said. "We had a pretty deep team and for a lot of girls to get time in the water, somebody had to come out. Our starters played quite a few quarters, but everyone's amount of playing time changed.
"Caroline's ability to play within the team game grew this season. Teams made game plans meant to take her out, but that allowed her to assist other players and set them up. In turn, that came back and helped her a lot of times."
As a junior, Colombo recorded 125 goals, 30 assists and 72 steals as UA went 22-2-1 and won their first title since 2016, defeating the Cincinnati Mavericks 10-8 in the state final. It was the Bears' fifth championship in seven years and 17th overall.
Seven of Colombo's goals came in the state final.
She had a team-leading 120 goals as well as 33 assists as a sophomore, helping UA to a 23-12 record.
"Last year, Caroline ultimately ended up doing a lot by herself (offensively) and creating her own scoring chances," Peterkoski said. "This year, she helped a lot of other girls get opportunities and it ended up paying off for her and the whole team."
Colombo (2018), Kendra Sheehan, Upper Arlington (2017); Julie Trace, Upper Arlington (2016); Chloe Magyari, Upper Arlington (2015); Gracie Long, Upper Arlington (2014); Betsy Trace, Upper Arlington (2012-13)
Pickerington Central coach Jay Sharrett knew exactly what Crenshaw, his quarterback, wanted to do just by looking at him.
The Division I state championship game against Cincinnati Elder was tied, and the Tigers appeared to be preparing to punt on fourth-and-1 from their own 43 before electing to go for it.
Crenshaw responded with a 4-yard run that set up his 49-yard touchdown pass to Lorenzo Styles Jr. with 3 minutes, 41 seconds remaining, and Central went on to win 21-14 for its second state title in three seasons.
"We thought about going with the punt team, and Demeatric is staring at me," Sharrett said. "We've got a pretty good connection as coach and quarterback. He's staring at me like, 'Coach, we can get this.' We plowed forward and then a few plays later we hit (Styles)."
Central's first ThisWeek Super 25 Captain and our overall Male Athlete of the Year, Crenshaw took over at quarterback as a sophomore and helped the Tigers go 39-5, including 14-1 last fall. They also won a state title in 2017 and reached a state semifinal in 2018.
Crenshaw committed to Youngstown State after completing 124 of 167 passes for 1,693 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushing for 1,267 yards and 17 scores on 252 carries as a senior. He was named first-team all-state and the Offensive Player of the Year in both the OCC-Ohio and the district.
"When he became a quarterback his sophomore year, he was surrounded by great players," Sharrett said. "Those players didn't have a quarterback in the class and that's where he came in and led us to the state title. ... When you've got a quarterback who makes the decisions he does, he's unselfish."
Raymell Byrd, Whitehall (2018); Daniel Bangura, Harvest Prep (2017); Aaron Latiolais, Heath (2016); Deeb Haber, Olentangy (2015); Gunnar Hoak, Dublin Coffman (2014); Jared Drake, Westerville Central (2013); Ja'Wuan Woodley, Hartley (2012); Ross Franklin, Johnstown (2011); Jayshon Jackson, Westerville South (2010); Matt Ferguson, Pickerington North (2009); Josh Kusan, DeSales (2008); Jeremy Ebert, Hilliard Darby (2007); Kasey Wendal, Westland (2006); Jordan Gafford, Worthington Kilbourne (2005); Christen Haywood, Hilliard Davidson (2004); Jack Rafferty, Dublin Coffman (2003); Brady Quinn, Dublin Coffman (2002); Erick Phillips, Hilliard Davidson (2001); Maurice Hall, Brookhaven (2000); Nathan Poole, Grove City (1999); Kyle Slager, Upper Arlington (1998); Jesse Kline, Upper Arlington (1997); Derek Combs, Grove City (1996); Nick Goings, Dublin Scioto and Andy Katzenmoyer, Westerville South (1995); Nick Goings, Dublin Coffman (1994); Steve Baird, Hilliard (1993)
This setter for DeSales committed to Georgia Tech before her junior season, but despite having the next step of her career determined, she was anything but complacent.
Coach Brenden Pence saw particular growth out of D'Amico as a senior last fall, when DeSales went 27-2 and upset nationally ranked Parma Padua 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22 in the Division I state final.
"This was a growth year for Bella," Pence said. "She competed in a positive manner even more this season. If she was on the losing side in a drill or a game, there was a lot of discussion with her teammates on how to get better, how to correct whatever went wrong. She really dug into the process and put in even more work."
A three-year starter, D'Amico finished her career on an upswing, recording 840 assists -- 71 of which came in two state tournament matches -- as well as 269 digs, 91 kills, 55 blocks and 32 aces. She shared district Player of the Year honors with Olentangy Orange's London Davis and earned first-team all-state honors after being named honorable mention all-state as a junior.
D'Amico finished her career with 1,691 assists, 708 digs, 305 kills and 107 aces.
The Stallions' state championship was their second overall and first since winning Class AA in 1982.
"She's always been a physical setter and she is tenacious and competitive," Pence said. "She takes the time to get to know her hitters. She is good at reading what her hitters can do in certain situations and who is best at a given time. With Bella, it's all about her leadership. She puts in so much time and she holds herself and everybody else accountable."
Riley Wagoner, Dublin Coffman (2017-18); Kendyl Paris, Hilliard Davidson (2016); Hunter Atherton, Dublin Coffman (2015); Emily Rahe, Hartley (2014); Kenya Cason, DeSales (2013); Megan Giardina, Pickerington North (2012)
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Pickerington North coach Tim Starkey anticipated ordering a new record board for his team, one that at first will feature just one name: Matt Duvall.
Duvall finished his prep career as the program's most decorated runner, as he became the Panthers' first Division I state champion and led the team to a tie for the best state-meet finish in the program's 16-year history.
"What stands out to me is his lack of fear," Starkey said. "You put any workout in front of him and he says, 'OK, bring it on.' He loves to train. He loves to punish his body."
Duvall, a Kentucky recruit, won eight of his nine races as a senior, running 15:33.8 at regional and 15:13 at state and setting the program record with a time of 14:57.9 in the Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington.
A four-time state qualifier, Duvall finished 79th as a freshman, 23rd as a sophomore and seventh as a junior. North made state in his final three seasons and finished fifth (230) in 2019 behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (92) as 20 teams scored.
Duvall swept the OCC-Ohio, district and regional championships as a junior. The only race he did not win in 2019 was the district 3 meet, during which he was ill.
Duvall also is a noted track athlete, as he won the regional championship and finished third at state in the 3,200 meters in 2019, placed seventh in the 3,200 as a junior and helped the 3,200 relay place sixth at state in both 2018 and 2019.
"One of his favorite workouts is a seven-mile threshold run every three weeks or so. He's always checking his paces," Starkey said. "When he set the (previous) school record (of 15:25) the third race of his sophomore year, I knew he had the chance to achieve what he's ultimately achieved."
Duvall (2018), Matt Scrape, Pickerington Central (2017); Hunter Moore, Olentangy Orange (2016); Andrew Jordan, Watkins Memorial (2015); Dennis Maloney, New Albany (2014); Toby Hardwick, Newark (2013); Jacob Brumford, Westerville North (2012)
Groomes saved his best performances for the Division I postseason.
After finishing fifth in OCC-Cardinal average (77.5), helping Dublin Jerome go 27-1 to win its 16th consecutive league title, he shot 70 in a sectional at Denison Golf Club to share medalist honors with teammate Ethan Snyder as the Celtics (294) placed first.
Then at Apple Valley, Groomes carded 74 to tie for 10th as Jerome shot 300 to win its third consecutive district title.
Making their 15th state appearance in 16 seasons at Ohio State's Scarlet Course, the Celtics shot 607 to tie their Division I state record from 2017.
Groomes shot 70 in the opening round and 72 in the final round for a 142 that earned him individual medalist honors by two strokes over Uniontown Green's Maxwell Moldovan, who shared medalist honors in 2018 with 2019 Jerome graduate Jackson Chandler.
"He holed out for eagle (on the second day of state) from the fairway," coach Taylor Harle said. "He made some birdies and he doesn't make mistakes."
Groomes, an Ohio State commit who will be a senior in the fall, didn't compete at state in 2017 and then tied for 27th (165) as a sophomore before leading Jerome to its third consecutive championship and ninth overall last fall.
"He's a great player," Harle said. "He's a competitor, too, so I know that after day one (at state) when he was in the thick of things, he wanted to come out and win and he did that. I'm really happy for him."
Trevor Binau, Bexley (2018); Trey Rath, Olentangy Liberty (2017); Evan Yakubov, St. Charles (2016); Cameron Karmia, Bexley (2015); Eddie O'Brien, St. Charles (2014); Nick Sparling, Dublin Coffman (2012-13)
BOYS WATER POLO
As a senior attacker, Lennox helped lead St. Charles to a second consecutive state championship.
He totaled 160 goals, 54 assists and 115 steals en route to being named state Field Player of the Year as well as to the all-state tournament team.
The top-seeded and top-ranked Cardinals went 3-0 in the two-day state tournament to finish 42-5, with all of their losses coming against out-of-state opponents.
St. Charles trailed Upper Arlington 5-2 at halftime of the state championship match before outscoring the Golden Bears 7-3 in the second half to pull out a 9-8 victory. Lennox had six goals in the match.
"(Lennox) has a really good pump-fake and he also worked a lot on his shot over the summer," said St. Charles' Seth Miller, who was named state Goalkeeper of the Year. "He's good at finding the open pass and is able to make the plays when we needed them."
Lennox was named second-team all-state and also made the all-state tournament team in 2018. He was on the all-Ohio Cup tournament team in 2019.
St. Charles has won six state titles, with the others coming in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2018. The Cardinals were state runners-up in 2016 and 2017.
Jon Sugar, St. Charles (2018); Jack King, Thomas Worthington (2017); Drew Wilson, Upper Arlington (2016); Alex Rabe, Upper Arlington (2015); Brady Roesch, Thomas Worthington (2014); Andrew Hoffman, St. Charles (2013); Thomas Trace, Upper Arlington (2012)
This Columbus Academy standout remained one of the dominant players in central Ohio, advancing to her third Division II state singles final and earning her first state championship.
Ratliff defeated Gates Mills Gilmour Academy's Carly Cohen 6-4, 7-5 in the final at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason to capture the Vikings' first state title in singles.
"Sydni worked very hard on and off the court this season, which showed in her matches," coach Marc Wurtzman said. "Her mental game and competitive spirit improved drastically from her sophomore season. Her team spirit and sportsmanship were at a high level."
Ratliff reached the state final the previous two seasons, losing both times to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown's Nicole Gillinov.
The Vikings previously had two doubles teams win state titles: Christiana Raymond and Valerie Micek in 2008 and Andrea Ballinger and Hannah Wexner in 2012.
Ratliff and her teammates also competed in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division II state team tournament and finished third, losing to Cincinnati Indian Hill 3-1 in a semifinal and defeating Toledo Central Catholic 3-1 in the third-place match.
The Vikings finished 15-5 overall and won the MSL-Ohio title at 7-0.
After her junior season, Ratliff won the United States Tennis Association national girls 18-and-under indoor singles championship, which was held Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Indianapolis. She was unseeded but won all six of her matches.
Another highlight for Ratliff in 2019 was teaming with Ava Catanzarite of Pittsburgh to win the 16s doubles title in the Easter Bowl National Championships in Indian Wells, California.
Ratliff (2018), Cassie Alcala, Pickerington North (2017); Zoey Weil, Centennial (2016); Ellee Bullock, Dublin Jerome (2014-15); Lauren Ghidotti, Watterson (2013); Rachael Morales, Hartley (2012)
New Albany coach Rich Ritter struggled to pinpoint one strength in his daughter Anna's game, instead pointing to her consistency as the reason why she was medalist in the Division I state tournament at Ohio State's Gray Course as a sophomore and led the Eagles to their second consecutive undefeated state championship.
"I don't know that I can name one particular thing, but she's been consistent for a long time. She was consistent throughout this entire season," coach Ritter said. "She has a very high-level short game and is excellent with her putter. Strong putting can turn a good round into a great round.
"When she was first learning to play, she'd ride along with me and once we got to the green, I'd toss a few balls out and she'd putt until she got it into the hole. Being 5-(foot)-2, she hasn't always hit the ball as far as bigger girls, but that short game helps make up for it."
Ritter averaged 72.78 strokes per 18 holes to edge teammates Madison Spiess (72.81) and Kary Hollenbaugh (73.19) for best on the team, which went 229-0 and shot a two-round record 571 at state to beat runner-up Upper Arlington by 43 strokes.
Ritter also was named ThisWeek's overall Female Athlete of the Year.
She was the only golfer in the state not to shoot above par in the sectional, district or state tournaments. She carded a 71 at both the sectional and district tournaments, finishing third and first, respectively, and shot a 71 and 67 in the two rounds at state for a total of 138, two strokes ahead of runner-up Madison Reemsnyder of Canton GlenOak.
Leila Raines, Olentangy Berlin (2018); Madison Spiess, New Albany (2017); Ashley Au, Olentangy Orange (2016); Liza Weisman, Bexley (2015); Lexie Long, Dublin Coffman (2014); Erin Harper, Watterson (2013); Lexie Toth, Dublin Jerome (2012)
With this forward leading the offense, Dublin Coffman averaged nearly 3.5 goals last fall.
The Shamrocks also made it to the Division I state tournament for the first time since 2014, losing to West Chester Lakota West 2-1 in a semifinal to finish 15-2-5 overall.
Rivard-Roberts, a Xavier commit, finished her senior season with 20 goals and four assists.
"It's pretty hard to score 20-plus (goals) with our yearly schedule," coach Costa Kalorides said. "Her tournament goals were huge for us this season. Her performance in the playoffs, her overall season and coming back to play after an (ACL injury were) strong."
Rivard-Roberts was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Central. Coffman won the league title at 5-0.
The Shamrocks went 4-6-8 when Rivard-Roberts was a freshman but improved to 12-2-4 in 2017 and 11-4-3 in 2018.
She tore her left ACL five games into her junior season and didn't return until her spring club season.
Rivard-Roberts delivered some of Coffman's biggest goals during the 2019 postseason. She scored in a 1-0 win over Westerville Central in a district semifinal and in a 3-0 win over New Albany in a district final.
She also scored in a 3-0 win over Westerville North in a regional semifinal and netted the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Olentangy Orange in a regional final.
In the state semifinal, her corner kick helped lead to Coffman's only goal.
Alicia Donley, Pickerington North (2017-18); Kaylee Hensley, Gahanna (2016); Haley Rees, Grandview (2015); Emma Ranalli, Olentangy Liberty (2014); Sam Edwards, Dublin Coffman (2012-13); Lindsay Agnew, Dublin Jerome (2011); Michela Paradiso, Upper Arlington (2008-10); Tahnai Annis, Pickerington North (2006-07); Molly Cornwell, Pickerington North (2005); Kelly Quinn, Dublin Coffman (2003-04); Megan Brake, Bexley (2002); Ashley Schillig, DeSales (2001); Tesia Kozlowski, DeSales (1999-2000); Ashley Swinehart, Thomas Worthington (1998); Mindy Hammond, DeSales (1997)
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Stull led Hilliard Davidson to a third-place finish in the Division I state meet.
She placed eighth of 183 runners in 18:05.6 as the Wildcats totaled 131 points to finish behind Beavercreek (51) and Liberty Township Lakota East (121), marking Davidson's best finish at state since 2014 when it also placed third. She was the top junior in the race and the area's top finisher, earning first-team all-state honors.
"Lindsay's work ethic and leadership in the Davidson program is exemplary," coach Nate King said. "Her commitment to continuously improving herself and her teammates is a critical factor that has led to consistent improvement over her high school career."
A three-time state qualifier, Stull placed ninth of 176 runners in 18:39.7 as a sophomore to earn all-state honors after finishing 30th of 173 runners in 18:37.5 as a freshman.
Also last fall, Stull ran 18:10.9 or faster in seven races and won OCC-Central (personal-record 17:46.6) and district 3 (18:00.5) championships and was regional runner-up (18:10.9) to lead the Wildcats to league, district and regional titles. She also set a home-course record in winning the Hot Summer Bash in 17:59.3.
Stull also is a standout on the track and field team. Competing at state as a sophomore, she placed third in the 1,600 (program-record 4:49.05) and 13th in the 3,200 (11:17.6) and was a member of the seventh-place 3,200 relay (9:05.88).
On March 7, she teamed with Sophia Hoersten, Riley Ries and Caitlyn Jones to win the 3,200 relay (9:11.17) in the state indoor meet.
Gracie Sprankle, Olentangy Liberty (2017-18); India Johnson, Hilliard Davidson (2015-16); Claire Wiles, Olentangy Liberty (2014); Julia Rizk, Columbus Academy (2013); Leah Wallace, Reynoldsburg (2012)
Thomassey closed her prep career by helping Columbus Academy capture its second consecutive state title and 12th overall with a 1-0 victory over Shaker Heights.
A midfielder and North Carolina commit, she led the Vikings to three consecutive state tournaments.
She finished her senior season with 18 goals, 19 assists, 93 interceptions and 100 steals, and scored two goals in a 6-0 win over Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a state semifinal.
Thomassey was named first-team all-state, all-region and all-league.
For her career, she had 28 goals, 50 assists, 250 interceptions and 200 steals.
"Kiersten was a driving force for the field hockey program for the past four years," coach Anne Horton said. "Her passion and love of the game is evident when watching her play. She has such quick hands when playing the ball and can bounce out of tight situations during defensive battles to create an offensive thread down the field.
"Her vision and voice on the field was a valuable resource for her teammates as she will be sorely missed. She has helped push the program to a higher level during her high school career."
The Vikings finished 20-0-1 overall last fall, with their lone blemish a scoreless tie against Thomas Worthington. They won the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East title at 8-0 and outscored opponents 108-2 while producing their second consecutive undefeated season.
Sarah Charley, Thomas Worthington (2017-18); Isabelle Perese, Thomas Worthington, (2016); Hana Sinno, Thomas Worthington (2015); Grace Geiger, Columbus Academy (2014); Nina Devin, Thomas Worthington (2013); Courtney Deena, Columbus Academy (2012)