Athletes of the Year: Winter honorees stood out on big stage

ThisWeek staff
Ellie Andrews, the girls swimming and diving Athlete of the Year, won both the 200-yard 
individual medley and 100 breaststroke and swam on the winning 200 medley relay in the Division I state meet to lead Dublin Coffman to its first team state title.

ThisWeek's Athletes of the Year for the winter season delivered numerous memorable performances, especially in the postseason.

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 fall Athletes of the Year was in last week's edition and can be read on our website. Coaches of the Year for fall and winter will be recognized next week.

Here are the winter honorees:

Ellie Andrews

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING

This Dublin Coffman rising senior already has reached the awards podium at the Division I state meet 10 times.

Andrews opened this year's meet by helping the 200-yard medley relay win in 1 minute, 41.88 seconds.

She then defended her championship in the 200 individual medley (2:00.83), won the 100 breaststroke (1:01.12) and helped the 400 freestyle relay place third (3:27.71) as Coffman captured its first team championship.

The Shamrocks, who had only six competitors at state, totaled 214 points to edge runner-up New Albany (205), which had won the district championship.

Andrews, who was state runner-up in the 100 breast last season, also won district titles in the 200 IM (2:01.67) and 100 breast (1:01.6) and helped the 200 medley relay place second (1:43.49) and the 400 free relay finish third (3:28.92) at district.

In the OCC-Central Division meet, she finished first in both the 200 IM (2:07.33) and 100 breast (1:03.77) and was on the winning 200 medley (1:46.63) and 400 free (3:38.49) relays.

"She had a great season as far as placement at states and our team goals, but due to illness hitting at the wrong time, I think her time goals were a bit short," coach Steven VonSchriltz said. "She's very goal-oriented and very driven to accomplish her goals. She loves the sport and is all in on the training to be elite. She's always had a rhythm to her breaststroke and has worked hard to try to perfect every detail. Physically, she has good hand and feet size and she has always been a lean and muscular athlete. Her strength to body weight ratio is high."

PAST CAPTAINS

Andrews (2019), Dakota Elliott, Upper Arlington (2018); Miranda Donley, Columbus School for Girls (2017); Katie Trace, Upper Arlington (2016); Gracie Long, Upper Arlington (2015, 2013); Olivia Ball, Olentangy (2014)

Will Cohen

HOCKEY

Upper Arlington coach Brett Howden had high expectations for Cohen's junior season, but being named state Offensive Player of the Year might not have been one.

"I think (the reasons why were) two-fold," Howden said. "His numbers were good, but I think about how he showed up for the bigger games. When he played the toughest competition, he shined. Will had a big part in some of our biggest wins, and when you're on the other end of those games, you tend to remember the players that made a big difference, so maybe that played a part for the other coaches.

"His game evolved, too. Last year, he was almost (Washington Capitals forward) Tom Wilson-like in wanting to have that role of being a physical presence. This year, he picked his spots more."

Cohen's team-leading 35 goals as well as 39 assists helped lead the Golden Bears to the best season in program history, although UA fell short of its first state tournament in 13 years. The Bears went 36-1-1, the second-most wins in state history behind Cleveland St. Ignatius' 39 eight years ago, but lost to New Albany 3-2 in a district semifinal.

Cohen, a forward, spent time in traditional hockey hotbeds Minnesota and New York state before moving to Columbus in 2014 when his father, Adam, became an assistant coach for the Ohio State women's tennis team. He was promoted to associate head coach in 2016.

"This year, Will just stepped up," Howden said. "He's a pretty good golfer and a good lacrosse player, too, and he'll have a year left of all of those sports. For us, Will really tailored his game to being a strong scorer and a power-play guy. He's going to continue to improve."

PAST CAPTAINS

Ryan Jenkins, Dublin Jerome (2019); Sam Turner, Olentangy Liberty (2018); Jack Dolan, Upper Arlington (2017); Grant Powell, Dublin Coffman (2016); Chris Cathis, Dublin Jerome (2015); Alex Ward, St. Charles (2014); Chris Bergamesca, Olentangy Liberty (2013)

VonCameron Davis

BOYS BASKETBALL

This 6-foot-5 forward for Walnut Ridge averaged 26.2 points and 10.3 rebounds and shot 52.7 percent from the field as a senior to lead the Scots to their first City League championship since 1971 and a Division I district title.

A Kent State commit, Davis was named Ohio's Mr. Basketball, district and state Player of the Year and first-team all-league. He is the third City player to be named Mr. Basketball, joining former Northland standouts Jared Sullinger (2009 and 2010) and Trey Burke (2011).

Davis finished his career with 2,201 points and 819 rebounds. He ranks second in points among Central District players, behind Harvest Prep's Christopher Anthony, who finished with 2,395.

"He's one of the best players to come out of Walnut Ridge so far," coach Chuck Jefferson said. "He's the all-time leading scorer in Walnut Ridge and City League history. His best basketball days are ahead of him in regards to what he has accomplished. It's been a joy coaching him for two years and seeing him develop and grow."

Davis averaged 15.9 points and 6.9 rebounds as a freshman, 22.8 points and 6.9 rebounds as a sophomore and 27.5 points and 11.6 rebounds as a junior.

Walnut Ridge finished 22-5 this winter, reaching a regional semifinal before losing to Hilliard Bradley 59-32. He led the Scots with 33 points in their 74-59 victory over Linden-McKinley in the City championship game and had a team-high 15 points in 52-48 victory over top-seeded Gahanna in a district final.

Davis had a career-high 52 points in a 101-50 victory over Columbus West on Jan. 10 and scored more than 40 points three other times during his prep career.

PAST CAPTAINS

Ben Roderick, Olentangy Liberty (2019); Dane Goodwin, Upper Arlington (2018), Kaleb Wesson, Westerville South (2017); Seth Towns, Northland (2015-16); Javon Bess, Gahanna (2014); Jae'Sean Tate, Pickerington Central (2013); Caris LeVert, Pickerington Central (2012); Trey Burke, Northland (2011); Jared Sullinger, Northland (2009-10); B.J. Mullens, Canal Winchester (2008); Ron Steward, Eastmoor Academy (2007); Javonte Clanton, Reynoldsburg (2006); Jamelle Cornley, Brookhaven (2004-05); Andrew Lavender, Brookhaven (2003); Chris Quinn, Dublin Coffman (2002); J.J. Sullinger, Thomas Worthington (2001); Sam Smith, Worthington Christian (2000); Isaac Jefferson, Columbus West (1999); Antwain Lavender, Brookhaven (1998); Doug Davis, Westland (1996-97); Shaun Stonerook, Westerville North (1995); Lamont Barnes, Eastmoor (1994)

Noah Duperre

BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING

Despite a year off from high school diving -- or maybe because of it -- New Albany coach John Coffman had complete confidence that Duperre would finish his prep career by winning the Division I state championship.

Duperre was the top seed by almost 158 points entering state and cruised to victory by 131.35 points, showing in the process that he'd long since shaken off any rust or signs of a torn foot ligament that cost him his junior season.

"A lot of higher-level athletes we've had come through high school, they get an injury and they have to refocus," Coffman said. "Sometimes, that refocusing allows them to fix some of the things that were wrong and they can take their performance to the next level that way. It's a little bit of a blessing in disguise. Nobody wants an injury, but sometimes it does allow them the time off and then they can address all the other little things that were habits and erase those."

Duperre, a Texas recruit who was state runner-up his freshman and sophomore seasons, won the state title with 582.85 points, well ahead of runner-up Jackson Salisbury of Solon (451.5).

Duperre was injured in summer 2018 and underwent two surgeries. He rebounded with runner-up finishes on 1-meter springboard at last year's USA Diving National Winter Championships and the USA Diving Junior National Championships and placed fourth in the 3-meter competition at the latter meet.

In March, Duperre was named to the USA Diving High Performance Squad based on his scores throughout the previous year.

"He gets a lot of height," Coffman said. "It's easy to see the difference between Noah's hurdle, approach and jump and everybody else's."

PAST CAPTAINS

Jacob Eismann, Columbus Academy (2019); Jason Mathews, Westerville North (2018); Parker Neri, Upper Arlington (2017); Cameron Thatcher, Olentangy Liberty (2016); Mason Miller, Westerville North (2015); Thomas Trace, Upper Arlington (2014); Joey Long, Upper Arlington (2013)

Raegan Ernst

GYMNASTICS

One of the biggest compliments Dublin Jerome coach Kristen Willms has for Ernst is she becomes laser-focused when a meet begins.

"All of a sudden, it's like a switch goes off," Willms said. "She knows it's time to compete and she has this desire to win no matter what she's doing. That fuels her and drives her. When you have a kid like her who's able to keep her head in the game, it's very impressive. She really shuts down the pressure and everything going on around her and she just performs."

As a sophomore, Ernst was the all-around champion in the OCC-Cardinal meet and won her second consecutive all-around district title with 37.425 points.

Ernst also was district champion on the balance beam (9.35) and uneven bars (9.45) and was district runner-up on the floor exercise (9.425) and vault (9.2).

Then in the individual state meet, Ernst placed ninth in the all-around (36.725) to lead all area gymnasts. She also tied for seventh on floor (9.425), tied for ninth on beam (9.225), tied for 17th on vault (9.325) and finished 20th on bars (8.75).

"Obviously, out of our 14 or 15 meets, she made that one mistake on bars (at state) and fell and she really felt bad, but it also gives her something to work towards next year," Willms said. "Just looking at her skill level from her freshman to sophomore year, she improved in all four events."

A regional qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles last year in track and field, Ernst has impressed Willms with her athleticism.

"I've always been a firm believer that the more sports you can excel at, the more well-rounded you can be," Willms said. "Track is helping her gymnastics and gymnastics is helping her in track. If there's anything we can tell our high school athletes, it's that you can be great at several things."

PAST CAPTAINS

Ernst (2019), Bethany Hurt, Dublin Coffman (2017-18); Darian Connors, Hilliard Bradley (2016); Ally Duckworth, Hilliard Bradley (2015); Alexa Markulls, Dublin Coffman (2014); Katie Miltko, DeSales (2013)

Taryn Martin

GIRLS WRESTLING

Martin has been wrestling since she was in the sixth grade, but this season marked the first time she had an opportunity to be a part of a girls high school program.

After competing against boys in the past, Martin became the leader of the Olentangy Orange girls team in its first season, helping the Pioneers finish second in the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association's inaugural state tournament. Orange scored 122.5 points to finish behind Casstown Miami East (149.5) as 83 teams scored.

Martin went 5-0 at state at 137 pounds, pinning Big Walnut's Aliya Martin in 1:13 in the championship match to finish her junior season 19-0 overall.

"Taryn's super-talented and super-slick," said coach Brian Nicola, who shared coaching duties with Vanessa Oswalt. "There was no one who could stay with her. She wrestled up and beat the 143-pound, 150-pound and 160-pound state champions. We moved her up whenever we could to get her the best competition."

Martin also was champion in the Lady Chieftain Invitational at Bellefontaine and in the Ron Alexander tournament at Rocky River Lutheran West.

As a freshman, Martin attended Grove City, competing at 106 with the boys program. She was a Division I district qualifier that season, going 1-2 to finish 20-14 overall.

"Taryn really started to lead us later in the season and helped all of the girls make jumps in their abilities," Nicola said. "It took me and Vanessa a while to figure out that (leading girls) was an obstacle for her. It's different than being around boys, but she learned what she needed to do and became comfortable with the role."

Seth Shumate

BOYS WRESTLING

This Dublin Coffman standout seemed primed to capture his second Division I state title when the tournament was indefinitely postponed the day before it was to begin and ultimately canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Shumate was 43-0 and seeded first for the state tournament at 195 pounds.

A year earlier as a freshman, he went 50-1 and won the state championship at 195. His only loss came against Glen Dale (West Virginia) John Marshall's Anthony Carman in the North Canton Holiday Invitational.

This season, Shumate won the title in the North Canton event, going 5-0.

"Seth had a tremendous sophomore season," coach Chance Van Gundy said. "He went undefeated while wrestling a very difficult schedule that included (several tournament) titles. He also helped lead our team to OCC, sectional and district titles for the second straight year."

Shumate also won championships in both the Walsh Ironman at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit and the Brecksville Holiday Tournament, and he helped Coffman win the OCC-Central title with a 5-0 record.

He earned OCC-Central Wrestler of the Year honors as the Shamrocks captured their fourth consecutive league title.

Shumate also helped Coffman reach the quarterfinal round of the state team dual tournament for the second season in a row and fourth time in five seasons.

He won a sectional title, going 3-0 with two pins and a win by default, and went 4-0 in the district tournament, posting three pins and a win by default, as the Shamrocks won their second consecutive team district title.

PAST CAPTAINS

Carson Kharchla, Olentangy Liberty (2019); Jaden Mattox, Central Crossing (2018); Brakan Mead, Olentangy Liberty (2017); Kameron Teacher, Central Crossing (2016); Taleb Rahmani, Marysville (2015); Austin Pfarr, Marysville (2014); Noah Forrider, Marysville (2013); Roy Daniels, Olentangy Liberty (2012); Chase Delande, Hilliard Davidson (2011); Josh Demas, Westerville North's (2009-10); Jesse Dong, Westerville North (2008); Brendan Barlow, Westerville Central (2007); Anthony Ciraky, Westerville South (2006); Nick Hackett, Hamilton Township (2005); Larry Reichard, New Albany (2004); T.J. Enright, Westland (2003); Jason Hackett, Hamilton Township (2002); C.P. Schlatter, DeSales (2000-01); Tommy Rowlands, Ready (1999); Keaton Anderson, Pickerington (1998)

Lilu Smith

GIRLS BOWLING

Smith rolled three consecutive strikes to close out Gahanna Lincoln's three-games-to-one victory over Fairborn in the Division I state championship match.

She rolled a 592 three-game series during regulation play at state, including a 241 in her first game, to place 10th of 103 bowlers and earn second-team all-state honors as the Lions won their second state title in three seasons.

Smith ranked second in the COHSBC with a 201.7 average and then won the sectional championship with a 671 series, finishing 82 pins ahead of runner-up and teammate Lindzi Oakman, before placing ninth at district (527).

At state, Smith helped Gahanna earn the fifth seed for the championship round and then led the way as the Lions defeated fourth-seeded Cincinnati Seton 3-2 and top-seeded Springfield 3-1 before beating sixth-seeded Fairborn.

Smith also helped Gahanna extend its string of consecutive league victories to 74.

"Lilu had an outstanding (junior) season," coach Yvonne Quiero said. "She strives to help her team succeed, as was evidenced by her outstanding 10th frame to close out the last game in state competition.

"Lilu is a dedicated athlete and has a lot of drive. She believes in our team, her teammates and her coaches. This belief in others helps her to view our success as team accomplishments rather than individual accomplishments."

PAST CAPTAINS

Dakota Fink, Briggs (2019); Madison Stiffler, Whitehall (2016-18); Tori Pappas, Briggs (2015); Paige Sutfin, Ready (2014); Miranda Singer, DeSales (2013)

Carter Street

BOYS BOWLING

This Olentangy Liberty standout led the COHSBC with a 217.4 average and then had a strong postseason.

Street finished ninth in the Division I sectional tournament with a 608 three-game series to advance to district. The Patriots finished 17th to fall one spot shy of advancing as a team.

At district, Street earned medalist honors by rolling games of 221, 269 and 214 for a 704 series. He then rolled a 597 series (212-210-175) at state to tie for 32nd of 100 bowlers and post the second-best finish among central Ohio competitors.

Street, who also earned first-team all-OCC-Buckeye honors, rolled his best regular-season game, a 279, in a match against Big Walnut at Capri Lanes. He also had regular-season games of 266 and 258.

Street flashed his promise as a freshman when he averaged 204.3 in 12 games but did not compete in the postseason.

According to coach Steve Nole, his "participation in Bill Henson's Bowling Academy puts him ahead of most high school bowlers."

"Carter's (sophomore) season was exceptional because he works hard at all aspects of the game," Nole said. "Carter's work ethic at practice and his practice outside of the usual team practices is representative of his desire to excel. His personal drive for perfection on every roll of the ball is his motivation."

PAST CAPTAINS

James Pappas, Briggs (2019); Devon Richardson, Westerville Central (2018); Ryan O'Harra, Ready (2017); Alex Fleetwood, Westerville Central (2016); Chad Szczepariski, Reynoldsburg (2015); Wayne Russell Jr., Walnut Ridge (2014); Jonathan Massey, Granville (2013)

Sakima Walker

GIRLS BASKETBALL

In Africentric's 69-33 victory over Castalia Margaretta in a Division III regional semifinal, Walker scored eight of her 21 points in the first quarter and finished with 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.

The performance exemplified the 6-4 post player's multidimensional ability inside the paint and on defense.

Walker is the second consecutive Super 12 captain for the Nubians, who were 23-4 entering a state semifinal that was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Jordan Horston earned the honor last year for Africentric, which won state titles in 2018 and 2019.

The daughter of former NBA player Samaki Walker, Sakima Walker was a key player on those state championship teams after playing for Hartley as a freshman.

This winter, she averaged 14 points and seven rebounds and shot 63 percent from the field. She was named first-team all-state, all-district and all-league as Africentric won its fifth consecutive City League title.

"Sakima was awesome," coach Will McKinney said. "Her improvement from the time she got here for her sophomore season to her senior year was crazy. She could have easily averaged eight to nine blocks a game. Not only is she tall, but she ... has a skill set. She can rebound and take off. She's not about to run the point, but at the same time, she's way more skilled than a lot of big kids. She's not awkward. She can guard a 5-4 kid and move her feet. She's got impeccable timing in blocking shots at this level."

A Rutgers commit, Walker averaged 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks as a junior and helped the Nubians post a 78-7 record over the last three seasons.

"Sakima is going to get even better," McKinney said. "She only has reached about a third of her potential of what she wants to do."

PAST CAPTAINS

Jordan Horston, Africentric (2019); Jacy Sheldon, Dublin Coffman (2017-18); Meche'la Cobb, New Albany (2016); Kim Royster, Newark (2015); Alyssa Rice, Reynoldsburg (2014); Alexis Peterson, Northland (2012-13); Raven Ferguson, Africentric (2011); Hannah Robertson, New Albany (2010); Emilee Harmon, Pickerington Central (2009); Ayana Dunning, Eastmoor Academy (2008); Crystal Murdaugh, Dublin Scioto (2007); Stephanie Stevens, Pickerington Central (2006); Marshae Dotson, Mifflin (2005); Marscilla Packer, Pickerington North (2004); Brittany Hunter, Brookhaven (2003); Packer (2002); Charisse Crews, Grove City (2000-01); LaToya Turner, Pickerington (1998-99); Tamara Stocks, Pickerington (1997); Helen Darling, Brookhaven (1996); Beth Ostendorf, Pickerington (1994-95)

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