The Tiffin Carnival is one of the special cross county events in the nation, drawing 536 teams with more than 8,000 runners.
It is the 45th year for the all-day event at Hedges Boyer Park.
It’s a true early season test for those with state championship aspirations. Liberty Center’s girls team know something about that. The Tigers won the Division III race at the Tiffin Carnival last year and went on to win the state championship for a third straight time.
“It’s crazy there and people are everywhere and the energy is so much higher,” said Liberty Center senior Brittany Atkinson, a two-time state individual champion. “The adrenaline is going and it’s definitely one of my favorite races of the year.”
LC figures to be among the top girls teams running the 3.2-mile Tiffin course that also serves as the site for the regional.
Atkinson, Jenna Vollmar, Olivia Kundo, Cheryl Davenport, Rachel Pinson, and Hannah Knapp are back from last year’s team. The Tigers look back to winning the Tiffin Carnival as a significant moment leading up to the state title.
“It’s definitely one of our bigger races that we put a big emphasis on running,” Atkinson said. “It’s a chance for our varsity runners to see if they’re ready for the state meet.
“It gave us a lot of confidence and we knew that winning again was possible.”
More than 20 races will take place at the Tiffin Carnival, starting with the D-II-III girls open race at 8:30 a.m.
Perrysburg finished second in the D-I A girls race last year and went on to place fifth at the state meet. Despite losing standouts Taylor Monheim and Courtney Clody to graduation, the Yellow Jackets return with state qualifiers Jordan Doore, Grace Lahey, Allie Kemp, Emily Henry, and Katie Menke.
“I tell the girls the Tiffin meet is more competitive than the state meet,” Perrysburg coach Jon Monheim said. “We definitely put some emphasis on the Tiffin meet.”
The Yellow Jackets will be looking to challenge for the top spot Saturday.
“There are going to be good teams running from all around the state,” he said. “I imagine the top 10 teams there will be at the state meet.”
Genoa junior Carly Gose is the defending D-II/III winner at Tiffin. Woodmore junior Courtney Burner was second.
Wauseon senior Taylor Vernot placed in the top 10 in the II-A race a year ago, while the Napoleon girls placed fifth as a team.
Others to watch, include Whitmer junior Abbigail Dorn, who ran second in the I-B race.
Among the boys, Findlay junior Isaiah Gaines and Bowling Green senior Lucas Overmyer were top five finishers in the D-I race and are among the top returners.
Wauseon senior Quintin Reiser and Otsego senior Brandon Avers were top-10 finishers in D-II.
Woodmore senior Ryan Avers is the defending III-B champion, helping the Wildcats place second last year.
Bowsher picks Eckhart
Former St. John’s Jesuit baseball coach D.J. Eckhart, a standout player at Start and later at Miami (Ohio) University, will succeed interim coach Joe Guerrero as the baseball coach at Bowsher.
In four seasons at St. John’s (2008-11), Eckhart guided the Titans to a 77-33 overall record, with his final team (22-6) reaching the Division I regional semifinals.
After two years away from coaching, Eckhart joined the Central Catholic staff as an assistant last season. In addition to his coaching duties at Bowsher, Eckhart is also teaching physical education for Toledo Public Schools at Harvard and Birmingham elementary schools.
“I’m definitely excited about the opportunity at Bowsher,” Eckhart said. “It’s a great place, and I’m certainly excited about getting back to being a head coach. My year [as an assistant] at Central was great.
“I’m excited about the staff we have put together for the Bowsher baseball program, I’m excited to meet a group of new kids, and of course I love baseball. Hopefully it’ll be a great experience.”
During his years at Start, Eckhart was a four-year starter, and helped the Spartans reach the Division I state final four in his final three seasons (1993-95), including the memorable 31-0 finish of the state-championship 1994 team. At Miami, he ranks in the top-10 in several career offensive categories, and played multiple positions.
Hall of fame
Central inductions set
Central Catholic will induct six former athletes two teams, and two other members to its athletic hall of fame in a ceremony at 6 p.m. Monday at Parkway Place.
Honored as athletes will be Patrick Amato (class of 1999), Derek Barksdale (2003), Bill Bronikowski (1993), Kelly (Helvey) Harman (2003), Ryne Robinson (2003), and Stephanie Heldt-Sheller (1996).
Also entering will be the 1966-67 boys basketball team, and the 1996 volleyball team.
Receiving the hall of fame’s coaches award will be recently retired athletic director Bill Axe, and honored with the citizen’s award will be Mike Boyle (1970).
Amato (football, soccer, tennis) is Central’s all-time leader in total match wins in tennis, and was named All-City League first team four times. Barksdale (football) is the all-time leading scorer in school history with 256 points, and the all-time leading rusher with 3,431 yards.
Bronikowski (basketball, baseball) led the basketball team in rebounds as a junior, and as a catcher for the baseball team he was named All-CL first team as a junior, when he was second in batting in the league with a .446 average. He later played four years at Toledo. Helvey (basketball) was twice named All-CL first team. She led the team to a 20-4 record as a junior, and to a 22-2 mark her senior year, when she was named All-Ohio first team. She later played at the University of Michigan.
Robinson (football, basketball, baseball) was All-CL first team in football twice, and the league’s player of the year as a senior. He later played football and baseball at Miami (Ohio), leading the nation in punt returning in 2004, and played one NFL season for the Carolina Panthers. Heldt-Sheller (track, basketball) was All-CL first team four years in track, and continued her track career at Bowling Green State University, where she was twice named an All-American. She has already been inducted into the City League and the BGSU athletic halls of fame.
The 1966-67 basketball team, coached by Jim Zak, finished 19-2 and was the CL champion. The 1996 volleyball team, coached by Brenda Radabaugh, finished 27-2 record, won the CL and regional championships, and was the first Irish volleyball team to reach the state semifinals.
Axe, who spent 36 years at Central, was boys head basketball coach for 14 years and athletic director from 1985-2014. Boyle worked as a teacher at Central (1977-1980), and was an assistant coach in football and baseball. He returned to Central and served as the director of operations from 2006-13. He managed the construction of the Gallagher athletic complex completion, and of the Mercy Field project.
The inductees will be introduced Friday at halftime of the football game against Southview. For more information, go to centralcatholic.org or call 419-255-2280.
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