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Published: 1/6/2005

Sidelines: Ottawa Hills Hardman to enter Ohio baseball hall

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Hardman Hardman
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Chris Hardman is a tri-sport athlete turned tri-sport coach. But the Ottawa Hills football/basketball/baseball coach has enjoyed his biggest success on the diamond where he has coached 645 games over 30 years.

Later this month, Hardman will be inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His Green Bears baseball teams won a state title in 1986 and finished second in 1992, 1996 and 2001. His career record is 338-307.

Needless to say, I m thrilled, Hardman said. It s even more special because my father already is in it.

Hardman s father Jim coached baseball for many years at Piqua and was inducted into the OHSBCA Hall of Fame in 1985. Jim Hardman will present his son with the honor at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus on Jan. 21.

Chris Hardman grew up playing baseball for his dad. He became a three-sport athlete at Piqua and then played basketball and baseball at Ohio Wesleyan.

Obviously I grew up around baseball, said Hardman, who indicated that he wanted to be a coach from an early age. He came to Ottawa Hills in 1974 as an assistant baseball coach and became the head coach the following year.

Aside from his 25 years as the baseball coach, he has also coached the football and basketball programs. Hardman just finished his seventh year as varsity football coach. He is currently an assistant varsity basketball coach and has coached cross country.

I m passionate about whatever season it happens to be, Hardman said. I like to get the kids to play multiple sports.

Hardman s baseball teams have won 13 of the 15 Toledo Area Athletic Conference titles since the league recognized it as a varsity sport.

The bottom line is having a supportive community and administration and having kids who care about the game. All the years that I ve been here we ve had all three of those. I believe the best is yet to come.

Eastwood dominated the 43-team Brecksville Holiday Tournament, winning by 64 points with two individual champions.

Ryan Cubberly won the 125-pound championship and Kent Smith took first at 152. Tony Brown was runner-up at 189.

Eastwood, a Division II school, scored 227.5 points to Division I Mayfield s 163.5.

Springfield, Oak Harbor and Tinora represented northwest Ohio well at the Medina Invitational on Dec. 29. Springfield finished 12th, Oak Harbor took 13th and Tinora was 18th in the competitive tournament, which was won by powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward.

Springfield s Cody Reitmeier was runner-up at 171. Oak Harbor was led by Kirk Tank (135), who finished third. Tinora s Matt Bloniarz was third at 125.

Hopewell-Loudon slipped pastWoodmore by 4 points to win the Woodmore A Classic.

Both teams had seven wrestlers place in the top four, but the Chieftains had one champion and two second-place finishers. The Wildcats had two champions, but their four other wrestlers competed in the consolation finals.

Clay Chapman was Hopewell-Loudon s lone champion at 152. Daniel Kuzma (145) and Scott Gerritsen (215) finished second. Woodmore s Jon Cairns won the 145 pound weight class, while Keith Giesler was first at 103.

Bowling Green continued its excellent season by capturing the Fremont Ross Mal Mackey Tournament.

The Bobcats had five champions: David Briggs (112), Tyler Smotherman (119), Mac Henry (140), Nick Stretchbery (171) and Sam Cardenas (189).

Twenty four teams will gather tomorrow for the preliminary rounds of the Perrysburg Invitational Tournament.

The 35th annual tournament attracts some of the strongest teams in northwest Ohio. Preliminary matches begin tomorrow at 4 p.m. and continue Saturday at 10 a.m. followed by the consolation finals at 3 p.m. The championship finals begin at 6 p.m.

Area teams in the field include host Perrysburg, Bryan, Clay, Defiance, Delta, Findlay, Fostoria, Maumee, Napoleon, Oak Harbor, Springfield, St. John s, Tiffin Columbian, Tinora and Waite.

The defending champion, Cleveland St. Ignatius, also returns to the PIT.

Delta s Jared Evans and Jamison Moss look to defend their titles. Tinora s Matt Bloniarz also is a defending champion.

The 29th annual Mary Kerr Memorial Invitational wrestling tournament will be held at Waite.

The 27-team tournament is named in honor of the mother of Mark Kerr, a former state champion at Waite and NCAA national champion at Syracuse. This year s tournament will be held next week.

The preliminaries will be on Jan. 14; the consolation and semifinal matches are set for Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. The finals will begin at 5 p.m. on the 15th.

The teams that competed in the tournament last year went on to send 30 wrestlers to the state tournament.

Local teams involved include Cardinal Stritch, Clay, Delta, Genoa, Libbey, Maumee, Northwood, Otsego, Sandusky, Scott, Start, Springfield, Southview, Waite, Whitmer and Woodward.

The defending team champion is Hilliard Darby. Delta s Jamison Moss looks to repeat as champ.

The prevailing opinion that Bowling Green is in a rebuilding phase may be a bit premature. Despite losing 11 players to graduation, the Bobcats are off to a 4-0 start in the Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division.

The Bobcats, who have captured five straight division titles, are still undefeated (24-0) in over 2 1/2 years in league play. St. Francis is close on BG s heels with a 3-1 record. St. John s is 2-2.

The NHC White Division is going as predicted with newcomer Bedford getting off to a 3-0 start. But the Mules, who were a near unanimous choice to win the title, have close company.

Whitmer also is 3-0, Perrysburg is 3-1 and Central 3-3.

The story in the NHC Blue Division is upstart Lake, which is tied with preseason favorite Start (4-0). Lake (4-1) is tied for first despite having just one senior.

The New Riegel and Bettsville boys basketball teams got the thrill of a lifetime when they played each other on an NBA court recently.

The two schools participated in the Gatorade Court of Dreams program through the Cleveland Cavaliers organization. The program allows high school and youth teams to play a game at Gund Arena. Teams may play before or after a Cavs game, or when the team is on the road.

The teams get use of the Jumbotron, public address system and locker rooms.

A deposit of $200 was required. And to earn a pregame time slot, the teams were required to purchase 300 tickets to the Cavs game at $20 apiece.

That was not an easy task for these small schools because there are not more than 1,000 people who live in the towns combined.

Still New Riegel and Bettsville were able to move their game to Dec. 26 so that they could play before Cleveland s game against New Orleans.

New Riegel won 80-46, and the score was posted on the scoreboard during the Cavs game.

Some of the players got to meet Cavaliers players after the game.

It was a long way to go for a league game, said New Riegel coach Aaron Gilbert.

Contact Mark Monroe at:mmonroe@theblade.comor 419-724-6110.



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