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Former Rossford baseball coach Jason Biniker will assume the helm of the powerhouse program at Start.
Biniker was hired last Thursday to take over for legendary coach Rich Arbinger, who retired after last season. Under Arbinger, the Spartans had made seven trips to the state tournament since 1976, including Division I championships in 1994 and 2000.
Arbinger stepped down with a 759-214 record, ranking him fourth on the state's all-time victory list.
"I'm looking to keep it going," said Biniker, a Rossford graduate. "I grew up playing against Rich's sons, Jason and Mike. Start baseball was it. They were the ones winning City League titles and winning state titles."
Arbinger's teams won eight City League titles and 15 district titles.
"It's a great opportunity," Biniker said. "These kids are very in to baseball. This is what they do."
Biniker earned first team All-Northern Lakes League and all-district honors at Rossford before graduating in 1997. He earned a scholarship to play at Kent State University and pitched four years for the Golden Flashes.
Biniker helped lead Kent to a Mid-American Conference title his senior season. When he graduated he ranked 10th all time in wins in school history with an 18-10 record.
He took over the program at his alma mater in the spring of 2003 and coached there for six seasons.
Start athletic director Dan Sanders said he likes Biniker's enthusiasm. Biniker also teaches marketing at Start.
"I like his attitude about how to work with kids," Sanders said. "I think he has a good baseball sense and I think he's going to be a bonus for our program. Being in the building [as a Start teacher] is going to be a plus, as it is for any coach."
He said Biniker's hiring marks a new chapter in the baseball program's storied history.
"When Rich Arbinger retired, one chapter of the book on Start baseball ended," he said. "Nobody's a legend right off the bat. You earn the right to be called a legend, and Rich did that. With time, hopefully good things will happen with Jason, too."
Biniker said the school district has a solid youth program for players ages 10 through 14.
"All the things are in place to have success," Biniker said.
Start finished second in the state in 1987, 1997 and 2005. In 2008, the team posted a 24-4 record and lost in the D-I regional final.
But last spring a young Start team that included only two seniors went 13-10 and did not reach the City League playoffs or the district semifinals.
"They were very young last year," Biniker said. "But a lot of people have told me the cupboards are not bare. I know the talent is here."
Biniker said he is currently putting his coaching staff together and hopes some of Arbinger's assistants will stay with the program.
"With the tradition of winning, I hope to keep as many Start people around as I can," he said. "The only things that will change will be how I run practices and how I manage games."
Biniker said there is pressure associated with the high-profile position.
"There is pressure at every school, but there is just a different level of pressure here," Biniker said. "Every year Start is expected to at least make it to the City final four and win the district title."
Ottawa Hills won its first Toledo Area Athletic Conference golf title since 2004.
The Green Bears carded a team score of 310. Maumee Valley (332) was second followed by Cardinal Stritch (334), Northwood (349), Emmanuel Christian (364), Danbury (368) and Toledo Christian (373).
Louis Fahrbach of Northwood won the individual title with a 73.
Ottawa Hills junior Reed Silverman (76) took second and his junior teammate Andrew Jamieson (77) was third.
Other members of the All-TAAC first team were Cardinal Stritch's Gabe Pinciotti (78) and Maumee Valley's Sunny Li (78) and Rick Deichert (79).
St. Ursula senior Megan McKernan led St. Ursula to its fourth consecutive City League golf title.
McKernan shot 75-75-150 to claim the individual title. Teammates Eileen Perry (73-80-153) and Alex Graf (72-84-156) finished second and third, respectively.
Whitmer, which was led by Lauren McBride (80-78-158), took second.
Bryan captured its second consecutive Northwest Ohio Athletic League golf championship.
Senior Zach Davenport grabbed the individual title with a 70. His teammate Erik Berbernes (71) took second.
Archbold, which took second, was led by Jacob Nafziger (73) who finished third.
Bryan's Mike Ross (75) and James Steel (78) also made the All-NWOAL first team along with Liberty Center's Cody Knapp (77) and Swanton's Zach Kilgour (78).
Port Clinton won the Sandusky Bay Conference tournament for the first time with senior Marcus Hunt leading the way with a 78 at the GreyHawk Golf Club in Lagrange, Ohio.
Clyde won the overall SBC title, based on the regular season and tournament results, with Port Clinton and Sandusky St. Mary tied for second.
Hunt was named SBC player of the year for the second straight season.
The Division II and III sectional tournaments begin today.
The D-II tournament will take place at Heather Downs Golf Club. The D-III tournaments will be held in Wauseon (Ironwood Golf Course), Defiance (Auglaize Golf Club) and Clyde (Green Hills Golf Club).
At each sectional, the top three teams and the four individual low scorers, not on a qualifying team, advance to the district tournament.
The D-I meet will take place at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green on Oct. 7.
The top five teams and the five individual low scorers, not on a qualifying team, advance to districts in D-I.
Notre Dame took all of the top 10 spots in a cross country meet.
The Eagles were led by junior Lauren Duncan, who won the race in 19:35. Notre Dame tallied 15 points Sept. 22 against Whitmer, Clay and Waite.
Sophomore Lexi Aughenbaugh (19:45) took second and freshman Sarah Mallow (21:08) was third.
Eagles coach Becky Mincheff, whose team finished 15th at the Division I state meet last year, said she could not recall 10 runners taking the top 10 spots at a meet.
"It's just a small league meet, but that's the first time I can remember it," Mincheff said.
The Whitmer boys posted a similarly dominating performance in a meet on the same day. The Panthers swept the top five spots with 23 points to beat St. John's, Clay, Waite and Libbey.
Junior Jake Gorney won the race in 17:39, followed by junior Jeremy Berry (18:08) and senior Kyle Howell (18:21).
Maumee Valley junior Jacob Nathan led the Hawks to a title at the Maumee Valley Fall Tournament last weekend.
Nathan scored four goals in the championship game, which the Hawks won 6-0 over Emmanuel Christian.
Nathan also was the goalkeeper in a 2-1 overtime win over Lake Ridge in a preliminary game.
St. Ursula (12-1), which knocked off Notre Dame in a key City League showdown last week, still dropped to No. 3 in the Division I state coaches poll.
Findlay (10-2) is ranked No. 12 and Notre Dame (7-4) is 13th.
In the Division II poll, Eastwood (12-1) is ranked 18th.
Archbold (12-0) checked in at No. 8 in the Division III poll.
Local boys basketball players will have the opportunity to put their skills on display Oct. 11 for college coaches.
The first Whitmer Fall Exposure Day will be held at the high school's field house from noon to 5 p.m. All boys currently in high school are eligible to attend. The cost is $30 and each player will be assigned to a 10-member team. Players are guaranteed three games.
All Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college coaches from Ohio, southern Michigan, and northern Indiana have been invited to attend.
The event meets all guidelines established by the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the NCAA regarding off-season activities. More than 100 college coaches have been invited. Participation is limited to 120 athletes and the deadline to register is Oct. 8. For more information go to www.washloc.k12.oh.us.