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The McKinney Middle School seventh and eighth grade volleyball team brought home the Metro Buckeye League championship trophy after defeating top-ranked Emmanuel Christian on Oct. 17. Pictured are the champions, from left, Juliana Torres, Ru Robertson, Hannah Parker, Ariana Robinson, Izana Speck-Almanzar, Lacey Longshaw, Adeline Zinger, Alayna Hamilton, June Pyles-Treser, Gini Meekin, Payton Horton, and Lily Fritsch. (Submitted photo)

2020 Year in Review: Bulldog Sports

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In January, the Yellow Springs High School varsity and junior varsity cheerleading teams and their coaches led a three-day mini cheer camp for nearly 40 elementary school students. The young participants then performed during halftime at the girls and boys varsity basketball games on Jan. 30 and 31.

The eight-member Yellow Springs High School girls swim team came in second in girls competition, behind Dayton Christian, at the Metro Buckeye Conference meet Feb. 1. The team went on to compete in sectionals Feb. 9, with sophomore Avery Reeder advancing to the District qualifiers in the 500-yard freestyle event the following weekend at Miami Oxford, where she finished with a time of 6:19.38. Lacking a practice venue because of COVID-19, the Bulldogs do not have a swim team this school year.

The girls varsity basketball team ended the 2020 regular season 18–4 overall, with a 9–3 record in conference play; and several players and the team coaches received a variety of awards. Sophomore Angie Smith, who racked up her 1,000th point during the final game of the regular season, was selected District 15 first team, as well as the Metro Buckeye Conference first team. She also was chosen to play in the District 15 all-star game. Finishing as the top scorer in the league, with an average 21.8 points per game, she also led the league in steals (4.9/game), and came in fourth in assists and fifth in blocks. Senior Tyler Linkhart was second in the league in rebounds (11.6/game) and in blocks (2.0/game); and junior Annlyn Foster came in fourth in the league in rebounds (9.7/game). Coach Tim Minnich was selected Coach of the Year for both District 15 and the league, and was tapped to coach the all-star game. Nick Minnich was selected Assistant Coach of the Year for District 15.

After a three-day, mini cheer camp, local elementary school students performed at half-time with YSHS cheerleaders at the boys and girls basketball games. From left are Trinity Reeves, Niamh Jones-Graham, London Sylvester, Ava Oberschake and Jacob Levier Borger. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

• Pre-season practices for spring sports had been underway for a few weeks when schools were shuttered in mid-March. The loss of the season was heart-breaking for local athletes and coaches.

The tennis season, featuring a team with depth and natural talent, would have been “one for the storybooks,” according to Coach Stacey Knemeyer, who anticipated more wins than the team has seen in recent years. Unable to play their final year were graduating seniors Tyler Linkhardt, Olivia Snoddy, Abby McAnerney, Jane Meister, Cassie Kludt, Krista Romohr, Esperanza Pernnatz and Isaac Shutz.

In track and field, members of the girls team felt confident they could defend their Metro Buckeye Conference championship earned the previous year.

“There were high expectations,” coach John Gudgel said of the girls squad.

The boy’s team, meanwhile, had an impressive 18 athletes on the roster, the most in recent years, all centered around a “strong nucleus of talent,” according to Gudgel. Six seniors missed their final season of track and field: Phillip Diamond, Lydia Fleetham, Ivy Tebbs, Sean Adams, Harper Mesure and Chanel Phillips.

In softball, the two returning seniors, catcher Spencer and third-base player Zoe Lafferty, were set to have their best-ever seasons, according to coach Jimmy DeLong.

Graduating seniors on the baseball squad were JJ Bledsoe, Dyllon VanHoose, Romel Phillips, Colton Bittner and Jasiah Zinger-Mitchell.

Ahmad Wagner, a Yellow Springs native and a 2020 graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he was a wide receiver for the Wildcats’ football team, was offered a contract in April to play professionally with the Chicago Bears. Wagner is pictured here at his family home with his parents, Teresa Bondurant-Wagner and Lee Wagner. (Submitted photo)

•In April, 23-year-old Ahmad Wagner, a Yellow Springs native and wide receiver for the University of Kentucky’s football team, was offered a contract by the Chicago Bears to play professionally with the storied NFL team. Wagner is the son of Teresa Bondurant-Wagner and Lee Wagner.

• Although the Perry League T-ball season was canceled, the summer youth baseball program fielded both minor and major league teams. In minor league play, the Trail Tavern Dodgers won the playoffs with an 8–6 victory over the top seeded Posterior Chain Reds. The major league division saw the Tom’s Market Reds emerge as champs with a 4–3–1 season record.

• With uncertainty whether school athletic competition would be allowed this fall, Yellow Springs began a phased-in approach to pre-season conditioning and practice Aug. 1. The governor gave the green light for season play Aug. 19. The Bulldogs fielded squads in boys and girls soccer, cross country and volleyball.

For the second year in a row, Cheyan Sundell-Turner, now a sophomore, qualified for the regional cross-country competition, where she finished 20th in the girls race Oct. 31 in Troy, just four places shy of qualifying for state. (Photo by Kathleen Galarza)

• Fifteen runners participated in the annual elementary school one-mile Bulldog Chase, held this year on Oct. 10. The first-place trophy winners were Sierra Sundell-Turner among the girls and Will Oberg among the boys.

For the second year in a row, Cheyan Sundell-Turner qualified for regional cross-country competition. The sophomore earned her spot with a seventh-place finish, in a time of 20:29, at the southwest district cross-country meet Oct. 24 at Cedarville University. At regionals the following weekend in Troy, she finished 20th in the girls competition, just four places shy of qualifying for state.

• The High school boys soccer team bested Miami East on Oct. 26, in Ohio’s Southwest 1 District semi-final game in Division III tournament play. The 3–1 win allowed the Bulldogs to advance to the sectional finals Oct. 29, to play against an undefeated Cincinnati Mariemont. The Mariemont team, seeded No. 1 in the state, had to fight for its 3–2 win against the hard-playing Yellow Springs team.

• Heading into tournament play ranked third, the McKinney Middle School volleyball team finished as the 2020 Metro Buckeye Conference champions, first besting Middletown Christian, then second-seeded Troy Christian and finally first-seeded Emmanuel Christian.

• A surge in area COVID cases this fall prompted the district to eliminate in-person spectators during home basketball games, opting to offer live online streaming of the action on the district’s Youtube channel. The district plans to allow two close-family spectators per player in the new year.

After a high school boys basketball player tested posted for COVID in mid-December, the district halted play by both the boys and girls squads for two weeks, most of which occurred over the district’s winter break.

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