North Canton Hoover senior Stephen Watson has committed to continue his academic and swimming careers at Ohio State University.
Watson is a Division I state qualifier for the fourth year in a row in multiple events. He will compete in the 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay at C.T. Branin Natatorium this weekend in Canton.
“He is a sprinter with the 50 and 100, and the Ohio State coaches will have to figure out what his third [individual] event might be,” Hoover coach Matthew Johnsen said.
Watson finished ninth in the 50 freestyle at the state meet as a junior and was on three Vikings relays that placed second in the state meet (200 freestyle relay as a sophomore and junior and 400 freestyle relay as a junior).
Watson said he was considering Michigan State and Villanova before deciding on the Buckeyes.
“I just felt most at home there,” Watson said.
Watson, who is 18 and 6-foot-2, said he has been swimming since age 6.
“I am really excited for this weekend’s state meet because Branin is pretty much our second home,” Watson said. “We go there a lot for different meets, and I think it gives us an advantage over other schools that are from the southern portion of the state. My goal is to get on the podium, place as high as I can and have fun. I want to go out with a bang and get my fastest times.”
Johnsen said Watson holds three school records, the 50 freestyle (20.65 seconds), the 200 freestyle relay (1:23.94) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:05.92).
“Stephen has a very bright future in front of him in college,” Johnsen said. “He has improved every year. He can do things now as a senior that I wouldn’t have asked of him as a freshman.”
Watson won the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle district titles at Cleveland State University’s Busbey Natatorium on Saturday.
Mogadore shines on court
The Mogadore boys basketball team is riding a 10-game winning streak into its regular-season finales this week at Lake Center Christian on Tuesday and at Southeast on Friday.
Coach Russ Swartz has led Mogadore to a 15-5 overall record and a 9-2 mark in the Portage Trail Conference County Division.
Mogadore earned a big 82-55 win over visiting Streetsboro on Feb. 6 and topped visiting Chippewa 75-68 on Feb. 15.
Sophomore Zeddie Pollock scored 23 points to lead Mogadore over Streetsboro, and senior Casey Ruppel and junior Dominik Pizzino also reached double figures with 21 points and 18 points, respectively.
Pizzino scored 24 points in the Wildcats victory over the Chipps and Ruppel added 17 points. Freshman Jarad Dunn scored nine points. Pollock and junior Eddie Pearce both scored seven points.
Hoban set to honor team
Archbishop Hoban High School will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the 1989 Knights boys basketball team that won the Division III state championship tonight.
Vince Gross, who coached the 1989 Hoban boys team, will be attending the event along with former players on the team, including Derrick Owens, Dan Heideman, Beau Sloan, Josh Novak, Anthony Stewart and T.K. Griffith.
Owens now lives in Washington D.C. Heideman and Sloan both live in Akron, Novak in Stow and Stewart in Athens. Griffith, a Green resident, is Hoban’s boys basketball coach.
The team will be celebrated prior to a 7:30 tipoff tonight against Twinsburg and then be introduced at halftime.
Hoban started the 1988-1989 season 12-0 and then lost seven out of eight games. The Knights rebounded to win eight games in a row and finish with a 20-7 record. Hoban beat Bucyrus Wynford 75-61 in a state semifinal and then defeated Cincinnati North College Hill 52-49 in two overtimes in the final.
The Hoban girls basketball team won the Division II state championship one year earlier in 1988 and had a 22-6 record.
Brecksville wins title
Brecksville won the Division I sectional wrestling championship at Medina High School on Saturday with 268 points and seven individual champions.
Austin Assad continued his solid season with a victory at 120 pounds. The other Bees who placed first were Justin DeMicco (126), Austin Hiles (132), Sonny Lucas (138), Grayson Davis (145), Austin Strnad (160) and Josh Murphy (195).
Wadsworth finished second in the 12-team field with 254 points. The Grizzlies champions were: Noah Baughman (106), Robbie Bosley (152), Tim Knipl (170) and Alex Carrell (182).
Brunswick placed third with 203 points, and Nordonia finished fourth with 189.5 points.
The other individual sectional champions were Nordonia’s Andrew Coghill at 113 and Alex Woicehovich at 200 and Firestone’s Jovahn Fair at 285 pounds.
The Manchester wrestling team won the Division III sectional meet at Independence High School on Saturday with 172 points.
Bobby Bowen (132) and Jacob Hanzel (285) each won an individual title to guide the Panthers to the top of the 13-team field. Mogadore’s Bryce Huth won the title at 170.
Northwest nabs top spot
Northwest hosted and won a Division II sectional wrestling meet on Saturday.
The Indians scored 189 points and featured five champions: Hunter Kosco (106), Austin Slusser (152), Dalton Cox (160), Kyle Myers (170) and Jerrad Cox (285).
Norton finished second with 179 points, Canton South was third with 151 points and Coventry took fourth with 138.5 points. Eleven teams competed.
Two Coventry wrestlers won a title, Josh Gunter at 120 and Zack Lake at 145. Other champs from Summit County were Archbishop Hoban’s Kevin Swaney (132), Buchtel’s Dupri Whatley (138) Tallmadge’s Travis Darago (195) and Norton’s Dylan Whyde (182) and Sean Rutherford (220).
Elsewhere on the mat
Michael Coleman of Hudson and Travis Linton of Rootstown continue to have solid senior seasons and enter district tournaments this week after first-place finishes at sectional championships on Saturday.
Coleman won a Division I sectional title at 160 pounds at Austintown Fitch, and Linton earned a Division III sectional at 182 at Rootstown.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.