By Joe Ostrica
Below is a recap of some of the top sports highlights in North Ridgeville in 2011. All items are listed in chronological order.
Mees leads wrestlers, wins WSC, named MVP
North Ridgeville finished second place in the West Shore Conference Wrestling Tournament, racking up three champions, three runners-up and four other placers. Ridgeville was led by three-time WSC champion Mike Mees, who was chosen the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler.
Other first-place winners for the Rangers included two-time WSC champ Matt Zepp (135) and Brandon Mundell (160), who won his 100th career match during the tournament. Mees and Zepp were the lone Rangers to advance to districts.
NRMS eighth-graders win WSC
The North Ridgeville Middle School eighth-grade boys basketball team went 18-1 last season en route to a West Shore Conference championship, defending their seventh-grade WSC crown when the Rangers went 17-1. The Rangers won the 2011 championship after defeating Bay 43-24.
Lady Rangers wrap up stellar season
The North Ridgeville girls basketball team posted an impressive 15 victories in the regular season, nearly more wins than the previous 10 seasons combined. Junior guard Ashley Montgomery set a school record for most points in a season with 461. Montgomery set a school record for most 3-pointers in a season (56), which ties the Lorain County record set in 1997. She also holds the mark for most free throws made in a game (18). Montgomery finished the year with 22.6 points per game, 5.2 steals, 2.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds.
Senior Alexis McGhee set a couple of records herself, including most rebounds in a game with 23 and most blocks in a game (nine). She finished with averages of 8.7 points, 3.9 blocks and an impressive 11.6 rebounds.
Montgomery hits buzzer-beater in playoff win
North Ridgeville senior Danny Montgomery could not have picked a better time or a bigger stage than the Division I sectional playoff opener to hit the biggest shot of the season. As the final seconds clicked down in regulation, Montgomery dribbled and let sail a 3-pointer attempt from five feet behind the arc to bank in the game-winning basket, giving the Rangers a 47-44 first-round victory over Westlake at Midview High School.
It wasn’t just Montgomery’s basket that sealed the win, but his strong effort throughout the entire fourth quarter. With the Rangers trailing 37-31 with 5:25 left in the contest, Montgomery scored 12 of his team’s final 16 points. Montgomery, who also had a key steal in the rally, finished with a game-high 23 points, including three 3-pointers.
Davis, Ziegler compete at state finals
While North Ridgeville High School didn’t have any wrestlers competing at the 74th annual Ohio State Wrestling Tournament, the city did in St. Edward junior Jacob Davis (171) and St. Ignatius sophomore Tommy Ziegler (103), both North Ridgeville residents. Each placed fifth in their respective Division I weight classes. Davis (35-7) placed fifth by going 4-2 during the tournament. Ziegler (30-9) also went 4-2 to place fifth.
Esser named Coach of the Year
While members of the North Ridgeville girls basketball squad racked up plenty of postseason awards, including four seniors picked to play in the Lorain County Girls Basketball All-Star game, Lady Rangers head coach Amy Esser was selected as the West Shore Conference Coach of the Year and the Lorain County Division I Co-Coach of the Year, an honor she shared with Mark Feldmann of Lorain High School.
Ridgeville’s Honeycutt gets All-American wrestling honors
A state champion wrestler for both Massachusetts and Ohio in high school, North Ridgeville resident Chris Honeycutt, a former St. Edward wrestler, continued to impress in his collegiate run at Edinboro University. After a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament at 184 pounds, Honeycutt secured All-America honors for the first time after going 29-1.
Fletcher sets school record in pole vault
The North Ridgeville girls track and field squad finished right in the middle of the pack, seventh out of 13 teams, at the Lorain County Invitational, but the day was a very special one for North Ridgeville senior pole vaulter Kiley Fletcher. While Fletcher tied for fourth with Avon Anne Puzak, she achieved a major accomplishment along the way– breaking the North Ridgeville school record in the event with a leap of 9-0.
Fletcher started the event with a leap of 6-0, then 7-0, 7-6 and 8-0. She tied her record at 8-6 and was feeling good going for what would be her new record of 9-0.
Bowden brothers lead Rangers to four WSC titles
The Bowden brothers, junior David and sophomore Zach, helped lead the North Ridgeville boys track and field team to a third-place finish in the West Shore Conference Championships. They helped land the Rangers four first-place finishes, enough to help their team finish with 101 points, just behind champion Bay (136) and runner-up Avon (129).
David Bowden won the 100 in 10.8, edging out Zach, who finished second with 10.9. Zach Bowden won the 200 with a time of 23.0. Bowden’s Ranger teammate Paul Sonego placed fourth (23.7). Sonego also placed second in the 400 (50.3). Both David and Zach were also part of the Rangers’ 4×200 winning relay team, along with Paul Sonego and Isaac Reed. David helped the Rangers’ 4×100 relay squad, which also featured Reed, Terrell Lee and Alex Awad, win with a time of 45.1, edging out Avon (45.6).
Former Ridgeville wrestler hired as new Ranger coach
The retirement of longtime North Ridgeville High School head wrestling coach Ed “Buzz” Haller left a big void for the Rangers program. After a search for the right candidate, athletic director Nori Okuma and his staff didn’t have to look too far. Lifelong North Ridgeville resident and 2002 graduate Josh Bement has been involved with the sport since he was five years old and climbed through the program’s ranks all the way through the varsity level and as a coach at the middle school.
As a Ranger varsity wrestler, Bement held the freshman wins record until Matt Zepp broke it a few years ago. He won over 90 matches in his career, even after his junior year was cut short due to injury. He was involved in the one sectional championship the Rangers claimed, as well as a four-time district qualifier.
Demarco posts impressive numbers in summer season
Despite missing most of her sophomore varsity season due to a stress facture in her pitching arm, North Ridgeville standout softball player Kailey DeMarco wrapped up an impressive season over the summer. Pitching for the Tidal Waves, DeMarco recorded 88 strikeouts in 116 innings and gave up just 11 walks. She finished with a personal best ERA of 2.11.
Mees leads Heidelberg to exciting OT victory
North Ridgeville graduate Mike Mees picked up right where he left off as the former standout quarterback for the Rangers. Mees, a freshman at Heidelberg University, led his team to a thrilling 34-28 overtime win against nonconference foe Alma College in the season opener. The Student Princes overcame six turnovers and 13 penalties before claiming the victory. Mees came off the bench to lead Heidelberg on five scoring drives. He threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to give his team the exciting victory. In his first career game, Mees was 21-of-40 passing for 275 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception.
Rice advances to state, Musci to districts
Lake Ridge Academy senior Mitchell Rice was one of just two individuals to qualify for the state golf tournament at the Division III district tournament at Seven Hills Country Club. Rice shot his personal best at the course, a 76, to earn the second and final qualifying individual spot. Rice was LRA’s lone representative for the state tournament at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.
Snagging the fourth and final qualifying spot in the Division I boys golf sectional tournament, North Ridgeville senior Matt Musci scored an 81 to advance to the district tournament at Red Hawk.
Lake Ridge athletes sign to Division I schools
Lake Ridge Academy’s Samantha Potoczak signed to play soccer at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and DaVonna Bradford committed to play basketball for the University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan. Both players received Division I scholarships.
Montgomery sets four records in one game
North Ridgeville girls basketball standout senior Ashley Montgomery set four records in a West Shore Conference double overtime win over rival Midview Dec. 7. Montgomery, who set North Ridgeville’s single-game record with 37 points (her previous high was 31 points), also set the school’s career mark with 874 points, beating the record of her sister, Kristy Montgomery. Montgomery scored all 10 of North Ridgeville’s points in the double overtime session to pull out the 57-47 victory. She also set a record with 12 steals and had 16 free throws, giving her four records in the contest. With 904 total career points, Montgomery has a good shot at reaching 1,000 points, putting her in rare company in the county.