June 15 was a big day for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which announced a three-year agreement for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton to host the state football championships beginning this year.

State title games for all seven of the OHSAA’s divisions will be played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium through 2023.

“The OHSAA is excited for this three-year agreement with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as our student-athletes, schools and communities will get to experience Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and all that Canton and the Hall of Fame Village have to offer,” OHSAA executive director Doug Ute said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Hall of Fame for their partnership, and we look forward to collaborating with the Hall year-round.”

Canton, Massillon and Ohio State University have hosted the state football championships at different times during the past 30 years. The Hall of Fame will serve as home following a topsy-turvy 2020, in which venues had to be changed on the fly.

All seven state title games were to be played at Fortress Obetz in Columbus, but only the Division I game wound up being staged there. With 48 hours notice, the remaining six games were moved to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon after Columbus issued a COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

Royals add streaming

Streaming of high school sporting events became routine during the 2020-21 school year as COVID-19 regulations meant limited or no in-person spectators, and now Lake Ridge Academy is on board with the service.

Lake Ridge partnered with the National Federation of High Schools Network to provide linestreams of games and other extracurricular programs starting this fall. The NFHS Network provides schools with the technology needed to broadcast events free of charge. This past school year, it streamed more than 300,000 games while donating more than $25 million to schools.

In addition to the eight different varsity sports offered to boys and girls at the school, broadcasts could include performing arts, graduations and award ceremonies, among others.

Former Rocket shooting for Team USA

When the U.S. Olympic Trials began on June 18 in Eugene, Oregon, Olivia Bechtel was among those vying for the national team.

Bechtel, a Miami (OH) University senior and 2016 Bay High School graduate, competed in the 400-meter dash during the NCAA Outdoor Championships, also in Eugene and finished eighth in her semifinal heat – and 23rd overall – completing the race in 53.33 seconds.

It was the final collegiate race in a decorated career for Bechtel. She holds two Miami records in the 200 and 400, and set a Mid-American Conference record this season with a 51.65 finish in the 400. She is a five-time MAC champion.

As a Rocket, Bechtel was a four-year letterwinner in track and cross country who holds school records in the 200 (24.76), 400 (55.3), long jump (18 feet, 8 inches), and shares in the 4x200 (1:43.07) and 4x800 (9:17.95) relay record book. She reached the Division I state meet all four years of high school and won the 2016 indoor state long jump championship.

Aquilla earns OSU honor

During a 2020-21 school year in which she broke records and collected championships, Ohio State junior and 2017 Magnificat grad Adelaide Aquilla was able to add yet another accolade to her packed resume.

Aquilla, who won the Big Ten and NCAA Indoor and Outdoor women’s shot put championships this year and broke the school record in the event, was named the school’s Female Athlete of the Year last week, joining Male Athlete of the Year Justin Fields, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 11th pick in the NFL draft in April.

Aquilla will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team at its trials in Eugene, Oregon. Events began on June 18.

Girls wrestling to add dual championships

On June 17, the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association announced that the 2021-22 school year will include the first girls state dual championships.

The championship matches will take place on Jan. 23 at Marysville High School, near Columbus.

Since 1993-94, the OHSWCA sponsored boys dual championships, which were later adopted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association from 2013-20 until last season, when COVID-19 cutbacks forced the OHSAA to drop the event.

For its first year, the girls state dual series will include the top two finishers at each of the four districts: the Northeast (Lutheran West and Minerva High School), Southwest (Harrison and Mason), Northwest (Miami East and Marysville) and Central-Southeast (Olentangy Orange and Delaware Hayes). Teams will compete in a championship and consolation bracket, with first, third, fifth and seventh-place matches. Seeding will occur through a coaches’ vote prior to the event.

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