Category Archives: Prep Sports

Paola High’s Jeff Hines Believes the Success of Bishop Miege Needs to be Rationed

When it comes to competition-based endeavors, the point is to be the best. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about sports or business. The goal is to crush your competition. Is it fair that success in a given market isn’t divided up evenly so nobody feels left out? No. Not at all. But competition isn’t about making everyone feel all warm and fuzzy. The scoreboard is the thing that matters.

When it comes to division 4A high school sports in the state of Kansas, there is none better than Bishop Miege. Miege is a private school which owns football, basketball, soccer and track in Kansas. The athletics department at Miege is doing what every school in the state should aspire to do and that is to dominate. While Miege couldn’t be happier about its on-field success, there are others who believe the level of success enjoyed by Miege is not fair. Jeff Hines is one of those people.

Hines is the athletics director at Paola High. Paola is a public high school in Kansas and in direct competition with Miege. Instead of pushing his coaches to be better, Hines is asking the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) to implement a multiplier rule.

If your public school isn’t able to compete against its private counterparts, Hines has a solution for that. He wants to legislate success. That’s right. In the mind of some people, there’s nothing crony capitalism can’t fix and that includes success in high school sports. Here is Hines in his own words describing the situation that plagues the underachieving public high school athletics programs in the state of Kansas:

“Look, Miege has been a thorn in our side,” said Hines, whose school competes in the same classification. “They’re winning way more than any school should. I want to make it clear that I’m not accusing Miege of going out and recruiting kids. I’m not saying that. But what I’m saying is the private schools that are attached to large major metro areas naturally attract a different caliber athlete.”

When Hines says that Miege is “…winning way more than any school should” he’s implying that the school is taking more than its fair share of success. He would have a point if Miege was doing anything against the rules set by the KSHSAA, but in his owns words Miege is playing by the rules. Paola High is unable to compete against a private institution and the only solution is to regulate Miege into the mediocrity that Paola wallows in. It’s as if Atlas Shrugged is taking place in Kansas as Hines advocates for his own Equalization of Opportunity Bill.

Hines does present a perplexing question. Who decides how much winning an individual school gets to enjoy? Based on his actions, I’d say that he believes it’s the governing body of Kansas high school sports. Hines believes that success is something that should be rationed. And what better way to ration success than to regulate the market. Regulate, regulate, regulate.

News flash – True success cannot be regulated.

Kansas is not the only state struggling with competitive balance reform. Ohio is implementing regulations in the name of competitive balance for the 2017-2018 school year. The regulations being imposed upon the private Ohio schools are for all of the same reasons Hines wants the private Kansas schools regulated. Private schools just win too much in Ohio and that success needs to be rationed.

But you know what regulation is good for? Artificially tipping the scales in favor of an entity chosen by a governing body. And that is precisely what Hines is attempting to do with his proposal. He is asking the KSHSAA to change the rules in order to make Miege ineligible for 4A competition. If he is successful, Paola High could start benefiting from the rationed success Hines believes is rightfully his and Miege becomes the problem of the Kansas 5A division.

And what happens if Miege adapts to 5A sports and continues its winning ways? Will an athletics director representing a public 5A school demand that Miege be cast off so the public school can enjoy the spoils of rationed success? Once success is regulated and rationed, there is no end in sight. Regulation becomes a never ending spiral.

The never-ending spiral of regulation has one end in sight and that is perpetual mediocrity for all. Sure, the Miege dynasty will have been extinguished from 4A sports in Kansas, but what will the remaining schools have to strive for? The coaches at those schools will know that they can do the bare minimum and still be able to win a championship. But in winning those regulated championships, the quality of the product will have been diluted. Does a championship that is rationed have true meaning? I say it doesn’t.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Vimeo

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Waxahachie ISD’s $500,000 “Graduation” Investment

What is one of the most pressing needs of a school district? If you said signage, you would be correct.

Oh, that is not what you were expecting? Too bad.

If you are in the Waxahachie (Texas) Independent School District (ISD), signage is near the top of the list of district improvements to be made in the near future.

Their fixed, numbered scoreboard just does not do the district’s graduation ceremonies justice. Really, it is about graduation. Just ask district athletic director Greg Reed who said, “It will be a huge plus to be able to project our graduation on screen.”

While Reed was positioning the district’s proposed $500,000 digital scoreboard for Lumpkins Stadium as something that will be for quasi-educational purposes, assistant superintendent Clyde Melick was more transparent when he said this in the previously linked DailyLight article: “It will be able to display commercials, advertisements, replays and WISD productions inside of the schools.”

So, not only will football game spectators be treated to commercials and advertisements, so too will the students while they are at school.

The Waxahachie ISD views the school day as a bull market. Buy, buy, buy.

You see? Even at the high school level, football is all about money. But this is a Texas school district we are talking about so this emphasis on football should come as no surprise.

Remember, size matters and everything is bigger in Texas.

It was stated in the USA Today article that this $500,000 masterpiece will be paid for out of the district’s general fund. That is all well and good, but why not spend that money directly on education?

School is supposed to be about education. It is not supposed to be centered around your district’s athletic facilities, scoreboard and creating consumers out of your student population.

While test results do not tell the full story about the quality of education students receive in a school district, those metrics are a reasonable barometer of the overall quality of a district. As a proposed half a million dollar scoreboard is on track to be purchased, the Waxahachie Independent School boasts a rating of 2 out of 10 on greatschools.org.

In case you were wondering, 10 is the highest rating a district can achieve and 1 is the lowest. No need to worry about that. Just look at that new scoreboard!

Great, graduation ceremonies will be broadcast on this digital scoreboard, but with a below average academic rating, what are those diplomas really worth from the Waxahachie ISD?

I will tell you what they are not worth. Those diplomas are not worth the paper they are printed on. And even if they were worth the paper they were printed on, that worth would still fall short of $500,000.

This is of little concern to assistant superintendent Melick as he dreams about  the commercials and advertisements that will be seen on the district’s new scoreboard system.

Melick and the rest of the district administrators do not care. What they do care about is keeping up with the athletic facilities arms race that is taking place between Texas school districts. Face it, $500,000 scoreboards are how these administrators keep jobs. The academic performance of the students is just a side show.

And do not forget, the district recently renovated Lumpkins Stadium so it would include “…some of the finest amenities south of Dallas…”

Those amenities include a three level pressbox with catered meals, a state of the art artificial playing surface and seating for 9,500 rabid south Dallas high school football fans.

What more could you want in a stadium? Oh, that’s right. You would want a digital scoreboard to broadcast graduation ceremonies on.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

My Cleveland Sports Weekend

Dear Diary,

You won’t believe the sports weekend I just had!

First, in high school football action on Friday, my North Ridgeville Rangers suffered a Homecoming Game defeat to the dreaded Midview Middies, 28-14. Junior RB Demario McCall (Run DMC we call him) had a terrible time trying toRunDMC cut and run in the muddy, wet conditions and just couldn’t get it done. It’s strange to say that 103 yards and a TD is his worst game of the season but it’s true. Word on the street is that Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was checking him out a few weeks ago… Hmmmm.

Saturday was all about the Buckeyes. I’ll admit, their pass defense leaves much to be desired. They are playing like two separate defensive units, The Front Seven and buckeyesThe Back Four. Nope, not a fan of the Fickell, but you already know that. Anyway, with Cincinnati QB Gunner “The Gunslinger” Kiel at the helm, the Bearcats got over 400 yards of offense. Heck Gunner threw for 4 TDs and 346 yards! Luckily, JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott were more than ready to show that the Buckeyes have some offense too… JT had 324 passing yards, 79 rushing yards and 4 TDs of his own! And Zeke with 188 rushing yards?!? Amazing! Mark another one in the Buckeyes Win Column 50-28! That’s three games in a row where the offense socred 50+ points. I guess if the defense can’t hold ’em, we’ll have to win in shoot-out fashion!

I hear the Cavaliers had some kind of scrimmage and then a game vs the head coaches former team from Israel but really, it’s football season. Am I right? LOL Whatevs.

Now, Sunday was the capper! Let me tell you, diary, I was freaking out until around 4:10pm watching the Browns play down at the Tennessee Titans. It’s a good thing I am the only one in the office on Sundays because I was screaming and yelling and throwing things (just a couple things and they were soft so nothing got broken), but really, the missed tackles and mental mistakes make me crazy! Being down 28-10 at the half is insane! I know we came back to tie the Steelers in week 1 being down 24 points but I hadn’t seen enough to have faith that good guys in the white jerseys could come from behind. Again. And don’t even get me started on the defense! Could we give up just a few more points to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst? And his pony tail? Really? REALLY??? ARGH!BrownsvTitans

But oh gee lordy was I surprised when the second half started and the defense just shut them down. Plus, we never gave up on the run, just kept cranking away and chipping their lead down until we were ahead by 1 point! And yes, I was afraid that 1 minute on the clock was too much time for us to give the Titans. Can you blame me? Well, all I can say now is: HALELUJIAH BABY IT’S VICTORY MONDAY! I totally <3 Travis Benjamin. Sigh. He’s really making a name for himself as the Play Maker this team needs while JG is out. I’m not ready to declare them the Kardiac Kids 2.014 but maybe the Comeback Kids is who they are… or The Spread Coverers. LOL

Can I handle a long season of 3-point games differentials? As long as we are actually scoring TDs and finding ways to WIN these close games, you bet your butt I can handle it! Go Browns!

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

High School Spring Sports: Teams to Watch

The spring high school sports season is officially upon us. The start of the season for these outdoor sports is usually a rocky one. As we all know, spring in Ohio is just a technicality, it in no way dictates how the weather behaves. There have been dozens of cancellations so far, as is the usual in the spring. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little predicting!

With returning prospects and a hunger to repeat or improve, many teams and athletes have already put out a strong first step. I’ve compiled the top 10 teams that I think will make some noise this spring in boys and girls track, baseball, and softball.

Boys Track and Field

 

1. St. Edward

The decathlon may not be an OHSAA event, but that isn’t stopping UCLA-bound Steele Wasik from pursuing one of the most difficult events in all of sports. The Eagles have a good chance of becoming three-peat state champions in 2014.

2. Berea-Midpark

 

3. St. Vincent-St. Mary

 

4. Glenville

Senior sprinter Davon Anderson transferred to Glenville this year after moving to Ohio from South Carolina. He lit up the football field for the Tarblooders helping them get to the state championship game. Anderson will surely light up the track this year as well!

5. St. Ignatius

 

6. Cleveland Heights

 

7. Medina

Senior Kyle Hutchinson placed 8th in last year’s state pole vaulting tournament and it looks promising that he will lead Medina to a successful 2014 season.

8. Mentor

 

9. Solon

 

10. Chardon

 

Girls Track and Field

 

1. St. Vincent-St. Mary

 
The Irish placed 5th in the state tournament last year, but with runner Julia Mendiola back at the helm, St. V is almost certain to improve and have a great year.
 

2. Berea-Midpark

 

3. Solon

 
Several of last year’s track and field Comets are back this season and look to be strong coming of their first trip to the state tournament last year. Look out for their relay teams as well as University of Cincinnati bound discus and shot put thrower Alexis Gray.
 

4. Magnificat

 

5. Gilmour Academy

 

6. Amherst

 

7. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy

 

8. Ravenna Southeast

 
2013 was the inaugural year for the OHSAA wheelchair track and field division. Southeast’s Jenna Fesemyer was the only girl to compete at the state meet last year winning titles in shot put as well as the 100, 400, and 800 meter races. Fesemyer, who gives the guys a run for their money, returns this season, hoping to be joined by more ladies and some strong competition.
 

9. Bay Village

 

10. Buchtel

 

Baseball

 

1. St. Ignatius

 
With consistently strong teams, the Wildcats have only won one state championship back in 2002. They had their chance last year but lost to Moeller in the state final. There are a ton of great players this year including several who are headed to play in college. I would bet on the currently undefeated Wildcats to make a serious run in 2014.
 

2. Aurora

 

3. Walsh Jesuit

 
Ohio State bound shortstop Nate Romans will be the leader of the always solid Walsh Warriors. Romans has been committed to be a Buckeye for over a year but before he heads down to Columbus for college ball, he has a good chance to make it there with his team in the state finals.
 

4. Amherst

 

5. Hudson

 

6. St. Edward

 

7. Mentor

 

8. Brecksville-Broadview Heights

 
A strong showing last year and four players heading to play DI college ball, the Bees show great promise to finish what they started in 2013.
 

9. Cuyahoga Heights

 

10. Avon Lake

 

Softball

 

1. North Canton Hoover

 
We are in the midst of a softball dynasty. Hoover has won the last three Division I state championships and hasn’t lost any steam going into this season. The Vikings may have lost some key players, but there’s no doubt they will make yet another serious run this year.
 

2. Keystone

 

3. Elyria

 
A good number of the Pioneers’ strong players are returning this season after their trip to the state championship last year. They may not have won that game, but it was enough to leave a championship taste in their mouths, making them hungry to repeat and improve in 2014.
 

4. Westlake

 

5. Amherst

 

6. Berea-Midpark

 

7. Brecksville-Broadview Heights

 
The Bees have not reached the state softball tournament in over 30 years. Junior infielder Alexis Mack, who has already committed to play SEC ball at South Carolina, hopes to lead her team to a successful year and hopefully a stab at the postseason.
 

8. Walsh Jesuit

 

9. Firelands

 

10. Columbia

 

Sources: Cleveland.com High School Sports

 

Photo credit: Lonnie Timmons III/The Plain Dealer

 

10 OHSAA Winter Sports Tourney Twitter Moments

April is here which officially means the end of the OHSAA winter sports season. The swimmers, hoopers, and wrestlers are making way for the runners, jumpers, and sluggers of spring. It was a great winter season, and for the most part I focused on basketball in this column, with a few mentions of hockey and even football signing day. But because it’s a bit of a slow time for high school sports with the spring season just kicking off, I thought I’d take a breather from the usual in-depth analysis of the area’s student athletes and their teams, and showcase some fun highlights from the winter tournament season.

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then add 140 characters to that and you’ll get the value of these images I rounded up. I scoured the Twitterverse and took a page out of BuzzFeed’s popular playbook to present a list of some of the best tourney moments from each OHSAA winter sport.

 

1. Coming together after the Icy Co-Champ Controversy

 

 

 


2. Massillon Perry (aka not St. Eds) wins Wrestling State Championship

 

 


3. A perfect career

 

 


4. The Brecksville-Broadview Heights gymnastics streak continues

 

 


5. St. Edward Basketball before…

 

 

…and after becoming state champs!

 

 


6. East Tech does Cleveland proud

 

 

 


7. More Hoops Highlights!

 

 

 

 

 


8. Yes, bowling is an official OHSAA sport.

 

 


9. Poolside Pride

 

 

 


10. Sheer joy.

 

 

 


 

Did I leave anything out? Comment below with a link to your favorite 2014 high school tournament moment as seen on Twitter!

 

 

High School Hoops: Another Season in the Books

That’s a wrap! Another OHSAA basketball season done come and gone. Last week I covered the state finals for the girls, including the title game between North Canton Hoover and this year’s champions, Cincinnati Princeton. I also previewed the boys final four which included some predictions that didn’t quite come to fruition. However, a past premonition of mine did come to be with the Eagles of St. Edward going “all the way,” as I put it in my very first MTAF Cleveland column!

 

Eagles Win Division I State Championship

Sorry for the spoiler, but you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t already know that St. Eds won their first basketball state title since 1998. But let’s take it back. Back to Friday, March 21, to Columbus at the Schottenstein Center. The time is 5:15, and the semifinal game between St. Edward and East Tech has just tipped off. In my last column, I had to go with a little city pride by picking East Tech to win this game. I really wanted to see them go to the finals, but the Eagles just had too much going for them.

 

St. Eds had the Scarabs beat in the first quarter, more than doubling their score 28-12. The rest of the game was actually fairly close, but even with a fourth quarter surge by East Tech outscoring their opponents 19-15, it just wasn’t enough. With stellar performances by junior Kipper Nichols, senior Will Meyer, and sophomore Derek Funderburk who together scored more than half of their team’s points, St. Edward advanced to the state final with a win over East Tech 89-64.

 

So it was onward and upward for the Eagles to the school’s only second state final basketball game. After their semifinal game against East Tech on Friday, Upper Arlington played Trotwood-Madison at the Schott for the other spot in the championship game on Saturday. Columbus suburb Upper Arlington won that spot in an unexpected albeit blowout against their #5 ranked opponents 74-49. But with only one loss on the season, the victors were anything but underdogs. The game was set, and it truly was anyone’s game.

It was a quintessential championship game. If you wrote a movie about a high school basketball team winning the state championship, the game would probably go like this one. Upper Arlington got things rolling going up 9-0 to start off the game. Finally the Eagles got up on the board with a layup from Marsalis Hamilton. And with that they were off! By the end of the first quarter, Eds trailed by only a point, 11-10.

 

The second quarter was virtually neck and neck and the half ended with Upper Arlington leading 22-20. Both teams came out strong in the second half, keeping it close until about the middle of the fourth quarter. Tied at 42, Upper Arlington hit two 3-pointers in a row by Kevin Vannatta and Wes Davis. It was time for the Eagles to step their game up. Funderburk turned it up and came back with five unanswered points to put St. Eds at 47 to the Golden Bears’ 48.

 

The last minute of regulation is what made this game one to remember. The crowd was electric, both student sections frankly going nuts as they should. With a couple of made foul shots, Upper Arlington went up 50-47 with 30 seconds to go. A layup by Edsman Tony Vuyancih was followed by a St. Eds timeout. With 10 seconds remaining, Upper Arlington senior Vannatta makes a layup putting the Golden Bears up by three.

 

To be expected, St. Eds called a timeout. They knew it was now or never. Remember what I said about this game being like one from a movie? We know that any good movie basketball game includes a buzzer beater, and that is just what happened. With the clock running down, St. Edward senior Hamilton, who had only hit two 3-pointers this season, made his third tying the game at 52 and taking the Eagles into overtime.

 

The four-minute overtime period was all Eds despite Upper Arlington keeping it close. A myriad of time wasting, layups, and free throws for both sides took the game up to the final ten seconds again. Upper Arlington needed to foul, and sent St. Eds’ leading scorer Nichols to the line. He sank them both, and after a hurried missed three by Upper Arlington’s Vannatta, the game was over, and the Eagles were champs. You couldn’t have written it any better.

 

As I said, this was one of the best games I’ve seen all season and a perfect state championship game. Cleveland.com ranked Hamilton’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer their #1 moment in boys high school basketball this year. The win was well deserved as St. Edward had one of their best seasons. To Head Coach Eric Flannery, it was a bit of a long time coming. The school’s last basketball title in ‘98 was one of Flannery’s early seasons and he has taken St. Eds to the final four eight times now. A big congrats to one of the area’s most respected head coaches!

 

Division II & III Finals

 

A few other notables from last weekend include St. Vincent-St. Mary boys playing in the Division II semifinals. The 19-9 Irish met up with 25-2 Columbus Bishop Watterson. They may not have had the perfect season, but St. V had a great playoff run. Their final four game against Watterson was a close one, but scoring only six points in the second quarter compared to Watterson’s 20, St. Vincent-St. Mary ended their season with a 56-51 loss, missing out on what would have been their seventh championship appearance.

 

Villa Angela-St. Joseph got one step further in the Division III tournament. A championship winning dynasty of the 90s, VASJ hasn’t made it to the state tournament since 2008. Going 21-7 leading up to their semifinal game, they beat Columbus Bishop Ready, who only scored five points in the final quarter, 55-40. VASJ faced 24-4 Lima Central Catholic in the championship game, and it was a close one. LCC went up 20-14 in the first quarter and despite a fourth quarter surge by VASJ, it just wasn’t enough and they finished as state runner-ups.

 

The 2014 OHSAA basketball season was a great one, with a number of Cleveland area teams doing very well. With both the boys and girls state finals behind us, it’s time for a new season. Coming up we have the start of baseball and softball, track and field, lacrosse, and boys tennis. Spring is here sports wise, let’s hope the weather follows suit!