A Page -- March 25, 2010

Experienced athletically and 

accomplished academically, East 

Canton's softball unit parlaying duo 

attributes into more sting power for 

the '10 season

March 25, 2010

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor




EAST CANTON – With nine returning lettermen including six seniors, East Canton’s softball team will at least have experience on its side, which one would hope would lead to fewer mistakes and greater chances of winning games.


Flame thrower Letitia Bittinger leads the core group of returning players. The Hornets will build their fortunes around her clutch pitching.


“Defensively we have great fielders and phenomenal pitcher in Letitia Bittinger who comes up with game-changing strike outs to get the defense out of binds,” said Hornets coach Craig Linerode. “The strength of the Hornets will be the varsity experience this year’s team brings to the field. These girls have been playing ASA and on travel ball teams together since they were all little girls in elementary school.  Now they are seniors with one mission, and that is to have a memorable season that they proudly can look back upon long after they have graduated from here.”


In addition to Bittinger, a junior and two-year letter winner, the Hornets have seniors Melissa Marnin, a three year letter winner; Heidi Vacco, a two year letter winner; Cecily Garrett, a two-year letter winner; Jazmine Garrett, a two-year letter winner; Brooke Humes, a two-year letter winner; and Sam Wolfe a two year letter winner


Experienced sophomores expecting to be more heavy contributors with a year of high school ball under their belts are Stephanie Marnin, Amanda Wolfe; Ashley Knowles, and Brooke Wisenburg. All four gals earned letters as freshmen.


Knowles and Wisenberg split time between varsity and JV last year but will be full-time varsity players this year.


Also, Vacco, a center fielder and first baseman, returns after a year off rehabilitating from a torn ACL that occurred in last year’s basketball season.


“The girls are looking to improve on all their stats on the offensive side of the ball,” said Linerode. “Last year the team lost a lot of one run games that they felt they should have won and they are striving to capitalize on all opportunities to score.”


Linerode believes in the philosophy of maintaining the short roster so that all involved have direct and immediate impact on the comings and goings of the entire program.


“The Hornet varsity team consists of only 11 girls in order to ensure that future varsity players get as much playing time as possible at the junior varsity level instead of only getting to play sparingly at the varsity level,” Linerode explained. “Therefore, the depth of the bench is going to be lean this year.”


East Canton added some Division IV schools to the schedule this year in an attempt to get a look at some of the teams the gals might be facing at tourney time before the post-season gets in full swing. These teams include Conotton Valley, Tuscarawas Central Catholic, and Kidron Central Christian.  Some other new teams the Hornets are playing this year are Division II schools Marlington and Crestwood.


“The chemistry and experience is certainly there this year to have a successful year,” Linerode said. “As always, it is a matter of executing in the clutch. This group of girls grew up together and their motto for the year is ‘Together we fight, together we win,’ and I think this personifies this group well.


“They have confidence in each other and they are there for one another.  This is definitely a group with one goal and that is to leave their senior year as winners. Our juniors and sophomores love these seniors and they will give everything they have to fulfill their group goal.”


One thing that can be a difference maker for t eh Hornets is hitting with runners in scoring position, or at least getting them home with slaps, bunts and steals.


“The team’s weakness was not being able to hit the ball in key spots in the game,” the coach said. “We have addressed that issue by devoting more time to hitting in preparation for the up coming season.”


The lineup of the infield is not completely solidified yet since the Hornets are moving last year’s star center fielder, Wolfe, into the infield where she reportedly prefers to play and has earned the right to request the switch.  As a center fielder, Wolfe set the freshman record for fielding percentage with a .957 mark.


Kyla Tesch, a Louisville High graduate, has been added to the coaching staff by Linerode, now in his second season as the head coach.


Aside from the softball side of things, the girls are ultimately at East Canton to accomplish academic skills to not only graduate but for the purpose of pursuing future academic and vocational ventures. The team is stacked with Scholar/Athletes.  Nearly the whole varsity will achieve Scholar/Athlete awards for the season.  To be a scholar athlete, one must maintain a 3.4 GPA as well as play on the varsity squad.


“These Hornets have high expectations for themselves in the classroom and nearly every one of them will carry their high school academic successes onto college,” beamed Linerode. “This is by far one of the most gifted groups of Student/Athletes that I have had the privilege of coaching.”





By Craig Sesker



Cleveland (March 25, 2010) - Tommy Rowlands envisioned a much different ending to his wrestling career. A much happier ending.


Fifth in the 2007 World Championships, he planned on making the U.S. Olympic Team and winning a medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing , China .


But the slightly favored Rowlands lost to rival Steve Mocco in the 120 kg/264.5 lbs. finals of the Olympic Trials in June 2008 in Las Vegas .


“It hurt – It really hurt,” Rowlands said. “It’s the most painful thing I’ve ever had to go through. It was a very painful loss.”


Rowlands hasn’t wrestled a competitive match in nearly a year and a half, but he’s back on the mat training full-time again. He hopes to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in London , England .


He plans to return to competition at the U.S. Open next month here. Rowlands grew up just down I-71 in Columbus and was a two-time NCAA champion for Ohio State .


“I’m not out for redemption,” said Rowlands, who turns 29 on June 3. “I’m out to reach my full potential and I don’t think I’ve done that yet. The reason I came back was because I want to have an Olympic gold medal hanging around my neck.”


Rowlands had been working full-time for MMA Authentics, a premier mixed martial arts apparel company. But Rowlands left his position there to focus on wrestling full-time.


“It was a great experience working there, and we wished each other the best,” he said. “Right now, I want a singular focus on wrestling. I don’t want to do a juggling act with coaching and competing, or with working and competing. I want to be focused on competing, and hitting on all cylinders in 2011 and 2012.”


Rowlands continues to serve as director of the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus , and also now trains there full-time.


Among the wrestlers he trains with is 2009 World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev, who also competes at heavyweight. 2009 World Team member Shawn Bunch, 2010 World Cup Team member J.D. Bergman and two-time NCAA champion J Jaggers also train there.


Ohio State assistant coach Lou Rosselli, a past Olympian, is the head coach at the Ohio RTC. Rosselli is a past U.S. World Team coach.


“Lou Rosselli drives the engine as far as the allure and the demand of the Ohio RTC,” Rowlands said. “He’s very passionate and cares about the athletes. He just wants to help people. His technique is out of this World. He’s there for the right reasons. His athletes not only want to win for them, but also for Lou.”


Rosselli was in Rowlands’ corner when he finished second at the Olympic Trials.


“I know that hurt him a lot – that’s why I think he’s making this comeback,” Rosselli said. “It’s not for show or anything like that. Tommy’s coming back because he still has that dream of being an Olympic champion.


“He was in the bronze-medal match at the (2007) World Championships, and I think he’s right in there with the best guys in that weight class. I think he can do really well. He wouldn’t be back if he didn’t think he could reach his goals.”


Rowlands is in his fourth full week of training in freestyle wrestling. He has gained 20 pounds during his time away from the sport, and now weighs 270.


“I feel stronger now,” he said. “It feels natural now to compete at this weight.”


Training with the talented young Dlagnev allows Rowlands to gauge his progress.


“We push each other and make each other better,” Rowlands said. “There are not many people I’m going to compete against that I can train with every day, but Tervel is a World class professional. We bang heads every day, along with J.D. Bergman. It’s an incredible training environment. Tervel’s one of the best wrestlers in the World right now, and it will take a monumental effort to beat him.”


Rowlands jumps into a strong heavyweight class in the U.S. that includes Dlagnev, Mocco and Les Sigman, who won the Hargobind and Dave Schultz events this season.


“It seems like it’s the deepest American weight class right now,” Rowlands said. “That’s a good sign, and I’m excited to get in the mix and see how I do.”


Rosselli said Rowlands is making improvements in the room.


“He just came back, so he’s obviously not where he needs to be yet and he knows that,” Rosselli said. “His conditioning and timing is off. He’s lost some ground, and he understands that. He’s been working hard and pushing himself every day. His skill level is getting better. He just has to keep building. He has a great attitude.”


Rowlands also is excited about competing in his home state for the U.S. Open.


“I think Cleveland is an excellent location,” he said. “ Northeast Ohio is one of the most prominent areas in the country for wrestling. I think we can have great attendance for this event. Competing in my home state is a great opportunity.”


Rowlands said he often thinks about falling to Mocco in the 2008 Olympic Trials.


“I felt like I was in position to win an Olympic medal,” he said. “Mocco’s a phenomenal wrestler and he got the job done. I think I let everything get to me and overwhelm me. I didn’t focus on being the better wrestler and winning the matches. I didn’t compete the way I was accustomed to for some reason.


“I had competed since I was 6 years old and put my whole life into the sport of wrestling. I wanted my Olympic dream to come true, and it still hurts to talk about it. I believe everything happens for a reason and I learned a lot from that experience. I want to be an Olympic champion, and that’s why I’m coming back.”


The ASICS U.S. Open Wrestling Championships will take place at the Cleveland Wolstein Center from April 22-25 and will feature the nation’s top senior-level wrestlers competing in the three Olympic styles of wrestling including men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman. Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased by visiting www.usopencleveland.com.



With four dozen Student/Athletes 

competing among one another, Berea 

banking on depth to challenge for the 

marbles in SWC girls' track

March 25, 2010


By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor




BEREA – With the largest group of girls the program has had in the last six years, Berea’s track team is building on the combination of depth and senior leadership to compete for the Southwestern Conference crown this year.


Coach Roy Moore has 48 girls in his squad led by five seniors.


“This large squad should be able to allow us to be competitive in all events this year,” said Moore. “We hope to be more competitive in the conference meet than we have been in the past since we should be more competitive in all events.”


Seniors: expected to provide leadership for the Braves are Taylor Hinton (800-meters, 3,200), Ashley Kozak (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Ashley Hart (100, 200, 4x100, 4x200), Sarah Stuart (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), and Sarah Magnani (Pole Vault, 100 hurdles).


Moore also has seven juniors returning in Staci Bohannon (300 hurdles, 4x100, 4x200), Emily Socha (800, 3,200), Emily Herwerden (1,600, 3,200), Kristen Haslett (800 1,600), Olivia Karp (shot, discus), Chelsea Kovalcsik (800, 4x 400, 1600) and Aubrey Langley (shot, discus).


“Our strength will come from our seniors and having the younger athletes fill in the gaps in our events to continue to be competitive in all meets,” Moore said. “We will have the depth to put together four good relay teams.”



Among some of those younger ones returning and ready to step it up and take on more responsibility are sophomores Caroline Buehl (100, 400, 4x200, 4x 400), Caitlin Bobb (shot, discus), Gabriela Perry (Long Jump, discus), Shannon Lott (shot, discus), Lexie Barchanowicz (shot, discus), Olivai DiBlasio (3200, 800), Emily Poirier (800, 1600), Lauren Scheerer (discus), Theresa Sulminski (Pole Vault, 400, 4x400), and Sara Weber (200, 400, discus,  long jump).


In addition to the two dozen returners, Berea has roughly a couple dozen newcomers with four juniors, nine sophomores and 13 freshmen.


“Our goal is to improve our times and distances from the beginning of the season to the end of the season,” Moore said. “We will strive to peak about the second week in May where we will have our conference and state meets.  As long as we improve, we will be competitive.”


Assisting Moore will be Barb Hunter with the distance runners, Dan Rapp with the hurdlers and high jumpers and Ian Hlavin with the throwers.

Led by fourth-year veterans Lee 

Longo and Tim Wetzel, Mayfield 

should be right up there with the 

Mentors, Eds, Ignatiuses, and 

Strongsvilles of the baseball world 

come tournament time

 March 25, 2010


By Norm Weber


Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor




MAYFIELD -- With 10 varsity lettermen returning from a 20-game winning team in 2009, Mayfield should again be one of the top big-school baseball teams in the region again.


With plenty of post-season experience going into the season, the Wildcats should be able to make a reasonable case for the No. 1 seed in the Euclid District come May.


Coach Dan Ramer has ramped up the non-conference schedule to include St. Ignatius, Benedictine, and both New Albany and Columbus DeSales on a 2 night trip to Columbus to go along with the tough Valley Division schedule in the Northeast Ohio Conference.


In addition to the experience and talent, Ramer has solid elements all around with pitching, defense, hitting and running.


“We have a lot of depth in pitching with 12 arms that can be used,” Ramer. “Very good power and speed up and down the line-up.”


Ramer has the guns and numbers to challenge for the league, district and region.


“We are in such a tough conference, but this team should compete for the title,” Ramer said. “Our ultimate goal is to make it to the state’s Final Four.”


The Ramer factor should also work its way in for the Cats. Now in his 11th season as the head man in the Mayfield den, Ramer has posted a career record of 143-83, including 20 or more wins in each of the past two seasons. Ramer will be the first one to admit though that that success juice sort of to say has to be transferred to the senior leaders in order to keep it going from year to year.


“Our Leadership is tremendous,” said Ramer. “We have two seniors that have started since they stepped on the field as freshman.”


Center fielder/pitcher Tim Wetzel, broke the school’s single-season stolen base record with 28 in 29 attempts last year, is one of those four-year guys who will provide leadership as well as baseball knowledge and skills. Joining him as a varsity “gray beard” Wildcat in for a fourth year is infielder/pitcher Lee Longo.


Wetzel, who batted .412 with seven doubles and was 3-2 on the mound last year, is interested in accepting a scholarship to play at Ohio State next year and Longo, who batted .424 with 25 RBIs and was 5-0 on the mound, one at Eastern Michigan.


Also returning to the starting lineup are seniors Jake Santora at shortstop, two-year starter Joe Wilson at catcher and pitcher, and both Dave Ianiro and Kyle Koski at outfielder and pitcher. Ianiro will be playing at Bluffton next year. Santora, who hit .414 with a team-leading 11 doubles and 29 runs scored, has been getting recruited by several Division II schools.

Wilson and Koski are both .350 hitters. Koski is also good for 20 RBIs.


Promising newcomers include senior Ryan Begun (1B-DH) and juniors Rob Razzante (3B-1B), Anthony Alioto (2B-P) and Christian Verde (OF-P).

Women's Tennis Slays the Dragons
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3/25/2010 9:38:36 PM
Final Results

By Wes Davis

Oberlin – The Oberlin College women’s tennis team found themselves playing inside the confines of John W. Heisman Field House due to the cold, wet weather that moved into the area today. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the Yeowomen won their fifth match on the indoor courts tonight defeating Tiffin University, 8-1. 

Oberlin (7-5) got out to an early lead and never looked back winning all three doubles matches. Preeya Shah and partner Brie White-Dzuro made short work of the Dragons’ Renee Mattson and April Fruchtnicht, downing the Tiffin duo 8-0.

In the top spot Ariel Lewis and Finley Gates were 8-5 winners of Taylor Cooper and Jess Stefanor for their second win in a row. Julie Christensen and Carolyn Ball evened their record together at 2 wins-2 losses with tonight’s win over Beth Clark and Teauana Long.

“I am pleased with the effort of the girls and the team’s win. This was a stressful week with midterms, they were able to handle some pressure this week in practice and put in a good performance tonight,” commented head coach Constantine Ananiadis.

During singles action Oberlin would continue to dominate on the courts. White-Dzuro was a straight set winner hitting in the No. 6 spot, she blanked Fruchtnicht (6-0, 6-0), and did not drop a single game to a Tiffin foe in singles or doubles play.

The Yeomen’s No. 2, Ball, earned her third win in a row when her opponent had to retire in the second set due to injury. She too kept her opponent from winning a game taking the first set 6-0, and was leading 2-0 before the injury in the second set.

Emily Thebaut, Shah and Lewis each continued their individual winning streaks. Thebaut won her first match hitting in the No. 5 slot and is on a three match win streak.

The Yeowomen’s Shah took down Stefanor 6-2, 6-3 to also stretch her winning streak to three matches. Lewis, Oberlin’s ace, has won 10 of her last 11 matches and tonight’s win was her fourth in a row.

Oberlin is looking forward to Spring Break action as they are headed to the University of Mary Washington, March 30 to take on the 13th ranked team in the country before returning home to host the Great Lakes College Association Tournament April 2-3.