A Page -- Nov. 11, 2010 -- High Schools

Sectional champ/school record holder

Rynell Roper and four Academic All 

Lake Erie League selections lead

Euclid wrestling contingent

Nov. 11, 2010

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor


EUCLID – With defending Lake Erie League and Maple Heights Sectional champion Rynell Roper leading a decent crop of experienced wrestlers returning, Euclid High should be a top contender in the Lake Erie League and one of the chief challengers in the district.

Roper, a junior and 2-year letterman smashed theschool record for wins in a season in 2009-10, racking up a 38-8 record and claimed the Maple Heights sectional championship in the 160-pound division.


During the regular season, Roper garnered two runner-up finishes, making it to the title match at both the Perry Pin City and Normandy Kalin Invitational.

Two years ago, Roper set the school record for most wins by a freshman Panther with 27. He was the school’s first sectional champion since 1996 and came two matches from qualifying for states last year.

Complementing Roper for the Panthers in the middle weights is Zak Adkins (Sr., 3yr Letterman). Adkins was 21-6, took 3rdat the Riverside Rumble at 145 pounds and 5th at the Perry Pin City at 145.

Another bon-a-fide Panther grappler in the middle divisions is Dylan Norwood (Sr., 3yr Letterman,) who was18-7 at 52#, including 4th at the Normandy Kalin Invitational.

A mix of seniors and sophomores make up the remainder of the experienced Panther crew. They are Edwin Chandler,(Sr., 3yr Letterman, 11-15 @ 189), Henry Hinkle (So., 1yr Letterman, 13-18 @ 215), David Cozart (Sr., 1yr Letterman, 6-9 @ 152), Darsheed Mustafa (So., 1yr Letterman, 14-20 @ 119), and Linje Ross (So., 1yr Letterman, 5-24 @ HWT).


With a host of incoming freshmen and sophomores, Euclid Coach Mike Turk has some depth to work with and could possibly fill enough weight divisions to avoid forfeiting team points in dual meet.

Those vying for varsity spots are Ryan Epps Fr., Evin Conroy, Fr, Jeremy Adkins Fr, Noah Brown So., , Dwayne Walker, Lamar Gunter Sr., Tyrone Taylor Fr., Dana Pugh So., Daquan Rustin So., Kevin Leonard Fr., Makendy Francois So., Mushaun Carroll Fr.

“This team has a lot of hunger,” Turk said.-“Many wrestlers went to summer camps, freestyle clubs, tournaments, and workouts over the summer to get better. They have a desire to get better and are self-motivated to do so.”

The Panthers have only have two home matches, which are on Jan. 6 and Feb. 10. The Panthers have not added any new matches or teams from last year. However, the L.E.L. went from a tournament on a Saturday to decide the league championship, to multiple duals matches with the winner being the wrestler with the best record after wrestling everyone in the league.

“The goal is always to win a State Championship (Division I)  in wrestling, but we also place a great importance in winning the Lake Erie League championship too,” Turk said. “We also place an importance on peaking at the end of the season. Individually, we like to see progress from one year to the next. We like to see wrestlers cut their losses in half from the year before. We like to see them develop new moves that they can rely on, instead of doing the same moves over and over again.”

Despite the dozen who have expressed interest to vie for varsity spots this season,Turk continues to struggle with depth.

“We have a few individuals that will do very well this year, but overall depth and experience is lacking,” he explained. “Last year we forfeited 6 or 7 weight classes. This year those weights should be filled, but by freshman or first year wrestlers. Many of these wrestlers will be thrown into the fire and take some licks this year but the end result will hopefully make them stronger in future years.”

Still, despite a hefty helping of warm bodies, the Panthers still fared well last year.

“Last year, with 6 or 7 forfeits per dual meet, we wanted to win more actual matches wrestled than we lost each meet,” Turk said. “We accomplished that a majority of the time. I didn’t have that many wrestlers, but the ones I had were hard workers and were successful. It is hard to give up 36 to 42 points before walking on the mat. This year, with a lineup that is more filled out, we hope to win more than we lose. That is the expectation that we are taking into each match.”

At least the Panthers come into the season with a decent attitude to go along with the reasonable numbers albeit dotted with inexperience.

“Our team members are confident in their abilities,” Turk said. “They are confident they can defeat the wrestlers that they are supposed to defeat. We need to build up their confidence that they can defeat the wrestlers that they are not supposed to defeat. These are the ones that are seeded higher than them in tournaments and the ones with better records than them. Sometimes they have it in their mind before the match that they cannot win. They defeat themselves. We need to reverse this process and get through to them that they can succeed against higher level opponents.”

Although, most of the non-returning spots will be felled by underclassmen, some of them do bring some experience from the middle school level of the sport although not extensive.

“We need more depth and experience, first and foremost since most of my wrestlers start out either in the 7th or 8th grade or are brand new,” Turk said. “That puts us behind the eight ball. They need mat time and experience wrestling other people with different styles and moves than they know. For my older wrestlers, they need to eliminate mental mistakes that lead to giving up unnecessary points, which put them behind on the scoreboard. They do not realize how mental the sport of wrestling is. It is like a chess match sometimes. You are not always going to be able to overpower your opponent. My wrestlers need to be able to slow the match down, and think a few moves ahead of their opponent, and eliminate the mental mistakes.”

For the betterment of the time, some of the key Panthers might participate in some lineup changes.

“Our most accomplished wrestler, Rynell Roper, is trying to drop to a lower weight class than he was at last year when he won our league title and the Maple Heights sectional title,” Turk said. ”We have a few other wrestlers trying out new weight classes and the rest will be decided when we take the hydration test on Nov. 19.”

This is Turk’s third year as head wrestling coach at Euclid High School. His assistant coaches are Anthony Romano and Ronnie Adkins. Coach Romano is from the Ashtabula area and in his second year with the program. Coach Adkins is a former 100 win wrestler for Turk and he took over coaching duties halfway through last year when Turk’s other assistant coach had to resign because of a job opportunity.

Turk, himself, is quite familiar with the Euclid program, having served as the assistant for six years prior to his three years as the head man.

The Panthers have one off-mat team goal every year to have a team GPA of 3.0. Last year, the team had four Student/Athletes earn Lake Erie League academic first team awards. Those four are also in honors level courses at the high school and some are taking post-secondary courses at area colleges

“I believe in putting importance in the student part of Student/Athlete,” Turk said. “Schoolwork always comes first in my practice room, and we even have desks set up in the room for that purpose. As I mentioned earlier, wrestling is such a mental sport and those who combine strong classroom skills with strong mat skills will succeed not only on the mat but in life as well.”

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Kelly Nortz (fourth from left) -- Photo by JPM

Magnificat's Brittney Balser (Duke), 

Brittany Flynn (Edinboro) and

Kelly Nortz (Northern Illinois) sign 

letters of intent 

Nov. 11, 2010

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor


ROCKY RIVER – Three Magnificat High Student/Athletes signed letters of intent to accept Division I sports scholarships on National Signing Day yesterday.

Those continuing up to the college Student/Athletic path for the Blue Streaks are volleyball S/As Brittney Balser and Brittany Flynn and gymnast Kelly Nortz.

Nortz will be competing and studying at Northern Illinois next year, joining former teammate Kayla Kmiecik in the Mid American Conference. Kmiecik has been studying and competing on scholarship at the MAC’s Ball State.

Balser will be competing in volleyball and studying at Duke, which is sometimes known as the “Ivy League of South East Coast States.”

Brittney Balser (third from left)  Photo by JPM

Flynn will be the closest to home in her college career, moving on to Edinboro State in Western Pennsylvania.

Balser was an outside hitter on this year’s state-ranked regional qualifying team and last fall’s state qualifying team.

Brittany Flynn (middle) Photo by JPM

Flynn specialized as an outside hitter and defensive specialist for the Blue Streaks.

Mags AD Rhonda Rickelman -- JPM Phtoo

Both Flynn and Balser were team captains this season.

Balser was one of only eight S/As statewide named first team All-Ohio Division I this fall and one of only three from the Cleveland area to get so named. Olmsted Falls’ Dayna Roberts and Amherst’s Deme Morales were the other two.

JPM Phtoo

Two years ago as a sophomore, Nortz won three of four events to claim the state indidvidual all-around championship and was named Greater Cleveland Gymnast of the Year

A knee injury limited Nortz's ability last year, but with a full recovery this year expects to return to 2009 form this winter.

JPM Phtoo

Avon's boys' basketball team has 

healthy mix of veterans and 

successful JV, freshman 

team members in immediate wings; 

R.J. Kauffman could hit 1,000 points 

by averaging 20 an outing again

Nov. 11, 2010

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor


AVON – Little by little each year, Avon boys’ basketball coach Jim Baker has been building his program and each year bigger things develop that a break-out season can be expected soon.

After sputtering early two years ago and then having a strong run at the end when the Eagles won 11 of their final 13 games, Avon turned in a decent 12-10 season last year but was not quite at a point it wanted to be based on the end of 2009.


Avon Varsity

However, the back load carried its end of the rebuilding bargain with the JV team popping out a 15-5 season and the freshman group a 16-4 campaign in 2009-10 and with all from those two teams a year older and more experienced, the Eagles have good reason to believe they will be a contender in the West Shore Conference race.


Avon JV's (15-5 in 09-10)


Avon Frosh (16-4 in 09-10)

“We are confident, but we are not a dominant team,” Baker said. “We must play well every night in order to win. Still, we are a veteran team that expects to challenge for the West Shore Conference championship.”

The Eaglles are led by senior R.J. Kauffman , who has been playing varsity ball since he was a freshman and has a chance at surpassing the 1,000-point mark in his career this season. The 6’1 guard averaged.  20.1 points per game and has 2 varssity letters to his name.


His suipporting cast include Claude Gray  (6’4 Jr., 11.7 ppg. 2 letters and also a varsity performer since a frosh), Marvin Coleman (6’1 Sr., 10.3 ppg., 1 letter), Mike Maloney (6’2 ,  Jr.,  3.1 ppg,.  1 letter), Alex Isaac (6’0,  Sr., 2.2 ppg,   1 letter), Connor Friss  (5’10,  Sr.,  1.6 ppg ,  1 letter), Ryan Carge (6’3,  Sr. 1.5 ppg ,1 letter), Ryan Ladegaard (6’3, Sr., 0.7 ppg,.1 letter) and  Matt Haney (6’2, Sr., 0.3 ppg, 1 letter).

Those moving up from that .750 JV team are Nate Penman (6’2 Jr.),  Ryan Poyle (6’3 , Jr.) and Nick Redilla (6’3, Jr.).

Kauffman, Gray, and Coleman are returning starters.  The other 2 spots are up for grabs with rest of roster in contention.

“We have both depth and athleticism,” said Baker.

On altering of the schedule has the Eagles playing in the Steve Smith Memorial Tournament at Wooster College on 12/18/10..

Baker, whose Eagles could put him at the 150-win mark as a head coach with five W’s this year, returns the same coaching staff of Varsity Assistant Mike Fitch (no relation to the chair thrower), JV Coach Mike Tokarczyk, and Freshmen Coach Kyle Stellar.

Baker is blessed with a lot of bright guys who can learn fast. The Eagles have a 3.3 GPA as a team. Carge, Friss, Haney, Ladegaard, Gray, Maloney, Penman, Poyle, and Redilla are all honor roll students.