The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, May. 29, 2020

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

For many football fans, it was an announcement that seemed to come out of nowhere.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to expand the football playoffs from eight to 12 teams per region beginning in 2021. Approval was based on a proposal from the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and it will increase the number of playoff qualifiers from 224 to 336 in Divisions I through VII.

Under the new format, the top four seeds in each region will have an opening round bye, while seed five through eight will host playoff games in the first round. The higher seeds will have the opportunity to host second round games.

The VW independent anonymously polled 15 area football coaches from the Northwest Conference, Western Buckeye League, Green Meadows Conference and Midwest Athletic Conference. They were asked the same questions – “Are you for or against the expanded playoffs and why? Also, do you have any concerns at all?” 11 of the coaches provided responses.

The majority of coaches seem to be in favor of the expanded field, but some also voiced some concerns. In no particular order, here are their responses.

Coach No. 1

“I like the expanded playoff format. There are some very tough regions out there and some very good teams have come up short, even with very good records. This would give them the opportunity to play.”

Coach No. 2

“The expanded playoffs give more teams and communities the opportunity to experience the thrill of the playoffs. I do not like our practices starting a week earlier.”

Coach No. 3

“I have mixed feelings to a degree. I am more in favor than against. Mainly because I am hoping this will open some minds on non-league scheduling. It is very difficult to find non-league games because everyone is trying to maximize Harbins (Harbin points).”

“Maybe this expansion will create more opportunities for good non-league games. I am not looking forward to a bye in week 11. I was more in favor of just adding to 16 teams per region right from the start.”

Coach No. 4

“I am for the expanded playoffs. (As a) Matter of fact I am not so sure they shouldn’t have just went with 16 teams with no first round bye for the top four seeds.”


POSTED: 05/28/20 at 3:53 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Two recent Lincolnview High School graduates have signed letters of intent to run track at the University of Findlay. Colton Trenkamp (above) lettered four times in track and twice in cross country for the Lancers. Trenkamp, the son of Jason Trenkamp and Corry Shrider, will major in Exercise Science. Brad Korte (below) also lettered four times in track and two times in cross country. He’s the school record holder in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, long jump and 4×200 relay, and he was first team All-Ohio in the long jump (fifth place) during his junior season. In 2019, Korte, the son of Neil and Stacie Korte, was voted the male athlete of the year in the NWC for track. He’ll major in sports management. Lincolnview photo

POSTED: 05/27/20 at 3:51 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

A pair of recent Lincolnview graduates have signed on to continue their cross country and track careers at University of Findlay. Devon Bill (above), the son of John Bill and Mystee Kiessling was a four-time letter winner and a three-time State cross country team qualifier. He’ll major in Exercise Science. Joe Sadowski (below), the son of Gary and Charia Sadowski, was a three-time State cross country qualifier and the 4×800 realy. He lettered four times in cross country and track, and he’ll major in Business Adminsration at Findlay. Lincolnview photo

POSTED: 05/27/20 at 3:50 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

This week’s Random Thoughts center around no Indy 500, OHSAA and expanded football playoffs, and college football and California.


One of the mainstays of Memorial Day weekend (although hardly the most important) is the Indianapolis 500. 

It was strange not having the race run Sunday. It’s been delayed until August 23, due to COVID-19 and it was just the seventh time the race didn’t take place on Memorial Day weekend, with the other six being during World War I and World War II. 

Hopefully, it goes off without a hitch in August. 

Ohio and OHSAA

It’s nice to see student athletes throughout Ohio starting conditioning today.

It truly seems like a step in the right direction in terms of playing fall sports. The previous deadline was June 30, which was far from ideal.

I still think that assuming they’re played, there’s a good chance that fall sports – football and volleyball in particular – will have an abbreviated schedule of some sort with limited fans in attendance.

Again, it’s hardly ideal but it’s better than nothing.

Football playoffs

I still have somewhat mixed feelings about OHSAA’s plan to expand the football playoffs, starting in 2021.  

It all but ensures that a team that goes 10-0 or 9-1 will qualify for the postseason (three didn’t last year), but if you finish undefeated or with one loss and don’t get in, that seems like a scheduling problem. Since strength of schedule is a major part of the Harbin computer rankings, perhaps it’s time to upgrade your non-conference schedule, especially if you’re a Division V or VI school playing in a conference with a bunch of Division VII schools. 


POSTED: 05/26/20 at 3:49 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent sports

While school districts around Ohio are permitted to open training facilities on Tuesday, May 26, (see related story below) school athletic facilities in Van Wert County will remain closed for the time being, according to a joint statement issued Friday by Crestview athletic administrator Trent Kreischer, Lincolnview athletic director Greg Leeth and Van Wert athletic director Trent Temple.

“The safety of our student-athletes is the number one priority,” the statement said. “As our districts work together on a unified plan and timeline to resume workouts at school facilities, we ask that our communities and students remain patient so that we may properly plan to continue to take steps forward that we hope will ultimately lead to a return of interscholastic sports in the fall.”

“For now, our facilities will remain closed so we can plan and gather information from our coaches on how to best open up our districts to meet the needs of our student-athletes with safe training conditions and activities under state safety guidelines. The goal is that smart and precise planning now will lead to consistent progress toward opening up as soon as we can get such plans in place.”

“School administration from Van Wert, Lincolnview, and Crestview have met on a county level to start plans that will allow athletes and school coaches to begin skills training sessions,” the statement also said. “County schools have also been working in conjunction with the Van Wert County Health Department to ensure safety guidelines are properly being interpreted from the ‘Restart Ohio’ plan.”

Van Wert County schools aren’t alone in temporarily delaying the re-opening of athletic facilities. Other school districts around the state are doing the same to best formulate safety plans.

POSTED: 05/22/20 at 2:51 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent/OHSAA information

Note: The latest Friday Flashback takes us back to the end of the 2012 OHSAA spring sports season. The Crestview Lady Knights were crowned as Division IV state softball champions, while Van Wert’s Jared Fleming brought back the gold as well. Below is the recap as it appeared on the VW independent Sports page.

It was a weekend of state championships for two Van Wert County schools, when Crestview’s varsity softball team won its second Division IV state championship and Van Wert distance runner Jared Fleming took home the gold in the Division II 800-meter run in the state track and field championship.

Crestview softball player Taylor Springer thanks fans for their support throughout the season during a welcome home ceremony held Saturday evening after the Lady Knights won the Division IV state championship. (Crestview photo)

In their 10th trip to the OHSAA softball state tournament, the Crestview Lady Knights took home their second Division IV state championship trophy with a 6-2 win over Vienna Mathews Saturday at Firestone Stadium in Akron.

Crestview (28-5) needed just six hits, three of which went for extra bases, and capitalized on two Mathews errors.

On Thursday, the defending state runner-up Knights knocked off defending state champion Strasburg-Franklin in the semifinals in a rematch of their 2011 title tilt. Mathews (25-6), meanwhile, was making its first appearance in the state tournament and wraps up a season that includes a school record for wins.

Freshman pitchers went the distance for both teams. Crestview’s Terra Crowle (14-2) struck out seven, walked a batter and hit a batter and scattered four hits. Mathews’ pitcher Cheyenne Eggens (23-4) struck out 11 and walked two.

Crowle also got the offense going for the Knights with a second-inning RBI double. The Knights added two runs in the third inning when senior Taylor Springer plated two with a triple. After adding two more in the sixth, senior Maddie Etzler’s solo home run capped the scoring the for the Knights. Etzler scored three of Crestview’s six runs.


POSTED: 05/22/20 at 3:50 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent sports

COLUMBUS — An announcement by Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted is viewed as a big step toward the playing of high school sports this fall.

During a press briefing in Columbus on Thursday, Husted said all schools will be able to start training and conditioning sessions for all sports, including contact sports at their respective facilities starting on Tuesday, May 26. The previous date was at least June 30, and he said the change was the result of a joint effort between the state and the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

“For now, there’s a reason for optimism, so let the training begin,” Husted said. “So long as safety protocols are followed, this includes weight training, agility, skills and other types of conditioning you would use to prepare for those sports.”

He added that use of school facilities is up to each individual district, and he noted that for now, no scrimmages or contests are allowed for contact sports.

A memo sent to OHSAA members outlined some guidelines which include proper social distancing and a no-touch rule, meaning no high fives, huddles or other close contact and self-symptom checks by all coaches, players and parents/guardians before attending training sessions.

Plans for the 2020-2021 school year and the fall are still being discussed by state government officials and the Ohio Department of Education.

POSTED: 05/21/20 at 6:09 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

In many ways, it’s like starting over.

After a record setting track and field career at Van Wert High School, Austin Clay went north to Division I Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, to study and continue his athletic career with the Chippewas.

However, Central Michigan athletic director Michael Alford announced on Tuesday that the university would cut its indoor and outdoor men’s track and field programs, effective immediately.

Austin Clay

“We did not make this decision lightly, but we are facing a new financial reality due to enrollment challenges and now COVID-19,” Alford said. “Hundreds of students have participated in this longstanding, successful program at Central Michigan and we know this will impact them and supporters of this program greatly.”

“My heart goes out to these student-athletes — I know this is incredibly difficult for them,” Alford added.

The decision affects 36 student-athletes, including Clay, who graduated from Van Wert in 2019, then redshirted at Central Michigan this year.

“I was at work when another thrower texted me to get on a video call and our head coach and athletic director were talking and announced that our program was being cut,” Clay explained. “I did not hear any word about the decision before that call. Once I heard the news, it sunk in immediately and I was devastated for the rest of the day.”

According to the university, scholarships for current men’s track and field student-athletes will be honored for the duration of their Central Michigan academic careers, while those who would like to transfer will be able to do so immediately.


POSTED: 05/21/20 at 3:54 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

COLUMBUS — More Ohio high school football teams will qualify for the postseason, starting in 2021.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted unanimously on Wednesday to expand the OHSAA football playoffs from eight schools to 12 teams per region beginning with the 2021 season. The vote was in response to a proposal from the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.

The expansion means the number of football playoff qualifiers will go from from 224 to 336 teams, or nearly half of all football playing high schools in Ohio. It will all but eliminate the possibility of teams going 10-0 or 9-1 and not qualifying for the postseason, as three did in 2019. It also means more 5-5 teams and more teams with a sub-.500 record will have a chance to qualify for the playoffs. Football is the only OHSAA team sport in which not every school qualifies for the postseason.

“We still have details to work out regarding the format and specific season dates, but this vote by the Board gives us the green light to finalize those details for 2021,” Beau Rugg, Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management for the OHSAA and the Association’s football administrator said. “We are thankful for the Board’s support on this proposal, which will bring all the great things of playoff football to 112 additional schools and communities.”

Rugg also said that the football finals in 2021 are expected to end during the same weekend as previously scheduled, December 2-5, indicating the season will start a week earlier in August.

The format will go like this – the top four seeds in each region will have a bye during the opening round, while the No. 12 seed will play at the No. 5 seed, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7 and No. 9 at No. 8. In the second round, the No. 1 seed will play the winner of the 8 vs. 9 game; the No. 2 seed will play the winner of 6 vs. 11; the No. 3 seed will play the winner of 7 vs. 10 and the No. 4 seed will play the winner of 5 vs. 12.


POSTED: 05/20/20 at 3:05 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent sports

There will be no Lima Locos or Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League baseball this summer due to the coronavirus.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting government regulations, the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League Board of Directors has voted to cancel the 2020 season,” the league said on its website. “The directors determined it would be impossible to operate effectively while insuring the safety of all involved.”

The league is expected to return in 2021.

The Locos are defending champions of the GLSCL, which has 12 teams, including the Celina based Grand Lakes Mariners and the Richmond, Indiana Jazz, the Cincinnati Steam and a new team, the Sandusky Ice Haulers. 

Players are not paid so they can maintain their NCAA eligibility, and the GLSCL follows NCAA rules. The league is sanctioned and supported by Major League Baseball.

POSTED: 05/20/20 at 8:39 am. FILED UNDER: Sports