The girls athletic program at Boardman High School had plenty to cheer over the weekend, what with freshman Amber Bland winning the Division I state high jump competition and the unbeaten softball team winning the school's first Ohio High School Athletic Association championship. In fact, this year's state track meet and softball championship games gave girls from throughout the Mahoning Valley a chance to shine -- demonstrating how important sports programs are for young women as well as young men.
Considering that Bland is only a freshman -- "only" a freshman? -- her 5 foot, 9 inch jump is remarkable -- and not only because it breaks the school record. With three years left in her high school career she could well find herself among the best in the nation if she continues to develop her skill and talent.
In beating Hamilton 4-1, the Boardman girls showed what great competitors they had been all season. And with only one senior on the team, the Spartans can look toward next year full of optimism.
First champion: Junior Christen Clemson of Maplewood High became her school's first female champion throwing the discus 140 feet, 11 inches in the Division III meet. Like Bland, Clemson also went to her first meet as a freshman, placing fourth, and moved up to third place in her sophomore year. Next year, perhaps Clemson can have a matching first place trophy to display.
Sometimes, even the best competitors have losing days. Thus, the girls from Poland made it to the Division II championship game but did not emerge victorious.
After 11 innings of scoreless ball, three Poland errors gave the game to Bath of Lima, 1-0, a sad ending to an unexpected season for Poland's young team.
It takes dedication, perseverance and ability to be a champion. Congratulations to these young women for showing they have it all.