Golden Flashes lead way for Valley of champions


The Mahoning Valley has once again proved its mettle by amassing impressive slabs of shiny championship medals. In capturing several state titles in spring sports this month, our region has securely reinforced its enviable reputation as a powerhouse for school athleticism in the Buckeye State.

Last weekend, talent, teamwork and tenacity combined to slam home to Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties impressive 2019 state titles in softball and several track and field events.

In Akron’s Firestone Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Champion High School Golden Flashes walloped the Cardington-Lincoln Pirates 5-0 to clinch the Division III state softball title.

Meanwhile, in Columbus last Friday and Saturday, Mahoning Valley schools and athletes reaped eight state titles in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s State Track and Field Championships. Leading the pack with three of those championship trophies were those resilient Rebels of Crestview High School in Columbiana County.

We heartily congratulate the players, coaches and supporters of this year’s set of spring sports superstars from our region, including those who fell just a smidgen short of reaching the gold standard.

CHAMPION MAKES HISTORY

In softball action, the aptly named Champion squad turned heads and made history on several fronts while winning the 2019 state championship.

First, the victory over Cardington represented the Flashes’ third consecutive state title in their division.

Second, it represented the team’s ninth state championship in its history. That feat ties Champion with Akron Springfield for the most softball championships in state history.

Additionally, last weekend’s title places Champion alone among Mahoning Valley sports teams with nine state titles under its belt. Before Saturday, the Flashes had been tied with Cardinal Mooney High School’s legendary football program with eight titles.

“It’s just amazing,” the Flashes skillful and consummate coach Cheryl Weaver said after the game. “That’s an accomplishment, and it says a lot about these young ladies.”

Yes, indeed, it most certainly does.

It says a lot about the smashing talent of Cassidy Shaffer. She became the first player in Division III history Saturday to homer two times in a single state title game, a three-run home run in the sixth inning and a two-run homer in the seventh.

It says a lot about the superlative pitching prowess of the Flashes’ Allison Smith. Perched proudly on the mound, Smith allowed no runs, no walks and only three measly hits. She also struck out 10 batters.

And the historic title also says a lot about the stellar fielding talents of the Golden Flashes on prime display by left fielder Savannah Dodrill who made a diving catch of a line drive off the bat of lead-off hitter Paige Clinger in the bottom of the seventh inning, thwarting the Pirates’ hopes for any comeback.

To be sure, the players and the Champion community owe a deep debt of gratitude to coach Weaver for her consistent, high-quality and results-oriented leadership. The state title served as an appropriate and deserving cap to her 20th year at the helm of the Golden Flashes.

STATE TITLES IN TRACK

Meanwhile, some 120 miles south in Columbus, Valley athletes were running, throwing and hurtling their way to glory.

Leading the way were the Crestview boys 4x200 and 4x100 relay teams. Not only did the Rebels secure state titles, they did so by setting a new state record of 1 minute 27.71 seconds in the 4x200 race.

Also bringing home state titles were Howland’s Vincent Mauri, tops in the state in the Division I 2-mile run; Crestview’s Dominic Perry as state champ in the shot put; Springfield Local’s Garrett Walker in the 400 and Justin Wright of Wellsville with two championships – in the 100 and in the long jump.

Still others came oh so close to victory. East High Golden Bear Giovanni Washington was only 0.13 of 1 second away from first place in the 100, and McDonald Blue Devil Anna Guerra finished runner-up in the 3200 race.

Taken together, those hard-hitting softball champs and those never-say-die track and field standouts have brought glory to themselves and to the schools and communities they represent. As such, we heartily salute them.

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