As the dust settles from another year in the SWOC, it’s time to reflect on what’s transpired over the last year. In the 2012-2013 season the SWOC produced multiple state championship performances, but came up empty in 2013-2014. That doesn’t mean this year wasn’t a success. Quite the opposite, really.
When all was said and done, Harrison raised the SWOC All-Sports Trophy for the second year in a row. The All-Sports Trophy acknowledges all 23 sports that the SWOC competes in.
But the year began, as it always does, in the fall season. Mount Healthy won the conference football title for the second consecutive season. The Owls went undefeated in conference action (7-0). The best storyline of the fall was perhaps the SWOC sending three teams to the Division II state playoffs for the second year in a row. Northwest and Harrison joined Mt. Healthy in the playoffs. Northwest won its first playoff game in program history, beating Harrison. Mount Healthy went toe-to-toe with powerhouse Loveland in a regional final game, but lost 35-28. Loveland went on to win a state title. The volleyball season in the SWOC seems to always be filled with suspense and close matches. Ross and Little Miami each won a conference-high 18 games and split the conference title going 12-2 against the SWOC. Edgewood’s soccer program had a remarkably successful season. The Cougars won the boys title outright going unbeaten (5-0-2) in conference action. Edgewood’s girls finished second to Ross who didn’t lose in the SWOC and finished 19-1-1 overall. The Rams’ only loss of the season came in a Division II regional final game against Alter. Mount Healthy added another conference title in the fall in boys cross country, while Talawanda won the girls cross country title. Talawanda also repeated as conference champs in girls tennis. The Braves were led by player of the year Rachael Morton. Wilmington closed out the fall with a pair of conference titles in boys and girls golf.
The winter weather did its best to stifle any kind of consistency throughout eight leagues, but we still had brilliance across the board, weather be darned. Wilmington was the best SWOC boys basketball team this year. They were 14-0 in the conference and 20-6 overall and even managed a nice postseason run they came to a heartbreaking halt at the buzzer against Middletown. Talawanda was equally as impressive on the girls side - the Braves went 20-3 overall and unbeaten in the conference (14-0). Ana Richter repeated as conference player of the year. Harrison unseated Ross as the best wrestling squad in the conference. The Wildcats finished first at the conference tournament. The SWOC sent six wrestlers to state, but none from Harrison. They were: Edgewood’s DJ Campos and TJ Bean; Wilmington’s Zach Johnson; and Aaron Cox, Gavin Peacock and Andrew Dunn from Ross. Talawanda has created quite the dynasty in swimming. The Braves have two straight boys and girls conference titles in the SWOC. The Talawanda boys swim and dive team finished sixth in the state. Northwest had a bowling season that no one will soon forget. The Knights won boys and girls conference championships; girls went 8-0 in SWOC and competed at state tournament while the boys were 14-4 overall and 9-1 in conference. Little Miami had a memorable academic season that ended in a run at state (tenth place finish).
The spring season included some great match ups, rivalries and games. Starting out in baseball, Harrison and Ross once again proved they’re the class of the division. For consecutive seasons, the Wildcats and Rams split the conference title with identical 11-3 records. Unfortunately, a competitive regular season didn’t translate to any postseason runs. Harrison won the softball title outright, edging out Ross. Wilmington and Ross both won sectional softball championships this season. It’s becoming clear each year that the SWOC will be contenders at the state track and field meet. Although the SWOC failed to repeat with a state champion (Northwest men’s 4x100 in 2013) they did place several on the podium. Talawanda’s girls’ track and field team won the SWOC title for a second straight year and Mount Healthy won the boys side. Northwest sent its 4x200 relay team to state along with DeVohn Jackson in the 100m and 200m and Malik Beverly in the long jump. Talawanda sent Maurice Thomas in the 400m and Mount Healthy sent Kenny Glenn and Shaqualia Gutter. No one placed higher than sixth at state this year. Wilmington was the boys’ tennis conference champion behind conference player of the year Joe Alexander.
At last weekend's state track and field meet at Ohio State University, Northwest and Mount Healthy both found themselves on the podium.
Mount Healthy's Shaqualia Gutter finished sixth in 300m hurdles (44.93) and Northwest's DeVohn Jackson finished seventh in the 100m (10.90) and ninth in the 200m (22.06). The Owls also had Kenny Glenn finish sixth in the long jump (22-7.75) and Malik Beverly, of Northwest, was 13th in the long jump (20-10.5).
When teams begin practice for the upcoming 2014 fall season, Wilmington High School will return to competition in the South Central Ohio League after a two-year stay in the Southwest Ohio Conference. Wilmington was once a founding member of the SCOL in 1922 (competition began in 1923), but when the conference collapsed in 1991 Wilmington joined the Fort Ancient Valley Conference the next year.
When the FAVC disbanded in 2012, Wilmington decided to join the SWOC and a two-year commitment was agreed upon. The decision is a practical one for Wilmington, as the travel time significantly improves.
As a relatively new conference, our goal is to continue establishing our league and creating sustaining rivalries. In such a short time, the SWOC has become a strong competitor in 23 sports across the divisions in the southwestern part of the state. We are very proud of this quick success, and plan to continue growing our conference.
We have an expansion committee in place to evaluate any interested schools, however our current plans are to move forward with 7 great schools who have the common purpose of being an interscholastic conference pursuing athletics as an integral part of the total educational process, and being able to provide outstanding opportunities in athletics for our student athletes.
“Wilmington has great respect for the teams in the SWOC. We’re thankful to have had the opportunity to be an initial member of the league ... we wish them a long and successful future,” said Wilmington athletic director Ed Blohm. “At the same time we’re looking forward to rejoining the SCOL after a long absence.”
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It's time to put faces with the names we see all year long!
The following athletes finished in the top four of their respective competitions to advance to the state track and field championships on Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7 at Ohio State.
Northwest - DeVohn Jackson (100M, 200M), Malik Beverly (long jump), 4x200M relay team
Talawanda - Maurice Thomas (400M)
Mount Healthy - Shaqualia Gutter (300 hurdles), Kenny Glenn (high jump, long jump)