PDT Sports Editor
MINFORD — With the 2011-2012 school year in the books, the Minford Falcons have a chance to look at the sports seasons behind them and the ones ahead.
Multiple teams made impressive postseason runs, an athlete finished his career undefeated in regular season play and a coach reached a rare milestone.
“Overall, I think we have great coaches in place and great student-athletes,” Minford athletic director Jeff Pica said.
Pica’s first year as Minford’s athletic director featured one of the more impressive runs by any athlete in the area. Minford senior singles tennis player Noah Thiel finished his high school career undefeated in regular season play and fell one match short of the state tennis tournament.
As a junior, Thiel played in the state doubles tournament and the year before that made it to the semifinals in the district tournament.
“He’s worked so hard and has represented himself very well in his career,” Minford tennis coach R.D. Baker said.
The softball and baseball teams at Minford both won Sectional Titles and sophomore pitcher Kelsey Conkey was named First Team All-Ohio in Division III by the state’s coaches. Conkey recorded 255 strikeouts in 2012 and helped the Lady Falcons to a Southeast District Semifinal appearance.
The Minford baseball season started when senior Tyler Sanford, with coach Tim Martin at his side, signed the dotted line to pitch at Shawnee State and by the end of the season Sanford helped Martin earn his 300th career win.
Sanford was on the mound May 30 when Minford defeated South Webster 8-0, elevating Martin to 300 wins.
Pica said the career achievement was well-earned.
“It’s a huge milestone and I think I embarrassed him with the ceremony we had for him but the thing I like best about Tim is he’s in it for the kids,” Pica said. “He does pitching lessons for the area’s kids because he cares about them and wants them to achieve. The victories are deserved because he does it the right way.”
Also in the spring, Minford’s Courtney Sexton burnt up the track in the Division III girls 100-Meter Dash. Her time of 13.10 at the District Championships qualified her for the State Championships, where she finished 11th in the first preliminary with a time of 13.19.
During the winter sports season the boys basketball team reached the Division III Southeast Sectional Final and had their best season since 1996 with 14 wins. Despite losing seniors Bo Vallandingham, Tyler Gaines, Sanford and Thiel, who Minford basketball coach Josh Shoemaker said restored winning play to the program, the Falcons return four starters for next season.
The final record for the girls program was not one to write home about, but Pica likes what the program has in place.
“We have a great first-year coach in Scott Cayton and it’s a young team that progressed as the season went on,” Pica said.
The fall season was not short on success either as the Minford boys soccer team defeated Peebles 2-1 in the Division III Southeast District Final.
The girls soccer team also faced Peebles in the Division III Southeast District Tournament but came out on the losing end of that quarterfinal match.
The Falcon football team finished 4-6, but is only a year removed from a playoff appearance.
“Coach (Brent) Daniels does a great job with the kids and they were rebuilding a little bit this year,” Pica said.
The Lady Falcons also had a solid volley season with an appearance in a Division III Southeast Sectional Championship game and will return for players that were starters as sophomores under coach Amanda Nickel. Ashley Oesch was the only senior on the squad.
In all, Pica enjoyed his first year as the boss of Minford athletics.
“I was very pleased with how our teams performed, our seniors in particular,” Pica said. “It seems like we have a great group come through every season. Even with the seniors that are leaving, we have a bright future here and a lot of promising athletes.”
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or email@example.com.