If there was any question about the kind of athlete that Nate Hinze was, the senior answered it on Wednesday evening.
Hinze, who has already enjoyed a stellar senior season by obtaining All-SOC and All-District honors in both soccer and basketball this season — while leading Clay to a SOC title and a regional final showing on the hardwood — proved to be magnificent again throughout the duration of the SOC I Singles Tournament by grabbing an individual championship to go along with the team championship that he obtained earlier in February.
In doing so, the three-sport athlete — who defeated New Boston’s R.J. Hayes, 6-4, 6-1 to claim the championship crown — capped off one of the better overall careers that one will see in the SOC I realm with his singles title. Additionally, fellow Panthers Hunter Armstrong and Gage Keller defeated their doubles teammates, Alicia Bobst and Regan Osborn, by a 6-1, 6-0 count in the SOC I Doubles Tournament to give Clay a clean sweep of the SOC I titles at the newly revamped Millbrook Park on Wednesday.
Additionally, fellow Panthers Hunter Armstrong and Gage Keller defeated their doubles teammates, Alicia Bobst and Regan Osborn, by a 6-1, 6-0 count in the SOC I Doubles Tournament to give Clay a clean sweep of the SOC I titles at the newly revamped Millbrook Park on Wednesday. The Panthers (who put Taylor Pack in the semifinals in addition to Hinze), along with the Tigers (who put Hayes and JC Carter in the singles semifinals) cleaned up on the SOC I accolades by taking home all eight slots
After advancing through a grueling set of action, Hinze and Pack, along with Hayes and Carter, advanced to the semifinals in singles play, where the quartet automatically earned SOC honors based on their play on Tuesday evening.
Hinze, who was the No. 1 seed in singles action, defeated Carter to make it to the title affair, while Hayes, the No. 2 overall seed, defeated Pack to match up with Hinze as each of the No. 1 singles players for Clay and New Boston represented the SOC I in the finals.
There, Hinze and Hayes duked it out, especially in the first set, where the pair played 10 full games in the initial frame along.
However, the 6-2 multi-sport standout grabbed control by taking home the first set 6-4, and eventually, the match, as Hinze took care of business by defeating Hayes in the final set by a standout 6-1 score to take home the singles title.
With the top-ranked senior taking care of business in the first affair, the Panthers only had the doubles events to be concerned with in their quest to sweep the SOC I titles.
However, Armstrong and Keller, along with Bobst and Osborn, made that possibility a formality before the SOC II Doubles Championship even began by advancing to the finals. There, Armstrong and Clay bested Bobst and Osborn by a 6-1, 6-0 tally to take home the title.
With the SOC I tournament in the books, Hinze officially took home his third straight SOC I Singles Championship, and with it, the conference’s player of the year award. Pack joined Hinze on the All-SOC unit — the second year in a row that the senior has earned all-conference billing.
In addition to the program’s tournament accolades, Clay, who went 13-3 overall and 9-2 in SOC play under the direction of Bobby Blanton, was awarded the SOC I title for its play during the regular season. Blanton was also named the SOC I’s Coach of the Year as a result.
SOC I Singles Championship
Nate Hinze (Clay) def. RJ Hayes (Glenwood) 6-4, 6-1
SOC II Doubles Championship
Hunter Armstrong/Gage Keller (Clay) def. Alicia Bobst/Regan Osborn (Clay) 6-1, 6-0
SOC I Team Championship — Clay (13-3, 9-2)
Coach of the Year — Bobby Blanton, Clay
Player of the Year — Nate Hinze, Clay
SOC I Doubles Champions — Hunter Armstrong & Gage Keller, Clay
SOC I First Team — RJ Hayes (Glenwood), Alicia Bobst (Clay), JC Carter (Glenwood), Taylor Pack (Clay), Regan Osborn (Clay)
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7