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Local student athletes excel despite crisis

COVID-19 has presented difficulties for all of us in one way or another.

All local students have endured a very challenging school year so far.

To be sure, obstacles have been especially great for student-athletes, beginning months ago with athletic training camps when no one was even sure whether their sports seasons — or even how their school year — would proceed. Still, these dedicated athletes somehow managed to follow stringent rules in order to stay healthy, whether it was in school weight rooms, on practice fields and trails, on the sidelines and in competition. And now several local student-athletes have risen to the top in the playoffs and state competition.

This year, we are proud of so many of our local young people who are closing in on state-level competitions or who have already triumphed there.

Congratulations goes to Warren John F. Kennedy’s and Springfield Local’s high school football teams, which will compete this weekend in the state semifinals.

Kennedy, 8-2, will face off against the 7-3 Newark Catholic team in a Division VII state semifinal tonight in Massillon.

In a battle of the Division VI undefeateds, Springfield Local will play Beverly Fort Frye Saturday evening in Zanesville.

We wish both our local teams all the best. They have had a wonderful season so far, and we hope it continues for one more week. If it doesn’t, however, these boys must not be ashamed!

In varsity boys soccer, Howland, 21-0-1, will compete Saturday in the Division II state championship against Tipp City Tippecanoe, 23-0.

Cardinal Mooney, 16-2-4, also plays Saturday in the Division III championship game against undefeated Cincinnati Marimont.

Likewise, we salute these two local boys soccer teams! How incredible it is to have two local teams competing this weekend for the state championship, and we wish them both the very best.

And at the state cross country meet last weekend, Maplewood freshman Caleigh Richards became the first girls cross country runner in Maplewood’s storied running history to win state.

With a time of 18:22.3, Caleigh captured first place. As a freshman, we suspect this is only the beginning of her legacy.

The Maplewood girls finished seventh in the state meet as a team. Mineral Ridge girls cross country team finished eighth.

Maplewood boys team finished 16th in the state meet’s Division III boys race.

McDonald senior Brody Rupe, McDonald’s lone representative at this year’s state meet, finished in sixth place in the Division III meet with a time of 15:55.5.

It truly has been a surreal season for all these young athletes. In fact, all local student-athletes who worked hard and competed this fall amid the global pandemic deserve great praise.

But we especially salute the student-athletes who have excelled and risen to the top in their respective competitions.

Congratulations to each and good luck on continued good health and success!

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