As the calendar turns from December to January and from 2016 to 2017, The Madison Press sports staff takes a look back at the biggest sports stories from the past 12 months. Instead of trying to put them in a numerical order and placing one accomplishment above another, the staff will let the athletic achievements and stories stand on their own. This is part one of a two part story.
Aziza Ayoub wins Division II 800-meter state championship/signs with Ohio State
The Jonathan Alder standout is wildly regarded as one of if not the most versatile high school runners in the entire state of Ohio.
You really can’t argue with the results as the sprinter-turned-middle distance runner raced her way to the county’s only individual state championship in 2016.
A year after what she deemed to be a disappointing showing at the D-II state track meet as a sophomore. Ayoub returned to Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on a mission.
Ayoub qualified in the state in both the 100 and 800-meters, but her goal of a state champion were resting on her ability to outsprint the opposition to the finish line. She was so confident in herself she was mentally planning for the moment weeks earlier.
“I said to myself I’ve got this, about two or three weeks ago,” she said following the race. “I thought as long as I was mentally ready, and as long as I didn’t fall or something that I was going to win the state championship.
“As a runner who wants to win a state title you have to think like that. I had seen the times that everyone had run and I was pretty confident in myself.”
Even though she had mentally gone through winning a state champion a million times in her head, to finally have it happen was still somewhat surreal.
“I was just looking at the finish line as I crossed it and thought, I just won a state title,” Ayoub said. “It really started to hit me about 10-15 minutes later and I threw up. It all just hit me at once.”
Ayoub went on to win the 800-meter at the USTAF National Junior Olympics in California. She then did what most sprinters can’t do, she transitioned to cross country and qualified for the state meet in the fall.
She finished off the year by signing a National Letter of Intent to run in college at Ohio State.
“I know it’s kind of weird because I made it to states in cross country and the 100, it’s just a good combination and for middle distance which is what I’m going to specialize in at Ohio State you really need both,” Ayoub said. “I’m glad I can have a little bit of experience on both, I probably still need to work on my endurance.”
London Middle School football teams go undefeated
Two teams, 15 games, zero losses.
That’s what the Seventh (8-0) and Eighth (7-0) grade football teams at London Middle School accomplished this fall.
The future for the Red Raiders high school football program is in good hands as these two teams went through the entire season without a loss. Most of the games both played were lopsided affairs in which the Raiders shined on both offense and defense.
MPHS swimmer Emma Sampson swims at state meet/signs with Toledo
Not a whole lot of Division I athletes come out of Madison-Plains High School, even fewer when it’s a sports that no one else at the school is really competing in.
This is the life of Golden Eagles swimming star Emma Sampson. Despite swimming as an individual, and not having a pool in the county to swim at, the Madison-Plains standout not only advanced to the OHSAA state championship meet in two events, the 200-yard Individual Medley and the 100-yard backstroke, she earned herself a scholarship to the University of Toledo.
Sampson routinely made early morning trips to Springfield, a trek back to Madison-Plains for school and a return trip to Springfield for more practice on a daily basis. Those countless hours and miles opened the door for her opportunity to swim in college. She chose Toledo over Cleveland State and the University of Indianapolis. Sampson said there’s a family atmosphere that she was drawn to with the Rockets.
“It’s super-duper exciting just because I’m so passionate about the sport,” Sampson said at her signing. “I’m so excited I have the opportunity to compete in the sport I love while having the opportunity to pursue my education at the University of Toledo.
“It’s definitely rewarding knowing all of the hard work is going somewhere now. It means more when you think about all the things you’ve done to get to this point.”
WJ duo place at D-III state wrestling tournament
Madison County had a three-year streak of producing a state-champion broken in March when no wrestler from inside the county won a state championship, but it wasn’t because of effort.
Two West Jeff wrestlers Josh Doherty and Jake Burns both placed high at the state’s biggest tournament.
Doherty (54-2) only lost two matches all year, both to eventual state state champ Kaleb Romero of Mechanicsburg, including the second in the state championship match of the D-III 160 pound weight class.
Burns shook off an early season injury to eventually place fourth at 195 pounds in the D-III state meet. His overall 37-4 record included two state tournament losses to Amanda-Clearcreek’s Jordan Leasure.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.