2005 highlighted by near championship seasons

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2006

It was a year of near championships.

Four times local teams advanced to the state tournament. Several individual athletes qualified for the state track meet. And even though no one achieved that ultimate goal, it was the ultimate experience.

In a rare occurrence, the Ironton High School boys and girls basketball teams advanced to the state tournament in the same season as they played in the Final Four just one week apart.

Email newsletter signup

The Symmes Valley Lady Vikings also reached the state title game in girls’ softball, the first time any team in school history reached such lofty status.

And the Ironton boys golf team qualified for the school’s eighth trip to the state tournament.

But the year was full of other noteworthy events and accomplishments.


Ironton’s Mark Snyder turned down an offer to become defensive coordinator at LSU and said he will remain as the Ohio State Buckeyes defensive coordinator.


The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers finished their best regular season ever at 19-1, then won the sectional to go to 20-1. They were ranked 11th in the final AP poll.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers completed their first-ever unbeaten regular season by going 20-0. They were ranked second in the final AP poll.

Chesapeake’s boys and South Point’s girls both went 10-0 in the league as they won Ohio Valley Conference championships. Chesapeake’s boys finished sixth in the final AP poll.

Ironton, Chesapeake and Green boys all won sectional titles along with the Ironton and South Point girls.

The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers beat Zane Trace 38-32 to win their first district championship in 25 years.

The all-district basketball team honored 40 area players and Ironton’s Roger Zornes was named the Coach of the Year in Division III.


The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers won the Division III regional championship for the second time in school history by beating West Muskingum 54-41 and earned a trip to the state tournament.

The Lady Tigers 57-56 overtime regional semifinal win over No. 3-ranked Jonathan Alder set a new school record for victories in a single season. However, the Ironton girls’ season ended at 24-2 when they lost to eventual state champion South Euclid Regina in the state semifinals.

Lady Tigers guard Andrea Rudmann was second team All-Ohio. Honorable mention went to Ironton’s Sara Hacker, Coal Grove’s Chelsea Markins and South Point’s Alisha Bridges.

In Division IV, St. Joseph’s Christina Harvey was special mention All-Ohio and Symmes Valley’s Leslie Floyd and Green’s Leigh Ann Williams were honorable mention.

The Ironton and Chesapeake boys won Division III district championships, and then Ironton edged Chesapeake 43-39 in the first game of the regionals.

Ironton beat Bloom-Carroll 65-59 in overtime to take the regional title and advance to the state tournament for the second time in school history.

During the game, Ironton’s Dennis Gagai scored, the 1,000th point of his career.

Bob Pruett resigned as the Marshall head football coach.

Ironton boys head coach Roger Zornes was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year in Division III. Ironton’s Dennis Gagai and Brigham Waginger were special mention All-Ohio and Joe Zornes honorable mention.

Also named All-Ohio in Division III were Chesapeake’s P.J. Rase (special mention) and Brennan Hall (honorable mention). Green’s Derek Lewis was honorable mention in Division IV.

Ironton beat Archbold 70-66 in the state semifinals, then nearly pulled off a major upset in the championship game before losing 71-65 to No. 1 ranked North College Hill and Mr. Basketball O.J. Mayo.

Lady Fighting Tigers senior Sarah Cartmell signed a letter-of-intent to play volleyball for Shawnee State University.


Symmes Valley senior softball pitch Lori Harmon signed a letter-of-intent to play for Shawnee State.

Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Ironton All-Ohio quarterback Mark Snyder lands his dream job as he is hired to be the new head football coach at Marshall University. Snyder was an All-American defensive back at Marshall.

Fairland captured its fourth straight Ohio Valley Conference baseball championship while South Point clinched the OVC softball title.

Ironton’s first team All-Ohio tight end Patrick Kouns signs a letter-of-intent to play at the Univesity of Charleston, W.Va.


In a series of signings, senior end and defensive back Tyler McDaniels signed with Otterbein, and senior All-Ohio guard/forward Joe Zornes inked to play basketball at Shawnee State University.

Fairland won the Div. III district baseball title while Green won in Div. IV. Symmes Valley won the girls softball Div.IV district championship.

Ironton’s Brian Wirzfeld signed to play basketball at Mt. Vernon Nazarene.

Fighting Tigers head basketball coach Roger Zornes resigned after three seasons with a 66-9 record.

Qualifying for the state track meet were: Ironton sprinters Mandi Boykin (100, 200) and Jessica Waddle (200), South Point’s Chris Smith (shot put, discus) and Sarah Lee (100, 200, long jump), Chesapeake’s Brent Ransbottom (high jump), and the Ironton 4×200 relay of Ciara Taylor, Rachel Walker, Waddle and Boykin.


In the state finals, Boykin was fifth in the Div. II 100-meter dash, Ransbottom second in the Div. III high jump and Smith sixth in the Div. II shot put.

Ironton sophomore tennis standout Lavelle Medcalf qualified for the Div. II state tournament.

Ironton assistant coach Mark LaFon, former head coach at South Point, was named the new Fighting Tigers boys basketball head coach.

The Symmes Valley Lady Vikings softball team reached the Division IV state championship game only to lose 6-4 to Convoy Crestview.

Fairland senior pitcher Michael Hill was voted to the Ohio Baseball Coaches North/South All-Star Series.

Symmes Valley head football coach Rusty Webb was a South assistant and Vikings defensive back Cory Burcham was a member of the South squad in the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association annual North/South All-Star Game.

Former Ironton All-Ohio football standout James Taylor signed a free agent contract to play cornerback for the New York Jets.


Green senior pitcher Ryan Bloomfield signed to play with the University of Rio Grande.

Fairland’s Junior League All-Stars won the Ohio state championship and advanced to the regionals in Indianapolis.


Rock Hill two-way tackle Justin Lavender signed to play football at Marietta College.

Chesapeake senior pitcher and outfielder Jeff Gilkison signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball at Georgetown College.


Mark Snyder won his head coaching debut as Marshall beat William & Mary 36-24.


The Ironton golf team reached the Division II state tournament for the eighth time in school history. Ironton finished ninth as a team and Seth Christian was second team All-Ohio as he tied for ninth overall

The Rock Hill Redmen won their first outright Ohio Valley Conference football championship since 1968.

Fairland’s Chuck Wentz qualified for the Division II state cross country meet and was the overall winner in the Ohio Valley Conference meet. River Valley won the OVC team title.

Ironton, Rock Hill and Symmes Valley all qualified for the postseason football playoffs.


Legendary Ironton and St. Joseph coach, official and administrator James J. “Bear’ Mains died at the age of 88. Mains was a member of the Ohio football coaches and officials Hall of Fames.

Ironton running back Darius Lewis won a second straight district Offensive Player of the Year and teammate Brandon Walker was the Defensive Player of the Year in Division IV. Rock Hill’s Todd Knipp was the top coach.

In Division VI, Symmes Valley running back Derek Carpenter was the co-Back of the Year in the Southern Ohio Conference and was Co-Offensive Player of the Year in the district. The Vikings linebacker Matt Owens was the district Defensive Player of the Year.

Coal Grove running back Justin Hyland was the Division V Co-Offensive Player of the Year as he ran for more than 2,000 yards and scored 31 touchdowns.

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers senior basketball standout Sara Hacker scored the 1,000th point of her career.


Former Ironton standout offensive lineman Roman Fry, a starter for the Clemson Tigers, capped off his junior season by being named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference second team and helping his team win the Champs Sports Bowl 19-10 over Colorado.