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Persin finally getting seat courtside at state tourney

For more than 30 years, Norm Persin has attended the Ohio high school boys’ state tournament. He’s going again this year, but finally he’ll have a seat at courtside.

When the Oak Hill beat Newark Catholic on Friday 56-52, the boys’ team not only earned its first berth to this week’s state tournament but they gave Persin his first trip to the state tournament as a coach.

It is the exclamation point in his long and successful career.

“If we didn’t make it this year, I doubt we would ever make it (while he was the coach). I’ve had a lot of goods teams that got close, but we could never get here. Everything happens for a reason,” said Persin.

The “reason” in this case refers to Persin returning to Oak Hill as the head coach after 21 seasons at Chesapeake. Persin began his career at Oak Hill and won a couple of Ohio Valley Conference championships. He won 16 at Chesapeake including 11 in a row before being lured back home.

The Panthers made 10 trips to the regional tournament under Persin but could never take that final step.

Persin has taken all three Oak Hill teams to the regional tournament since his return.

Persin was trying to savor the moment on Saturday, but his day was continually interrupted. He spent the day trying to get tickets for the Oak Hill fans, watching the girls team play in the state tournament, and answering phone messages from well-wishers.

“I think I got more calls from people in Ironton than anywhere,” said Persin.

‘Fore’ becomes ‘One’

Brian Layne was a stellar baseball player in high school and a pretty good softball player. But the Ironton native and South Point graduate hit his biggest home run on the golf course.

Layne, 48, who now lives in Grafton, Va., began playing golf seriously a few years ago and his athletic ability paid off as he became the first player from the Tidewater Amateur Golf Tour to win a national championship.

Playing in the B Flight and with an 11-handicap, Layne shot rounds of 81-78 and finished tied for first place in the 154-man field. He then won the first sudden-death playoff hole to claim the championship.

Layne’s only birdie of the tournament came on the final hole that forced the playoff in the tournament played at Hilton Head, S.C.

“I’ve shot better, but considering the pressure of playing in the nationals, the final round was probably the best I’ve played this year,” said Layne.

‘Usually I shoot around 84 or 85.”

Baseball is still the number one sport in the Layne family. Danny Layne, Brian’s older brother, is an assistant baseball coach at South Point.

–– Sinatra ––

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.