Year in Review: Top Sports Stories of 2021

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WARREN, Pa. – As our first full calendar year comes to a close, Your Daily Local is looking back at the year that was 2021.

We began our look back with the most read news stories of the year, our second installment takes a look at what caught your interest in the Warren County sports scene this year.

A pair of outstanding individual performances took two of the top three spots with those athletes bringing home state silver and gold medals. Former Warren County athletes becoming coaches drew your interest as did the Warren Lady Dragons basketball team.

Football, All-stars, youth sports and a college signing were all part of our Top 10 Most Read Sports Stories of 2021.

1. Finch Brings Home Silver
Sheffield wrestler Ethan Finch made the most of his senior season and capped his outstanding career by winning the state silver medal at 189 pounds.

Finch, who committed to Pitt just before the season started, rolled into the state championship match with a 32-0 record. Along the way, he became the first Wolverine to score 100 career wins on the mat. More than half of his 32 victories (18) were via pinfall.

Though he ultimately fell to Cael Crebs, the top-ranked wrestler in the state, in the championship match, Finch received a champion’s welcome on his return to Sheffield.

2. Perfect Fit: Morrison Tabbed as Head Baseball Coach at Warren
Some things are just meant to be, and that certainly seems to be the case with new Warren baseball coach Andrew Morrison.

Andrew Morrison is the new head baseball coach at Warren Area High School

The WAHS alum was officially hired for the position during the Dec. 6 school board meeting and will take over the storied program from Rick Eaton who retired after last season. Though he’s just 28, this is a role Morrison has been preparing for quite some time.

“I’m really excited,” Morrison said. “I know I’m young, but I’ve been coaching since I was 20. It’s something that I’ve worked hard to prepare myself for. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great coaches, including Mark and Nate and I feel like I’m prepared.”

Morrison, a three-sport athlete during his high school days, is a guidance counselor with the Warren County School District, and already has a plethora of coaching experience under his belt. He has served as an assistant football coach on Mark Morelli’s staff at Warren and most recently spent this last season on Nate Liberty’s football staff at Cambridge Springs.

If the social media response to Morrison’s hiring is any indication, this will be a coach who fits his team like a glove.

3. Katie Beyer Wins State Title in 200 Freestyle; Sets School Record in 100 Free
Katie Beyer spent much of the 2020-21 swim season breaking records. And while she did so again while taking home a bronze in the 100 free during the PIAA championships in March, it was her performance in the 200 free that set her apart.

Katie Beyer poses with her 2021 state championship banner that will soon be hung in the gym at Warren Area High School.

She finished at the front of the pack to bring home a state title, the first in Warren Swimming program history and the first individual state champion from Warren Area High School in 30 years (Seth Meyers, 1991 high jump).

Beyer went out hard in the first 100, then held off Gwynedd Mercy’s Ella Gross in the final 100 to bring home the title.

The community celebrated her achievement, as Mayor Maurice Cashman issued a proclamation of April 1, 2021 as “Katie Beyer Day” during a ceremony at WAHS.

The now-senior Beyer has already set a record this season and recently signed to continue her academic and athletic career at St. Bonaventure.

“It doesn’t even feel real,” Beyer said.

4. Warren County Athletes put on a Show, Make Lasting Memories in Pennsylvania’s Big 30 Triumph
The 2020 football season in Warren County was highly successful, which led to eight county players being selected to play in the annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic in early August.

Team Pennsylvania following their 35-0 win.

Those eight players, Eisenhower’s Brody Porter, Zane Alexander, Dillon Benson, Jared Beers and Owen Trumbull, as well as Sheffield’s Jake Davidson and Warren’s Alex Borger and Donovan Fiscus all had a part in Pennsylvania’s 35-0 win over New York.

Trumbull tossed a pair of touchdown passes, one each to Benson and Fiscus, while Alexander and Beers were part of the defensive shutout.

And while the game itself – the first time those players were able to play in front of a full stadium since the 2019 season – was a success, the lasting memories will go beyond the field.

“I’ll just remember the friendships, hanging with my new brothers and making new friends,” Borger said. “And the car rides. It’s those little things that you remember.”

5. Fantastic Finish: Ruhlman Sinks Three Free Throws to Give Warren District 10 5A Title
Usually, when people talk about game-winning shots in basketball, it’s a last-second half-court heave or desperation jumper just before the buzzer. But the 2020-21 high school basketball season was anything but usual, so it seems fitting that the Warren girls basketball team got a District 10 title-clinching point in an unusual way.

Photo courtesy Cody Elms. the Warren girls’ basketball team celebrates after winning the 2021 District 10 Class 5A title.

Trailing Slippery Rock, 39-37, with five seconds to play in the District 10 Class 5A title game, Emma Ruhlman came away with a rebound and headed up the court. Her attempt at a “traditional” buzzer-beating 3-pointer didn’t go in, but she was fouled on the shot and headed to the free throw line with a chance to tie or win the game.

With no time on the clock, Ruhlman was alone at the line. She calmly sank all three shots, then was mobbed by her teammates as they celebrated the program’s third D10 title, and second in three seasons.

It was the kind of finish dreams are made of . . . quite literally in this case as several of the players had talked about this exact scenario the night before the game.

“Me, Kelsey (Stuart) and Riley (Childress) were just talking about that last night about that exact situation, going to the line knowing you need to make them all to win it,” Ruhlman said.

6. Twice the Fun: Weissinger signs with Grove City College Softball and Volleyball

Youngsville senior with her family. Front – Keegan, Kamryn, Sydney. Back – Troy, Holly.

7. Top Finishers in Annual Punt, Pass and Kick Event

Punt, Pass & Kick
Photos courtesy Mindy Bryan

8. Lady Dragons Drop Thriller to Florida Powerhouse Seffner Christian in Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational Opener

9. WAHS Grad Salerno to Serve As Interim Head Coach for St. Bonaventure Baseball

Photo courtesy St. Bonaventure athletics.

10. Dragons Make Statement, Blank Conneaut in Opener

Ben White touchdown
Warren’s Ben White crosses the goal line for his second touchdown during the third quarter of a game against Conneaut at War Memorial Field, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. White’s two touchdowns helped lead the Dragons to a 33-0 win over the Eagles. Photo courtesy Allan Branthoover.