Dear Santa Spence,
I know I sent you one letter with all of my Christmas wishes for my favorite professional sports teams already, but if you don’t mind, I have another list I would like to send your way.
As you know, we spend a lot of our time covering high school sports in the Mansfield area so I thought I could ask for a few things for our favorite schools, coaches and players. Hope you don’t mind doing a little extra work this Christmas.
High School Sports Wishlist
1. Keep sports going, please?
Santa Spence, the first and most important thing I want to ask for is could you please just keep sports going through these weird times? I talked with four high school athletes about the mental struggles of not being able to play the sports they love and it was heartbreaking hearing how hard of a time they were having.
I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime (at least it better be) pandemic so it may take every once of magic you have in your sports gift bag, but if you don’t grant another thing I ever ask for again and only do this one thing, I’ll take it.
2. A Mansfield News Journal All-Star Classic
Last year, Santa Spence, I was heartbroken we didn’t get to put this game on together. The Classic means so much to me as an alum an now an organizer of the event so all I ask is that you help in any way you can to make sure we have some sort of game for the high school basketball players who deserve to play.
I know it likely won’t be like years past with a packed house, though the timeline of a return to normal life might line up, I just hope we can have a game again. You helped raise so much money for Catalyst Life Services and the Rehab Center helping children get the funds they need, so I just want to be able to continue that again this year. Even if it is a much more scaled-down version.
3. A state wrestling tournament.
Santa Spence, I know the state wrestling tournament has been your thing for nearly 45 years and last year, after you delivered all your gifts to the sports world, you were ready to spend the weekend tracking the great wrestlers of the area and didn’t get to so all I ask is that we have one this year.
I am looking forward to covering it. I had a small taste of state when I was the sports editor in Norwalk and enjoyed the experience so much. I am really looking forward to it again. Furthermore, if you could help Nate Barrett, Carter Kroll, Hayden Kuhn, Ethan Turnbaugh, Isaiah Thomas, Nathan Zehner, Hayden Morse and anyone else you can think of, win a state title, I would appreciate that very much.
4. Success for area swimmers
After your retirement, Santa Spence, I inherited another one of your beats with high school swimming. When you said we had some great swimmers, you weren’t kidding. Ontario’s Brie Trumpower won the 50 free and 500 free in the same meet. That can’t be human, can it?
Then, Ben Spurling went crazy for Lexington winning every event in sight and Max Roth posted a lifetime best in his 1-meter dive competition. Lily Weeks is back and healthy so all I ask is for continued success for the swimmers as they take me on a long journey to Canton.
5. An Ontario-Shelby boys basketball district championship game.
Now, this is something I know you can get behind, Santa Spence. Could you imagine? Thankfully, the Division II district tournament has been moved to Ashland High School this year and what better way to make the move than to see Ontario and Shelby face off in a rubber match for a district title?
Santa Spence, Shelby looks really good this year averaging 73 points over their first three games and Ontario is 5-1 and cruising right along. We will see these two teams meet on News Year’s Eve for their first showdown of the year so make it a good one.
6. The Flames to keep burning.
Have you seen the Mansfield Christian Lady Flames, Santa Spence? They are on a roll. They are 5-1 and playing some of the best basketball to come out of that program in a very long time. I had to make them No. 1 in my power poll because they have been so impressive. Just do me a favor, keep them rolling, that coaching staff and those kids deserve it.
7. Continued health and success for all athletes.
Santa Spence, I truly believe we are in the golden age of high school sports here in Richland County. Taylor Huff, 2020 Ms. Soccer, was named the United Coaches National Player of the Year for her senior season. She is off to Tennessee and I would not be the least bit surprised if she is playing in the red, white and blue one day.
Angelo Grose, Brennan Armstrong, Cade Stover, Tyrell Ajian and all of the college football players from the area are making us all proud. Griffin Shaver just became the fifth Warrior in program history to reach 1,000-career points. Santa Spence, you know how big of a deal that is. So all I ask is that, for Christmas this year, you just give them a clean bill of health and all the right tools to be successful for many, many more years.
Merry Christmas, Santa Spence.