Finch’s postseason run leads the way for Sheffield athletics

Sheffield’s Ethan Finch gets his hand raised by the official after a win at the Northwest Regional Wrestling Championships at Sharon High School. Finch had an unbelievable postseason, advancing to the PIAA championships and coming within one win of a state medal as a sophomore.

The 2018-19 school year was a historic one for high school athletics in Warren County.

As such, we decided to take a look back at the athletes and teams that made this season so special.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive overview of each team, but rather a look back at some of the most memorable moments.

We took a look back at the Eisenhower Knights yesterday. Up next, the Sheffield Wolverines.

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Sheffield’s Emily Leichtenberger was a 4-sport standout this season.

It’s often said, “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” While true, the story of Sheffield’s 2018-19 year is more about the individuals than the teams.

Sophomore 170-pounder Ethan Finch had another solid regular season for the Wolverines on the mat. But it was in the postseason where he shined.

He came into the District 9 tournament as the No. 4 seed. After dispatching his first two opponents, Finch met up with top seed Elliot Park (Brookville) in the semifinals. He grabbed a 5-3 decision, then won the D-9 title with an 8-5 win in the finals. Along the way, he earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler award, the first Wolverine to achieve that honor.

But he wasn’t done.

Finch made it to the Northwest Regional final, and though he dropped a decision to No. 1 seed Brady Gentile (Greenville), the talented sophomore had already punched his ticket to the state tournament.

In Hershey, Finch went 2-2 and was one win shy of bringing home a state medal. Still, he was the first Sheffield wrestler to advance to the state tournament since 2006 (Ed Renninger), and will have two more opportunities to wrestle his way to the podium.

He completed his second campaign with a 31-11 record, pushing his varsity mark to 47-25.

Finch wasn’t the only Sheffield grappler to have a strong season.

Senior Nick Knowles finished third at districts and earned a trip to regionals. He wrestled to a 27-7 record as a senior and finished his career with 82 wins.

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In the spring, a pair of track and field athletes earned top-10 finishes at the District 9 meet.

Junior Caden Smead finished eighth in the 400 meter run and sophomore Emily Leichtenberger took fourth in the javelin and fifth in the discus. Leichtenberger also had her best throw of the season in the shot put.

Mead’s run was impressive in that he didn’t start competing in the event until midway through the season.

Not only did the junior finish in the top-10 his first time out, he did so in a field that included a trio of state qualifiers, Hunter Jones and Kaden Scherer both from Karns City and Brookville’s Jack Krug, and Jones finished fourth in the state.

Leichtenberger entered the district meet as the No. 2 seed in the javelin, and missed a top-3 finish by just six inches. While she excelled in the throwing events, she was also a leader on the softball team and shot trap.

After picking up just two wins in the previous three years combined, the Wolverine softball team opened and closed the year with victories. Sheffield opened the season with an 18-2 rout of Youngsville, then closed out the year with a thrilling, 9-6 win against Eisenhower.

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The athletic year got off to a rocky start as small numbers for spring and summer conditioning programs had Warren County School District officials concerned for the viability of the Wolverine football team. After a meeeting between district administrators, Sheffield players/parents and members of the community, the Wolverines were given the green light to continue on.

They were winless on the season while trying to break in a new coaching staff and after losing their starting quarterback for the year in the first game. The fact that the Wolverines even took the field, may have been a victory in itself.

The Lady Wolverine volleyball team experienced some growing pains, but grew more competitive as the season wore on. They scored a victory over cross-county rival Eisenhower and nearly grabbed a win in Youngsville before capping their season with a big win against Brookville.