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A decade of greatness

Warren volleyball, Eisenhower baseball top teams of the decade

2015 EISENHOWER BASEBALL

There was cetainly no shortage of great teams this decade, but two of them stand above the rest for obvious reasons.

1 and 1A. 2018 Warren Volleyball and 2015 Eisenhower baseball.

The top two teams of the decade are one’s that both finished second in the state. Eisenhower’s run to the state title featured dominant pitching, timely hitting and a whole lot of defense, while the Warren volleyball team simply wasn’t going to be denied.

The Knights, led by the 1-2 punch of Casey Vincent and Kyle Hunt on the mound, won a pair of close games in the quarterfinals and semifinals against top-ranked Greensburg Central Catholic and Juniata Valley after 10-running Clarion in the opening round. They ultimately fell short in the state final against Lancaster County Christian, but they took Warren County on an amazing ride that had everyone cheering for the Knights.

Three years later, Warren volleyball did the same thing. Led by the likes of Lydia Latimer, Lex Nyquist, Celia Chase, Ellie Lobdell, Jordan Sitler, Grace Wortman and Julia Lobdell, the Dragons put together one of the most dominant regular seasons you will ever see, dropping just two sets in non-tournament matches. They beat Conneaut for the first D-10 title in program history and followed that up with a victory against Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals and defeated the WPIAL trifecta by dethroning defending state champion Knoch, which came into the semifinals winners of 48-straight matches.

Warren’s Ellie Lobdell (10), Julia Lobdell (Red), Grace Wortman (14), Celia Chase (22), Lydia Latimer (2) and Lex Nyquist (5) celebrate just seconds after Latimer’s kill gave them the District 10 title with a 25-13 win in the fourth set against Conneaut on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at Meadville.

Like the Knights, their amazing journey finished one win short of a state championship against West York. Their motto for the season was ‘be legendary.’ They certainly were.

Both of these teams captured the hearts and imaginations of the community, but much more than just great athletes, they were and are great young men and women who were perfect representatives of Warren County, inspiring young and old alike.

There were certainly other great teams this decade as well, ones that dominated their competition and won championships. Here are just a few.

2011 Youngsville Football

This team didn’t win a District 10 title, but they do have the distinction of being the last Warren County football team to have an undefeated regular season. Led by coach Luke Alex, the Eagles rolled through Seneca, Union City, Maplewood, Iroquois, Mercyhurst Prep, Eisenhower, Cambridge Springs, Conneaut (Ohio), Cochranton and Saegertown. Only one of those games (Union City) was decided by single digits. Led by the likes of Cory Craig, Sam Lucas, Sage Sivak, Jordan Gurdak, Dalton Maze, Rocco Gatta, TJ Hardy and Sawyer Dininny, this team captured the hearts and imaginations of the Youngsville community.

2014 Warren Boys Soccer

This team might not have had a true superstar, they were simply a group of really good players with great chemistry who played very well together. In short, they were the definition of a team. The calling card of coach Tom Harrington’s team was defense. They gave up just five goals in their final 11 games, which included the District 10 and state playoffs. Two of those goals allowed came playing a man down for 60 minutes in a dominating 6-2 win over a very good Bradford team that won them the region title. In fact, those two teams almost met again in the state quarterfinals (both lost by 1 goal in the first round). Quinn Boger led the team with 23 goals and 19 assists, while the quartet of Max Gross, Joey Close, Sheldon McMeans and Connor Guiffre, as well as keeper Clark Eason (who set the program mark for careers saves), led the stifling defense. They lost to South Fayette, 1-0 in overtime in the first round of states.

2014 Warren softball

Really you could flip a coin between the 2014 and 2015 D-10 title teams, but the 2014 version was perhaps just a bit more dominant. They outscored their opponents 186-24 and 10-runned Fort LeBoeuf in the District 10 title game. Statistically, they were dominant. From Alexa Bupp’s 0.61 ERA, to Paige Wilson’s .567 batting average, Kaitlin Ishman’s 12 home runs, Megan Wortman’s 26 hits as a freshman and Meghan Loutzenhiser’s 26 RBI, this was a truly special team. Coach Mark Bupp’s team fell just short in the first round of the state playoffs, 2-0 against Greensburg Salem, but, like their 2014 soccer classmates, this was a team that was good enough to make a run in states, and their greatness was on full display over the course of 21 games.

2015-16 Warren girls basketball

Again, you could flip a coin between this team and the 2018-19 champions. We’ll give this one the nod for a couple of reasons. They were the first Warren girls basketball team to win a District 10 title and they featured three 1,000-point scorers (D.J. Hahn, Paige Wilson, Margo Loutzenhiser). Although by the time its all said and done, there’s a good chance the 2018-19 version could say the same thing. They avenged two close losses to McDowell in the regular season by holding off the Trojans, 35-30, in a defensive slugfest of a District 10 title game in which sophomore Rachel Wilson made the key play, a blocked shot in the closing moments that would have potentially tied the game. Lizzy Marsh and Maddie Loutzenhiser also played key roles for this team as well. Coach Lisa LaVan’s team lost by 22 to Pine-Richland in the first round of the state playoffs, but that’s not what this team is or will be remembered for.

2019 Warren Girls Soccer

Another historic team that captured the first District 10 title in program history, thanks to Sawyer Mohney’s overtime heroics in a 3-2 win against Meadville. The Lady Dragons made the title game in 2018, nearly pulling off a massive upset (2-1) against a Hickory team that allowed just five goals all season to that point. Coach Jeremy Bickling was quick to point out postgame, however, that his team knew they belonged. And they did. They followed it up this season by putting together a truly impressive regular season. Overall, they were 14-5-1, with 10 of those wins coming via shutout. Many think of offense first with these Lady Dragons teams, but this defense was truly special as well. They battled through injury to key players throughout the season, but were playing their best soccer when it mattered the most. Led by a talented core group of seniors, this team goes down in history as one of the best of the decade.

2019 Warren Baseball

In some ways it’s a shame that this team ran into the buzzsaw that is Kent State recruit, New Castle’s Rocco Bernadina in a 1-0 loss in the first round of states, because they featured the pitching depth to make a run in states. This year’s team could to, but this 2019 gets the nod of the 2012 D-10 champs (again, coin flip) because of how dominant they were. It’s a team that featured college players at nearly everyone position, many of whom are coming back for one last go-round. Led by a trio of seniors (Austyn Cummings, Lance Baldensperger, Aidan Morrison), they battled through what was a very tough region schedule and beat General McLane for the D-10 title in one of the most exciting championship games you will ever see.

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