DARKE COUNTY – Two seniors who made it all the way to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournaments are The Daily Advocate’s spring sports athletes of the year.
The Daily Advocate’s 2015-16 spring sports athletes of the year are Arcanum girls track and field athlete Erica Zimmer and Versailles baseball player Brett McEldowney.
Zimmer, who also has been a two-time state qualifier, finished her high school career on the podium at the OHSAA state track and field meet. The Arcanum senior threw a personal best 42 feet 1.75 inches in the shot put in Columbus and finished fourth in the state.
“It was awesome really,” Arcanum throws coach Theo Whitaker said. “It really was everything coming together at the right time at the end.”
After feeling disappointed with her performance at the 2015 state meet as a junior, Zimmer worked extremely hard to improve as a senior. She went into the state meet with the goal of doing her absolute best, which she achieved with her record throw.
“I was really happy for her,” Whitaker said. “I was really proud of her. I was really excited. It was like my daughter out there because we spent so much time together the last four years.”
Zimmer, a future Otterbein University track and field athlete, holds Arcanum’s record in the shot put and also holds the school record in the discus with a throw of 124 feet. Zimmer showed the most improvement during her four-year career in the discus, which is one of the hardest throws because it’s so technique driven, Whitaker said.
“She put all the work in she could,” he said. “She’s probably put in the most hours of anybody on the track team.”
McEldowney excelled on the mound with a 10-1 record and a 1.57 ERA for Versailles.
“It really doesn’t get better than that,” Versailles baseball coach Ryan Schlater said. “He had one of the best seasons, at least for a pitcher, that we’ve had in a while.”
Along with a stellar season as a pitcher, McEldowney excelled as a hitter, too. He led Darke County with 23 RBIs and posted a .368 batting average.
“That’s extremely good,” Schlater said. “He’s just an overall really good player.”
With McEldowney’s leadership, Versailles won the Midwest Athletic Conference championship and made it to the state final four of the OHSAA tournament.
In the state semifinals McEldowney led the Tigers offensively with two hits. He also had a strong game pitching, allowing just four hits in his only loss of the season.
“Basically every time he went out there he threw strikes and got outs,” Schlater said.
Having finished a stellar high school career, McEldowney will continue playing baseball for the University of Northwestern Ohio.
“I think he’s going to have a really bright future ahead of him,” Schlater said.