June 25, 2016

Mostly clear

Soap box derby, figure skating, swimming highlight local sports scene

Young county athletes have had a lot of outstanding accomplishments in sports like baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football and gymnastics.

A number of other athletes, however, are excelling in sports that are a bit out of the mainstream.

Alexis Willard finished second in the super stock division at the National Soap Box Derby. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Alexis Willard finished second in the super stock division at the National Soap Box Derby. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Alexis Willard, an 11-year-old from Medina, placed second in the National Soap Box Derby in Akron.

Willard competed in the super stock division and was named 2011 Rookie of the Year. She placed second in the Top 16 point-earners, was fifth in the nation in overall points and first in her region.

A second-generation racer, Willard is finishing her fourth year of competition.

Alyssa Cabacungan, 11, and Fiona Boden, 12, are nationally ranked figure skaters who recently competed at U.S. Figure Skating’s National Artistic Showcase in Strongsville.

Cabacungan, who will be a sixth-grader at Medina’s Claggett Middle School, competed in the pre-juvenile level’s light entertainment division. She portrayed Scarecrow, wondering what life would be like “If I Only Had a Brain.” Cabacungan finished first in her initial round, securing her a spot in the championship, where she placed sixth.

Boden, who will be a seventh-grader at Medina’s A.I. Root Middle School, skated to “Moonlight Sonata” in the pre-juvenile dramatic event. She finished fourth in her initial round, then skated flawlessly to take fifth in the championship round.

Both girls competed in the pre-juvenile extemporaneous improvisation division, with Boden taking second and Cabacungan finishing eighth.

Boden, who has been skating for four years, is an honor student and plays the violin, while Cabacungan, who started skating when she was 3, received the President’s Award for Academic Excellence.

Boden is coached by Glyn Watts and Christine Watts. Medina resident Kelly Lynch coaches Cabacungan, who will compete in the juvenile freeskate at the Eastern Great Lakes Regional Championships in the fall.

Two other county athletes, Samantha Petruzzi and Joey Reilman, competed in the Central Zone Championship in Indianapolis as representatives of the Medina Makos Swim Team. Teams from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan were on hand at the meet, which required AAA national-qualifying times to attend.

Petruzzi, 14, competed in the 50, 100, 200 and 400 freestyle, the 100 and 200 butterfly and two relays. Her best finish was eighth in the 200 fly. Reilman, also 14, competed in the 100 and 200 backstroke and three relays. His best finish was 11th in the 100 back.

Petruzzi will be a sophomore at Medina, while Reilman will be a freshman at Walsh Jesuit.


Medina’s under-11 Challenger Crew Juniors finished their season on a high note, winning the Kick It 3v3 Regional Championship in Buffalo. The win qualifies the team for the 3v3 World Championships, to be held in January at the Walt Disney Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. At regionals, the Crew Juniors outscored the three highest-rated teams by a combined 26-7. The U-15 Extreme also won the regional title, avenging an earlier loss to Simmons Soccer Club in the championship. The Extreme will also compete in the World Championships.


The U-18 Twister fastpitch team captured the National Softball Association World Series title in the B Division in Leesburg, Va. Team members were Taylor Willis, Jamie Wenger, Logan Lehman, Nicolette Briceland, Brianna Whetsell, Jenna Kendall, Mac Bedlion, Chelsea Bell, Samantha Pankuch and Shelby Persinger. The team was coached by Steve Pankuch, Nikki Kasper, John Kasper and Jim Bedlion.


Geppetto’s on North Court Street will hold “Gridiron Pizza Night” each Wednesday through Oct. 26. For every large pizza purchased, Medina Gridiron Youth Football will get $3 back. Coupons need to be presented upon ordering. They can be picked up by the pavilion during practice.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.