It’s been fun.

But it’s about to come to an end.

On Saturday, Chris Schanz returns from what I’m now referring to as a “temporary leave of absence” to The Evening Leader in St. Marys, Ohio. He’ll take the reins again covering the Jay County High School wrestling team as it hosts the regional tournament beginning at 8:30 a.m.

At that point, I’ll be sports editor no more.

So, I thought I would spend today sharing some thoughts from the winter sports season I’ve had the pleasure to cover.

Kudos, boys
Chris and I have both taken fans, students and adults alike, to task in the past over the lack of support for sports other than basketball and football, and for girls sports especially. So, it’s only fair to point out when they live up to expectations, or surpass them, as well.

I was pleasantly surprised last week when a group of Patriot boys basketball players — I remember Noah Arbuckle and Brayden Sprunger being there, among others — showed up to support the swim teams on Senior Night. And they didn’t just pop in for a few minutes and leave. They stayed for the entire meet.

That’s a good step in the right direction.

The next few days offer the opportunity to keep up that pattern. Be there Friday night to support the JCHS girls basketball team in the sectional tournament. Show up Saturday to cheer on the girls swimmers in the sectional or the wrestlers in the regional. Or take in the last home gymnastics meet Monday night.

Keep up the good work.

Record breaker?
Records are made to be broken.

And there’s a good chance that in a few years Shannon Freeman’s record will be surpassed.

My first assignment of the winter sports season was the Jay County girls basketball team’s season opener at Alexandria. It took me less than a quarter to realize I was watching one of the best girls basketball players in the school’s history.

Renna Schwieterman can score from anywhere on the court, she can get to the basket and she’s an excellent passer. She’s taken on a leadership role, which is no easy task for a freshman.

Renna already has 361 points this season prior to Friday’s sectional semifinal. Even if she goes scoreless against Winchester — she won’t — just by keeping that pace over the next three seasons she would hit 1,444 career points.

The school record belongs to Freeman, an Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer, at 1,458. (The most points ever scored by a player in this count is 1,723 by 1972 Redkey graduate Greg Bales.)

I look forward to the next three seasons to see Renna make her run at Freeman’s record, and maybe even Bales’, and what kind of heights the Patriots, a young team this year, can reach.

A connection
Chris and I had lunch Jan. 17 to discuss his possible return to The CR. We came to an agreement a few days later.

As for the return date, I left the ball in his court. (He had the OK to wait until after the winter sports season, or longer.) He quickly chose Feb. 8.
Seems odd, right? A Saturday.

Chris hasn’t said anything to me about why he chose that date, other than he was ready to come back, but I am convinced Mason Winner had something to do with it.

You see, one of the most fun things about being a sports editor in a small community is getting to know the athletes on a personal level. No one is just a number on a jersey or a name in a program. You get to know their personalities while essentially watching them grow up.

It’s special.

Well, until this year, Chris had been there with Mason, one of the best wrestlers in school history, every step of the way. It’s only right that he’ll be back Saturday when the senior will most likely break the school record for wins and that he’ll get to watch him in his effort to become the Patriots’ first four-time state medalist later this month.

••••••••••

My second run as sports editor, officially 14 weeks and one day, has been fun.

Then again, while Chris is covering the Patriot wrestlers Saturday, I’ll be right next door handling the girls swimming sectional finals. (And then the boys swimming sectional two weeks later, and the Fort Recovery girls basketball sectional championship game that night.)

More fun awaits.