In every walk of life there comes a time when a person realizes that it is time to move on from one thing or another, whether it is a job, relationship or just a conversation on the street. That time has come for me as the sports editor at The Times-Gazette.
This will be the last article I will write for this newspaper and that saddens me deeply. But I have never been the type of person to hang on longer than I should, and the time has come for me to move on to other things.
It has been a wonderful experience working for an established and time-tested publication that has served the communities of Highland County faithfully for more than 200 years. I will miss it.
During my time here I have been blessed with the opportunity to cover what I believe is at least close to the best two-year stretch of athletic achievement at the five local high schools in history.
During my first season in the spring of 2017, I got to cover Austin Goolsby as he completed his journey to the top of the podium at the OHSAA State Track and Field Championships and claimed the Division II state title in the boys pole vault.
In the fall of 2017, I was able to follow the incredible achievements of Hillsboro graduate Kristin Jamieson as she made her second consecutive appearance in the Div. I Girls OHSAA State Golf Championship, and Kristin completed the trifecta as a senior in 2018 when she finished sixth.
Also in the fall of 2017 and 2018, the Fairfield Lions cross country team qualified for the state meet where they finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
The spring of 2018 provided me with one of the greatest highlights of my time writing for this paper when Whiteoak Baseball Coach Chris Veidt and his team made a run to the state final four and played in Columbus at Huntington Bank Park.
The hard work and dedication Veidt has shown during his 20-plus years with the Wildcats is proof that if you work hard enough and do things the right way, good things will happen.
During the 2018-19 school year, I saw the McClain Tigers basketball team, led by McClain alumnus Joe B. Stewart, rise from the ashes, I saw the Hillsboro Indian football team compete in a playoff game for the first time in more than a decade, and I was able to witness the greatness of Lynchburg-Clay graduate Peyton Scott as she set records, for boys and girls, on the hardwood and dominated the competition despite being double, triple and even quadruple teamed at times.
This spring I watched Fairfield’s Brandston Duffie win the Div. III state 800 meter title.
All of that has left me feeling fully fulfilled in this job and in a place where I feel comfortable allowing someone else to step into this position, knowing I will always have a place in the recorded history of Highland County athletics.
Finally, I would like to say that none of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of my family, my co-workers, and the many people in the community who encouraged me.
The athletic directors, coaches and players at Hillsboro, McClain, Fairfield, Whiteoak and Lynchburg-Clay were always a pleasure to cover and interact with, and for that I say thank you to you all. Without your achievements, big and small, my experience at The Times-Gazette would not have been as rewarding as it has been.
Also, I want to thank the former Times-Gazette editor and publisher and current County Commissioner Gary Abernathy for taking a chance moe than two years ago when he hired me with little to no experience, and allowed me to learn through a process of trial and error.
Along with that, I want to thank the current Editor Jeff Gilliland for being a never-ending source of knowledge and encouragement when I needed it, and for correcting me when I made mistakes.
To my former co-worker and world traveler David Wright, I say thank you for always being willing to listen when I needed an ear and reminding me that there are people in this world that I will disagree with, but can still be friends with.
To my wife Kryste and children Jade, Jaylyne, Connor and Paige, thank you all for being so patient and understanding when I had long nights at the office and on the road. You all made sure to welcome me home every night with a smile and helped motivate me to push through when I thought I couldn’t.
With that I say goodbye and best wishes to my readers. I hope that I have been able to accurately convey the triumphs and heartbreaks that come with athletic competition.
Thank you for sticking with me through it all Highland County. I will miss you all.
Ryan Applegate is the former sports editor for The Times-Gazette.