Season Review: ONU’s stellar season boasts five NCAA Champions, eight All-America honors, an OAC title, and a school-best No. 4 mark in the USTFCCCA power rankings

Season Review: ONU’s stellar season boasts five NCAA Champions, eight All-America honors, an OAC title, and a school-best No. 4 mark in the USTFCCCA power rankings

By Blake Moore

ADA – Ninth-year head coach Jason Maus and a highly touted Ohio Northern women's track and field team lived up to great expectations and garnered significant national attention following success on the NCAA Division III stage during the 2017-2018 indoor and outdoor campaigns.

The Polar Bears realized success early on the indoor circuits, posting a 37-13 record with a runner-up finish at the conference meet. Their efforts during the outdoor season were even more impressive as the program notched a 48-7 mark and their second consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference title into the history books.

On the NCAA Division III platform, the Polar Bears secured third- and seventh-place finishes at the indoor and outdoor national championships, respectively.

The top-three effort during the indoor season was the highest mark in school history at the event.

During the indoor campaign, senior standout Emily Richards (Delaware/Hayes) tacked on two national championship titles in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs to her championship resume while also garnering All-American status in the 3,000.

Junior Maddy Reed (Piketon/Piketon) would end fifth in the pole vault to secure her place on the All-American list, too.

At the NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championships, ONU garnered three individual championship titles. Richards would double in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs and Reed would surprise heavy favorite Katherine Pitman of Ithaca (N.Y.) to claim the pole vault.

Krause would edge out her own spot on the All-American listing to join the duo after tying for eighth in the pole vault, the last standing for such status.

Five individual athletes and one relay team emerged victorious as OAC Champions in the indoor season. Richards continued her winning ways, securing the 800-meter, 1,000-meter, and 1-mile runs victories. Her mark of 2:54.44 in the 1,000 also locked a new OAC event record.

Richards would team up with junior Avery Ewing (Kokomo, Ind./Eastern), junior Taylor Fisher (Wapakoneta/Wapakoneta), and sophomore Taylor Lavey (New Baltimore, Mich./Findlay) to take home the top spot in the 4x400-meter relay. Reed and Ewing also stood atop the podium in the pole vault and 500-meter events, respectively.

Lavey added two All-OAC awards to her championship cadre in the 60- and 200-meter dashes.

Teammates Ashlie Baumann (3,000-meter - Sterling Heights, Mich./Stevenson), Maggie Krause (pole vault – Chagrin Falls/Kenston), and Stella DeWitt (long jump and triple jump – Weston/Cardinal Stritch Catholic) were each placed on the Ohio Athletic Conference honors list.

DeWitt, Ewing, Fisher, Krause, Lavey, Reed, Richards, and senior Kelly Wollenslegel (Clyde) would each be tabbed to the All-Great Lakes indoor regional team.

Richards would also receive honors as the region's Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

In the outdoor rendition of the OAC Championships, Northern's title performance would include three individual and one relay team champion. Richards would once again sweep the 800- and 1,500-meter runs while Reed took the remaining individual title in the pole vault. The 4x400-meter relay squad of Ewing, Fisher, Lavey, and Richards brought home hardware rounding out the two-day event.

Fourteen individuals and a pair or relay teams would contribute to the effort by registering All-Ohio Athletic Conference performances, leading the Polar Bears to the high-water mark of 166 team points for the weekend.

Due to the successful outdoor campaign, Coach Maus led a number of honorees onto the All-Great Lakes Region recognition list where he was dubbed the Women's Head Coach of the Year.

Richards, who was awarded the Women's Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, along with Ewing, Fisher, Krause, Lavey, and Reed joined their coach on the regional teams.

Off the track, the program saw a number of successes in the classroom, which included nine Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference team appointees. Seniors Mallory Weininger (Upper Sandusky/Upper Sandusky) and Richards, juniors Sydney McCluer (Columbus Grove/Columbus Grove), Kristina Myers (Orient/Central Crossing), Elizabeth Steele (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol), Angie Sullivan (Medina/Medina), and Fisher along with sophomores Allison Stevens (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) and Krause met the cumulative 3.50 grade point averages to be placed on the team.

Richards would round out her collegiate career with two additional academic awards, being named to both the Academic All-District VII Team and to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First-Team.

The Polar Bears would rank as high as No. 4 in the USTFCCCA power rankings released March 5, which now stands as the top ranking ever received by the women's program.