Senior athletes can return, but must pay for a full year of school

Alex Emerson and Peter Lujan
Transcript correspondents

The coronavirus pandemic served up a double-dose of misfortune and heartache for 105 senior athletes at Ohio Wesleyan.

They not only lost all the comfort, support and rewards of being on campus and attending classes, but after four years of hard work and sacrifice their final season of competition vanished in a flash.

Not all is lost. Since the cancellation of spring sports, the NCAA announced it would grant senior athletes another semester of eligibility, but not without strings attached.

The organization’s rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period, but the NCAA is allowing athletes to apply so that they can play and have eligibility for another year, as noted in an NCAA press release.

The catch? Seniors must commit to return for a full academic year. So students would have to pay for another two semesters of school in order to take advantage of this extension.

Ohio Wesleyan is working with the NCAA and the NCAC regarding questions about athlete participation and eligibility. Student-athletes will receive updates and information as it becomes available.

Doug Zipp, OWU’s director of Athletics, said some may return.

“It is our goal that our student-athletes graduate in four years and then use their Ohio Wesleyan education and do great things,” Zipp said. “I have talked with a few seniors who are interested in considering a return to Ohio Wesleyan to take advantage of the NCAA blanket waiver, which provides an additional year of eligibility.”

But the situation clearly presents a dilemma for some seniors who can’t afford additional tuition or who have plans for after college.

For instance, Jaliyah Atkinson, a senior on the women’s track and field roster, doesn’t have the time to take advantage of renewed eligibility and said she doubts that OWU can reduce tuition because it has its own financial woes.

“I am not planning to stay a year for eligibility because I already have life plans set up that I plan to follow through regardless of the COVID-19 setback,” she said. “I also would not pay to come back to OWU to play sports. It’s way too expensive and I wouldn’t want the classes I would have to take affect my GPA.”

Senior Tyler Mansfield, a member of the women’s swimming & diving team, finds herself in a similar situation.

“That does not help committing students like myself who are missing out on a large chunk of their spring education,” Mansfield said. “I do not plan to stay a year for eligibility because I have applied and been accepted to graduate school in the fall.”

Zipp said if any students do plan on returning, they must take extra steps to make it happen.

“If a student-athlete graduates, they can re-enroll in a second baccalaureate program or be accepted into a full-time graduate program,” Zipp said. “Any student-athlete who is interested in exploring this option, we are working individually with them to navigate this path.”

Meanwhile, the athletes have not been abandoned, despite the unforeseen cancellation of all athletic competition, Zipp said.

“We are so very sad and disappointed for our student-athletes and specifically our seniors who seasons came to such an abrupt end,” Zipp said. “Our coaching staff has been in constant communication with our student-athletes, checking in several times per week, having team meetings, virtual workouts, educational sessions and academic check-ins.”

OWU senior Nick Braydich, a member of the golf team, said he will not return, but his buddy, senior Ken Keller on the golf team at Youngstown State University, probably will.

“My friend on the team is staying in the area and he’s psyched about the extension,” Braydich said. “He didn’t know if he would be able to play next year after he couldn’t play this season.”

Keller said he loves competing and is thankful that the extension gives him more time to practice his craft.

“The biggest reason I chose to use my extra year of eligibility is that I now have the opportunity to develop my game for another year,” Keller said. “I also did not want to miss the opportunity to compete in another conference championship since this year was canceled. It also gives me the opportunity to take more classes and compete in more tournaments. ”

The NCAA adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility and decided to return for an additional year.

Colleges were also granted the flexibility by the NCAA to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that financial aid be provided at the same level awarded for the previous year, acknowledging the financial difficulty now stalking universities.

“The (NCAA) Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” chairman M. Grace Calhoun said in a press release. “Schools also will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.”

Bishops Remain Undefeated

Peter Lujan

Transcript Correspondent

The Battling Bishops’ football team has started the season rather well. It is 4-0 so far this year, defeating Otterbein University 22-10, Kenyon College 42-0,, Oberlin College 55-3, and most recently, Allegheny College, 28-10, on Saturday afternoon. The wins give the Bishops an average margin of victory of 31 points. 

The Gators of Allegheny went into the matchup with a record of 1-2. In contrast to the Bishops red hot start to the season. A year ago in 2018, the Bishops went 4-6 overall and tied for fifth place in the NCAC (North Coast Athletic Conference.) This year however, they have 38 incoming freshmen, 23 seniors, and 29 other’s racing toward the goal of NCAC champions.

Head Coach Tom Watts observed that last season they were, “always able to play well and pick it up toward the end of the season but were never really able to start the season on the right foot.” However, this season has been the opposite, as their 4-0 record suggests. 

Senior wide receiver and captain, Mher Tcholakian said earlier this season that a big motto and slogan for this year’s team is “going 1-0.” The football team uses this slogan for everything they do. Whether it’s in the weight room, at practice, or whatever the case may be, they want to, “go 1-0.” 

“This ‘1-0 slogan’ is our main focus as a team, [Going 1-0] means giving your all every single rep and every single play.” Tcholakian explained. 

Tcholakian, on this football team for three years, starter for two, he is witness to the Bishops declining record over the last few seasons. “We’ve always known we’ve had talent on both sides of the ball. There was just something missing, our execution. We just could not finish that last little step.”

Aside from his verbal leadership, Tcholakian also has been leading by example through his play on the field. He has 145 receiving yards this season, 61 on Saturday alone, which marked a new season high for him, along with his first receiving touchdown of the season. 

The Bishops look to continue their win streak when they face Wabash College this Saturday in Crawfordsville, Ind.  

Bishops experience wins, losses and new places

Freshman Kelsey Bowling rushes to defend a Capital attacker in a recent loss to the Crusaders. Photo by Leia Mizas.
Freshman Kelsey Bowling rushes to defend a Capital attacker in a recent loss to the Crusaders. Photo by Leia Mizas.

Olivia Lease, Online Editor

A bittersweet feeling was left on the field on March 19 as Ohio Wesleyan’s women’s lacrosse team rallied against Capital, but was ultimately defeated in the last quarter. At Oberlin, the men’s lacrosse team took home another win.

Both teams had the opportunity to travel over spring break: the women’s team to San Juan, Puerto Rico, while the men’s team went to Maryland.

Clouds blocked out the sun and a chilly wind kept spectators at Selby Stadium alert as the women’s game played.

Capital, ahead by 4 points at the start of the third quarter, made it a difficult match.

“The game against Capital was a tough loss since the score was so close, but everyone on the team gave it their all which is all that matters,” said freshman Sofia Corrao. She contributed 2 assists and scored 2 goals by the end of the game.

Sophomore Cory Anna Kinder Kinder led the Bishops with 3 goals.

Head Coach Chelsea Huguenard said, “Our goalkeeping from both Natalie [Reddy] and Kelly [Coffyn] kept us in the game.  Our second half we played much better on the offensive end, but it was just not enough.” The final score was 13-11.

Meanwhile, at Oberlin, the men’s lacrosse team won their game with a final score of 19-9.

The Bishops had an 11-0 run to start the game. Within the first minute of the game, freshman Jack Harvey scored a goal, giving the Bishops a nice lead.

Freshman Max Tennant led the Bishops with 4 goals and an assist. Junior Ben Rigger was credited with 8 saves.

Both teams had the opportunity to compete as well as grow closer as a team as they travelled to new places during spring break.

The women’s team traveled to Puerto Rico together which brought new challenges, Coach Huguenard said.

Huguenard said the area was beautiful but, “The heat was a new obstacle we have not dealt with this season, and also the competition was fierce.”

The team played two games, one against Oneonta State and one against Roanoke. The Bishops lost both games.

Senior Patricia Ryan said she was proud of how her team performed. “You only get better when you go up against competition like that.”

Coming back to OWU, the team had no time to relax. They played two games and finally got a break this past Sunday.

“It’s been very exhausting, but this team is motivated,” Huguenard said.

In Maryland, the men’s team played two games as well, one against Salisbury which was a close loss of 12-13 and another against Messiah, which the Bishops won 17-3.

The women’s lacrosse team played next at Muskingum on March 23 at 7 p.m. The men’s lacrosse team plays next on March 26 at 1 p.m. against Kenyon in Selby Stadium.

Men’s basketball shaping to be ‘one of the best in OWU history’

Senior Zak Davis goes for the shot. Photo by Leia Miza.
Senior Zak Davis goes for the shot. Photo by Leia Miza.

Areena Arora, Managing Editor

On Tuesday, Ohio Wesleyan hosted the quarter final match-up for the North Coast Atlantic Conference tournament at the Branch Rickey Arena, and defeated visiting Wabash College.

With a minute and half remaining, amidst a crowd of over 300 in attendance, the score was 97- 75 in favor of OWU, ultimately ending with a 100-80 win for the Bishops.

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Dewitt said, “It’s a really good win for us…it’s nice to be able to still play this weekend.”

Wabash began with a 11-4 lead but toward the end of first half, OWU had a lead of 57-42.

“It’s one of the best seasons in school history and we just hope we can continue that as long as we can,” Dewitt said.

Kyle Brumett, head basketball coach at Wabash said, “(OWU) is really good. We’ve had success at times against them because they haven’t shot it as well as they have shot tonight. (OWU’s) game plan is out of the window, definitely and that’s why they are 1st place and we’re 8th.”

Sophomore Shooting Guard William Orr said, “This is the best group of players I’ve played with. We know the rules, we know what we need to know to win and that’s what we did tonight.”

According to the Battling Bishops website, the NCAC tournament semifinals and championship game will be held at OWU on Friday and Saturday. In the first semifinal, Hiram College will play against College of Wooster, followed by the second semifinal between Denison University and OWU.

Mixed results for OWU’s basketball teams

Leia Miza, Transcript Reporter

A bittersweet note was left at Branch Rickey Stadium on Jan. 24  as Ohio Wesleyan University’s women’s team was defeated and the men’s team triumphed over Denison University.

The women’s team went first against Denison and kept the score close throughout.

By the end of the game, the team faced challenges, which resulted in a loss.

“I was pleased with our rebounding effort in the first half, but they just wore us down in the fourth quarter,” said Stacey Lobdell, coach of the women’s team at OWU.

Rylie Pittard, a freshman on the women’s team, said, “throughout the game it was pretty even for both teams, we would score and then they would counter it.”

The players forced 21 turnovers and 13 steals, but the defensive effort still resulted in a 58-42 loss for the Battling Bishops.

The Ohio Wesleyan men's basketball team beat Denison, 82-76, this past Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake.
The Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team beat Denison, 82-76, this past Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake.

Immediately after the women clashed, the OWU men’s basketball team came onto the court and began warming up. The stands filled with more fans and foot-stomping and chanting filled the stadium.

The scores between both teams remained close throughout the first half. But near the end of the game, there was a major turning point.

“The team went down by seven points with five minutes left in the game and we went on scoring run, took the lead and won the game,” said senior team captain Claude Gray.

This was a good test for the team as it gave it a chance to “show we have heart,” Gray said.

“I was just glad me and the team could pull together and do the things needed to be done to win the game. I’m looking forward to seeing the team keep improving.”

Bishops third in NCAC all-sport championship, trailing DePauw, Denison

By: Ross Hickenbottom, Transcript Correspondent

All seven fall sports NCAC championships have been decided, placing DePauw University in first, Denison University in second and Ohio Wesleyan trailing the pack in third. The Tigers of DePauw captured their first­-ever NCAC title in women’s soccer and took second place in both field hockey and football, while placing third in men’s soccer; women’s cross country and volleyball, wrapping up the fall sports season with a total of 56.5 points, a nine­-point lead over Denison (47.5) and a ten and a half point lead over OWU (46.0).

Denison, with a half-­point lead over Ohio Wesleyan, earned top­ five finishes in six fall sports, including women’s soccer placing second for the Big Red’s top team finish of the season. Ohio Wesleyan placed two teams, men’s soccer and volleyball, in second place in the conference for the season to gain a four-­point lead over the fourth place team, Kenyon.

OWU Athletics Director Roger Ingles explained that Denison, DePauw and Ohio Wesleyan are a typical top three in the NCAC All-­Sports Championship race approaching the winter sports season, but has confidence in teams such as the men’s basketball squad to pull out another conference championship, rearranging the order, and hopefully placing OWU on the top of the podium at the end of the winter sports season.

In the history of the NCAC, OWU leads the pack in terms of total conference championships, with 145, Denison in second (130) and Allegheny falling behind in third (113), but in fact, has not won an all-­sports title, outright, since the 2007­-08 season. The past several years, DePauw and Denison have teetered the title.

Returning starter, and Freshman of the Year in the NCAC men’s basketball poll, Nate Axelrod has ‘high expectations’ for the team this year, and believes they can repeat, adding to the All-Sports race effort, but explained, “we just need to take it one game at a time and stay focused to reach our goal.”

Looking forward to spring, Doug Sanders, a dual­-sport athlete and junior, playing both football

and baseball, has high hopes for the baseball team, believing they can bring a championship back to Delaware.

“I believe this team has the hunger and drive in order to win the NCAC Tournament, as well as making some noise in the NCAA tourney. It should be a great year for Ohio Wesleyan baseball,” he said.

With that, OWU athletes look to turn the race results around with the winter and spring sports seasons, surpassing DePauw and Denison.