OWU recognizes student-athletes

By Jesse Sailer, Sports Editor

DIII Week kicked off this past Monday with the goal of highlighting the impact student-athletes have on and off the field.

The week long event encourages every Division III school to conduct outreach activities that relate to academic accomplishment, athletic experience or leadership/community service/campus involvement.

“It’s definitely a positive opportunity for all athletes associated with Division III to observe and recognize what each other has accomplished on campus and in the surrounding community.” said junior football player Joe Yurik.

DIII week is part of Division III’s “Identity Initiative” which was created back in 2010. The idea was to gain an understanding and effectively explain why schools and conferences prefer to compete at the DIII level.

The initiative has described Division III as “A place where student-athletes can follow your passions and develop your potential within an approach that combines rigorous academics, competitive sports and an opportunity to pursue other interests.”

“It speaks directly to what OWU is all about,” said junior football player Colten Harvey, “competing in a sport as well as pursuing a liberal arts education is exactly why DIII has so much more to offer.”

The North Coast Athletic Association (NCAA) also partnered to promote Mental Health Awareness as an initiative that ties in with DIII Week. Information was given about resources and counseling services here on campus.

Activities to celebrate DIII Week have been  planned and put together through the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Committee (OWAC). OWAC is comprised of OWU student-athletes, and led by the women’s assistant field hockey coach Lauren Thomas.

“It gives us an opportunity to formally recognize and honor our athletes for everything they do both on the field and academically and in the community,” said OWU athletic director Doug Zipp.

At a student tailgate and cookout held for student-athletes of OWU, athletes were given emblems that asked the question, why DIII? Individuals filled them out and hung them all over Hamilton-Williams.

Students will be tabling all week to raise money for Life Bank which is happening conference wide in the form of a change war.

2018 Division III Week runs from April 2 through April. 8, 2018.

The loss of a legend

By Jesse Sailer, Sports Editor

Richard D. Gordon, a pioneer of intercollegiate athletics and a man who gave 64 years of his life to the Ohio Wesleyan community, passed away last thursday at the age of 89.

Gordon, who was an OWU graduate in ‘52,  returned to his alma mater in 1954 after getting his masters at The Ohio State University.

Gordon coached at OWU for 39 years and remained active in the Ohio Wesleyan and golf communities for another 25 years.

He started off as head coach of the soccer, swimming and golf teams.

He was head coach of the men’s soccer team when it returned to varsity status in 1955 and coached its first All-America selection that season.

Gordin served as the Battling Bishops’ men’s golf coach from 1955-93, with a 39-season run marking the longest coaching tenure in OWU history at the time.

Out of the 25 teams he coached, he led 22 of them to the NCAA Division III or College Division tournaments. OWU won a total of 12 league titles in five different decades under Gordin. His teams won seven Ohio Athletic Conference championships and five North Coast Athletic Conference crowns.

Gordin was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1993.

“His accomplishments were stellar, and we will forever remember him as one of the giants who helped to make the University what it is today.” President Rock Jones said.

Gordin became Ohio Wesleyan’s athletics director in 1977, and during his tenure Ohio Wesleyan opened the Branch Rickey Center, Edwards Gymnasium and Pfeiffer Natatorium.

During Gordin’s first seven years as athletics director, Ohio Wesleyan won the OAC’s coveted all-sports trophy three times.

Dr. Jay Martin, who had succeeded Gordin as athletics director in 1985, said, “Dick Gordin set the standard for coaching and athletic administration at Ohio Wesleyan. He had the foresight to act toward achieving gender equity before it was ever an issue.”

Gordin also helped develop the North Coast Athletic Conference, the first intercollegiate athletic conference in the country to treat men’s and women’s sports equally at its inception, with Ohio Wesleyan becoming a charter member in 1983.

Gordin was inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Ohio Wesleyan athletics department annually bestows the Dr. Richard Gordin Award, which recognizes the highest cumulative grade point average among senior male student-athletes, as well as hosting the Gordin Collegiate Classic, a fall tournament that includes 12 of the best NCAA Division III teams.

Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more impressive

By Jesse Sailer, Sports Editor

Nate Axelrod claims yet another title as he is named the NCAA National Player of the Year.

It was announced by D3hoops.com that Axelrod was named NCAA Division III Player of the Year as part of the D3hoops.com All-America teams.

“It’s a huge honor and really means a lot,” said Axelrod, “this really reflects all the work I’ve put in over the past 21 years of my life, and I’m really grateful.”

Axelrod, the Battling Bishops’ point guard, was a first-team All-America select, as well as a second-team All-America pick by D3hoops.com in 2017 and 2016.

It was just last month that Axelrod was named NCAC Player of the Year for the third year in a row, making him the first men’s basketball player in conference history to do so.

“I’m definitely happy with way my college career has played out. I’ve had a lot of success as a player and have to give my teammates and coaches a lot of credit for helping me do it,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod also became the first Ohio Wesleyan athlete to receive the Jostens Trophy, which recognizes the most outstanding NCAA Division III men’s basketball player.

It’s given to an athlete who not only succeeds on the court, but in the classroom and community as well.

“Nate is a role model for every student-athlete that walks on campus,” said Ohio Wesleyan athletics director Doug Zipp.

Off the court, Axelrod is active with Big Brothers/Big Sisters as well as in service to the Delaware community through his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.

“Nate Axelrod epitomizes the values of the scholar-athlete at the Division III level,” said Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones.

He led the NCAC in scoring (19.2 points/game) and assists, becoming the first player in conference history to lead the league in scoring and assists in a season.

He finished his career as the second Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball player and the fourth in NCAC history to surpass the 2000-point mark, and is Ohio Wesleyan’s all-time leader in assists (655) and consecutive games started (114).

Equestrian team returns to competition

By Jesse Sailer, Sports Editor

After four years of being on a competitive hiatus, the Ohio Wesleyan Equestrian Team (OWUET) returns to compete in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) against top schools in the region.

The OWUET western team traveled to Miami University on Saturday and Wilmington College on Sunday last weekend to compete against Ohio State University, Ohio University, Wilmington College and Miami University.

All of the competing schools have division 1 club programs, aside from Wilmington’s division 3 status, and all the schools have well established equestrian teams that have won numerous IHSA national titles.

OWUET used to have a strong competitive IHSA presence back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Due to decreased membership and interest, the team has not competed in IHSA since 2014, until last week.

Sophomore Reilly Wright, the western team president and co-captain of the OWUET, competed with two other western competitors, junior Sarah Sanford and sophomore Hannah “Juniper” Deitering.

On Saturday’s Miami show, Wright placed 2nd in her intermediate level class and Sanford placed 6th in her beginner class. All three western riders competed Sunday at Wilmington with Sanford placing 4th in both her A.M. and PM shows. Deitering, also in the beginner level, snagged 4th in her A.M. showing and 3rd in the P.M.. Wright secured 3rd in her A.M. show and came out on top in her P.M. class with a 1st place victory.

Junior english captain Hannah Durr who is in her second semester of holding the position of captain said, “I am so proud of our riders who competed this past weekend, and am very excited to see our english and western riders compete this upcoming weekend.”

“It was such as thrill to ride competitively for OWU for the first time,” Wright said. “To represent our school against powerhouses like OSU and Miami was really exciting, especially with it being Sarah and Juniper’s first show ever.”

Jessica Daniels, the team’s coach, has been working with members since fall 2016 to prepare them for competing in the IHSA. 

“This past weekend I was so impressed with our riders, two of our riders had never shown before and they rode like seasoned pros,” Daniels said 

OWUET’s english team, sophomore Theresa Schluchter, and freshmen Molly Taylor and Hannah Edelblute, compete for the first time this Saturday at Ohio University while western competes again at Wilmington College on Sunday. These shows are the last of the 2017-2018 IHSA season with qualified riders beginning postseason championships in early March.

The IHSA offers competition in both western and english, also known as hunt seat, for colleges nationwide that compete against each other. Competing riders in both seats are assigned a random horse they most likely have never seen or ridden and must immediately ride the strange horse before a judge. 

The difference between riding hunt seat and western mainly comes down to the type of tack, rider attire and riding position. In competition, the judge studies the rider’s handling of the foreign horse under specific hunt seat or western expectations, such as the rider’s arm position or leg movement.

Both styles of riding are offered by OWUET and require no necessary experience from anyone wishing to join to ride for fun or to compete. Members range from experienced riders who have competed their entire lives, while others have never even touched a horse before, let alone mounted one. 

Before the fall of 2016, there were a total of five active members. Due to the recruiting work of the team’s president at that time, alumni Amber Sample, membership boosted up to 22 riders that semester. That also was the semester the team signed Daniels as their new coach.

“This is a growing sport in today’s colleges and a majority of schools are now offering it as a varsity sport,” Daniels said. “The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) was founded in 1998 in collaboration with the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAA) and continues to be one of the fastest growing women’s sports.”

Since then, their numbers have steadily risen with close to 40 members now, with about 30 actively taking weekly riding lessons. 

“We hope those numbers will grow a little more so we can have some more competitive interest next year and boost our presence in the IHSA,” Wright said.

Coaches Corner: Mike Plantholt

By Jesse Sailer, Sports Editor

As the men’s lacrosse team starts their 2018 season, head coach Mike Plantholt looks to improve the young team and win another conference title.

Sailer: How’s the upcoming season look?

Plantholt: Pretty good, we’ve put together a very nationally competitive schedule. So we play arguably the toughest schedule in the country against four teams in the top seven in the country so we had a tough first game. We had a lot of positives there, I think a lot of our guys played really hard and we realized that we could run with and play with and beat anybody. That’s our focus right now is getting a little bit better everyday and trying to be the best team we can be when it counts.

Sailer: What are the benefits of having such a tough schedule?

Plantholt: Having a tough schedule prepares you for everything, so obviously you want to be good in conference so playing some tough out of conference opponents not only helps you when it comes down to conference time but it helps you when it comes to playoff time. You’re going to be playing the best teams in the country in the playoffs so if you can make it there then that tough schedule will have prepared you for that.

Sailer: Do you have a strategy going into this season?

Plantholt: The strategy this year is getting the younger guys that have been waiting in the wings like the sophomores and juniors, getting them some game experience. I wouldn’t say there’s a particularly different strategy this year then in years past. We just want to continue to improve every game and make sure the guys are having a great experience.

Sailer: Are there any freshman we should look out for?

Plantholt: This is a very strong freshman class, in terms of players to look at Will Anton started in his first collegiate game this past weekend and he’ll be someone who gets into the rotation a little bit. We have Charles Schooler at long stick midi who looks really good, Sean Gellen is a midi that has impressed us, Austin Plaster and Max Johnston also look really good. We have very good goalies in this freshman class both Zach Brasser and Connar Mulcahy. I’m very impressed by how are freshman have been playing so far. 

Sailer: Is it nice to have senior Ben Rigger back as goalie after not having him for the 2017 season?

Plantholt: Yes. He’s a difference maker in the cage and when we didn’t have him last year we were forced to start two freshmen and that was a lot to ask of them being the 13th ranked program in the country. Although, sophmore Joey Sichenzia stepped in and had a solid year, but I think all of our goalies on the team right now are going to learn something from playing under Ben. He brings a wealth of experience.

Football team kicks off summer in Spain

By Spencer Pauley, Copy Editor 

For nine days this summer, 30 members of the Ohio Wesleyan football team traveled to Spain to view local attractions, embrace the culture, enjoy the beaches and play football.

The itinerary for the trip included tours around various parts of northeastern Spain. For seven of those days, the team was in Barcelona and for the other two, they spent time in the beaches in Costa Brava. Tom Watts, head football coach, said he believed the trip overall was a success.

“It was a chance of a lifetime,” Watts said. “I’ve traveled quite a bit and seen a lot of different places but Spain was really gorgeous. We could have been there for another nine days.”

From the players’ perspectives, they got to experience a place unlike home. Junior Chicho Rodriguez, defensive tackle for the Battling Bishops, is from San Clemente, which is part of coastal California. How do the beaches of Spain compare?

“Spain beaches are a lot more packed with people,” Rodriguez said. “There’s a lot more around the beaches than what I’m familiar with. From volleyball, to muscle beaches, to restaurants. They had it all.”

As for football, the Battling Bishops played the Badalona Dracs, the recent champions of the Spanish national football league (LNFA). The Battling Bishops won the game 68-8.

Even though there’s not too much of a football culture in Spain overall, players noted what the sport meant to those who are a part of it. Sophomore guard Ryan Rhodes saw firsthand how big football was to those fans.

“Everyone went out, their side of the stadium was packed just to watch us play,” Rhodes said. “They’re really passionate about it.” 

This isn’t the first time OWU football has traveled as a team. Four years ago, the team traveled to Italy. For this year, the team decided on a trip to Spain over the alternative, which was Ireland.

The Battling Bishops play their first game of the season this Saturday at 7 p.m. against Otterbein University at Selby Stadium. 

OWU men’s lacrosse ready for postseason

By Aleksei Pavloff, Sports Editor

The Ohio Wesleyan University men’s lacrosse team is facing the end of the spring season and as the NCAC championship draws near, the team is prepared.

“We’re in the conference playoffs next week and we have to take it one game at a time,” said junior goalie Alexander Pacilio.

The OWU lacrosse team currently has the second best record in the conference with only one loss to Denison University this past Sunday,12-8. The Bishops are 9-5 overall this season and received votes in for national ranking, according to ncaa.com. The tough schedule this season is something that is good for the team as a whole, Pacilio said.

“It’s a challenge but have to play these teams since iron sharpens iron,” Pacilio said.

Sophomore defensive starter Jake Worrell said, “We’ve played a lot of tough teams and been really close to beating them. It’s kind of disappointing to not get over the hump yet but it …  motivates myself and my teammates.”

Two teams that were the most demanding was Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Salsbury, Pacilio said. Both teams are currently in the top 5 rankings, according to ncaa.com. The Bishops lost to RIT 12-11, which was the start for freshman Joey Sichenzia. They also lost to Salisbury 10-6 but there are good things to come out of those games.

“Playing RIT the first game was an exciting experience,” said Worrell. “I know that if we got a shot at either of those teams we could pull a victory. We are a different team now and have gone through so much and we have learned so much and I would love to play either team again.”

The team’s expectations before the season started was to win the NCAC championship, said Worrell. He said he believes that they will see Denison in the championship game.

“Getting another chance to beat Denison is great,” Worrell said. He added that the team has struggled in the past against them but they are committed to correcting past mistakes and executing on their goals. The last scheduled game against the rival was a shootout which Denison came back from a six point deficit.

The post season is fast approaching and Worrell said he thinks that the team has the ability to win big.

“Winning the NCAC is very achievable,” Worrell said. “We have to finish up strong in the regular season first and beat Wooster to secure the second spot and then win our first round game.”

The Bishops have one more game against Wooster April 22. The team has tallied over 190 goals and average about 42.9 shots on opponents goal. The team also is strong in faceoffs winning 206 while losing 137.

Wooster is the Bishop’s last regular season opponent. The last time these two teams met, OWU won 22-6. But the team needs to stay on track, according to Pacilio.  

“We have a lot of close games with a bunch of teams in our conference, but we believe if we play OWU lacrosse, it doesn’t matter how other teams play because we dictate our destiny,” Worrell said.

Coaches Corner: Kris Boey

By Aleksei Pavloff, Sports Editor

It’s now the spring season and the track and field team is ready to take the momentum from the winter into the new season.

Q: What is the attitude heading into this spring season?

A: The team’s attitude and purpose is excel- lent going into the outdoor season. We are building on a successful indoor season and as always we expect to be our best in May as the track and eld season culminates.

Q: What is the goal as a team this season?

A: Our goal is for each individual to improve and perform to the best of their capabilities and contribute to the overarching team goals. It’s a combination of individual achievements that allow the team to reach it’s full potential.

Q: What are the expectations heading into the spring season?

A: The expectations are to continue building the good work we’ve been doing all season and represent OWU in the best possible manner.

Q: Who, from Ohio Wesleyan, should people keep an eye out for?

A; In order to have the kind of team success that we are striving for, every team member will need to play an important role.

Q: Will we see another national championship performance from Robinson?

A:Cirrus has achieved a great deal in her rst season, and I believe she is far from her ceiling. My hope is that she enjoys the process and works towards her goals. If that is her mindset, then she will certainly be in a position to accomplish great things into the future.

Q: What events will Ohio Wesleyan be strong in?

A: We pride ourselves on being a complete, well-rounded team.

Ultimate frisbee wins first place in the High Tide tournament

By Aleksei Pavloff, Sports Editor

The ultimate frisbee club at Ohio Wesleyan University traveled to South Carolina to compete in the High Tide tournament and walked away with first place in their bracket over spring break.

The ultimate frisbee club entered the High Tide tournament that went from March 14-16 and stayed in Little River, SC just north of Myrtle Beach. According to hightideultimate.com, it is one of the biggest ultimate tournaments and was founded in 1996.

“We managed to get a house right on the beach which was nice,” said sophomore Espen Stalder who is a captain for the team. “There were around 120 teams overall, and about 40 within our division. Most of those were D-III schools but there were a few larger ones like Syracuse.

The team had eight wins and one loss in their mixed bracket which included clubs as well as  Division-I teams. The term “mixed” means that both men and women participate on the same team. The team’s attitude seemed calm even during the matches.

“It was very relaxed, even at the tournament,” said Stalder. “It’s not a sanctioned tournament meaning it doesn’t count for official ranking, so winning isn’t as important so much as just hanging out. If you wanted to make stupid plays for fun you absolutely could.”

Before heading to High Tide, the club struggled to organize practices before the tournament began but seemed to come together nicely once tournament play began.

“The main challenge was people unable to come to practice,” said Stalder. “We only had one mixed practice a week, and oftentimes half the team wouldn’t be able to come. I had class most of the time so I went into the tournament not knowing most of the girls. Not knowing the playing styles of half the team is definitely a challenge, but we figured it out pretty fast.”

Stalder said that the team tries to practice three times a week during the school year but mixed practices are limited to once a week.

The team would eventually make it to the finals of their bracket where they would play Syracuse University. They beat the Division-I school and showed that they are able to compete amongst the other clubs and teams.

“It feels great, most of the people on the team have never won a tournament outright before,” said Stalder. “There’s a sense of pride that comes from beating Division-I teams like Syracuse as a small, relatively unknown Division-III school.”

Stalder went on to say that their main goal was just to “have fun” and that this was their first time competing in a mixed bracket. Looking ahead, the club’s members will maintain their positive approach after learning a valuable lesson about themselves.

“It’s a milestone for the club as this is the first time anyone on the team has won high tide,” said Stalder. “It also shows that we can in fact function mixed better than when we’re separate.”

NCAA denies OWU men’s basketball

By Evan Walsh, Chief Copy Editor

Despite finishing the year with 21 wins and a conference championship appearance, the Bishops were not chosen to compete in this year’s Division III National Tournament.

Ohio Wesleyan defeated Kenyon and Wittenberg en route to the NCAC championship game.

However, their 14-game win streak came to an end against College of Wooster in front of a home crowd on Saturday evening.

Down by 21 points at the half, OWU rallied late for a comeback. But it was not enough as the

Fighting Scots held on to beat OWU 76-72.

OWU can still call itself NCAC champions since they had the best regular season record.

That marks 2016-17 as the third consecutive year OWU has earned that title.

The decision not to include OWU was made Monday afternoon. It took some players and fans of the program by surprise.

Captain Ben Simpson, a senior, said he was disappointed by the news, but not entirely surprised.

“I was nervous about [tournament prospects] and thought that we had about a 50/50 chance of making it in,” Simpson said.

Athletic Director Roger Ingles said he shared some of Simpson’s disappointment.

“The NCAA selection process sometimes can seem very unfair. Our men’s team is the first NCAC regular season championship team to be left out of the tournament since the early 1990’s,” Ingles said.

It is likely that early, out of conference losses to weaker teams, hurt OWU’s National Tournament chances.

“The process is based on strength of schedule, won-loss record, opponent’s strength of schedule and success, games and won-loss versus regionally ranked opponents,” Ingles said

With the win, Wooster qualifies automatically and will be the only team representing the conference at the tournament.

Simpson, Eugene Coleman, Jon Griggs and Erick Bryant are among the team’s seniors. They turn the reigns over to Academic All-American Nate Axelrod and fellow captain Seth Clark.

Simpson said he felt positive about his experience. Quoting Dr. Seuss, Simpson said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”