Eventful Year Draws to a Close for Athletics Dept.
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The 2013–2014 academic year comes to a close in just over a week, finishing what has been both an eventful and successful time for the Athletics Department. Several teams and individual athletes clinched NCAA bids, countless individuals garnered North Coast Athletic Conference accolades and new facilities have undergone construction.
Overall, Delta Lodge Director of Athletics and Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos feels positively about the direction of the department.
“I think that there is a lot that has changed that you can’t put your finger on. I do get the sense that there is an overall feeling of more enthusiasm and more support for what is happening in our corner of the campus,” Winkelfoos said.
Underscoring this year’s achievements is the men’s soccer program. For the first time in its history, the team gained a berth to the NCAA tournament. A handful of individuals also grabbed the attention of several national and state organizations, earning a variety of awards.
Highlighting the individual awards is senior goalkeeper Brandt Rentel, who was named a Third-Team All-American by D3-soccer.com and Defender of the Year by the NCAC. Senior Ari Schwartz and sophomore John Ingham joined Rentel in earning both First Team NSCAA Great Lakes All-Region and All-Ohio First-Team awards. Five other Yeomen picked up NCAC honors, including senior Joe Graybeal, sophomores Slade Gottlieb, Josh Wilkerson and Dean Schapow and first-year Nick Wertman.
Head Coach Blake New was also honored by the NCAC as the Coach of the Year.
“I do think we have been well supported through the years, but when we had more success we drew more people,” New said. “It was extremely moving for me to see so many students and parents in the stands at the NCAA games. The last game, the crowd sang to the very end even though we were losing, and that brought me to tears.”
Another program that made huge strides this year is the women’s tennis team, under the leadership of Head Coach Constantine Ananiadis. Finishing with a record of 13–9, the Yeowomen placed third overall in the NCAC tournament. Lone senior Brenna Sheldon was honored as one of the best women’s tennis players in Oberlin history and NCAC Player of the Year. She is currently waiting to be seeded in the NCAA Individual National Championship.
Teammates junior Grace Porter, sophomore Erin Johnson and first-year Emma Brezel also caught the attention of the NCAC with a variety of honors. Porter earned a spot on the All-NCAC Second Team, while Brezel and Johnson made the cut for NCAC Honorable Mention selections. Ananiadis reflected on this season as a success and looks forward to what is to come.
“Soundly defeating Kenyon twice, a team that had beaten us twice last year in heartbreaking fashion both times, had to have been the two highlights for us competitively,” Ananiadis said. “It was also neat that the two matches were on Senior Day and the last match of the season. But that aside, our biggest accomplishment was off court and more abstract. The chemistry this team had was something special, and when teams of any kind operate like this, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Another team that made waves for Oberlin was cross country. Countless individuals had successful seasons for the Yeomen and Yeowomen of the cross-country team. The women’s team placed eighthat the NCAA Championships. The men’s team members sophomores Geno Arthur and Joshua Urso also clinched individual spots at the tournament, finishing in 111 and 139 places, respectively.
And still other programs saw huge success even if not represented statistically. Both the women’s lacrosse and soccer teams doubled their wins from last season under new head coaches. Jay Anderson also looks to begin his tenure as the new head coach of the football team next year under the lights of a brand new Savage Stadium.
Winkelfoos shared an update about the stadium’s construction progress.
“The target completion date is August 15, and we are mostly on schedule. The place is going to be a landmark of leadership,” Winkelfoos said. “This is where student-athletes are going to play, but it’s also where the community will come together and strengthen Oberlin.”