Track and Field, Women’s Basketball Cheer Each Other On During NCAC Championships in Indiana


Photo courtesy of Kyle Youngblood

Track and field cheers on basketball during the semifinal round against Wittenberg University.

Last Friday, 333 miles away at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, the women’s basketball team and the men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in their respective North Coast Athletic Conference Championships events. Each team took time to fully support each other; when Oberlin athletes filled the stands, the crowd was so loud that the commentators took the time to acknowledge them in both the semifinal and final rounds of competition. Oberlin Athletics even reposted a video of their chants of “Yeo Baby” on Twitter and Instagram.

Both track and field teams were wrapping up their first day of competition, and basketball was competing against Wittenberg University in the semifinal round. Toward the end of the day, Head Track and Field and Cross Country Coach Ray Appenheimer noticed that many of his athletes were interested in the game and allowed some to walk over to support the basketball team.

“As the first day of competition was winding down, you could see lots of folks on their phones watching the livestream,” Appenheimer said. “I would say there were probably 20 or 30 of them who [were] obviously really into it. One of our seniors, [fourth-year] Theo Haviland, was like, ‘Hey, coach, can we go?’ I was like, ‘Sure, of course you can go.’”

DePauw’s Indoor Track and Field Center is about a half mile walk away from Neal Fieldhouse, where the basketball game was held, so a few members of the track and field team had to run over in order to make it by the end of the third quarter.

“I was concerned because our sense of direction isn’t always the best on this team,” Appenheimer said.

Fourth-year Iyanna Lewis, defending NCAC women’s weight throw champion, also led multiple rounds of the song, “Yeo Baby.” The track and field teams also donned capes — Lewis cred- its fifth-year Captain Sarah Voit for the idea — which they waved at Wittenberg whenever the Tigers attempted to make free throws.

“The rest of the parents that were at the game [were] just surprised that all of us had come in,” Lewis said. “Afterwards, I watched it back and the announcers were like, ‘Whoa, Oberlin’s fan section is so huge.’ We could tell that they were playing music to try to get us to dance.”

With two minutes left to spare, the rest of the team was able to make it to the game, though Appenheimer noted that, “in basketball times, [two minutes is] a half hour.”

Ultimately, fourth-seed Oberlin upset Wittenberg, the first-seed team in the tournament, and danced its way to the finals for the first time since 2018 to continue their Cinderella run. Before playing against Ohio Wesleyan University, the basketball team repaid the favor and cheered on the men’s weight-throwers and women’s shot-putters.

Although the clock struck midnight too soon with a 79–71 loss and 17–11 overall season finish, third-year guard Gina Lombard, who played an integral role in both games and was named to the NCAC third-team after the finals, enjoyed the celebration after Oberlin’s success over Wittenberg and its hard fought attempt against OWU.

“The feeling of beating [Wittenberg] and having the whole track team there to celebrate with us … was something that [I’ll] remember for a while,” Lombard said. “The whole weekend was a highlight for me.”

Appenheimer reflected that inter-team support is what makes Oberlin unique from different schools, even beyond athletics.

“If I’m being a little selfish, I will tell you Wittenberg’s track team was there too at the track meet but wasn’t at the basketball game,” Appenheimer said. “I really think [it] speaks to this place and this community. … We understand that the more supportive your community, the better your performance is going to be. … So much of what we do around here is ‘I see you, … and I want to be here for you, and if there’s anything I can do to help support you, help challenge you, help build you up, I’m gonna do that for you.’ That’s not only a basketball or track thing, and it’s not only a department of Athletics thing — it’s an Oberlin thing. It is part of the fabric of this place, and it’s why we all choose to come here every single day.”