By Blake Moore
ADA - The Ohio Northern men's swimming and diving program recorded its third successive runner-up finish at the 2018-19 Ohio Athletic Conference Championships at the University of Akron in February, headlining the Polar Bears' first season under head coach Austin Veltman.
"This year, our swimmers and divers competed hard all season long," Veltman noted. "The athletes definitely earned the success they had this season, and I am incredibly proud of their efforts."
This year, the Polar Bears recorded a 4-3 overall record for the program's 12th consecutive winning season. In addition, Northern posted a 3-1 conference mark to end second in the OAC Regular Season title race.
At the 2019 OAC Championships, ONU racked up 744.5 team points to finish second in the five-team field. Meanwhile, John Carroll claimed the event championship with 985 total points, and Mount Union rounded out the top-three programs with 694.5 points.
In addition, the Polar Bears garnered 13 All-OAC honors from eight individual performances and all five relay efforts during the weekend.
"Several swims at the OAC Championships were outstanding," Veltman remarked. "Those swims were the product of our athlete's working hard all year long, being focused every day in the pool, and managing their time successfully between athletics and academics."
"Our goal at the beginning of every season will be to win the OAC Championship. However, the larger goal in the water is to improve on the boards and get faster each season. Many of our swimmers and divers accomplished that goal, and they deserved it."
Junior Nolan Huey (Fort Collins, Colo./Fossil Ridge) topped the individual efforts at the conference championship meet, claiming three individual event titles over the three-day competition.
The Fort Collins, Colorado native swept the 200- and 400-yard IM events in 1:51.98 and 4:03.06, respectively, to kick off the weekend. He then captured the 200 back crown on the final day in Akron with a 1:50.42 touch, making him a nine-time OAC Champion at Ohio Northern.
In addition, Huey garnered All-OAC honors with top-three finishes in the 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 200 medley relay, and 400 medley relay. He garnered seven total All-Conference accolades this season, giving him 15 such awards in his three-year career.
During the OAC Championships, Huey also tied the Ohio Northern 100 back record in :50.53 swimming the leadoff leg in the men's 400 medley relay.
Seniors Pete He (Mason) and Anthony Ferrell (Canton/Glen Oak), sophomores Zach Ayres (Chillicothe) and Pat Reed (Charleston, W.Va./Washington), and freshman Jeremy Adams (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ann Arbor Pioneer) also received All-OAC honors in individual events at Ocasek Natatorium.
He sprinted to a :20.91 clocking in the 50 free finals, earning runner-up and All-Conference accolades. The senior graduates as a 10-time OAC Champion and a 20-time All-OAC honoree.
Meanwhile, Adams and Ferrell went 2-3 in the 100 breast finals with :56.91 and :56.98 efforts, respectively. The former finished his first OAC Championships with four All-Conference honors while the latter graduates as a nine-time all-league honoree.
Ayres recorded a third-place mark in the 100 fly after touching the wall in :51.03. During the three-day competition, he garnered his first three All-OAC honors to conclude a strong sophomore campaign.
Reed rounded out the top-three efforts with a second-place finish in the 200 breast final. He clocked a 2:05.45 in the event to capture his first career All-Conference honor.
In the relays, He, Ayres, Adams, and senior Justin Chapman (Springboro) ended second in the 200 free relay with a 1:23.34 effort, which was just .08 off the Ohio Northern school record.
Huey, He, Chapman, and Adams also claimed runner-up awards in the 400 free relay in 3:06.97.
In the 800 free relay, Adams, Huey, and He joined up with freshman Justin DeLano (Englewood/Northmont) to take second place in 6:58.47, giving DeLano his first career All-Conference honor.
The 200 medley relay (Huey, Ferrell, Ayres, Chapman) and 400 medley relay (Huey, Ferrell, He, Chapman) each finished second in 1:32.14 and 3:26.17, respectively, rounding out the All-OAC performances.
During the 2018-19 regular season, Adams and Huey were also recognized as OAC Swimmers of the Week on December 3 and January 14, respectively.
Following the OAC Championships, sophomore Ryan Mow (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) received his first career Academic All-OAC kudos for his performance in the classroom.
To receive the accolade, student-athletes must be a sophomore-or-higher in academic standing, maintain varsity-level status during the season, and hold a minimum 3.50 cumulative grade-point average.
Mow, a second-year construction management major, is a two-time All-OAC honoree after finishing second in the 1650 free (16:26.95) and third in the 500 free (4:43.07) at the 2018 OAC Championships as a freshman. He also placed sixth in the 400 IM (4:15.72) and helped the 800 free relay squad (7:06.96) to a third-place effort, recording 54 total points over the three-day event.
In 2018-19, he ended his season prematurely due to injury.
The Ohio Northern men's swimming and diving team kicked off the season with a second-place finish at the Kenyon Relays after posting 88 team points. In addition, ONU finished fourth at the Calvin (Mich.) Invitational and fifth at the Wooster Invitational during the regular season.
In the 2018-19 dual season, the Polar Bears defeated Wilmington, Wittenberg, Mount Union, and Baldwin Wallace while falling to John Carroll, No. 2-ranked Kenyon, and No. 17-ranked Case Western Reserve.
ONU concluded the season with 744.5 points and their third consecutive runner-up finish at the 2019 OAC Championships in Akron.
"We had solid contributions from our freshmen and sophomores this year," Veltman stated. "So looking ahead, with many freshmen and sophomores on both teams, it will allow us the ability to grow over the next few seasons in size. It is very exciting to think about the future of this program."