Season Review: Polar Bears notch fifth consecutive top-three finishes in OAC Championships meets in 2018

Season Review: Polar Bears notch fifth consecutive top-three finishes in OAC Championships meets in 2018

By Blake Moore 

ADA – In a season headlined by seven combined event conference titles, two NCAA Indoor All-Americans, an NCAA individual champion, and a pair of top-tier finishes in the OAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships, the Ohio Northern men's track and field program registered another impressive season under ninth-year head coach Jason Maus during the 2017-2018 campaign.

The Polar Bears would conclude the indoor season with a 33-17 overall record, which they followed up with a similar 36-16 finish in outdoor venues. 

Northern's success would continue into the postseason, too, as the Polar Bears claimed third in both OAC championship events. The top-three standings mark the fifth consecutive year that ONU has finished among the upper-half of competing schools at conference meets. 

During the indoor season, junior Ian McVey (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) and senior Matt Molinaro (Sterling Heights, Mich./DeLaSalle) would both advance to compete in the 2018 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships, which saw both achieving All-American status.

McVey registered a fifth-place finish in the 5,000 while Molinaro edged out the 800-meter run field by just .03 seconds to be crowned the event champion.

Molinaro's title is just the third NCAA Division III individual event championship won by an Ohio Northern male track and field athlete. 

The tandem's efforts would secure the school's second-highest team finish at the national meet as they wound up tied for 13th with 14 points.

Molinaro would serve as the lone ONU representative at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships after qualifying in both the 800-meter and 1,500-meter runs. The senior would advance past the prelim stages, placing second in each race, before suffering an injury in the finals. He would conclude his career as a four-time All-American and a national champion.

ONU would garner two individual event championship titles at the OAC Indoor Championships as Molinaro swept the 800-meter and 1-mile runs in 1:58.13 and 4:17.63, respectively.

Molinaro would then join senior Brandon Emert (Brunswick), senior Alec Lunney (Middleburg Heights/Berea-Midpark), and freshman Sam Krabacher (Hamilton/Badin) to receive all-conference accolades in the distance medley relay. The trio of Luke Bogdanovich (Akron/Coventry) in the triple jump, Samuel Boyd (Killbuck/West Holmes) in the 3,000-meter run, and McVey in the 1,000- and 5,000-meter runs notched the remaining All-Ohio Athletic Conference awards for the Polar Bears. 

ONU would be ranked as high as No. 22 in the USTFCCCA Power Rankings, which was recorded during the indoor preseason polls.

In the outdoor slate, Northern tallied five event champions at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships. Once again, Molinaro proved to be a force, sweeping the 800-meter and 1,500-meter titles. Meanwhile, senior jumper Alex Sibila (Zionsville, Ind.) and McVey each captured first-place marks in the high jump and 5,000-meter run, respectively. Sophomore Andrew Shelton (Williamsville, N.Y./South), McVey, Lunney, and Molinaro claimed the lone relay championship for the Polar Bears after emerging victorious in the 4x800-meter relay.

Bogdanovich would also end his career on a high note at the outdoor conference meet, taking home all-conference honors in the triple jump.

Following the respective seasons, Molinaro was tabbed both the indoor and outdoor All-Great Lakes Region Men's Track Athlete of the Year. McVey would go on to join his senior teammate on the All-Great Lakes Region listing for both campaigns.

Coach Maus's team would enjoy success in the classroom as well, placing seven on the All-Ohio Athletic Conference Academic Team. Shelton, Sibila, and sophomores Alex Marsch (Orwell/Grand Valley), Noah McKee (Powell/Olentangy Liberty), Kyle Neff (Sagamore Hills/Walsh Jesuit), Bryan Peck (Westerville/North), and Brian Ruffini (Dennison/Claymont) were nominated to the awards list after recording 3.50 cumulative grade point averages following at least the completion of their sophomore academic year.

The Polar Bears would finish the indoor season placing in the upper-half of all meets that compiled team scores, including a third-place finish at their own Joe Banks Invitational.

Northern would host one additional indoor meet, the Polar Bear Final Qualifier. 

The outdoor season concluded with the Orange and Black picking up three top-three team finishes, including results at the OAC Championships, George Glass Invitational at Taylor University, and by winning their own six-team Polar Bear Invitational in April.