By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern men's track and field program boasted two Ohio Athletic Conference upper-division finishes during the 2019 indoor and outdoor seasons, headlining another successful campaign under 10th-year head coach Jason Maus.
On the indoor circuit, the Polar Bear men posted a 22-10 overall record for their 29th successive winning season. ONU went on to secure a fourth-place finish at the 2019 OAC Indoor Track & Field Championships, which were held inside the ONU Sports Center Fieldhouse in February.
The early success propelled Ohio Northern to an impressive 53-13 overall mark in the outdoor season, the team's 17th consecutive winning campaign. The Polar Bears then capped the season with a similar fourth-place mark at the outdoor conference championships.
"The men's team had some challenges this season. We had a young group with less depth than we have had in the past few years," Maus stated. "But with challenges, there comes opportunities, and we had many athletes take advantage of the opportunities they were given."
On the national stage, senior All-American Ian McVey (Stow/Munroe Falls) and freshman standout Nate Dean (Euclid/Villa Angela Saint Joseph) each represented the institution at the NCAA Championships this season.
McVey qualified for both the indoor and outdoor national championships in the men's 5,000-meter run, making him a three-time national qualifier overall. The senior became a two-time track and field All-American with a seventh-place effort in 14:34.94 at the indoor championships before ending his career with a 14th-place finish at the outdoor rendition.
The Stow product is also a two-time All-American in cross country.
Meanwhile, Dean made his first NCAA Championship appearance in the indoor men's 400-meter dash at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, Massachusetts. With the No. 18 seed entering the meet, the freshman moved up one spot to finish 17th in a 20-man field with a 49.934 clocking.
McVey and Dean were also honored alongside freshmen pole vaulters Andrew Buderer (Oak Harbor) and Luke Shellhaas (Greenville/Versailles) on the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Great Lakes Region squads.
To be recognized, a student-athlete must finish among the top-five individual or top-three relay performances in an event on their respective NCAA Division III regional performance list.
McVey was tabbed the USTFCCCA All-Great Lakes Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year after posting the fastest times in the region in the mile, 3,000-meter, and 5,000-meter runs. The senior also recorded the top outdoor 5,000-meter run time for his 11th and final All-Great Lakes Region accolade in his career.
His 8:16.99 effort in the indoor 3,000-meter run and 14:20.95 clocking in the indoor 5,000-meter run also rewrote the ONU history books and established career-best marks.
Dean earned his first All-Great Lakes Region honor after posting the third-fastest time in the indoor 400-meter dash. The freshman posted a season-best 48.75 clocking, adjusted for a banked-track venue.
Buderer and Shellhaas each garnered indoor and outdoor All-Great Lakes Region kudos this season. Both first-years cleared 4.49 meters during the 2019 Polar Bear Final Qualifier to end in a tie for fifth on the regional performance list. From there, Buderer and Shellhaas ended 2-3 on the outdoor performance list after clearing career-best marks at 4.66 meters and 4.56 meters, respectively.
Eleven student-athletes were awarded All-OAC accolades this season following their efforts at the OAC Championship meets. McVey, Dean, Shellhaas, Buderer, juniors Andrew Shelton (Williamsville, N.Y./South) and Cody Benny (Wapakoneta), and sophomores Sam Krabacher (Hamilton/Badin), Donovin Moran (Saint John, Ind./Hanover Central), Colin McCullough (Galion), Alessandro Tramontano (Mayfield), and Matt Bradshaw (Cleveland/Norton) were all honored in 2019.
McVey was crowned an OAC champion in the indoor 3,000-meter run, collected runner-up honors in the indoor and outdoor 5k championships, and helped lead the outdoor 4x800 relay squad to third place to garner four All-OAC honors in 2019. With his efforts, he will graduate a 12-time all-conference honoree at Ohio Northern.
Dean received his first career All-OAC honor after placing second in the 400-meter dash in 49.52 at the OAC Indoor Championships.
Meanwhile, Shellhaas collected two all-conference accolades during his inaugural season in the pole vault. The freshman took runner-up honors during the indoor campaign with a 4.41-meter clearance and ended third outdoor at 4.56 meters.
Buderer received his first conference honor after he nearly dispatched indoor champion James Kovatch from Marietta at the outdoor championships. Both athletes cleared 4.66 meters, but Kovatch emerged victorious on a tiebreaker.
Shelton edged out an individual All-OAC accolade with a third-place finish in the indoor 1,000-meter run with a 2:36.82 clocking. He is now a three-time All-OAC honoree and a one-time OAC champion.
Krabacher made his first appearance on the all-conference listing after ending third in a talented indoor 800-meter run field with a 1:59.27 effort.
During the indoor slate, Krabacher teamed up with Benny, Moran, and McCullough to finish third in the 4x400-meter relay, crossing the tape in 3:30.41.
McVey, Shelton, Krabacher, and Tramontano rounded out the all-conference honors on the track, placing third in the outdoor 4x800-meter relay in 8:00.22.
Bradshaw became a first-time All-OAC selection after ending third in the men's hammer throw. His 53.72-meter toss at the conference championship was just .01 meters shy of his career-best mark.
In addition, 11 individuals were awarded Academic All-OAC kudos for the 2019 campaign. Shelton, Krabacher, McCullough, juniors Noah McKee (Powell/Olentangy Liberty), Kyle Neff (Sagamore Hills/Walsh Jesuit), and Bryan Peck (Westerville/North), and sophomores Travis Sutter (Fort Recovery), Jared Fox (Fremont/Ross), Cade Saunders (Marysville), Jack Lehr (York, Pa./Dallastown Area), and Nick DeVore (Westerville/North) were each honored following the season.
Shelton, McKee, Neff, and Peck were all honored for the second consecutive season with the announcement.
To receive Academic All-OAC honors, student-athletes must be a sophomore-or-higher in academic standing, maintain varsity-level status during the season, and own a minimum 3.50 cumulative grade-point average.
Three school records also fell during the indoor track and field slate. McVey broke the indoor 3,000- and 5,000-meter run records, and sophomore Owen Lloyd (Colfax, Ind./Clinton Prairie) posted an impressive 8.52 in the 60-meter hurdles to rewrite the history books during the preliminary rounds at the OAC Championships.
Following appearances at the Tiffin Dragon Open and the two-day Findlay Alumni Classic & Elite Throws, the Polar Bears kicked off a four-meet home schedule with the annual Joe Banks Invitational. Ohio Northern posted a second-place finish in the seven-team field with 154 points over the two-day outing.
From there, ONU finished seventh at the All-Ohio Championships at Otterbein and competed in the Flag City Open at Findlay to wrap up their pre-OAC Championships slate.
The Polar Bears returned home for the OAC Indoor Championships on February 22 and 23, where they finished fourth with 91.5 points over the two-day meet.
During the outdoor slate, Northern earned runner-up honors at the Muskingum Invitational and Emory (Ga.) Classic, placed ninth at the All-Ohio Championships, and competed at the Oberlin Invitational before returning to Ada.
ONU rounded out its home slate with the two-day AJ Cody Invitational at Kerscher Stadium, winning the meet with 185.5 points over Bluffton, Heidelberg, and Manchester (Ind.).
The Polar Bears rounded out the season with a fourth-place result at the OAC Outdoor Championships and McVey's appearance at the 2019 NCAA Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva.
"Ian, Matt, Spencer Schulze (St. Henry), and Owen all contributed a lot to our team throughout the season, allowing us to succeed," Maus noted. "We also had some freshman who came in and made an immediate impact like Andy (Buderer), Luke, Caden Sauerbrey (Dresden/Tri-Valley), Michael Mustari (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar), and Nate. Sam, Travis, and Andrew (Shelton) were each given opportunities to develop in new roles this season, and they came through for our team. We will need good growth and development out of all returners to continue to compete at a high level in the OAC."