By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's track and field program battled for two fifth-place finishes at the Ohio Athletic Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championships and compiled an impressive 83-20 overall record, headlining a solid 2019 campaign under 10th-year head coach Jason Maus.
On the indoor circuit, the Polar Bears posted a 24-8 mark for their eighth straight winning season and ended fifth at the OAC Indoor Track & Field Championships held inside the ONU Sports Center in February. The early-season success carried into the outdoor campaign, leading ONU to a similar fifth-place mark at the outdoor conference championships and its fifth straight 40-or-more win season with a 59-12 mark.
The fifth-place efforts at the indoor and outdoor championships mark the fifth successive OAC upper-division finish for the program in each season.
"We received good contributions from all event groups and class levels throughout this season," Maus noted. "Avery (Ewing), Tia (Harris), Maggie (Krause), and Taylor (Lavey) were leaders both on and off the track, and they each stepped up to score a lot of points for our team this year. Without them, our team would not have had the same level of success."
"Our team also had a nucleus of young athletes that grew throughout the year. Kayla (Silva), Emily (Norden), and Rue (Whitmore) made a big impact in their first year with the team. In addition, we had several show great improvement and take on new roles this season, including Kylie (Vestal), Allison (Stevens), Melinda (McIntosh), and Megan (Wright). We'll look for them to continue improving and developing over the upcoming seasons."
In addition, three student-athletes represented Ohio Northern at the 2019 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships this season, held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, Massachusetts and the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, respectively. Senior Avery Ewing (Kokomo, Ind./Eastern) and junior All-American Maggie Krause (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) qualified for both championships, and junior Allison Stevens (Naperville, Ill./Central) competed at her first national meet during the indoor campaign.
Ewing qualified for both national championships in the 800-meter run for her third and fourth career NCAA appearances. The senior improved eight spots from her seed time for a 12th-place finish indoor and recorded a ninth-place effort outdoor after making her first finals appearance.
Meanwhile, Krause garnered her second consecutive All-America honor after clearing 3.75 meters to finish seventh in the 20-person pole vault competition during the indoor championship. Her appearance at the 2019 outdoor national meet marked her fourth championship experience where she finished 22nd.
With her two points at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, Krause led ONU to a tie for 29th overall at the meet.
Stevens qualified for the indoor championship with a career-best 3.75-meter vault and ended 12th overall at 3.70 meters.
The Polar Bears also gained significant attention at the regional level this season as seven student-athletes earned USTFCCCA All-Great Lakes Region accolades. Ewing, Krause, and Stevens joined senior thrower Tia Harris (Newton Falls), junior sprinter/jumper Taylor Lavey (New Baltimore, Mich./Findlay), sophomore sprinter/jumper Stella DeWitt (Weston/Cardinal Stritch), and freshman sprinter Kayla Silva (Westerville/South) on the awards listing.
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.
Ewing was named to the squad in the 800-meter run during both the indoor and outdoor campaigns. The senior leaves the program as a seven-time All-Great Lakes Region selection.
Krause garnered the accolades in both seasons and became a four-time honoree with the announcements. She had the top vaults in the region during the indoor and outdoor campaigns, which includes her season-best 3.88-meter vault.
Stevens was named for her efforts during the indoor season after recording the second-highest vault in the region at 3.75 meters. The honor was the first in her career.
Harris, the indoor and outdoor shot put school record holder, launched the shot put 13.51 meters to post the fourth-farthest throw in the region. She graduates a one-time all-region selection.
Lavey was named to the All-Great Lakes Region squad in two indoor events this year. The seven-time honoree tied for fifth in the 60-meter dash with a 7.93 clocking and ended fifth in the 200 with a 25.77 effort, adjusted for a banked track.
DeWitt landed on her second all-region listing after ending fifth in the indoor long jump with a 5.47-meter leap. She was honored in the same event during the 2018 indoor campaign.
Silva earned her first career honor in the 60-meter dash. She posted the fourth-fastest time in the Great Lakes Region with a 7.92 effort, which tied the Ohio Northern school record.
All seven all-region selections also garnered All-OAC honors during the 2019 season with top-three finishes at the conference meets, including OAC Championship titles from Harris and Krause.
Harris claimed the indoor shot put crown with a career-best 13.51-meter heave, while Krause brought home the indoor pole vault title at 3.77 meters. The tandem would also garner All-OAC kudos during the outdoor season, placing second in the same events.
The former leaves ONU as a two-time All-OAC honoree, and the latter enters her senior season with four such accolades.
Ewing and Stevens each recorded runner-up efforts and Stevens, Lavey, DeWitt, and Silva all managed third-place efforts this season to round out the All-OAC honorees.
Ewing received her 11th career all-conference honors during the indoor season after placing second in the 800-meter run. She posted a 2:17.30 to edge out Otterbein's Gina Kowalewicz for the second spot.
Stevens kicked off her time on the podium with a second-place mark during the indoor campaign at 3.47 meters, earning runner-up kudos on a tiebreaker over Mount Union's Bri Aveni. She followed up the performance with a third-place showing at the outdoor championships, clearing 3.51 meters at Otterbein.
Lavey, now a nine-time All-OAC recipient, registered a 7.93 in the 60-meter dash to place third at the OAC Indoor Championships.
DeWitt etched her name on the all-conference awards list in the indoor long jump. The sophomore leaped 5.39 meters, topping John Carroll's Katelyn Frandanisa by just 0.06 meters for the top-three finish.
Silva garnered her first career All-OAC accolade with an impressive third-place finish in a loaded 100-meter dash field during the outdoor season. Her 12.40 clocking edged out Lavey to secure a 3-4 Polar Bear sweep.
Off the track, the Polar Bears well-represented in the classroom with 10 student-athletes receiving Academic All-OAC kudos. Krause and Stevens joined seniors Taylor Fisher (Wapakoneta), Sydney McCluer (Columbus Grove), Kristina Myers (Grove City/Central Crossing), Elizabeth Steele (Tempe, Ariz./Corona del Sol), and Mallory Weininger (Upper Sandusky), junior Melinda McIntosh (Farmersville/Valley View), and sophomores Kylie Vestal (Youngstown/Austintown-Fitch) and Megan Wright (Eaton/Twin Valley South) on the listing.
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.
During the indoor campaign, Ohio Northern competed in the Tiffin Dragon Open and the two-day Findlay Alumni Classic & Elite Throws to kick off the season. The Polar Bears then posted a runner-up finish at the 2019 Joe Banks Invitational, a fourth-place effort at the All-Ohio Championships, and appeared at Findlay's Flag City Open.
The indoor slate concluded with the program's fifth-place mark at the OAC Championships, the Polar Bear Final Qualifier, and the 2019 NCAA Championships in Boston, Massachusetts.
ONU started the outdoor slate with a fourth-place finish at Muskingum and an impressive top-three effort at the Emory (Ga.) Classic in Atlanta.
Following the Oberlin Invitational and the All-Ohio Championships, the Polar Bears capped the regular season winning their own AJ Cody Invitational on Senior Day.
Ohio Northern picked up a top-five finish at the OAC Outdoor Championships with 76 points at Otterbein over the two-day event.
Following two last chance qualifying weekends, ONU sent Ewing and Krause to represent the program at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to conclude the campaign.
"This season, we had some strong performances," Maus remarked. "The trip to Emory was a good meet for our team, and we were able to accomplish a lot in nicer, warmer weather. In addition, the indoor and outdoor All-Ohio Championships were a step in the right direction. We will look to build on these performances heading into next season."