By Scott Beaton
ADA — Ohio Northern coaches often point to the success of the entire athletics department, in addition to their own sport's accomplishments and the university's academic reputation, when recruiting prospective student-athletes. What ONU accomplished in the last decade is something in which coaches, student-athletes, alumni, parents, and fans can be proud.
Simply put, the 2010s are a decade that will live in Polar Bear lore forever.
Ohio Northern boasted an overall record of 6,516-3,488-59 (.648), which included a 979-457-21 (.672) mark in Ohio Athletic Conference play. As a whole, the Polar Bears posted a winning season 79.8 percent of the time.
With regard to conference championships, ONU won 47 OAC regular-season titles and 46 OAC Tournament or Championship Meet titles.
ONU individuals won an impressive 15 national championships, led by nine from track and field standout Emily Richards.
Ohio Northern had 86 different student-athletes receive All-America or Academic All-America honors.
The Polar Bears also garnered 892 Academic All-OAC honors, edging Otterbein by 23 for the most in the 10-team league.
"There's no question about it, it's a credit to the quality of the student and the staff that work together for the accomplishments we've enjoyed," 21st-year athletic director Tom Simmons said. "You also have to give credit to the entire university because when you don't have great academics, you don't get such great students. So everything works together for the success we have."
Ohio Northern also made significant upgrades to its facilities in the 2010s. Dial-Roberson Stadium debuted turf in 2013, dedicated as Bill Robinson Field. The university also added Kerscher Stadium in 2013, complete with a turf playing surface. Lights were added in 2014. Finally, Dial-Roberson's weight room was renovated in 2018 and a new tennis facility, started in 2019, is nearing completion.
While ONU held consistent success on the field and in the classroom, the 2010s serve as a stepping stone onto even greater things in the 2020s.
"It's a foundation. You got to build on something, and I think we have something to build upon," Simmons said. "We have a lot of things we want to improve facility-wise and sport-wise. We've got a really good base to build it on."
Below is a brief synopsis of what each program did in the 2010s:
Men's Cross Country was 1082-278 (.796) overall, notching a winning record in each season of the last decade.
Jason Maus has been the head coach since 2009 and led the Polar Bears to four OAC titles in the decade, including a stretch of three straight from 2015-17.
Maus extended several notable streaks in the 2010s. The program has had 21 consecutive winning seasons, 17 straight top-five OAC finishes, and 16 straight top-10 regional finishes.
Men's Cross Country was represented at the national meet five times in the 2010s.
Men's Track and Field went 873-236-2 (.793) overall for indoor and outdoor seasons. Both had a winning record in all 10 seasons.
Both the indoor and outdoor teams each finished in the top four of the OAC in eight of the 10 seasons. Both had a winning record in all 10 seasons.
Men's Track and Field had nine different All-Americans (Jacob Schwab in 2011; relay grouping of Schwab, Francisque Pierre-Jerome, Evan Heyman, and Ryan Fleming in 2011; Dan Smith in 2012; Josh Colbert in 2014; Kase Schalois in 2017; Matt Molinaro in 2016, twice in 2017, and 2018; Ian McVey in 2018 and 2019)
Colbert won the national championship in the outdoor long jump in 2014 and Molinaro won the national championship in the indoor 800 in 2018.
Men's Swimming and Diving held a 78-22 (.780) overall record and a 39-4 (.907) OAC duals record, recording a winning overall record each season in the 2010s.
Former coach Peggy Ewald led the program to both OAC regular season titles and OAC Championships Meet titles from 2007-16.
Men's Swimming and Diving had six different All-Americans (Michael Schultz twice in 2010 and once in 2012; Jordan Breitigam in 2012, 2013, and 2014; relay groupings of Marc Anderson, Drew Keriazes, Breitigam, and Christian Garlock twice in 2013; and Trevor Keriazes twice in 2016).
Women's Tennis posted a 201-59 (.773) overall record and a 74-10 (.881) conference record, notching nine straight winning seasons to close the decade.
The Polar Bears have 18 consecutive upper-division finishes in the OAC and nine straight winning seasons.
Women's Basketball posted a 179-62 (.743) overall record with a 140-38 (.787) record in conference action. The team has enjoyed a winning record each of the last 10 years.
Michele Durand has been the head coach since 2001, leading ONU to five regular season titles, two OAC Tournament titles, and four NCAA Tournaments this decade. Durand's 2012-13 team was ranked as high as third nationally.
Durand, who is set to transition to a new role within the athletics department following the 2019-20 season, guided the Polar Bears to one of the greatest seasons in school history for any sport, winning 30 consecutive games in 2016-17 to take ONU to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
Women's Track and Field was 814-286-1 (.739) overall in indoor and outdoor seasons, notching 17 winning seasons between indoor and outdoor in the decade.
Women's Track and Field has garnered four different All-Americans (Alison Steinbrunner twice in 2012; Emily Richards in 2015, twice in 2016, four times in 2017, five times in 2018; Maddy Reed twice in 2017 and twice in 2018; and Maggie Krause in 2018 and 2019).
From 2016-18, Richards won nine national championships in races ranging from the 800 to the mile. Reed also won a national title in the outdoor pole vault in 2018.
Men's Soccer tallied an overall record of 181-49-16 (.736) and an OAC record of 65-18-17 (.722), recording a winning overall record in each season of the 2010s.
After serving six years as an assistant coach, Chris Matejka was named the Interim Head Coach in 2019, leading the Polar Bears to an NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 2016. Matejka, an ONU alum and All-American in 2012, was officially announced as the Men's Soccer Head Coach in late December.
Former coach Brent Ridenour led ONU to one of the greatest seasons in school history in 2012. That team, which was ranked as high as third nationally, finished as the National Runner-Up.
Matejka also extended a pair of notable streaks in 2019. Men's Soccer has 14 consecutive winning seasons and 14 consecutive upper-division finishes.
Men's Soccer had nine different All-Americans in the 2010s (Cory Dobkins in 2011, Nate Bascom in 2011 and 2012, Mac Church in 2012, Austin Windsor in 2012, Chris Matejka in 2012, Matt Fleming in 2013, Matt Kinkopf in 2015 and 2016, Chris Garbig in 2017, and Luke Fickenworth in 2019).
Volleyball was 224-85 (.725) overall and 73-17 (.811) in the OAC, tallying a winning record each of the last eight seasons and nine times in the decade.
Kate Witte retired after 29 seasons, leading the Polar Bears to four straight OAC regular-season titles to close out the decade, in addition to OAC Tournament Titles in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Katie (Weininger) Kuhn has served as an assistant coach for nine seasons and is set to replace Witte as the head coach. Kuhn was an All-American setter for the Polar Bears in 2007 and 2008.
The team added NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2012 for a grand total of six NCAA Tournament trips in the 2010s.
Witte's 2017 squad advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2009.
The 2019 team was ranked as high as 10th nationally and became the 19th team in ONU volleyball history to win the regular season and tournament title. It was the 13th occurrence for Witte and the third time in the decade.
Volleyball had six different All-Americans in the 2010s (Kasey Roeser in 2010, Ellen Grenert in 2012; Ashley Borchers in 2015 and 2016; Megan Nieszala in 2015 and 2017; Chelsea Huppert in 2017, 2018, and 2019; and McKenna Hostetler in 2019).
Women's Cross Country was 854-363 (.702) overall, registering nine winning seasons in the last 10 years.
Maus led the team to three consecutive OAC Championships from 2010-12. The program now has 18 consecutive upper-division OAC finishes.
The 2011 squad was ranked as high as 14th nationally, placing 11th at the NCAA Championships.
Women's Cross Country was represented at the national meet six times in the 2010s.
Alison Steinbrunner was a three-time All-American, finishing as the runner-up in 2012. She was ninth in 2011 and 21st in 2010. Steinbrunner was also a four-time OAC Individual Champion, winning from 2009-12.
Men's Lacrosse began competition in 2016. The program is 44-22 (.667) overall and 18-14 (.563) in OAC action with four straight winning seasons to start out the team's history.
Men's Lacrosse has finished in the top-half of the league the past three years.
Softball was 263-138 (.656) overall and 125-54 (.698) in conference action, boasting nine seasons with a winning overall record in the 2010s.
Former coach Kim Burke took the 2012 team to the NCAA College World Series while former coach Annette Shepard's 2010 team was ranked as high as second nationally.
Women's Soccer finished the 2010s with a 127-50-20 (.645) overall record and a 73-13-4 (.811) mark in the OAC, recording a winning record during each season of the last decade.
Mark Batman has been the head coach since 2004, leading ONU to the NCAA Tournament four times in the decade while also having 16 consecutive winning seasons.
The team won the OAC regular season title in 2011, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Additionally, it won the OAC Tournament title in 2012, 2017, and 2019 after advancing to the tournament finals four straight seasons from 2016-19.
Women's Soccer had six different All-Americans in the 2010s (Chelsea Albert in 2010, Tara Tokar in 2011 and 2012, Shelby Stephens in 2016, Hannah Reich in 2017, Haley Moses in 2019, and Jenna Fuller in 2019).
Wrestling compiled a 125-72 (.635) overall record and a 33-24 (.579) record in the OAC, producing seven seasons with a winning overall record in the decade.
In 2010, the team placed 7th at the NCAA Championships Meet.
The 2012-13 team, which placed 13th at the NCAA Championships Meet, was ranked as high as 10th nationally.
The Polar Bears had a slew of Scholar and/or Academic All-Americans: Mick Letcher in 2010; Nick Hoopes in 2010; Luke Miller in 2010 and 2011; Kyle Kwait in 2013; Jerry Pasquale in 2013; Jeremy Jones in 2013; Cody Lovejoy in 2013, 2014, 2015; Colt Lovejoy in 2014 and 2015; Aaron Adkins in 2015; Gennar Feucht in 2015; Kody Bellamy in 2016; Gavin Nelson in 2017 and 2018; Clayton Davidson in 2017, 2018, and 2019; Alex Bair in 2018; Alex Kowal in 2018; Seth Transue in 2018 and 2019; Shaun Wagner in 2019; and Jeff Andrews in 2019.
Men's Tennis registered a 134-79 (.629) overall record and a 60-23 (.723) OAC record with seven seasons with a winning overall record in the 2010s.
The 2010, 2011, and 2013 teams all won its first round match in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Rohan's 2010 team remains the program's winningest team, finishing 20-3.
Joey Frank became the program's leader in career wins in 2013.
Football compiled a 65-39 (.625) overall record and a 56-34 (.622) OAC record, tallying seven seasons with a winning overall record over the decade.
The program was ranked as high as eighth in 2010 and received votes in seven seasons during the 2010s.
Northern finished second in the conference four times in the 2010s.
Football has had nine All-Americans this decade (Brent Donley in 2010, Price in 2015, Williams in 2017 and 2019, Cyler Caldwell in 2017, Zach Schmerge in 2017, Sam Shook in 2018, Ethan Hale in 2019, Mark Niles in 2019, and Brock Martin in 2019).
Baseball sported an overall record of 227-164 (.581) and an 89-90 (.497) mark in OAC play, posting a winning overall record seven times over the past ten years.
Stechschulte has led ONU to finishes in the top half of the league five times in the last six seasons.
Women's Swimming and Diving went 59-48-1 (.546) overall and 35-8 (.814) in OAC duals, notching six seasons with a winning record in the decade.
Ewald led the team to an OAC regular-season title from 2006-14. Additionally, the program won the OAC Championships Meet from 2008-14.
Women's Swimming and Diving added another regular season title in 2016.
Women's Golf was 386-325-1 (.542) overall, collecting five seasons with a winning record in the 2010s.
Former coach Justin Krock guided the program to a second place finish at the OAC Championships in 2010.
The team is set to return Lydia Cranmer in 2020, the program's leader in career stroke average.
Men's Golf posted a 429-339-18 (.541) overall record, registering a winning overall record seven times in the decade.
The 2015-16 team placed second at the OAC Championships, the program's best finish ever.
The program finished in the top-half of the league six times during the 2010s.
Men's Basketball was 132-130 (.504) overall and 89-89 (.500) in OAC play, tallying three seasons with a winning overall record in the 2010s.
Bensman also took the team to the OAC Tournament Finals in 2018, the program's first OAC Tournament Finals appearance since 2006.
Women's Lacrosse began competition in 2016. The program is 23-41 (.359) overall and 10-21 (.323) in OAC play.
Women's Lacrosse is set to return three of its four All-OAC honorees—including Maddie Storr, the program's all-time leading scorer—for the 2020 season.
The Polar Bears won the LOL title in the inaugural Great Lakes Esports Conference with a perfect 8-0 record.