Photo by Julia Kelley

 Men and Women’s Cross-Country 


With their top five runners graduating this spring, the men’s cross-country team will look to many new faces to replace them, but the goals remain the same. “The expectation for this group is to win our 3rd straight OAC Championship and compete at the NCAA championships again,” said head coach Dara Ford. 

“Liam Walits and Hunter Moore are both transfers that have yet to have run a [cross-country] season for us. They should be two of our top guys, in addition to Spencer Strohm and Ryan Estes from last year's varsity squad. A good group of guys are also ready to cement themselves in the top 7 in Jason Mehalic, Gage Beireis, Carter Schaefer, Keith Kaiser, and Ryan Bosworth,” said Ford.


Rising fifth year Strohm and rising junior Estes both ran at the NCAA championships last year, placing 207th and 241st respectively to help Otterbein earn 20th place at nationals. 

          

Having had their spring seasons cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak, Ford is not worried about the effect it may have on her team. “We had some guys that were really poised to have great outdoor seasons. I'm confident that they will carry that over into summer training and into the cross-country season,” said Ford.

Despite the turnover of veterans to new faces on the men’s side, the women have the opposite while only losing two of their top seven runners to graduation this spring, but Ford knows that they’ll have to work to replace what they lost. 

“We have some women who will need to step up to replace Allison Currey and Allison Rogiers - and I think we have some women who are ready for the challenge,” Ford said. “Allison Currey and Allison Rogiers were both fantastic pillars of this program. They always did everything right and were great teammates. Currey qualified to NCAA [championships] last year as an individual.” 

          

The camaraderie within the team is what Ford believes will propel the team to compete for a conference championship. “We are looking to continue to build up the team culture and continue to build off of the momentum that we established this last fall. The women really started to come together, and I look forward to continuing to see them do that,” added Ford.

Both teams have not had their schedule released yet. 

Football 

After a season filled with close losses, the Otterbein football team will look to make the jump to turn those close losses into wins. From last year’s team, they return starting quarterback and rising sophomore Logan Pharmer, as well as leading rushers rising junior Matt Webb and rising sophomore Jordan Bost-Floyd. Along with this, they return their top four leading receivers from last season’s campaign. 

All-OAC member and rising senior linebacker Jacob Tiell, rising senior linebacker Derrick O’Conner and rising junior linebacker Greg Nolder will anchor the defense this year after finishing third on the team in tackles in 2019. 

The Cardinals will kick-off the new season on September 5 with a noon home game against Ohio Wesleyan. 

Men and Women’s Golf 

Men’s golf began their fall season with a nineteen-stroke win in the OAC Fall Preview and were poised to go for their sixth straight conference title in the spring prior to the spring NCAA cancellations.  

In the coming fall they will be led by rising senior Johnny Peck, who was second on the team in average strokes in 2019. The young team will look to new faces to replace leading graduates Kurt Fortman and Sam Marty as they try to continue their string of conference championships in the new season. "We will be losing the best class I have ever coached in my 20 years," said head coach Brian Booher.

With this, Booher believes that there are young faces that will step up and push the team to compete for another championship in their next season.

The women began their season with a second-place finish in the OAC Fall Preview and were looking to take the next leap to claim the conference in the spring. The team graduates only one senior and returns two of their top three members in terms of average strokes in rising juniors Lyndsay Blum and Vivian George. 

"There will be big shoes to fill especially in the area of leadership [for this team]," said Booher. "Both the men and women will be pushing for an OAC championship and will have chances to win many regular season events."

Both teams have not yet had their fall season schedules released. 

Women’s Soccer 

For head coach Brandon Koons, there are high expectations for the 2020 Otterbein women’s soccer team. “Coming off a season scoring more than 70 goals, this could be a year that is fun to watch,” Koons said. “This year, more than ever, players are going to be ecstatic to get back and hit the ground running.” 

The Cardinals (16-4-1, 7-2 in their 2019 season) will be looking for another trip to the conference championship in this upcoming season. Despite losing several key defensive pieces and leaders to graduation, Koons expects many people to step up and contribute where players have been lost. “I can’t wait to see the impact of players who’ve been waiting for their chance to contribute more,” said Koons.

Returning to the Cardinals this year are their top five leading point scorers, including program point leader and two-time All-American in rising senior Bella Shively. Rising senior Erin Gordon will be back in net as the Cardinals look to take the next step forward for their team. Koons said, “Although we scored a lot of goals in 2019, we allowed more than I’d like. We’ll be tightening up our shape in and out of possession and playing a little safer in some instances.” 

The Cardinals will begin their season on September 1 with a 7:00 p.m. away game at Denison. 

Men’s Soccer 

The Otterbein Men’s soccer team has one word they want to focus on in this coming season: dominate. 

“Overall, we want to be more dominant and more consistent throughout each game. Our core principles will remain the same, but we want to be more dominant in applying those principles,” said head coach Jason Griffiths. 

Coming off an impressive season that earned them the second seed in the OAC tournament, the Cardinals have bigger aspirations this year. “We always take one game at a time and to go even further one day at a time. We are not looking too far ahead. Of course, we want to win every game but that doesn't just happen,” said Griffiths. 

This fall, they will return their leading point-getter in rising sophomore Gabe Sharrock. In goal, rising junior Andrew McIlvoy will look to replace the graduating Collin Hoffmann. 

“We have a very strong group of players returning. If we focus on the little details and work hard then the results will come,” Griffiths said. 

The Cardinals start their season with a home game against Ohio Wesleyan on September 1 at 7 p.m. 

Women and Men’s Tennis 

With so much uncertainty surrounding sports this year, head coach Tyler Stephen has prioritized his team’s safety first. “I think right now our focus is just to be taking the necessary precautions to help out the community. The kids have workout plans that they can participate in while on lock down,” said Stephen.

On the women’s side, Stephen believes a rising freshman could instantly make an impact on the team, who began their season 10-1 before having the spring portion cut short. “[Erin Storrer] will play 1st singles her freshman year and win a lot of matches [for us],” said Stephen. “Also, some of our seniors are looking at possibly coming back.” 

With the NCAA granting athletes who had their seasons cancelled an extra year of eligibility, it is a possibility for many of these players to return for one more season at Otterbein. 

For the men, Stephen expects them to be able to compete for an OAC championship through their senior-heavy lineup that led the team to an 8-3 record before the spring cancellations. “The guys lose Riley Yost who was incredibly consistent and a proven winner, but we pick up Jacob McDivitt from Akron who will fit in the lineup immediately,” assured Stephen.

For both teams, Stephen thinks one small detail will help them achieve their goals this year: mental toughness. 

Both teams have not had their schedule released yet. 

Volleyball 

Entering her 14th season at the helm of the Otterbein volleyball program, Monica Wright believes that this team could be special in the fall. 

“I honestly feel like for this team nothing is unattainable, from conference championships to a national championship. The conference is tough, but we are up to the challenge," said Wright.

After graduating only one senior from their NCAA tournament qualifying team last year, she believes the veteran-laden team has the tools to make a deep run this year, saying “I feel like we have a special group of seniors, underclassmen who keep improving, and a strong freshmen class.” 

They will lose the graduating Ashlyn Leon, who finished second in school history in digs with 2,146. A four-year starter, Leon left her impact on the program. “She was not only very talented but a great leader.  We will miss her consistency and her energy,” said Wright. 

Led by their class of four rising seniors including All-American Tate Eppard, the team will look to experience to help guide them throughout the season. 

The team’s schedule has not yet been released.