Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the recent success of Ohio sports. People have grown accustomed to the championships, post-season runs and individual accolades, almost to the extent that we take them for granted.
Bobcats fans have been spoiled lately.
The past four years have truly been a golden era for Ohio Athletics. With post-season berths, national attention and individuals going on to play professionally, the Bobcats have enjoyed team and individual success on an unprecedented level for Ohio athletics.
On the gridiron, the football team had some up-and-down seasons, but this group of seniors won more games during its time than any other class since 1963. They won two MAC East championships and played in two bowl games.
Before making a bowl game in 2007, the Bobcats had gone 38 years between bowl berths. This time, Ohio only had to wait two years.
That success paid off for some of the Bobcats’ most talented players. Ohio has had players get drafted each of the last three years, and Michael Mitchell became Ohio’s highest draft pick ever when the Oakland Raiders selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft. The New England Patriots then picked wide-receiver Taylor Price in the third round of this year’s draft.
Coach Frank Solich has brought an elevated prestige to the football program, and the past four years have confirmed his value.
Even with so much attention on the football program, the most consistently successful group has undoubtedly been the volleyball team.
They have been nothing short of a dynasty.
The team is consistently ranked top 25 in the country, and they won three MAC regular season titles and MAC Tournament championships. The four seniors on the roster — Ellen Herman, Sarah Petrulis, Meghan Simons and Jane Sytsma — have all left their mark on the program, and Herman leaves Ohio as the all-time leader in kills, points and attacks.
On the basketball court, this year’s men’s team enjoyed one of the most memorable seasons ever. The team, which had an average regular season, captivated Ohio fans with an unlikely run through the MAC Tournament, and then an even more surprising victory over Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Upsetting Georgetown was one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, and it brought national attention to Ohio. That kind of notoriety is rare for Ohio sports, and Athens celebrated the victory in typical fashion by flooding Court Street and stopping traffic. That game was one of the most unforgettable events in Bobcat sports history.
Historic achievements have also come on the baseball diamond, as players have gone on to play professionally and coach Joe Carbone continued to cement his legacy. Marc Krauss was drafted 64th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2009 MLB Draft, and in this year’s recent draft, Gauntlett Eldemire was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth round and Robert Maddox III by the Cincinnati Reds in the 18th round.
Last year Carbone won his 600th game as a head coach, and during his 22 seasons with the Bobcats, he has won more games than any coach in any sport at Ohio. He is a legendary coach for the Bobcats and in the MAC.
These accolades and accomplishments have brought quality recognition to the university, and when you step back and look at everything that has been done the last four years, all you can really say is “wow.”
This group of athletes and coaches has taken Ohio sports to another level, and I have been fortunate to watch, report and enjoy Ohio sports during this historic era.