Winter Sports in Review‹wraps compiled by Aaron Mucciolo, Steve Manthe and Eben Askins
The women's indoor track and field season started on a high note and ended in the rafters. In her first college meet ever, first-year Courtney Stackhouse shattered the school record in the 55m dash. By season's end, Stackhouse and a bevy of talented teammates had claimed an unprecedented second-place finish at the conference championships, trailing only Denison University. The Big Red won their third straight championship.
Unprecedented, that is, to everyone but Oberlin. The Yeowomen had known since the preseason that they possessed one of the best, if not the best, sprint corps in the NCAC and a fine crop of jumpers as well. Stackhouse would set conference records in both the 55 and 200m dashes en route to being named Sprinter of the Year. Sophomore Apryl Wynn continued to lead the conference's jumpers at championships and was named Field Athlete of the Year.
Added to this was a developing presence from the distance runners. "Five distance runners scored which is virtually unheard of in the NCAC," said junior Jenni Huelsman. Oberlin would win five events on the day and finish ahead of Wittenberg, Allegheny and Ohio Wesleyan, all of whom have much larger teams.
While the women were able to overcome some size discrepancies, the men's track and field team was at too great a disadvantage. Unlike in past years, when a small sprint squad outnumbered a smaller distance and middle-distance group, the Yeomen were grasping at straws when it came to putting relays and jump and sprint events together. Two out of four sprinters at an early meet got their first taste of the relay during competition.
Fortunately for the Yeorunners, what could have been an exercise in futility turned into a fairly sucessful experiment. While few, if any, of the new runners placed in competition, they did show potential in all events from the 55m dash to the 400m to the long jump.
With the rising popularity of indoor track as a way for football players to keep in shape, and considering the success many such athletes have had on the track and in the jump pit, the team is looking forward to next year. Currently, over 25 first-years have committed to play football for Oberlin.
Beyond the fact that the men's basketball team didn't surpass last year's win total (2-22 overall, 2-14 NCAC), they didn't even have a thrilling overtime victory anywhere along way. Coach James "Satch" Sullinger is looking toward bigger and better things next year, though. This year's freshmen earned valuable experience, and the addition of several promising recruits should make practices more intense. Next year's first-years will also hopefully be spared the difficulty of being thrust into the spotlight in the first year of college competition.
The Crimson will not lose any players to graduation. Additionally, those remaining are honing their skills and developing into conference threats. Junior guard Maurice Elrod was fifth in the conference in scoring and seventh in assists last season. He will return to lead an offense hungry to improve on their dead-last NCAC scoring average. Junior James Knight will also be rejoining the team after a year-long hiatus. Oberlin was fourth in three-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
The Yeomen must develop a strong post presence that can stay out of foul trouble and improve on their -3.8 rebounds/game margin. Junior Brian Buchanan is making significant strides, and he is looking to be a force in the paint next year.
Expectations were high for the Lady Crimson following last season's charge deep into the NCAC tournament. The women's basketball team was felled in overtime in a semi-final match by eventual conference champ Ohio Weselyan. With the taste of success in their mouth, the women took to the court ranked third in a pre-season coaches poll and looking to live up to said ranking
It was not to be as Oberlin (12-13, 6-10 in NCAC) fell into a tie for sixth and dropped a first-round tournament game to eventual champion #2 Kenyon. The team chemistry that had carried the Crimson through last season faltered at various points as tensions between players and coach Ann Gilbert continued. Sophomore Reagan Johnson, the team's second leading scorer, would leave the team towards season's end.
Oberlin ranked next to last in field-goal percent, but countered this with voracious defense, holding opponents to just over 36% shooting. Poor free-throw shooting may also have contributed to the team's demise. Sophomore Nzinga Broussard again led the conference with 3.5 steals per game, but Oberlin's dependence on Broussard may have been its downfall.
One person does not a team make, but one person can sure make a swimming and diving team proud. Junior John Limouze and sophomore Celeste Mercer both returned to the NCAA championships this year with coaches and teammates along to cheer loudly.
For Limouze it was his third straight appearance, and he would improve on last year's third place finish in the 200m butterfly in dramatic fashion. In a come-from-behind victory that would have made SportsCenter were it not a D-III meet, Limouze won the fly, becoming only the third national champion in OC men's swimming and diving history.
Mercer's second national meet was no less impressive. In demolishing her competitors in a preliminary heat of the 50m freestyle, Mercer snagged not only a birth in the finals, but also All-American honors. She also broke her own school record in the event with a time of 24.53 seconds. She followed this performance by finishing sixth in the nation in the 100 yard backstroke.
While the big stories for the swimming and diving teams came from individuals, the squads themselves had reason to be cheerful as well. We all know that the NCAC is a nasty conference, but Kenyon College literally dominates the swimming and diving ranks. OC finished next-to-last in conference on the women's and side and third from the bottom on the men's. But numerous individuals dropped their personal bests during the course of the season. Additionally, Mercer, junior co-captain Aurelie Cabou, sophomore Julia Handelman and first-year Rania Khan broke the varsity record in the 800 freestyle relay.
Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
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