PREVIEW: Ohio Athletic Conference

There were two incredibly close races in the OAC in 2017-18, as the John Carroll men edged Ohio Northern for the league title by a mere three points – one of the closest title races in conference history – and the Baldwin Wallace women edged Ohio Northern for third by a single point, well behind John Carroll’s dominant title run. We expect JCU to sweep the titles once again this year and fairly comfortably, but the race for second on the women’s side should be very tight between three teams.

Here are our projected standings with previews:

OAC WOMEN:

  1. John Carroll – JCU lost a lot, but, fortunately, their biggest threat from a year ago in Mount Union lost even more, which should keep the Blue Streaks comfortably in the top spot once again this year. Gwyn Ledrick (57 pts., 4 relays) is back after a monster freshman year that saw her sweep the breaststroke events and earn HM All-America honors in the 200 Breast, and Olivia Talamo (48, 3r, 100 champ), Hope Scherger (46, 1r), and Victoria Vale (42, 2r) will also look to build off of great rookie campaigns. Add in three more 40-point scorers  in Shelbi Shearer (42.5, 4r), Maddie Dolce (41, 2r), and Chloe Ruggiero (41), and the losses of Carly Adams (56, 2r, 4IM/1BA champ), OAC Diver of the Year Ashley Creasap (40), and six other scorers, as big as they are, become a little easier to swallow. It is a smaller recruiting class for the Blue Streaks this year with only five newcomers, but Katelin Laure Avenir (56.15/2:03.8 FR, 1:02.5/2:15.7 BA, 1:10.9/2:34 BR, 1:02.7/2:36.4 FL, 2:15.5/4:48 IM) and Kyleah Gaydos (24.85/54.89/2;04.7/5:29.8, 1:04.3/2:23.4 BA, 1:18.1/2:51.7) should be able to help right away.
  2. Ohio Northern – The battle for 2-through-4 in the OAC this year could be incredibly tight, and right now, we are picking the Polar Bears in the two spot, given that they lost the least among that middle three and brought in a strong recruiting class. Sydney Veon (49 pts., 4 relays) is the only loss among the team’s top 11 scorers, and ONU returns top scorer Lauren Halle (57, 4r), who won OAC titles in the 2IM and 200 Fly. Senior Kierra Watson (47, 4r), Marissa Taylor (46, 4r), and diver Libby Sartschev (30) are all back, as well, and they add a deep 10-woman recruiting class. Megan Lubinski (24.21/53.17/2:00.16, 1:01/2:11.5 BA, 1:12.5 BR, 2:15.7 IM) leads the way and is one of the league favorites in the sprints, while Kylee Meredith (2:03.6 200, 1:01.1/2:16.6 BA, 1:00.7 FL, 5:03 IM) and Mya Parsons (57.4/1:59.2/5:27, 1:01.6/2:13.9 BA, 59.3/2:11 FL, 2:20 IM) are both very strong on paper as well.
  3. Mount Union – While the Mount Union women were very comfortably in second a year ago, they lost a massive amount to graduation – 50 percent of their 542 individual points and 14 of their 20 relay swims. Three-time OAC Swimmer of the Year Dana Lautenschleger (60 pts., 4 relays, 200/500/1650 champ) is gone, as are Megan Leibensperger (48, 1r), Jessica Hirsh (40, 2r), Ann Zielasko (33.5, 3r), and five other scorers. Seniors Lauren Oktavec (47), Regina Saxon (42, 1r), and Sarah Gonda (41, 1r) are all back as 40-point scorers a year ago, and the Purple Raiders do add a deep recruiting class. Lindsey Collins (25.06/55.86/2:03, 1:01.8/2:22.2 BA, 1:14.5/2:45.8 BR), Aurelia Incristi (25.04/54.65/1:58.9/5:39, 1:02.1/2:24 BA, 1:11.6/2:34 BR, 2:20/5:03 IM), and Callie Landry (2:03.5/5:26.9/18:38, 2:19.6 BA, 2:47.7 BR, 2:22 FL, 4:52 IM) are among the best of the newcomers on paper.
  4. Baldwin Wallace – BW sliding to fourth is less about what they did and more about what the teams around them did, as the Yellow Jackets recruiting class appears on paper to be the weakest of the three teams in the middle of the league. They return seven of their top eight scorers, including 100 Fly champ Erika Nockengost (51 pts., 4 relays), Olivia Jacob (49, 1r), Marissa Kural (46, 3r), Allie Thorson (40, 1r), swimmer/diver Ellie Clymer (36, 2r), and diver Lauren Franz (31). Madeleine Pierce (25.15/55.25/2:05/5:24, 1:01.3 BA, 1:16.7 BR, 1:02 FL, 5:03 IM) and Kayla McClintock (58.55/2:05.2/5:25.7, 1:04.1/2:23.1 BA, 5:06.7 IM) should both be able to contribute, as should diver Kaylee Beyer.
  5. Wilmington –  The Quakers will greatly miss Samantha Glish (52 pts., 4 relays) this season, as she accounted for more than 40 percent of the team’s individual points from a year ago. Macki Leon (23, 4r) and Margaret Hover (11, 2r) both will look to build off solid freshman seasons, and senior Rachel O’Donnell (10, 1r) also returns for her senior season. Of six newcomers, Kassidy Rogers (1:15.77 BR) appears to be the most ready to contribute.

OAC MEN:

  1. John Carroll – Of the real contenders for the conference title, JCU lost the least and brought in the most, so their road to repeat should have a little more breathing room than it did a year ago. The Blue Streaks return nine of their top 10 scorers from the 2018 OACs, losing just Brian Hulseman (44 pts., 2 relays) to graduation among that group. Two-time OAC Diver of the Year Ryan McClelland (40) leads the way after earning First Team All-America honors on both boards a year ago, and JCU also returns three conference champion swimmers in Matt Ramsey (55, 4r, 50/100 champ), James Pacak (51, 3r, 200FR champ), and Mason Beck (51, 3r, 2BR champ). Patrick Folan (44, 1r), Jack Garrow (42, 2r), and Colin Burke (40) are all back as 40-point scorers, as well. Freshman Forrest Campbell (21.07/46.83, 51.31/1:58.7 BA, 50.03/2:02.5 FL) is on paper the league favorite in the 100 Fly and could contend for other titles, too, while Westin Fishel (21.75/48.69/1:45.5, 2:14.6 BA, 2:06.9 IM), Adam Lenz (21.34/48.54/1:47.1/18:16, 53.7/2:07.4 BA, 59.3/2:10.5 BR, 1:57.1 IM), Matthew Pietsch (50.63/1:47.25/4:45.2, 2:08.7 BA, 2:03.3 IM), Benjamin Rancillo (49.79/1:48.5/4:53.5, 52.9/1:56.6 FL, 1:58.4/4:21.5 IM), and Erik Sriubas (50.0/1:44.9/4:40/16:05, 56.8/2:05.4 BA, 54.1/1:55.7 FL, 2:01.8/4:11 IM) all are capable of scoring major points, as well.
  2. Ohio Northern – After finishing just three points behind JCU a year ago with a devastating relay DQ a factor in the loss, Ohio Northern likely will take a small step back this season, as they lost more than 200 points to graduation. Ian Simpson (46 pts., 4 relays), Conor Cassara (38), Thomas Golba (37, 1r), Braden Kuhn (34), and Duggan Trenary (19) all are significant losses, but the Polar Bears do return six of their top seven scorers, including a pair of conference champs in 2018 OAC Swimmer of the Year Nolan Huey (60, 4r, 2BA/2IM/4IM champ) and Pete He (56, 4r, 1FL/2FL champ). Ryan Mow (46, 1r), Grant Pfeifer (43, 1r), Ryan Groehl (39) and Patrick Reed (39) are all back as well, and while ONU’s recruiting class lacks major top-end talent, it is deep, as all eight men come in with times capable of scoring at OACs. Jeremy Adams (48.90/1:47.2/4:56.6, 56.1 BA, 59.4/2:09.2 BR, 54.9 FL, 2:01.7/4:31.8 IM) is the top of the group with Justin DeLano (17:41.4, 53.99/2:06 BA, 52.9/2:08.6 FL, 4:41.3 IM), Connor Rettammel (49.9/1:52.4/5:06.8, 57.6/2:06.4 BA, 1:03.9/2:18 BR, 54.2/2:02.2 FL, 2:03.7/4:18 IM), and Chris Walton (17:23, 57.3/2:01.7 BA) are also solid.
  3. Mount Union – While the Purple Raiders return top scorer and OAC 500 and 1650 champ Cole Ellsworth (57 pts., 3 relays) and Logan Palochak (45, 4r), they lose six of their top eight scorers, amounting to 244 points – the biggest loss in the league. Gone are graduates Tyler Fry (54, 4r) and Brian Walker (49), and four other key scorers aren’t on this year’s roster in Jack Ineson (45, 3r), Will Turnbull (35), Zachary Grebert (33), and Nic Hoffman (28). UMU does have a strong and deep recruiting class that is right there with JCU’s, led by Isaiah Acosta (49.44/1:46.6/4:51.9/17:28, 1:00.9/2:11.6 BR, 1:56.8/4:14.7 IM), Brian Regovich (50.13/1:47.1/4:51.4/17:01, 2:06.2 BA, 2:04.3 IM), Brett Scheib (50.08/1:47.7/4:44/16:26, 55.0/1:58.4 BA, 2:00/4:27 IM), and Owen Zimmerman (50.88 100, 53.8/1:57.9 BA, 1:59.9/4:26 IM).
  4. Baldwin Wallace – OAC 100 Breast champ Tyler Thompson (27 pts., 3 relays) is BW’s only loss from their 17-18 roster, so the Yellow Jackets should be solidly in fourth this year. Diver and leading scorer Evan Rinaldi (32 pts.) is back, as are double-figure scorers Greg Shaw (31.5, 4 relays), Michael Morsch (24.5, 4r), Austin Lockhart (23, 4r), and Matthew Butt (19, 2r). Freshman Michael Lewis (48.28/1:43.43/4:56.5/18:00, 55.89 BA, 59.07/2:14 BR, 55.6/1:59 FL, 1:58.3/4:59 IM) could become the team’s leading scorer right away, and the additions of Christian Velasquez (1:53.6/18:39, 2:08.5 BA, 57.5/2:09.9 FL, 4:32 IM) and diver Tanner Elenbaas will help, too.
  5. Wilmington –  Wilmington lost more than 80% of its individual points and relay slots from the 2018 OAC Championships in Andrew Stewart (42 pts., 4 relays), David Bellus (29, 2r), Cody Nash (25, 3r), Freddie Snowden (24, 2r), and Alex Tillapaugh (17, 4r). Senior Lawrence Daya (9, 3r) is the team’s top returning scorer. Of the 10 newcomers, Isak Alin (1:02.6 BR, 55.7 FL this season) of Sweden, Aaron Polk (55.25 FL), and Logan Schroer (50.2/1:49.6/5:04.9) seem to be the best bets.

Projected Award Winners:

  • Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Gwyn Ledrick, John Carroll
  • Women’s Diver of the Year: Lauren Franz, Baldwin Wallace
  • Women’s Newcomer of the Year: Megan Lubinski, Ohio Northern
  • Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Nolan Huey, Ohio Northern
  • Men’s Diver of the Year: Ryan McClelland, John Carroll
  • Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Forrest Campbell, John Carroll

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