Some NE Ohio College Sports Successes and Near-misses in 2017
This Friday the Ohio State Buckeyes take on Southern Cal in the Cotton Bowl. That’s considered a near-miss for OSU’s football team because they’re not in the College Football Playoffs. It’s been that sort of year for college sports in Ohio.
The Buckeyes are probably the favorite football team for most Ohioans. They won the national championship in 2015 but they lost to Oklahoma and Iowa this year and are now ranked number 5.
Northeast Ohio did get a national championship football team this year in that Mount Union College in Alliance won the Division III crown. Unfortunately, the Purple Raiders had to beat another excellent NE Ohio team, the Case Western Reserve University Spartans, in the playoffs to get to the final Alonzo Stagg Bowl game.
Raider's coach Vince Kehres has lost only 4 games in 5 years so some thought Kent State might grab him after they fired coach Paul Haynes for losing 45 games in five seasons.
But last week KSU instead named Sean Lewis of Syracuse as their new head coach. In the past Kent and Akron both passed over small college coaches like Jim Tressel and Larry Kehres, Vince’s dad.
Larry coached the Purple Raiders to 21 undefeated regular seasons. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Akron, Toledo, and Ohio U all earned a birth to bowl games this year.
The Zips also got to the final 4 of the NCAA College Cup soccer tournament. They ended up losing to the eventual champion Stanford.
But forward Stuart Holthusan said they did well to overcome a 1 and 4 start of the season.
“Yeah, we’re really happy. It’s unfortunate the way it ended. But I definitely, once when we look back, it's something to be proud of, getting here again like we did in 2015. “
Akron’s long-time basketball coach Keith Dambrot called it quits after his team won the MAC tournament in March and its first game in the NIT. He was LeBron's first high school basketball coach and largely grew up on campus as his mother, Faye Dambrot, was a UA professor. Dambrot is now coaching Duquense and the Zips are now playing under John Groce.
Some other NEO successes: the Cleveland State Vikings this year won their third straight women’s volleyball championship in the Horizon League and Kent State won the Mid-American Conference softball title.