The 2012-13 year for Owens Community College athletics saw four Ohio Community College Athletic Conference titles, four region/district championships and four National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) D-II National Tournament appearances.
Those accomplishments tied the college's record for most OCCAC titles in one year and broke the record for most national tournament appearances in one year.
Following the year, a total of five Express student-athletes earned NJCAA All-American honors, as well. It is the most in one year in Express athletics history. Additionally, the Express athletic department finished the year 23rd in the nation in the overall standings in the scholarship division of the National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.
Academically, 31 Express student-athletes made the OCCAC All-Academic team, which required at least a 3.3 GPA. At the national level, nine Express student-athletes earned NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards, including two teams that earned NJCAA Academic Team awards.
It was the first time that even one team earned national academic honors, and the nine student-athletes earning academic honors is the second most in school history.
Here's a breakdown of each sport's 2012-13 accomplishments:
The Express men's soccer program finished 14-6-1 overall and 5-1 in the OCCAC. They won the program's first OCCAC title and advanced to the Region XII tournament semifinals. During the season, they captured the Lincoln Land tournament championship. They were ranked as high as No. 15 in the NJCAA D-I national poll.
Seven members of the team made the All-OCCAC team. First team selections were Glenroy Miller, Nickyle Webber, Juavanie Cole, David Ortega-Gonzalez and Josh Kleinow, while Second Team selections were Vijay Gentles and Jake Martin.
Head coach Art Johnson, who started the men's soccer program at Owens 15 years ago, was named OCCAC Coach of the Year. Additionally, Miller was named OCCAC Offensive Player of the Year and OCCAC Player of the Year, while Cole was OCCAC Defensive Player of the Year and Webber was OCCAC Midfielder of the Year.
Miller was a four-time OCCAC player of the week, while Webber and Cole each had one selection. Cole was named NJCAA D-I Player of the Week on Sept. 30.
Miller, Cole, Webber and Kleinow were also named to the All-Region XII team, while Miller was named an NJCAA D-I Athletic All-American.
The Express men's soccer season didn't play out just as planned due to a few injuries, but Miller's return after a year off and other key performances helped the team to several highlights. The team was 1-0-1 against one of their top rivals, Schoolcraft College. On Oct. 10, Schoolcraft was ranked No. 5 in the nation before the Express knocked them off 1-0 on the road.
Another highlight was a 5-1 win over another rival Cincinnati State in the season opener. The team also produced eight shutouts, including back-to-back shutouts to capture the Lincoln Land tournament championship. Miller had the game winning goal in the aformentioned upset of Schoolcraft, as well as the game winner in the 84th minute of a 3-2 win over Muskegon on Oct. 7.
Ortega-Gonzalez earned the NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence with a 4.0 GPA. Four players were also named to the All-OCCAC Academic Team. They were Odaine Edwards, Kleinow, Tyler Kortokrax and Ortega-Gonzalez.
Miller, who finished third in the nation in goals scored with 26, signed with West Virginia Tech University following the season. Cole signed at NCAA D-I Bowling Green State University.
The Express women's soccer program, led by a stellar defense that produced 11 shutouts, finished 13-2-3 overall and 10-0-2 in Region XII play. Despite women's soccer not participating in the OCCAC, the Express won the Region XII regular season championship and advanced to the Region XII tournament semifinals.
The team battled early season-ending injuries to some sophomores, as well as some injuries to freshmen, and nearly advanced to the national tournament for the first time in program history.
They lost only two games during the season, a 3-0 loss on Sept. 1 to No. 6 Monroe Community College and a 1-0 loss in the Region XII tournament semifinals to Muskegon Community College. Prior to the tournament loss, the Express had a 14 match unbeaten streak.
Four players earned All-Region XII honors, including Kendra Eitniear, Jill Burkholder, Marissa Ramirez and Drew Plummer. Burkholder and Jaime Sesock were named to the All-Region XII tournament team.
Eitniear, who departs as the program's top career scorer, was named an NJCAA D-I Honorable Mention All-American. She is the first women's soccer player in program history to achieve that honor.
Freshman Erika Brinkman earned NJCAA D-I Goalkeeper of the Week honors on Oct. 14. Also, the program entered the NJCAA D-I national poll for the first time that week at No. 16. They moved up to as high as No. 14 on Oct. 14.
Academically, Taylor Avers, Haley Kreger, Marissa Ramirez and Sarah Weaver made the All-OCCAC Academic Team.
Following the season, Eitniear and Plummer signed with NCAA D-II Tiffin University. Eitniear was also named Region XII Player of the Year and the Owens Female Athlete of the Year. Burkholder was named team MVP and Ramirez earned the team's Coaches Award.
The Express women's volleyball team became the first of two teams this year to reach the NJCAA D-II National Tournament Semifinals. They were 37-11 overall and 12-0 in the OCCAC. They captured the OCCAC championship, the Region XII District E tournament championship and finished fourth in the national tournament.
Prior to their two losses to finish the season, the Express women's volleyball team had won 11 straight matches, including an undefeated mark in the district tournament, where they only dropped three games in four matches. Their OCCAC title was the third consecutive for the program, as well as the 12th in the past 13 years.
Four players (Alyssa Meis, Dakia Sellers, Molly Hilfinger and Lisa Urbanski) were named First Team All-OCCAC, while Jazmine Thomas earned Honorable Mention All-OCCAC honors. Urbanski (Sept. 16) and Sellers (Oct. 28) took home OCCAC Player of the Week honors.
Meis, Sellers and Hilfinger earned First Team All-Region XII honors, while Meis was named Region XII District E tournament MVP. Sellers and Hilfinger also made the all-tournament team.
Sellers was named an NJCAA D-II First Team All-American and was named to the NJCAA D-II All-National Tournament Team, while head coach Sonny Lewis was named Region XII District E Coach of the Year.
Hilfinger broke the program records for assists in a match, single season and career, while Sellers broke the single season kills record. Meis also broke the single season kills record, but fell short of the total by Sellers.
Hilfinger will attend Ursuline College next year, an NCAA D-II school.
Academically, Hilfinger earned Exemplary Academic Achievement honors with a 3.74 GPA, while the Express volleyball team earned a 3.19 GPA and was named an NJCAA Academic Team. Hilfinger, Meis, Urbanski and Dominique Yates were all named to the All-OCCAC Academic Team, as well.
The Express men's basketball team also reached the semifinals of the NJCAA D-II National Tournament as they had their most successful year in just over 10 years. They finished 26-10 overall, 10-2 in the OCCAC (2nd Place), captured the Region XII District 11 Championship for the first time since 2002-03 and finished fourth at the national tournament.
A turning point in the season came when leading scorer Justin Edmonds went down with a season ending injury late in December. Just prior to that, Edmonds had helped to orchestrate an upset of No. 1 and defending national champion Mott Community College. Fellow sophomore, James Kelly and freshman point guard Joe Retic II then stepped up to fill the void and lead the Express.
The Express men's basketball team went 2-0 in the Owens Tip Off Classic and 2-0 in the Lansing Invitational. Prior to their two losses in the national tournament that ended the season, the team had won seven straight, 12 of 13 and 16 of 19. The first of those 19 games was against Delta College, in which Edmonds suffered his season ending injury.
Kelly became the first Express men's basketball player in program history to record at least 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 blocks. He ended up totaling 1,219 points, 678 rebounds, 105 blocks, 104 steals and 70 assists. Following the season, he was named First Team All-OCCAC, First Team All-Region XII, was the Region XII District 11 Tournament MVP and was an NJCAA D-II Second Team All-American. He also earned OCCAC Player of the Week honors on Jan. 20, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10 and captured national player of the week honors on Jan. 20.
Kelly also made history by becoming the first Express men's basketball player to appear on ESPN Sportscenter's Top 10 on March 6 for a dunk against Cuyahoga Community College. Additionally, he was named the Owens Male Athlete of the Year, recorded a triple-double vs Cuyahoga, broke the single season and career records for blocks and rebounds and played in the JUCO All-Star Game in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Retic II earned Second Team All-OCCAC honors. He was also named to the Region XII District 11 All-Tournament team and the NJCAA D-II All-National Tournament Team. He scored the team's final five points in the opening round game of the NJCAA D-II National Tournament to help his team capture a 74-72 win after being down by 13 late in the second half. Another highlight for Retic II was his triple-double against the University of Akron club team on March 1.
Also earning All-OCCAC honors were Franklin Lindsey and Tony Boykins, who were named Honorable Mention All-OCCAC. Second-year head coach Dave Clarke was named Region XII District 11 Coach of the Year.
Reneillio Morrison and Cody Begley were both named to the All-OCCAC Academic Team after the season.
Following the season, five players signed with four-year universities. Kelly signed with Miami (FL), Edmonds signed with Marshall University, Retic II signed with Liberty University, Jay Marquette signed with Lee University and Lindsey signed with Indiana Tech University.
Marquette provided one of the top highlights of the season as his two free throws with just seconds left gave the Express a big one point road OCCAC win over rival Cincinnati State. He also closed out his two-year career after continuing a family tradition with the Express. His father, Greg, played men's basketball for one season with the Express in the 1970s, while his grandfather, Leroy "Cot" Marquette, started the men's basketball program in 1966. He was the coach and athletic director.
The Express women's basketball program had one of the best seasons in program history. They finished 28-8 overall, which put them one win short of tying the program record for most wins in a season. In OCCAC play, they finished 10-2 and captured the OCCAC title outright. In postseason play, they won the Region XII District G tournament championship and finished seventh in the NJCAA D-II National Tournament.
Beginning with an 80-68 win over Columbus State Community College in Feb. 2, the Express women's basketball team won nine straight and 12 of 13 to close out the season. The team captured its district championship game against their rival Cincinnati State at Cincinnati State. Freshman Breonna House made 1-of-2 at the foul line with six seconds left to clinch the 69-65 victory. It was the program's first district title since 2003-04.
Mackenzie Heacock, who led the Express in postseason play, earned First Team All-OCCAC honors and was named to the Region XII District G and NJCAA D-II All-Tournament teams. She was the MVP of the regional tournament after pouring in 24 points, along with 10 rebounds, in the championship game.
Eboni Adams (Jan. 13), Uniqua Mitchell (Feb. 17) and Karahn Scott (Feb. 24) captured OCCAC Player of the Week honors, while Jordyn Bond (second team), Scott (second team) and Danielle Bezeau (honorable mention) earned All-OCCAC honors in addition to Heacock.
Scott joined Heacock as members of the Region XII District G All-Tournament team, and head coach Mike Llanas was named Region XII District G Coach of the Year.
The team finished 14-0 at home this past year, while Bezeau broke the single game assist record and Scott broke the single game rebounding record.
Following the season, three players signed with four-year schools. Scott signed with NCAA D-II Claflin University, Nandi Taylor signed with NCAA D-II Kentucky State University and Emma-Jean Ricketts signed with NCAA D-II Ursuline College.
The Express baseball team finished 15-29 overall and 7-17 in the OCCAC for a fourth place finish. However, they played their best baseball at the end of the year as they captured the Sub-Region XII tournament and qualified for the Region XII tournament, where they won their first game in extra innings.
Around mid-season, the team captured six wins in nine games and later won three in a row to open postseason play as they advanced as far as the Region XII tournament winner's bracket semifinals.
Nate Manis and Logan Shullick earned First Team All-OCCAC honors, while Shullick (April 7) and Cowan (April 14 and May 5) took home OCCAC Player of the Week honors.
Manis, who knocked in the game winning runs in the 6-4 Region XII tournament win vs Jackson, was also named First Team All-Region XII.
So far, six players have signed with four-year schools this offseason. Dane Davis signed with IPFW, Shullick signed with Tiffin University, Justin Elder and Ryan Horvath signed with Union College (KY), Sean Koerber signed with Lourdes University and Manis signed with Wayne State University.
Academically, Davis earned NJCAA Exemplary Academic Achievement honors with a 3.78 GPA.
In addition to Davis, six other Express baseball players made the All-OCCAC Academic Team including Benjamin Breymier, Michael Fry, Dru Sebastian, Nick Street, Alex Samson and Matthew Zitny.
Express softball team finished 24-17 overall and 8-4 in OCCAC play, which was good for second place. They also made it to the Region XII District G finals before falling to Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
Melanie Iacoangeli, Mareshah Scott, Olivia Reeder and Emily Rockman all earned First Team All-OCCAC honors, while Iacoangeli was named OCCAC Player of the Year and Katie Turski was named OCCAC Pitcher of the Year.
Iacoangeli became the program's all-time stolen base leader, while Turksi reached the rare 20 win milestone in the circle. It was Turski who went 3-0 on the second day of the Region XII tournament to propel the Express into the finals.
Iacoangeli, who earned OCCAC Player of the Week honors on April 7 and April 21, also took home First Team All-Region XII honors. She was joined on the All-Region XII First Team by Scott. Turski, Reeder and Rockman were named to the All-Region XII Tournament team.
Four players took home NJCAA academic honors. Iacoangeli earned Superior Academic Achievement honors with a 3.86 GPA, Hannah Shank earned Exemplary Academic Achievement honors with a 3.7 GPA, Amanda Sinay earned a 3.7 GPA and was also awarded Exemplary Academic Achievement honors and April DeCant's 3.6 GPA earned her Exemplary Academic Achievement honors.
That came following the All-OCCAC Academic Team selections, in which eight Express softball players made the list including DeCant, Jaylee Glad, Molly Gast, Iacoangeli, Reeder, Shank, Sinay and Turski.
As a team, the Express softball team earned a 3.31 GPA. In doing so, they were named an NJCAA Academic Team. Following the season, Scott and Reeder signed with NCAA D-I University of Toledo.
The Express men's golf team closed out the 2012-13 Express athletics year with a bang.
They won 12 regular season tournament championships, were undefeated in OCCAC play, captured the Sub-Region XII and Region XII tournament championships and finished in 10th place at the NJCAA D-II National Tournament.
Freshman Brandon Hoelzer earned First Team All-OCCAC, First Team All-Region XII, Region XII Player of the Year, Ping Honorable Mention All-American and NJCAA D-II Honorable Mention All-American honors.
Aside from Hoelzer, six other Express golfers earned All-OCCAC honors including Darren Gessner (First Team), Blaze Hogan (First Team), Luke Berger (First Team), Walter Dorosh (Second Team), Jason Glass (Second Team) and Timothy Dawkins (Second Team).
First-year head coach Josh Williams was named OCCAC Coach of the Year and Region XII Coach of the Year.
Four players aside from Hoelzer also earned First Team All-Region XII honors including Dorosh, Hogan, Berger and Gessner.
Academically, Berger (3.76 GPA) and Alex Roberts (3.64 GPA) were awarded Exemplary Academic Achievement honors by the NJCAA, while those two also made the All-OCCAC Academic Team.