Ohio Wesleyan University will bestow Team of Distinction honors upon its 1976 men’s lacrosse team and its 2000-01 women’s basketball team.
The teams will be formally recognized during an in-person ceremony to be announced at a later date.
The Team of Distinction was created to recognize individual teams that have distinguished themselves and made extraordinary contributions to OWU athletics.
The 1976 men’s lacrosse team opened its spring trip with wins over St. Mary’s and Salisbury before a 16-15 loss at Washington (Md.), then kicked off Midwest Lacrosse Association play with wins over Ohio State and Oberlin. The Bishops lost a 13-9 decision to Army at West Point, N.Y., but dominated the rest of the regular season, clinching Ohio Wesleyan’s first MLA title by routing Bowling Green State (18-4), Denison (24-4), and Wooster (15-2).
Ohio Wesleyan hosted Kutztown (Pa.) State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II-III tournament and defeated the Golden Bears, 22-17, behind an NCAA-tournament-record 8 goals by John Hildebrand for Ohio Wesleyan’s first postseason win. That set up a contest at defending national champion Cortland (N.Y.) State, where the Bishops held the Red Dragons to just one goal during the second half to post a 12-11 upset and advance to the national semifinals. There, Hobart defeated Ohio Wesleyan by a 12-5 count to end the Bishop run.
Bob Sargent was named College Division Midfielder of the Year and head coach Rich Seiler was named College Division Coach of the Year, both firsts for Ohio Wesleyan. Hildebrand and Steve Meinsen also received All-America honors.
The 2000-01 women’s basketball team closed out 2000 with an 88-73 win over Thomas More, then opened 2001 with 5 straight wins. Ohio Wesleyan went into the regular-season finale needing a win at Allegheny to force a tie for the North Coast Athletic Conference championship. The Bishops trailed by 5 midway through the second half, but Leslie Welsh scored 8 points and Katy Sturtz added 5 more during an 18-4 run that put the Bishops ahead to stay, and Jessica Viertlboeck sealed the win with a pair of free throws as Ohio Wesleyan brought a share of the conference title back to Delaware.
The Bishops would host the NCAC tournament, and wins over Wooster and Wittenberg set up a tournament title tilt against Earlham. In that game, Ohio Wesleyan trailed by 8 with less than 90 seconds to play. Viertlboeck took over down the stretch, driving for a hoop to bring Ohio Wesleyan within 2, and later driving for the tying bucket to send the game into overtime. Viertlboeck then scored the Bishops’ first 2 baskets in overtime to kick off a 14-3 run that gave Ohio Wesleyan the NCAC tournament championship and sent the Bishops on to the NCAA Division III championship.
In the NCAA tournament, Ohio Wesleyan went on a 12-0 run to break a 53-53 tie with less than 4 minutes to play to defeat Lake Forest, setting up a game at perennial power Hope. The Flying Dutch led that game, 2-0, and did not lead again until a free throw with :14 remaining gave Hope a 71-70 lead. Viertlboeck found Sturtz for a lay-in with :04 to play for a 72-71 Ohio Wesleyan victory.
The win moved the Bishops on to the sectionals and a matchup against Centre (Ky.), with Ohio Wesleyan advancing with a 71-64 decision. In the sectional championship game, Baldwin-Wallace took a 64-62 lead with 1:19 to play, but Welsh drove for a lay-in to tie the game, Viertlboeck hit the game-winner with :22 to go, and the Bishops got a stop on BW’s final possession for a 66-64 win.
In a national semifinal contest against Messiah, buckets by Michelle Wolfe and Viertlboeck rallied the Bishops from a double-digit deficit to within 6, but the Falcons put the game away at the free throw line. Ohio Wesleyan came back the following day to defeat Emmanuel (Mass.) in the consolation game, with Welsh going 4-for-4 from the line and Viertlboeck going 3-for-4 during a 9-0 run in the final minutes.
Sturtz was a third-team All-America selection by D3hoops.com. Head coach Nan Carney-DeBord was named Division III Coach of the Year.
OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.