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Five things about our local college sports scene

November 9, 2009 - Zach Baker
Just some quick observations from this week:

1. I've written much over the past five years in praise of Heidelberg volleyball/wrestling coach Jason Miller.

But it's hard enough to coach one team --in one sport -- to the top 25 in Division III. Miller has done it in the same year with two different teams and two different sports.

Miller's a local guy -- a Hopewell-Loudon graduate. I often wonder where he gets the drive from. But because the teams are so good, I'm sure many people are glad he has it.

2. Rudy Brownell wanted to nothing to do with credit Saturday when I called him about his Tiffin University men's soccer team.

The Dragons had just won the GLIAC Tournament. Brownell praised his players, then asked if I could mention some people in the story, everyone from TU President Paul Marion to AD Lonny Allen to the school's SID Shane O'Donnell.

I told him I'd see what I could do. As it turned out, the thank-yous didn't make it in the recap. But rest assured that if you helped TU's soccer team get to the point where it is, Brownell hasn't forgotten you.

Brownell is always modest. He doesn't have much reason to be after leading the Dragons to back-to-back GLIAC Tournament titles. As the TU women's soccer coach, he led the Dragons to the D-II playoffs last year, and there's reason to believe that had they beaten Saginaw Valley State in the tournament semis Friday, they'd be in again.

When you look at the difficulty some of TU's other sports have had in the GLIAC, you have to give Brownell and his staff credit.

Even though they'd probably be happy to share it.

3. Mayer Field is far from a finished product, but it was a nice setting for Heidelberg's football game Saturday vs. Marietta. I will admit that I got tired of typing "the first time Heidelberg's played on campus in 64 years," since it felt like I typed it 1,000 times last week.

That's my fault. I should have tried a different phrase, like: "the same number as that Beatles song on Sgt. Pepper's."

What impressed me most was how players like Matt Grieves, Kenny Sims and Jemar Lewis all seemed to understand the value of playing on campus.

They all thanked coach Mike Hallett and even new president Robert Huntington for making it happen. So many teams play on campus that it's probably taken for granted. These guys wanted people to know how much they appreciated the chance.

4. Speaking of Lewis and Sims, it's now three straight weeks they've each rushed for more than 100 yards.  Heidelberg is 3-0 in those games.

I first noticed Sims during his freshman year of 2006. At that time, he was a wide receiver. Heidelberg didn't win a game that season, but Sims was exciting to watch when he got the ball.

Hallett, upon taking over in 2007, shifted Sims to running back. He shined in the role, making the all-conference team.

Lewis was a transfer from Ashland who made his debut in Hallett's first game, a win over Oberlin that broke the team's 36-game losing streak.

Lewis was the star of that game, and afterwards was praising Hallett for putting him in the position to be it.

Saturday he also deflected the credit for his performance to Hallett and his offensive line. I keep hoping Jemar will one day say "you know, I'm a pretty good running back."

But I doubt that will happen. Then again, he doesn't have to say what we already know.

5. Tiffin's football team finished its season 0-11. I'll admit I thought TU would improve on its one-win season a year ago, but I'm not surprised by the finish.

In truth, TU was better last season, if only because it had more experience in key positions. I still believe that this year's Dragons team was very talented. But it was young, and had to learn what it took to play at this level.

I think TU will be better next year. In many ways, this was the first year of rebuilding, with freshmen all over the place. Next year, coach Dave Walkosky will have a group with more experience, starting with quarterback Nate Scully.



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