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Sports Scene

Volume 37, Issue 2

HARDY SIGNS WITH DALLAS COWBOYS

Ja’Quan Hardy, Class of 2021, has signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.

A battering ram at the line of scrimmage with deceptive breakaway speed at the second level, Hardy had a brilliant 2019 season as he tied the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) single-season rushing record with 1,554 yards (third in Division II) on 204 carries.

Hardy was presented with the 2019 Great Midwest Player of the Year award and was named a Second Team All-American by both the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA). He was a Third Team All-American selection by Don Hansen and was Honorable Mention All-American by D2Football.com. In those outlets, he was also all-region before moving on to the next stage of voting in the awards process.

Overall, Hardy is fifth in the Tiffin career record books in attempts, third in yards, third in touchdowns, tied for eighth in points and eighth in all-purpose yards.

“Our entire program is incredibly proud of Ja’Quan and excited to see him sign with the Dallas Cowboys,” said TU Head Coach Cris Reisert. “The Cowboys are getting a first- class person and dynamic football player. We can’t wait to see his success in Dallas.”

WOMEN’S GOLF SQUAD MAKE THIRD STRAIGHT TRIP TO NCAA REGIONALS

For the third consecutive season, Tiffin University women’s golf team has been selected to the National Collegiate 2020 GMAC Champs Athletic Association (NCAA) East Regional.

The team, which also earned trips in 2018 and 2019, made a return trip to the East Regional, played at Prairie View Golf club in Carmel, Indiana.

The Dragons, coming off a second place finish at the GMAC Championships, were seeded fifth in the East Regional, improving upon their sixth place seeding in 2019. Due to Covid-19, there was no NCAA Regional in 2020. The Dragons were seeded ninth place at their first qualification in 2018.

FOOTBALL TEAM WINS SECOND STRAIGHT GMAC CHAMPIONSHIP

In its entire football history, Tiffin University had only beaten Findlay twice.

The Dragons had never defeated the Oilers in back-to- back seasons and had never held Findlay to less than 10 points in a game.

That all changed on April 24 at Frost Kalnow Stadium, as, with the GMAC Championship on the line, the Dragons enjoyed their most dominating win over Findlay in school history, winning 23-8 for their second consecutive GMAC title.

The team finished with a perfect 6-0 record in their abbreviated spring season, including 5-0 in GMAC play. That puts Tiffin’s two-year record under Head Coach Cris Reisert at 15-2, 12-0 in conference games.

CASPER WINS NATIONAL TITLE IN SHOT PUT

Ralph Casper became the 10th Tiffin University men’s track and field athlete to win a National Championship as he captured the title in the shot put at the 2021 NCAA Division II National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.

Casper and teammate Nikolas Curtiss finished 1-2 in the event, dominating the field and claiming First Team All- American honors in the process.

JUSTINGER NAMED HEAD WOMEN’S BASKETBALL COACH AFTER RECORD-SETTING SEASON

Miriam Justinger was named Head Coach for Tiffin University women’s basketball team.

Justinger had served as Interim Head Coach during the 2020-21 season after the departure of Jessie Ivey.

Justinger helped lead the Dragons to one of the most historic seasons since the program’s inception. The team finished 18-9, the second-highest win total in school history following the 21-7 campaign of 2011-12 and equaling the 18-9 mark of the 1990-91 Dragons.

Unlike those two squads, however, this team competed at the NCAA Division II level and progressed all the
way to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. They won the GMAC Tournament Championship with dramatic victories over Ohio Dominican, Cedarville and Kentucky Wesleyan.

Automatically qualifying for the NCAA Atlantic Regional due to winning the GMAC tourney, the team dispatched Kentucky Wesleyan in a rematch 70-56 before staging the biggest comeback in team history, erasing an 18-point deficit with 5:55 to play to beat Glenville State 85-83 and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. They lost to Charleston 82- 52 in the Atlantic Region Championship game.

The 18-9 record, highlighted by the seven-game winning streak during the postseason, equals the best debut ever for a women’s basketball head coach. Annette Kessler’s 1990-91 team also posted an 18-9 mark while competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

FEATURE STORY

Written by Shane O’Donnell, Sports Information Director

“Tiffin University dealt with numerous challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

We had just worked a women’s lacrosse game on a Wednesday night on March 11, 2020. I had spent time talking to my staff that night about the upcoming weekend’s games and how we would staff it.

The next day, the entire spring season was canceled.

That’s how things started a little over one year ago, at least in the world of sports information. We had no idea what the fall would become, if there were a fall season.

Tiffin University faced numerous challenges during the 2020-21 athletic year, as the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt throughout collegiate sports.

As the spring and summer went on, everything in the world changed. Events were canceled that had never been canceled before. By midsummer, it became obvious that the fall season was becoming less and less likely. This was not going to be a quick fix.

For TU, an emphasis on completing games in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference became a priority. It was determined in August of 2020 that a fall season was unrealistic based on the state of the pandemic, the cost of overall testing and the likelihood of fully completing the season. So all fall sports were postponed until the spring of 2021. Only men’s and women’s cross-country competed in the fall, with TU hosting the GMAC Championships.

We knew that moving the fall sports to the second semester was going to be a logistical nightmare. Normally, spring sports keep everyone on their toes, especially with weather affecting the schedule. If this were going to work, the most extensive preparation in school history would have to take place.

Tiffin’s administration, led by Vice President of Athletics Lonny Allen, implemented rigorous testing and safety protocols for its athletes, leading the University to be one of the safest and virus-free institutions in the GMAC. As a result, a winter season was held with full competition by basketball, indoor track and wrestling. Though somewhat shorter than regular seasons, with virtually no non-conference games and a minimal number of cancellations due to the opponent’s positive testing,

the University had a successful season. The women’s basketball team reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, Ralph Casper won the NCAA Indoor National Championship in the shot put and numerous other athletes competed on the national stage.

Then came the addition of fall sports. Staffing and travel plans were going to be significant issues.

Volleyball was first, beginning in January, while the other winter sports were active. The other fall sports followed in March. Playing abbreviated seasons, at one point in the second semester, 21 of Tiffin’s 23 sports were in action.

This was when something started to become very obvious to many individuals. Unlike many other schools in our conference and around the nation, Tiffin was not canceling games due to the pandemic. The plan was working, at least for us. The impact on our athletic programs was minimal, and our student-athletes had a chance not just to compete but also to excel.

Due to the diligent oversight of athletic administration and respective head coaches and their staff, the semester concluded with great success for the Dragons. The football team won its second consecutive conference title, the women’s tennis team won a conference title and numerous teams qualified for NCAA postseason play. A total of 51 student-athletes were named GMAC Athletes of the Week during this time. Tiffin was also recognized as one of the most successful institutions in the conference in combating the effects of the pandemic.

Now, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. With the effectiveness of the various vaccines and diligent planning across the board, we can begin to think about getting back to some kind of normal life. Planning for the fall of 2021 is well underway, and it appears that a relatively normal fall may be possible.

Hopefully, we will never see another year like the one we have just experienced. For a certainty, none of us will ever forget it.